This post is part of a project we’ve embarked on to write about places we have lived through the years. In this post Dick talks about the family homes he lived in during the 1950s in the greater San Diego area.
In April 1951 my family moved from New York to California. Our first permanent residence was in Lemon Grove, located east of San Diego. I lived there and in nearby Spring Valley from 1951 to 1960, when I went off to attend UCLA. I was 8 when we arrived, and I was 17 when I left for the university. So this is where I spent most of my boyhood and teenage years.
The house above, 2130 Ensenada St, was our first home in Lemon Grove. It was built in 1947. The picture was taken in 1951 by my father so he could send it “Back East” to show his former friends and relatives our new home. After a few years, my parents bought a house a few blocks away, pictured below, at 2046 Dayton Drive. That house was also built in 1947.
In the 1950s, the “Baby Boom” was in full swing. Our neighborhood was full of many kids. We walked to school. When we weren’t in school, we all played on the street (there weren’t so many cars at the time). I had lots of playmates. My best friends were Philip Mitchell and Lane Carroll, but there were many others. On the street we played baseball, football, basketball, tag, and chase games. We loved to ride on roller skates and bikes as well. The weather was mostly warm and dry in Lemon Grove, so we were outdoors a lot.
In the hot summer weather we retreated to Philip’s garage and played endless card, board, and chess games. Our Monopoly games could last for days.
Our world was very different from what kids experience at the present day. Our parents mostly ignored us when we were out playing. There were no soccer or Little Leagues either. The kids just amused and organized themselves. When it was time for lunch or dinner, our mothers just shouted our names out the front door and expected us to come home. Somebody might tell me “Your Mom wants you.”
It is hard to believe now, but our house had just a small black and white TV that only had programs on at night during the week, with just 3-4 channels. There were kids’ cartoons and Western movies broadcast on Saturday morning. Our single telephone was mainly to be used by the parents, and there was no answering machine to record calls. We did have radios, record players, and later a stereo. None of the teenagers had their own car to drive, and very few of us drove at all.
The basement of the house on Dayton Drive had a workshop area that had been installed by the previous owner. I was the only one in my family that went down there. This was my personal laboratory! Here I made crystal radios, telescopes, spectrascopes, models, etc. There was also a partly finished room inside the basement where my friends and I played card and board games on occasion.
Some time in the 1950s, a small house was constructed in the left rear of the main house. My maternal grandparents, Edward and Louise Moseley, came to live there from Tonawanda, New York. These days the house is listed as a duplex and is valued at $665K.
After I left for UCLA, in 1962, my parents and sister moved to a house at 1115 Purdy Street in Spring Valley. I lived there for two summers before I left for good after Anna and I got married.