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.


Filed under humor

4 responses to “pickup on south street

  1. Wow, that little wire should has a broad range – I’m now thinking about the games I used to play as a kid – floating Popsicle sticks on the melt water as it cascaded down the gutter. Good times.
    People don’t play in the streets any more, you are correct, but there is still plenty of funny business going on in the boardrooms.

    • Parents don’t allow kids to play in the streets any more , unless dad is there playing catch with a kid . We were totally unsupervised until dinner time . Sometimes I am amazed that we all made it this far , not that there weren’t blips along the way .

  2. ” You could lose an eye like that !” – I heard that so many times, Dan. The list of things that could put an eye out is endless. Thanks for the reminder about kickball. what a fun game that was. I would have given anything to have access to a wide quiet street. Our was narrow, busy and decidedly up hill. However, we had a nice corner lot, perfect for wiffleball.

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