I Moved To Oaxaca

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Latest book to pass the time before the new magazines arrive: Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories. Originally titled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., but I think Penguin did the right thing in changing it. Every time he mentions some place wa-a-a-ay out in the New York countryside, like the Tappan Zee, or Sing-Sing, or Tarry Town, I remember how fast a place can change. When I was a kid my family lived for a time in an apartment right on an arroyo: street, apartment building, parking area in back, arroyo. Across the channelized arroyo was Alhambra (now sadly of Phil Spector fame). Across the street a couple of the older houses, on big wooded lots, still survived, though by the time I graduated from high school they’d all become apartment complexes. Anyway, a woman lived in one of those houses, and she’d tell me what the street was like when she was a kid in the 40s, before the arroyo became a concrete wash. All the lots had little wood houses on them, no apartment buildings, no American Legion Hall, no convalescent hospital on the corner, no Victor’s restaurant (a business that kept blowing up and/or burning down; last time I was in San Gabriel it was gone for good). She never mentioned the embankment at the end of the street, which was thick with nopales, but it was so extensive I imagine that it was there in the 40s, too. She did say that their were fields still in front of the mission and city hall back then – by the time we lived there, the only greenery was a small park sandwiched between the mission, city hall, and busy Mission Rd. Or was it Mission Blvd? We had one of each, and they intersected, much to the consternation of out-of-town drivers and to the amusement of us kids.


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