by Ski Ingram
When I was 10 years old, I lived on Manhattan Beach Blvd. There was plenty of things for us kids to do to entertain ourselves in those days. Across the street from my house was the “Jap field.” I think we called it that because before World War two there was a Japanese family who had a nursery there until they were interned during the war. We loved to play there. The field was very large. There was a train track running down the middle of it. There were small hills and depressions where we would ride our bikes. When it rained the depressions would fill up with water and then we’d make rafts and play pirate. There were lots of rabbits running everywhere. We’d hunt them with our bows and arrows. We never hit even one, but we had fun trying. We’d build forts out of whatever we could find. We would also dig tunnels in the dirt and make them our club houses. It was a great place for little boys to play.
The house had one problem, it only had two bedrooms. I had to share a room with my older sister and my little brother. Sherry slept in a twin bed, Doug and I slept in a double bed. I hated it. It wasn’t long before I asked to move out into the garage, so I’d have a room of my own. (See “My own Bedroom” story).
For one summer our whole block began riding Skateboards. Our house was at the east end of the block. The west end of the block was on a slight rise, maybe 15 feet. It was perfect for skateboarding. Kids and parents would be out almost every night riding skateboards.
We didn’t have the store-bought skateboards of today, we had to make them ourselves. We took a pair of skates and nailed one of them to a board. My skates kept falling off the board because I didn’t know how to attach them so the skate would stay on the board.
One of my friends who lived up the block had a father who took it upon himself to fix all of us kids’ skateboards that would stay on the board. He was a great guy. He worked at Marine Land of the Pacific as a diver. My skateboard was now just as good as the ones you can buy today.
It was a lot of work to push my skateboard back up the hill after riding it down. I trained my dog, Pecos, to pull me up the hill after I rode down. I’d carry Pecos’s leash with me as I rode down the hill with Pecos chasing after me. At the bottom of the hill, I’d hook the leash to his collar, and he’d take off up the hill as fast as he could run with me being pulled behind him.
Every family but one participated. Families would have drinks, mostly Kool-Aid, for everyone and cookies and cupcakes to share. It was 1961 and a great summer. I spent most days at the beach and most nights riding skateboards in my neighborhood.
That summer my sister and her best friend, Judy Ahlman, started working at the Winchel’s doughnut shop across the street. Every night sherry would bring home doughnuts for breakfast in the morning.
I’d hang out there to eat doughnuts and do my homework. I met a guy who would come in all the time who lived on the north side of the Jap field. He owned horses and would let me ride them if I’d muck out the stable.
I got my first job, folding papers for Rosie Gammel. She lived a few blocks away and was a member of my church. Every Wednesday night my brother and I would go to her house and fold the Advertiser, a free paper. I’d get ten cents for a bundle of 50 and two dollars for throwing them off the back of her truck. I could make as much as $5.00 a night. Big money for me in those days.
Our back yard was very large with a lot of grass to mow. One day my father brought home a power mower. It was chain driven so you didn’t have to push it. It was still a lot of work for an 11-year-old boy to walk behind it while cutting the grass. One day I hooked my wagon to the lawn mower, put a 5-gallon bucket in the wagon to sit on turning my mower into my first riding lawn mower. After that mowing the lawn was a pleasure.
In our backyard was a peach tree, an almond tree, and a large tree that we built a tree house in. We would also have chickens, ducks, and rabbits. Behind our back fence lived the Boatright’s. They also went to our church. Dennis Boatright, the teenage son, got his private pilot’s license and would take me flying with him occasionally. He later married Larry Westover’s sister.
One day my father brought home a home-made camper. It was built to fit on the back of a flatbed truck. My father put it in the backyard, hooked power to it and let me use it as my new bedroom. I had a bunkbed in it and a small desk and chair. I loved it. Larry Westover and I spent many a night in that bedroom when he would sleep over at my house.
In 1965, when I was 15 years old, we moved to 3210 Gibson Lane, about four blocks away. I don’t know why we moved. The house was still a two-bedroom, one bath house. By this time Sherry was living in an apartment with Judy, so I only had to share the bedroom with my brother Doug.
As remembered by Ski Ingram