back to the future

San Marino, California My home town

San Marino, California–Photo: Melvin Hale
My home town

Back to the Future

were I to tell you of those years,
a canvas washed in yellow joy, the only
years in my lifetime

that we knew peace

you would believe me
delusional, a liar, just-plain-nuts

those years when crisis
meant sharing mom’s 55 buick
“The War of the Keys”
with a sis-
ter older than I by
7 months

or how she
ran with the popular kids
while I read Flaubert and
Greek trage-
dies (irae)
with other eggheads.

we’d fill the tank on
dad’s credit line
at twenty-
five cents a gallon

have groceries delivered
from Tipton’s meat market
by a pimple-faced kid
(I had the crush but
he wanted her)

yellow summer uniforms
wool plaid in California
cold—saddle oxfords
or white bucks, socks rolled
down and duck tails.

the fire escape,
the fire drills
that birthed our fear of heights
the school (building now condemned)

walk to the Copa
after school for cherry
and boys
from San Marino High.

now gas is $3.73 a gallon
i’m still afraid of heights,
my hair is should be gray,
sun shines golden on the snow
and Cris is gone.

Ramona Convent Secondary School as it was back then.

Ramona Convent Secondary School
as it was back then.

My widowed mom married a widower with a daughter my age in 1952 when we were 7 years old. To say our relationship was challenged is putting it mildly since we were in the same grade in the same school throughout. Thankfully, as adults, the competition evaporated and we were friends. Sadly, I lost Cris in 2004, age 61, to pancreatic cancer.

This is in response to Amy’s guest prompt for dVerse meeting the bar where we are writing free verse, timing ourselves for 9 minutes only, about a period of time in our lives. I chose my teen years, late 50’s, very early 60’s.

I’m more comfortable with a bit of poetic structure, so this is a bit awkward. But it should be fun to read everyone’s mini-memoirs. Most will be, no doubt, a lot more exciting than mine. The 50’s were, well, pretty tame but we didn’t know any better.

22 thoughts on “back to the future

  1. Kate Mia says:

    sMiLes Victoria..
    the first thing that
    hits me here is
    your price
    of Gas
    In Nevada..
    here in Northwest
    Florida i pay
    1.89 for a
    $19 dollar
    fill-up in
    my Honda
    Civic two-door
    as opposed
    to your $3.73
    cents close
    Casino Land…
    but seriously i was
    just thinking about the
    back to the future of
    our gas prices
    here.. as i am
    paying the
    of about
    75 cents
    a gallon vs.
    my Sports Utility
    vehicle before now..
    anyway may the
    Force of Oil come down
    soon for you too.. in terms
    of dollars and sense.. as
    Gas iS pouring relatively
    free here
    and thank goodness
    we don’t have all
    those clouds of
    white we have
    here when
    gas is
    19 cents
    a gallon.. in
    the 60’s of STINKY pollution
    here then.. yes.. i’d rather have
    expensive gas than
    clouds of
    sMiles again..
    ups and downs
    of using old dead
    dinosaurs and
    such as that..
    to make
    a living..;)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Misky says:

    Victoria, this is perfection. Hands-down my favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ghostmmnc says:

    Wonderful memories of that time of your life. So sorry for the loss of Cris.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful memories, so full of nostalgia. Cris left you far too soon. You must really miss her.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh real cherry cokes. A lovely trip down memory lane!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary says:

    I really enjoyed this, Victoria; and it is not true at all that most were more exciting than yours. I like poetry that is real & says something about a person and their life; and that is what I got from your writing. Plus I too remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon. I didn’t read Greek tragedies, but did read more Shakespeare and Hardy and Camus than we were required to read. I liked the inner story of the two ‘sisters’ too. And the sad ending jolted me….as life does sometime! A blessed Christmas to you, Victoria!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Easy going, truthful, straightforward tale. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You have created a perfect memoir in free verse. Your school looks and sounds a lot like mine in the 40’s, but without the car!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Che Che Luckini says:

    Hi Victoria,
    You took me back to a similar time in my life; really took me back!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bodhirose says:

    I love this, Victoria. Life back in the 50s were much simpler and easier somehow…well, maybe except for those dang fire escapes! I liked your backstory of you two sisters, and I had heard before of her too-early demise. So sorry for that.

    Enjoy your holidays, Victoria, I’ll see you next year! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. purple ash says:

    “have groceries delivered
    from Tipton’s meat market
    by a pimple-faced kid
    (I had the crush but
    he wanted her)”

    Ouch. 😦

    This is my favorite stanza:
    “walk to the Copa
    after school for cherry
    and boys
    from San Marino High.”

    I loved reading about these memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Later in 1950, the Korean War started, with “peace”, but Cold War from 1953-1963, while Eisenhower started the interstate freeway system.
    this freely-wheeling bit of nostalgia really transported me back to 1950, when I was in first grade; took 10 elementary schools in 6 years for me , becuz we moved so often.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Grace says:

    How sad that she is gone….But you brought us back there Victoria, with all the sights of that bygone year and time ~ Now I recall I hate those fire drills and school uniforms ~

    Enjoyed this one Victoria ~ Happy Holidays to you ~

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Such a beautifully moving poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. kanzensakura says:

    and Cris is gone…oh how that tore my heart. This is a wonderful poem – it doesn’t try to be cool or avant garde or angry or intellectual – it just comes from the heart, from a time when that pimple faced boy was a dream and cherry cokes were mixed at the fountain of a drug store instead of coming premixed in an aluminum can. I really liked this a lot. So far, the best of them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. scillagrace says:

    The atmosphere is well-described, and the photos add the pastel frosting on the top. Enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Victoria.. this is so great.. the closing stanza.. that closed all those competitiveness of siblings (of course I wondered about the 7 months).. I really think this became a wonderful poem. Somehow there is something very real about those words that just have spilled on paper…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess it seems real because that’s how it was. Though, I confess, the pimple-faced kid was someone who saddled our horses at a dude ranch in the San Gabriel mountains one summer. Can’t even remember the kid from Tipton’s, though he was a teen, too.


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