Thursday, June 10, 2021

Places, some of them nostalgic

 Torrance did have a beach, Hermosa, Redondo or some place like that, but it was sandy and no place for free diving.  I drove to places in Palos Verdes, especially White's Point with lots of rocks like the Jeju ladies climbed over.  It took me 20 or 30 minutes to drive to those places.   In those days, when my first wife was learning to spend more than I made, I supplemented my initially meager income by keeping our freezer full of fish.  We ate more fish than most people.

As to surfers, I did have some conflicts with them on occasion.  Some of them seemed as though they would have liked to have gotten pushy with their boards, but by then I used a spear-gun with a 4-foot-long stainless steel spear which I'm sure impinged upon any aggressive thoughts they might have entertained.   

More nostalgia:

At age 12 while living in Wilmington I got a paper route delivering the Long Beach Press Telegram.  That's where I learned to wrestle, which is what we did until our papers arrived -- after which we'd fold them, put them in our bags, sling our bags over the racks on our bicycles and rush off to make our deliveries.  Collecting was the worst part of that job.  We collected every month and not everyone was happy about paying for their papers. 

After the paper route job, my truck-driving step-father got me a job as a water-melon stacker working for Al Harrison, "the water melon king."   After that I worked for Harry Foster who bought a burned-down warehouse on the docks.  It was full of clocks.  He hired a crew of high-school boys to remove G.E & Telechron roters.  We also salvaged pot metal.  He made me the foreman; which involved some conflicts.  Some of the kids who didn't want to work as hard as I did would dig themselves inside of the stacks of empty cardboard boxes and hide out.  When I discovered that I fired the worst culprits, one of whom was my cousin David.  This occasioned my aunt Dorothy saying she would never forgive me, but she did.  This also occasioned a fairly savage fight between me and the boy who first learned about the salvage job, Andy Dugas.  He thought he should have been the foreman.  He thought I didn't have the authority to fire him.  Mr. Foster showed up while we were fighting, asked what was going on.  I told him.  He backed me up and Andy stalked off.  As far as I know, he never forgave me. 

When I started college, at what was then Long Beach State, I had the G.I. Bill which wasn't very much.  My father got me into the Operating Engineers and I drove a lumber carrier for a while.  After that my step-father got me into the Teamster's Union and I loaded and unloaded trucks.  I worked out of the Teamster's Hiring Hall in Wilmington.  I would put my name on the list and when a truck driver would call to say that he needed a couple of swampers, unless he specified particular ones by name, the next names on the list would be called.  That worked out well for me.  I arranged my classes either Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesdays and Thursdays and worked out of the hiring hall on the other days.   I would take books inside and study until my name was called. 

While I was in the Teamster's Union we had an election.  We were all encouraged to vote for Jimmy Hoffa.  We could have voted for whomever we wanted, but we were advised, "sure, Jimmy Hoffa is a crook, but he's our crook" so of course I voted for Jimmy.

When I started work at Douglas Aircraft Company in August 1959, I wasn't sure that job was going to work out; so I kept my Teamster's membership active for a few years. 

I bought the Torrance House in 1962.  That was the year McNamara cancelled the Skybolt program which is the program I was working on and doing well enough to encourage me to risk buying a house.  Thankfully I was able to transfer over to the Commercial side where I worked on DC-8s and DC-9s.  One fellow I worked with, one day challenged me about all the different jobs mentioned doing (and I didn't mention all of them above).   His name was Ken Hackney.  We became good friends, but he was eventually laid off.  He "borrowed" $50 from me so he could take a job as editor of a small newspaper in some state like Kansas.  Before he left he gave me a copy of the poems of Yeats in which he inscribed

"For the Helms, Christmas 1969

"And many a poor man that has roved,

Loved and thought himself beloved,

From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes."

Thank you both,

Love, Ken & M.L."

[I had forgotten about M.L.  Ken's first wife left him.  He crashed his car but survived; after which he found himself a librarian, M.L.]

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