We had a bit of a family history trip this summer with my 15 year old son. I took him with me to Burbank for the Southern California Genealogical Society conference. We had a great trip and he helped me with my lectures and with the booth. It was good to have time to talk to him on the drive. I took the opportunity to show him around Westchester. CA where my mother grew up and where I spent my summers with my grandparents.
We went to the house where my mother grew up. It was easy to find because I still have the address soundly memorized because of all letters I wrote my grandparents as a little girl. It turns out the house was for sale. The house didn't look like it was in very good shape, but hopefully there will be new owners that love it soon. There is my son out in front. And the pictures below are left to right: My mother and her sister in the late 40s, me and Grandpa in about 1971 and a picture from when we visited in the late 90s after they had moved. It was so fun to show him the neighborhood and tell him about my adventures in the summers--that's the bumpy sidewalk where I learned to roller skate, and here is the market we would walk to for "pop rocks" candy. I showed him the church they attended and where my parent's wedding reception was. It was so great to be in the old neighborhood again.
We went to her high school.and her elementary school. I told him about how she and her friends would take summer school just to be closer to the beach and then they all would go hang out at the beach afterward. Mom was in Accapella Choir here with the 60s musical group the Turtles. We drove past the elementary school too.
And we went out to the beach, where my Mom spent so much time and where we played as little children. I had forgotten about all the hills going out to the beach and how it seemed we would never get there--even though it was only a few minute's drive.
He put up with me getting all sentimental. I don't know how much he appreciated the tour but he was good natured about it. But I was really struck with the fact that it is now up to me to pass on these memories. I had never purposely gone back to that neighborhood on my own. We have been past there several times with my parents since my grandparents moved in 1991. We've taken trips down to Disneyland, etc and we always take a drive through Westchester to see how the house is doing. But my parents were always in charge. This was the first time I had driven there myself to show the next generation where it was.
As we drove around, the memories were thick--I can still see my grandparents living there and smell the jasmine bush next to the kitchen window that would smell so good in the evenings when the windows were open. I can see the strawberry cookie jar and hear the way the washing machine rattled. But he knows none of that. It was up to me to make that come alive for him. I was amazed that even as young as I am--and with my parents still very much alive--the torch had already passed to me to pass down memories of people the next generation didn't know.
And I loved my grandparents so much. I really wanted him to know them. I'm still working on that. But we had a wonderful afternoon.
And guess what--we were blessed with a little bit of serendipity. I think my grandfather smiled down on us. When we were done, we drove over towards the grocery store where my grandparents always shopped looking for a late lunch. It has been turned into a strip mall. Right where we went shopping all the time was Grandpa's favorite resturaunt. So we had lunch there--wishing Grandpa was really there to enjoy it with us. Maybe he was. Maybe he really was.