Oak Park

Those first and most impressionable years tend to limit your worldview somewhat. You acclimate to the oddities without a second thought. Life is usually normal, in spite of where you live. And it's not so much the 'where' as the 'who' you're living with that makes the biggest mark.

Oak Park in the 40's was government housing for Camp Robert families and returning vets as well as the many others who wanted to save their pennies and move on. 

A narrow stretch of  Pine Street was the main north-south artery for travel. Barely wide enough for two cars to pass side by side, Oak Park's design won the prize for being kid-friendly.

Large lawn areas were perfect for football; the two island 'circles' at each end meant you could get dizzy but not lost when riding your bike; a wading pool, daycare, bbq area and more meant places to explore and vandalize; adjacent empty fields were great for kite flying, baseball and dirt clod fights.

This was in 1947. That's Grandpa Skinner from San Luis Obispo holding his bewildered, number one grandson. We had probably just moved from a two bedroom duplex into the three bedroom two-story when brother Marty arrived a month earlier.

On Grandpa's Lap

Baby Shoes

Mom went and petrified my baby shoes
In bronze and bragged about her growing boy --
Her firstborn son -- all dressed in Grandma's blue
And backyard brown, out playing with his toys.

I never noticed it before, but when
She sent them off, she gently tucked away
A treasury of songs and smiles within
Each little shoe -- more than enough to say,
"I love you."

In Dad's Shoes

Sand, seaweed and gritty sandwiches
were enjoyed from the start at Avila Beach and Cayucos when Grandpa and Grandma Skinner carted all of us to the edge of the earth.

Some of us still have a measure of saltwater in our veins, that constant tug to revisit the blue horizon, feel ocean mist on our face, hear the booming rythym of October waves, and enjoy its 'many-twinkling smile.'



Oak Park BuddiesLarry and Bruce in their finest hour. 
Brothers weren't just meant to duke it out 
ALL the time. But cameras helped to capture
these rare moments.

Other family names that might ring some bells
are Conrad, Andrus, Blankenship, Barnhart,
Frazier, Stokey, Moon, Wilson, Herried,
Cooper, Morillo, Dameron, Armstrong,
Steele, Erlston, and so many others.


k-m-mkt4.jpg (7742 bytes)

A short walk to our neighborhood 'Safeway' for the bravest of us (you had to cross Spring Street, breaking the 11th Commandment). Do you remember the smaller store to the north sitting in front of a big empty lot? Mostly stocked with penny candy and popsicles, this was the first time I found a quarter---on the path outside the store. Was it stealing if I didn't try to find the owner?



1. Getting into trouble
2. Getting into more trouble
3. Harassing the guys who mowed
    the lawns
4. Fighting
5. Learning every curse word in the
6. Throwing rocks at the train
7. Throwing rocks at each other
8. Getting your first kiss
9. Exploring the equipment yard
10. Watching Flash Gordon on TV
11. Throwing all your dad's money out
      of a second story window while he
      is still sleeping. (True story)
12.      **** fill in the blank****


North Circle Gang







Oak Park Blues

Were we ever fast enough?
Most of us just weren't as tough
As Billy Blankenship, and so
We'd see how fast our bikes would go
Whenever he would come around
And want to knock us to the ground.

There was the famous shoestring race
Where we sat and tried to lace
Our shaggy shoes with blinding speed,
Tongues in teeth, about to bleed,
Fingers tripping over thumbs:
We were kings in Flunkeydom!

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