By Chuck Woodbury
I grew up to my mid-teens in the last half of the 20th century in a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents moved to West Covina when I was a year old. It was about 20 miles from LA, but rural. The population was 4,000 and our home was in the first housing tract. When we moved away 15 years later, the population was 60,000.
The orange groves were gone by then, the walnut groves were gone, and two-lane Garvey Boulevard to Los Angeles had become I-10, which we called the San Bernardino freeway. My father commuted to downtown LA. In the last few years we lived in our home on Michelle Street, it often took him almost two hours to drive home, battling stop-and-go traffic all the way. He had ulcers from working so hard. It was a status symbol then among young executives to have ulcers, a sign of their ambition, I suppose.
It was then that I vowed that when I grew up I would never take a job where I had to commute like that. And I was true to that promise. I have been stuck in rush hour traffic a few hundred times in my life, but I bet only a couple dozen were work-related.
WHAT A WASTE of a human life to spend hours a day in your car, traveling to and from work.
In those days in West Covina there was nothing in town that was much older than me. Homes and shops were mostly brand-new. The Main Street in nearby Covina was a little older, and that’s where people shopped, and on one day in December watched the Christmas parade. There was no such thing as a mall.
If somebody moved out of their home back then, there was always someone to move right in. There was no such thing as an abandoned house.
So, on my childhood family camping trips into the rural West, after I was old enough to think about what I was seeing outside the window of our Ford station wagon, I was puzzled by the sight of abandoned houses. I could not imagine how someone could just leave a house to crumble away.
I remember my first visit to Boston, when I was eight. My parents took me to the graves of famous people I knew from history books — Thoreau, Longfellow, Emerson. Most lived and died in the late 1700s to early 1800s. It was hard to imagine people living there so long ago.
If I were to go home to West Covina now, I would barely recognize it. The hills where I played behind my house are now covered with luxury homes — great views of the city lights below.
Change happens, I know.
Here’s something related, a poll we asked the readers of RV Daily Tips this past week. Vote if you wish.