by Ski Ingram,

When I lived on Manhattan Beach Blvd and later Gibson Lane, we’d play in the Jap Field.  The Jap Field was a very large field that was about a mile wide and 5 miles long.  I lived near the east end of it.  We’d play for hours in that field, riding our bikes, hunting rabbits, building forts and digging tunnels in the dirt.

There were Railroad tracks that ran from one end of the field to the other.  The tracks ran north and south along Inglewood Ave to Manhattan Beach Blvd where they turned east and west.  When a train reached the corner of Inglewood Ave and Manhattan Beach Blvd it made a sharp left turn to travel west through the Jap Field.  In order to make that sharp turn, the train had to slow way down.  After it made the turn to the west and entered the Jap Field it would begin to pick up speed. 

Many times, us boys, the ones brave enough or stupid enough, would jump on one of the cars for a ride through the field.  We couldn’t ride very far however because if you waited too long to jump off it got going too fast to safely jump off without being hurt.  If you got caught on the faster moving train you couldn’t jump for about 10 miles to the next sharp turn when it began to head North again.

When the train got to the corner of Inglewood Ave and Manhattan Beach Blvd to make the turn west, crossing gates for north/south Inglewood Ave and east/west Manhattan Beach Blvd would go down to stop all vehicle traffic.  Every once in a while, someone would put a metal bar across the tracks at the curve. This caused the gates to go down and the bells to ring, the lights to flash and all the traffic to stop. 

The traffic would be stopped waiting for the train to appear, but no train was coming.  The traffic was often stopped for quite a long time before someone who understood the problem would take pity on the motorists and remove the metal bar.  We thought it was fun to watch the reaction on the motorists’ faces while they became more and more anxious waiting for the train that never arrived.  Life was very different when I was growing up.

As remembered by Ski Ingram 2019