Paso Robles in the 1940's fit every qualification for the model of dull points of interest. Claiming the fame of "Almond Capital of the World," it also could boast of the historic charm of abandoned sulfur bath houses and the hemisphere's longest north-flowing underground river. It was also a teenager's nightmare when he had to answer the question, "Where are you from?" Oak Park is government funded apartment housing for the poorer among us, situated on Paso's north end between Park Street and the railroad tracks two blocks east. 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.
Our Pine Street two-story mansion is still there, having housed countless families through the years and felt the abuse of numberless kids. The same trees, same fences, lawns and 'wild life.' Of course, the streets look narrower, the houses smaller and the faces have changed. This was our world in the late 40's and early 50's. Again, only a few memory fragments remain for me: the view down the stairs, the small, dark living room and bedrooms and smaller kitchen. Stories abound about our escapades, like Marty and I getting into Dad's wallet and tossing the bills out of an upstairs window; like picking up a dropped frying pan for mom, burning my hands in the process; like eating dog poop just within reach of my playpen; and like daring the (unnamed) neighbor's girl to a frustrated "let me see yours first" in the shadows of the maintenance building.
There remain but few vague episodes of these ancient slices of time: my first bicycle flying over the local daredevil dirt mound (32nd and Park St.); winning a duck at the fair and seeing it dead at the bottom of the doghouse in a few days; running from Dad after saying or doing something bad, tying shoelaces, going to Georgia Brown school, watching Flash Gordon while sitting in little TV chairs Dad had made (ouch!), and kissing Lukey Stokey.
Marty and I loved adventure and once thought it would be great fun to get the huge mirror from Mom's bedroom the 'signal' Grandma and Grandpa Cockrell when they lived up on the hill overlooking Paso (up Peachy Canyon Road). We hauled it out and put it on the grass in front of our little house (on the far north end of Pine Street at that time). We guessed at the angle of the sun and attempted to locate the unseen house at first, but then an easier target was in view: the Project Gardener who was mowing grass on his sit down mower in the big area between Murillo's and Armstrong's. That was a mistake as we almost blinded the guy, who jumped off his machine and started running toward us, screaming! We survived, thankfully.
A short walk to our neighborhood 'Safeway' for the bravest of us (you had to cross Spring Street, breaking the 11th Commandment).
1946/47 DAY CARE KIDS
DON SKINNER AND WORDYDAVE
MARTY AND DAVE SKINNER,
MARTY, MICHAEL WAHLS AND DAVE
GENE HERREID AND DAVE
GENE HERREID, DAVE AND
NANCY PATTERSON AND
DAVE CIRCA 1966