Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pic 'n' Save

After moving to the Riverside-San Bernardino area (real natives from that neck of the woods don't say "Inland Empire!" It sounds like you're trying to sell something) from Oceanside in 1966, we often went to a store in Fontana (which was on the site of a recently closed McDonald's Supermarket--no relation to the fast food chain). This was a store that sold things other stores couldn't sell. And this store had something else... FREE STUFF! I remember getting finger puppets that were absolutely free, even if my parents didn't buy anything!

The store, later I realized, was part of a bigger chain. Over the years, I came to appreciate it. I could get almost anything I wanted for pennies.

When I moved to Texas in 1989, I was surprised that there were several Pic 'n' Save stores in the Fort Worth area (I also refuse to say Metroplex!) But for some reason, after about a year, the store name was changed to MacFrugal. Nothing about the store had really changed except the name...

But remember this: Name changes never happen for no reason! What happened was there was a Pic 'n' Save chain in Florida and this cleared up the confusion of two chains with the same name. Never mind that there weren't any other Pic 'n' Save stores in Texas (that I knew of) besides the one chain I knew from California. Outside California, Pic 'n' Save was MacFrugal.

Fast forward about fifteen years. I was back in California and started noticing the signs were changing. Now it was Big Lots! This was more than just a name change. It marked the beginnings of a merger with a store chain from back East and this chain promised not to sell any junk. For that, you have to go to the 99 Cents Only Store or Dollar Tree.


Riverside's Osteopathic Hospital

I went to Google to look for 4295 Brockton Avenue. It's my birthplace. It was Riverside's Osteopathic Hospital until about 1961, when it became a psychiatric clinic. Years later, when my family moved to nearby Colton, it had become a secretarial college. That's what it was when I left California in 2006. It's also been the site of a bail bonds office. I don't know what it is now.

As a hospital, it was very small. There wasn't even a physician on duty. I was born at 1:15 AM, it was Saturday, but, to my parents, it was still Friday night.

For those who don't know, an osteopath is a physician who employs some chiropractic techniques. Most of my doctors have been osteopaths, but I've only known them to use "normal" medical practices.

Incidentally, Riverside, even though it's the largest city (312,000) of Riverside County, California, doesn't have very "urban" sounding house numbers. The hospital was located in the middle of the city.

Rooftop TV Antennas

Originally, cable television was for people who lived too far away from a local TV outlet to receive it with an antenna. Consequently, Barstow, California, had cable long before Los Angeles, Chicago, or even New York City!

As a student at Tennessee Technological University, living in the dormitory, a cable box came free with the room. Without it, the only channel we could pick up was WCPT-TV, channel 55, in Crossville. That station has long since left the air (1983). We didn't have any "premium" stations. We couldn't even get WTBS in Atlanta (today's TBS). But we could get two of the three network affiliates in Knoxville, most of the stations in Chattanooga, the lone ABC affiliate in Bowling Green, Kentucky (site of then arch rival Western Kentucky University), and everything that came on in Nashville. Since we were on the dividing line between the Central and Eastern Time Zones (but living in the Central), we had to think of the clock accordingly. The 6:00 news on channel 9 (ABC) in Chattanooga came on at 5:00 in Cookeville.

A few years later, the movie channels were added then the special interest channels. Today it's possible to watch everything on TV and never watch anything airing on the local stations. Since the channels can show nothing but commercials, it's not really worth watching most that comes over the air...

I can also tell you about how, in the 1970s, when there was a tropical storm in the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast from Los Angeles, we could get some amazing "skips." I can remember watching something on KNBC, channel 4 (Los Angeles) in 1975. The wind blew and we were watching a news broadcast from somewhere in North Dakota. The picture was absolutely clear! You can't get that with cable!

Ken-L-Ration Dog Food

My dog's bigger than your dog;

My dog's bigger than yours!

My dog's bigger

'Cuz he gets Ken-L-Ration;

My dog's bigger than yours!

North Oceanside Elementary School

When North Oceanside Elementary School was built in 1939, it was a state of the art school with everything every school is supposed to have. It was my first school I went there from September 1962 (Kindergarten) until May 1966 (third grade), when we moved to Colton (next city to San Bernardino, but not far from my birthplace, Riverside).

Let me interject a sidenote here: The day after we settled into the Mount Slover Trailer Village in Colton, my mother was curious and went to the offices of the Colton Joint Unified School District to ask when school started in September. But school was still running... it was still running in Oceanside, too. The administration knew that some schools outside California have school years that end sometime in May. So they promoted my sister and me four weeks before the school year was over. But when they knew we were public school students, sitting at home, doing nothing except watching Sheriff John, they told us to go to U.S. Grant Elementary School as soon as possible. We still had three more weeks of school left! Bummer...

For the students at North Oceanside School, this would be their last year. The school was to be demolished to put in a new freeway to bypass Mission Avenue (California State Route 76). They would go across the San Diego Freeway (I-5) to North Terrace Elementary School.

We didn't keep much in contact with old friends in Oceanside and soon forgot them. But we'd go to Oceanside on the weekends... they had a very decent beach with no charge access. Parking was under $1.00...

Strange, we often went by the old school and nothing happened! It was closed but all the buildings were still standing, something like a ghost town!

Time passed by... I graduated from Colton High School in 1975... I went to three different colleges before dropping out in 1978... Then I joined the Army in early 1979, and was honorably discharged seven years later... I graduated from college, moved away to Texas for graduate school and work... I came back... And we'd go to the beach in Oceanside and nothing happened to my old school... until...

1995, we saw some earth moving equipment on one of our beach trips. About a year after this, we saw what you see at the top of this posting. My old school is where you see the palm trees on the right side. I think one or two buildings are still there. And it really wasn't a freeway... It is the San Luis Rey River Expressway. It has intersections and not on/off ramps.

Just think, it only took thirty years!