Mountain Musings


Old Days


Recently, I was inspired by something this newspaper’s esteemed owner Mick Hill wrote in his Mick’s View column, entitled “Enjoying Summer in Crestline in the Good Old Days.” It caused me to pause and recall fond memories of my own childhood.


Like Mick, I too enjoyed summer vacations, growing up in the OC. Let me take you back to those halcyon days of yesteryear.


Growing up in Tustin, before the advent of computers, cell phones and drive-by shootings, life was simpler and less frantic. It was a time of innocence, a time accented by Butch Wax, Blackjack gum, S & H Green Stamps, coffee shop diners with tabletop juke boxes, dial telephones, newsreels before the movie, 45 RPM records, ice-cold popsicles delivered curbside by the Good Humor Man and black-and-white television with a test pattern featuring the image of an Indian that came on after the TV station signed off at midnight.


“Old days, good times I remember. Fun days filled with simple pleasures, drive-in movies, comic books and blue jeans, Howdy Doody, baseball cards and birthdays take me back to a world gone away, memories seem like yesterday. (“Old Days” – Chicago – 1975)


My summertime fun seems to have paralleled Mick’s. I, too, enjoyed horseback riding in these mountains, where I spent four weeks in the summer of ’59 at Mill Creek Boys Ranch in the hills east of Big Bear. Even before that, I went horseback riding on summertime family outings in the High Sierras, clinging to my pappy as we rode into the wilderness above Glacier Lodge on Big Pine Creek.


While Mick, as a child, swam in in the pool at the campground in Valley of Enchantment, I was able to swim on “green flag days,” when a neighbor raised a flag, inviting all the kids in the neighborhood to swim in their pool. As a teen, Mick rode his bike to Lake Gregory to go swimming. When I was older, me and the boys in the hood rode our bikes down to Corona del Mar to frolic in the waves.


Back in the day, bicycles were the main mode of transportation. One of our fun activities on a boring summer afternoon was to ride our bikes down to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, south of Tustin, to watch the jet planes take off and land.


I have to admit that growing up surrounded by orange groves and eucalyptus trees is quite different from an area surrounded by pines, cedars and oaks. It afforded us the ability to build bamboo forts and conduct orange fights…such a violent upbringing for this old peacenik. It seems like just yesterday…I must be getting old.


“Oh, old days, good times I remember, gold days I’ll always treasure. Funny faces full of love and laughter, funny places, summer nights and streetcars take me back to a world gone away. Boyhood memories seem like yesterday.”


Keep it flyin’, Uncle Mott