Sunday, January 21, 2007

California Dreamin

I have to tell you that this song brings back some fond memories of So Cal, living and growing up there, in the late 60s. I can shut my eyes while listening to this song and see my old house on Del Rosa Avenue, San Bernardino.

Back then it was a real produce department, there were fruit trees all over our back yard.

We had a variety of fruits that could be picked and eaten at that time. Plums, apricots, apples, and pears were the obvious ones. But, we also had grapevines surrounding the patio and they were delicious. In addition to those, we had a lemon tree, lime tree, and a banana tree that put one stalk of bananas out, once a season. And if that wasn't enough, there was a pomegranate tree down the street that I could hijack one or two every now and then.

But the last time I was there (1998), I drove through the old neighborhood and found a different flora indigenous to the area. Abundant fruity vegetation had been replaced by sage brush, tumbleweeds, Yucca trees, and cacti. The expanding desert that was then on the edge of the area has overrun the old neighborhood.

Although now it's all just a memory, I can still shut my eyes while listening to this live version of the Mamas and the Papas (from the Monterey Pop Festival) and still see the yard as it was, then. I can also see the Angel games with Jim Fregosi at shortstop and Bobby Knopp playing third, the baseball games in my back yard with an over-sized softball that we called the "goose egg", and listening to KFXM 59, on the AM dial. (KMEN 129 was okay too, but 59 played the best variety.)

Those were the days.

California was a such a special place, back then.

Hat tip: AC at Fore left for linking to the black and white TV version of the song (which is arguably one of the very best songs of all time, in my opinion), and bringing back those memories back one more time.


Always On Watch Two said...

Abundant fruity vegetation had been replaced by sage brush, tumbleweeds, Yucca trees, and cacti. The expanding desert that was then on the edge of the area has overrun the old neighborhood.

Why? A new fashion in yards?

Here in Northern Virginia, everyone wants a handkerchief-sized yard. My property, with nearly 3/4 acre, has become unsellable: nobody wants this much land to maintain, and the county has so far blocked any development.

LASunsett said...


//Why? A new fashion in yards?//

Over the last 35 years or so, the rainfall in that area has been down quite a lot form the days when I lived there. the desert in CA has been expanding, during that time. The trees have all died and the only thing that will grow is desert shrubbery. In the San Bernardino mountains, fires have killed all of the majestic trees that once towered over Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead and nothing but desert plants have grown back in their place.

L'Amerloque said...

Hello LASunsett !

Amerloque had similar thoughts when learning of the singer's demise. A bit of Amerloque seems to have died, too ...

As LASunsett says, California was a special place, back then. A very, very, very special place.


Mary Ellen said...

Great post, LA. You're right, whenever I hear "California Dreamin", I just can't help but remember that era.

I laughed when I read your description of your backyard filled with fruit trees. I didn't live in California, but my dad had our backyard jammed with fruit trees, also. He worked as a supervisor in the Cook County Highway Dept. and everytime an expressway went through an area and there was a fruit tree in the way of construction, he had the guys dig up the tree and bring it to our house. We had a pear tree (which gave an unbelievable amount of fruit!), 2 apples trees, 3 cherry trees, a plum tree and two peach trees. We also had grapes that went all along the edge of one of our property lines which was arranged so that the trellis' made for a long, enclosed path. The grapes also grew over the top of that pathway.My brothers favorite way to torture me was to stand at both ends of the grape path and make me walk through. There were plenty of snakes (garden variety) and big, black and yellow spiders (we called them banana spiders). I finally defeated them when I got the nerve to pick up a snake and throw it at them. I guess I proved my courage and they stopped doing it to me. It could also have been the threat that if they did it to me again they would find a snake in their beds one night. Growing up with four older brothers was a bear!

Thanks for the memories, kiddo. I'll have to download some Mama's and Papa's on my Ipod today.

A.C. McCloud said...

Thanks for the link, LA. For me the song brings back memories of all my cousins, aunts and uncles who used to be such a part of my life at the time.

Your description of growing up in Cal in the 60s was pretty neat. What caused the desert to come back?

LASunsett said...


Thanks for the memories, kiddo.

You're welcome, kiddo.


LASunsett said...


//What caused the desert to come back?//

The climate has gotten much drier, the drought in the 70s was a tough one.

Always On Watch Two said...

I wasn't aware of that change in rainfall. My mother-in-laws' house burned to the ground in the Altadena fires of 1993; of course, the fruit trees were destroyed along with the house. There used to be an ancient avocado tree on the property, near enough to the house for my husband to reach his hand out the window and grab one. Along with grieving over the loss of the "family homestead," the family mourned the loss of that avocado tree.

The last time we visited that neighborhood (2005), I noticed fewer fruit trees and lot more desert growth on both old and new properties. I had thought--until now--that the change was a reflection of the desire to have less maintenance for one's property, as is the case here in Northern Virginia.

My father-in-law used to say that the Altadena and Pasadena area was "reclaimed" from the desert when irrigation came in. Based on what you've said, the area is now reverting to desert.

One thing I've noticed about that area....A lot less smog! Is that decrease in smog related somehow to the drop in humidity? I know that the reduction is largely due to the reduction in auto emissions, but now I'm wondering about the change in the amount of rainfall as another contributor to getting rid of the nasty smog.

A.C. McCloud said...


As someone who deals with weather a lot, most of that nasty smog/haze is the result of a marine inversion layer. The cool ocean air sneaks in under the normal dry air making it hard to "mix" the smog and haze out of the sky. This is very evident near the ocean where I used to live.

If the desert is encroaching back west (for whatever reason) that should make it harder for the cool marine layer to push as far inland. As you said, the drier climate could be the result of the loss of irrigation for those groves. I am not ready to give it all the credit to the enviros yet!

JPH said...

It's GREAT ! A lot of "souvenirs" for me ! That's my youth ! Thank you so much !