Thursday, June 12, 2008

Seeing Sunset Strip

In October of my Sophomore year of high school, my dad retired from the military. On Halloween night we left Virginia, piling into the station wagon for a cross country trip to California. Dad had accepted a job with Atomics International, and after about a week on the road we pulled into Hollywood. Dad wanted us to travel up Sunset Strip, which we had seen on television.

Rumor has it that it never rains in California, but when it rains, it pours. As we wound our way up Sunset Strip, we were all rubber necking to see the famous buildings and hoping to see stars. Most of what we saw was the rain. We did see the Brown Derby restaurant, though, shaped like a brown derby, and 77 Sunset Strip, home of the TV show we'd all watched. Traffic moved slowly as most people were either looking for parking spots or playing tourist like we were. And the rain was slowing everything down.

Then I happened to see something that really left an impression. There in the pouring rain, walking down the sidewalk, was a man in a fancy suit. He had no umbrella, which would have been expected on the East Coast. Rather, in one hand he carried a briefcase, while in his other hand he carried his shoes and socks. If ever there was a time in my life when I felt like saying, "Hey, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore," that was it.

So California was a different world for us. I escaped, often for years at a time, but most of the family stayed, so I kept going back. Now we're gone for good, retired in the Rockies, and mighty glad of it, even though I have a heart full of precious memories. Perhaps I'll spend a few blog days back in high school. I haven't been there in about... let's say forty years and leave it at that.

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