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.