Tag Archive | Bakersfield

Sweet Summer Memories

Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday post (a day late) is on the prompt “Summer.”

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The day had been its normal hot in Bakersfield that late summer day in 1968 when I was approaching 7 years old, the thermometer topping out at 100 dry degrees. My older sister and I had gone to bed in the cool back bedroom of my grandparent’s ranch house on Wible Road, anticipating a phone call about the birth of our new sibling.

I’m not sure where my brother was, but I don’t remember him being with us.IMG_9994 2

It felt right that that’s where I was awaiting this announcement, because I loved that ranch. I loved everything about the house and the grounds. I spent many days playing in the irrigation ditches among the cotton or alfalfa plants, whatever happened to be growing that season.

The smell of cut alfalfa still takes me back.

It always seemed to be summer when we spent time there, so hot was something I was used to. I clearly hear my grandmother “Mimi’s” voice yelling, “Close the door, the refrigeration is on!”

The kitchen of the ranch house was huge, the eating area separated from the cooking area by a bar. The windows looking out over the back yard with the brick walkway and covered outdoor kitchen area that I never remember being used as such. My great grandmother Nona’s house sat just feet away. The rose bushes in their neat rows bordered the side driveway where visitors often parked.

From the old wooden storage shed that held remnants of tractors and other paraphernalia of ranch life to the long rows of growing plants, everything about the place spoke of family history. And I loved it.

IMG_9993I remember one particular summer when I was either in junior high or high school. I went to Bakersfield to stay for a week. I spent most of it that summer at my great aunt “Zizi’s” apartment.

Zizi was my grandmother’s only surviving sister. They had lost my mother’s namesake, Ada, when she was young. Zizi, Zia Emma (“zia” being Italian for “aunt”), had never married, though she had been engaged at one point. We never really got the full story, only that she had moved back with my grandparents when she suffered a nervous breakdown in the aftermath.

That week I spent with Zizi, all I wanted to do was read. She tried to get me to go to the pool, but I only wanted to read. I don’t think she quite knew what to do with me.

Three years ago, my aunt—my mother’s sister—and her son—my cousin—made the decision to sell the house and land. It broke my heart. Never again would I spend any summer days in the stifling heat and lovely memories of that Wible Road home. My grandparents are gone. My great aunt is gone. No more card games with my Nona at the kitchen table of her little green house just a few yards from my grandparents’ place.

My heart yearns for them, those lazy summer days and my precious Italian family.IMG_9995 2

Oh yeah, and my newborn sibling was a girl. Not that she’s a side note; it just happened to be this memory that first came to mind at the word “summer.”

I have so much more to say about this place, but my 10 minutes are up :-). I will touch on this again in a future post.

 

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Going Home Again

Day 10 of our journey finds us on the family ranch in Bakersfield, Calif. This is the place where my mother grew up, and I spent many happy summers as a child. It’s right down the road from Pumpkin Center. It’s the boonies. But I love it. We are staying at the house of my aunt and uncle, whom we haven’t seen in more than 20 years. My kids have never met them. My aunt was my mom’s only sister.

We’re having a fun time catching up and chatting. My great aunt, known as Zizi, is here also. She lives on the same property in her own little house. She’s 94. We haven’t seen her since Morgan was a baby. Seeing this family was the impetus for this trip that has now morphed into this incredible journey. It’s possible to go home again. But “home” is definitely not the same. We’re grateful for this chance.

We are also grateful for the chance to stay with friends in Arizona and Southern California, visit the San Diego Zoo and show our kids what So. Cal beaches are like. We visited Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, and we saw more fancy sports cars in two days than we have in our entire experience in Florida. (At last count, I think it was 3 Lamborghinis, 3 Ferraris and at least a half dozen Porsches. The boys were highly impressed.) In Huntington Beach, we had breakfast with my friend Steve, with whom I went through grade school, junior high school and high school. We got to meet his wife and one of his kids. They took us to Ruby’s Diner on the pier. It was a fun time. This pelican was just standing around on the pier. It was odd behavior. Then we saw a woman throw him some fish. He’s not so dumb after all.

So, just as much fun for me as seeing the sites of the States has been seeing friends we very rarely, if ever, get to see. And there’s still more to come! The big wedding is in just 9 days, and we’ll be making our way up to Washington in about 5 more days. Meanwhile, we enjoy the company of my aunt, who reminds me so much of my mom, and my uncle, who now has a new audience in my kids for all his bad puns.

It feels a lot like home.

 

 

 

 

Thankful today for:

447. building relationships

448. the smell of pies in the oven

449. more than 2 nights in the same bed

450. the smoothness of the journey so far

451. being able to show my kids stuff that was important to me in the past

452. my kids being able to know their California relatives

453. a cooler day in a hot place

454. beautiful cotton plants growing in the fields outside the house

455. lots of fun things to look at in my aunt’s house

456. finding more statehood quarters that we need for our collection

457. rocking chairs

458. our tax refund