The City of Angels adventure

(Note: It’s advisable to read the previous post, The New York City Adventure, before reading this one.)

* * * *

GETTING OFF the Greyhound bus from New York City, there I was in Nashville, Hillbilly Heaven, and where my parents had relocated three years earlier.

My father picked me up at the bus station, drove me back to their apartment, phoned my mother where she was working, and said: Brace yourself.

Those very words.

I soon had a job at a small firm that refurbished mattresses. I and another guy would drive a truck to homes and pick up tatty mattresses that would be cleaned and returned to the owners. I worked there just long enough to save money for another Greyhound ticket, back to California.

My parents were still bracing themselves when I headed west again.

The ride from Nashville was not quite so long as the earlier trip from Los Angeles to New York, but it was a long haul nonetheless. Only a few months had passed.

I got off the bus in downtown Los Angeles, and a friend from the Air Force met me. I quickly found a studio apartment in Santa Monica and a job parking cars in a Beverly Hills lot. Things went downhill fast, economically and emotionally.

Just a few weeks later, I was broke. And living in Los Angeles without a car ain’t no cakewalk. I phoned my parents and asked for bus fare. Soon I was back on a Greyhound heading east to Nashville.

Shortly after my return, I enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but that did not last long. Nothing lasted long for me in those times.

My parents were in Nashville because my father was working on The Tennessean newspaper. Within a year after my second return, my parents moved to New Orleans. I jumped into the Rambler’s back seat, going along for the ride.

New Orleans. Now that was a place where I felt at home.

For 18 years.

Two wives, one divorce, two (almost three) degrees, the newspaper business, bars, motorcycles, airplanes, raw oysters, Dixie Beer, crawfish and ketchup, hangovers, Mardi Gras … and even more Dixie Beer. It was a city that suited me.

23 thoughts on “The City of Angels adventure

  1. Sitting here in Mérida listening to La Ermita to wake up. I never lived in New Orleans, but I imagine the climate there is similar to what I am experiencing right now. Surprising to many, I’m used to it and like it. I enjoy your tales of the past.

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    1. Bev: I’ve only been in Mérida once, and it was January. Not an accident. I planned it that way. It wasn’t too bad, but I don’t know Mérida enough to make a comparison. Decades ago, a coworker on the New Orleans newspaper went to Mérida on vacation. When he returned, he said it was worse than New Orleans, which I find difficult to believe. New Orleans is almost surrounded by swamps and Lake Pontchartrain, making the city incredibly humid which, in comparison with the six-plus months of extreme heat, create a very unpleasant environment. I never even got close to getting used to it.

      As for my tales of the past, thanks. It’s fun for me to remember this stuff and to be thankful I’m not nearly so nuts anymore.

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  2. The summer after I finished high school, my mother put me out of the house. She did the same with my older sister, and my younger brother left at 16. It was the late ’60s, and the world was changing, even in small-time Atlantic Canada. Let’s just say that there are a few blurry years during which I grew up a bit.

    We are what we’ve lived, Felipe. Some come through it to become good people. I think you’re one of them.

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      1. Felipe; She had depression problems possibly due to a hysterectomy when she was about 35. I was no angel, but she was one mean woman, and hasn’t warmed up a lot. Still nasty at 94.

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        1. Kris: Wow! And another example of the good die young, and the nasty hang on forever. Bad luck for you. I pretty much lucked up in the mother department. My father, well, not so much, but he was never nasty. Could have been worse.

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  3. Señor, your personal histories are interesting to those of us who have lived similar moments. Not the same cities/towns or people but congruent memories. You are fortunate to have located the third and best wife and the attitudes of a settled old guy pretty happy with your current situation.
    Best to you and the señora, sir.

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  4. Our choices create our reality, and you have taken those choices and made wonderful stories with them. Teenage lust and angst create many memories and so do the ones from my twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and on and on we go … creating.

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  5. The 1960s were a time of flux and rootlessness. The term “Lacks Direction” came up a lot back then. The youth of that era were afflicted with what my mother called “Gypsy Feet.”

    You were lucky in that you survived. So many died of drugs or the war.

    New York City was a mugging waiting to happen, Chicago, a murder, and LA was a horrible traffic accident punctuated by riots or earthquakes.
    You were so lucky. Archie Bunker used to say that God protects drunks and dingbats.

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    1. Señor Gill: I used to be a drunk (now and then) and may still be a dingbat (many would say so, but they all vote for Democrats), so God must be watching my back. I hope so. Hope she watches yours too.

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  6. It seems like the world was much more forgiving in those days. Now, it seems, if you don’t make the right choices at age 17, you are screwed for life. Oh sure, that’s not literally true always and everywhere. But the world seems more competitive than ever, and one false move, and you could be toast, or at least thoroughly derailed.

    I’m glad you made it through, though. And I’ll second the enjoyment of these old tales. Keep ’em coming.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we’ll probably dig up an old tale or two. Eventually.

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  7. This is a real page turner.

    You are such a talented writer and I’m convinced that you could be a published author. Maybe you are.

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    1. Hi, Connie. Nice to hear from you. You’ve been awfully quiet. As for being a published author, sure I am! Right here almost nonstop since January 2005. It counts in my book. Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it.

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  8. You’ve lived quite the life. New Orleans would seem to be a great place for a young man. No place like it (at least that I’ve seen, but I’m not nearly as well-traveled as you).

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    1. Ray: I took to New Orleans like that proverbial pig took to slop. In other words, I was in Hog Heaven. If my parents had only known what they were doing when they let me sit in the Rambler’s back seat for the drive that deposited me in Louisiana’s Gomorrah.

      In other words, I had a grand time.

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