pickup on south street

This morning I was wandering through the rich neighborhood  north of Foothill on the other side of Santa Anita Ave. My mind was wandering , too , a little faster than I walk . I was looking at the mansions , listening to the latino  gardeners neaten up the large yards with their noisy mowers and trimmers  and blowers , wondering where the house owners are . I never see them and , so , I always wonder where they are .

I saw a little piece of metal on the road as I walked . It brought back memories from childhood . Funny how that happens .  Memories swarmed . I passed the little piece of metal but I decided to go back  and  pick it up . I brought it home . street finding - street cleaner bristle 003

I picked it up because , when I was a kid , I would have picked it up .   These things  were  treasures  for us kids back in those days .

It’s a slender steel bristle from a street-cleaning brush . The street cleaner has  a large rotating cylindrical metal-bristled brush noisily slapping the crud on the asphalt as the vehicle drives  slowly along .  I haven’t seen one of those vehicles in several years . I wondered if maybe the city  discontinued the service; but now I think :  except in the rich neighborhood . The rotating brush never seemed to ever clean anything anyway . Maybe the sweeper sloosh , sloosh , slooshes around the rich neighborhood still , bothering nobody , cleaning nothing , but nevertheless going through the motions , putting in time , feeling useful  .  The rich guys’ properties are shaped and shorn and organized carefully  into yards of  polished pulchritude .  But , despite the evident appearances of the elusive and endangered street sweeper , the roads in the rich neighborhood look like those in my neighborhood , looking remarkably like my road’s asphalt ,  sandy and scraped , with a lived-on look .

My father used to detest these little flexible metal toys we’d find on the road . They were dangerous . They’re flexible with somewhat sharp edges . A kid could bend one of these , then  maliciously let it go , and it would spring out and fly recklessly through the air at high speed .  I can hear my dad : ” You could lose an eye like that !”  None of my friends ever did , but  my dad was right ; you could lose an eye like that . We did fling those things hazardously  at one another , aggressively , causing various other injuries to each other  besides losing an eye .

I think that  cities must have swept the streets more often in those days . It seems to me that those little metal shards were lying around all the time , on every street ,  when I was a kid . Maybe they are still lying all around . Maybe  kids still  find them  when , to adults , they are unseen .  Could it be ?  And , maybe kids are no longer interested , these days ,  in picking some discarded scrap of junk off the street to make it a toy , to test it for potential uses ,  inventing   low-tech ,  perhaps foolish , forms of simple entertainment . We were so unsophisticated back then , I suppose , but easily entertained .Julian Pete 001

I suppose I have had rich guys on my mind recently . I’ve been reading a book titled THE GREAT LOS ANGELES SWINDLE  written by a man named Jules Tygiel and published in 1994 .  In the 1920s  many of the L.A. elite traded stocks and made money , legally and otherwise   , investing in what was called Julian Pete stock . A self-promoter named C.C. Julian started an oil company when oil wells in the L.A. area became a big deal ,  and  later , a mining company , and he roped in the big money men who made quick money questionably on Julian Pete stock deals until the whole scam fell apart . Old man Flint was one of the investors . Motley  Flint was the guy who started the upscale city of Flintridge ,  just north of L.A.  My thoughts were wandering ,  as I’ve said , while I was walking this morning ,  toward  Motley  Flint , Julian Pete , the 1920s L.A. underworld , and wealth in general .

Wealth is a relative concept , after all . Some of these guys involved in the Julian Pete swindle had , and admitted that they did, more money already than they could spend . But , they wanted more . C.C. Julian and others were there to promise them more , to promise easy profits on sure-thing  investments .   The investments seemed so good and paid off so well that they never seemed honest . But nobody asked many questions .  Just bask in your incredible luck and  don’t ask too many questions ! And they did . And they didn’t .  And they counted their money .  And they all must have lived in big houses , as big as these ,  surrounded by their rose gardens and iron gates  and manicured acres of lawn ,  in places more exclusive ,  yet similar ,  to where I am this morning  , in  Beverly Hills and in  Pasadena  and in Flintridge .

The subtitle of the  book I’m reading  is  OIL , STOCKS , AND SCANDAL DURING THE ROARING TWENTIES .  These shenanigans  didn’t end in the twenties , though .  Does the name Bernie Madoff ring a bell ?  But , I’m just talking through my hat .  I don’t comprehend money matters , especially at the rich guy level . I just wonder . I wonder where all the people who live in these huge houses are . Are they in there , I wonder , or  are they out in the world doing business , making profitable deals as , simultaneously , I wander along their streets, making no deals ,  gaping often impertinently at their front facades ?  I walk along , treading the asphalt of their streets , because there are no sidewalks . The unwritten , needless , invisible signs in a place like this clearly say PRIVATE . KEEP  OUT .

Kids could play softball or kickball on these streets . It’d be great ; the roadways stretch  wide and are almost  deserted . Windows are so far from the curbs in this neighborhood that no ball would threaten them .  But , no one plays in the streets here and never have , I suspect.walk in rich oaks neighborhood 041.

1 Comment

Filed under humor

One response to “pickup on south street

  1. Sometimes I find little treasures too. I think kids don’t play with such things nowadays because Mom’s would say, “Quick, drop that. Use this hand sanitizer.” a lot different, good or bad? Not sure.

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