the Friends Pages (4)

A Birthday Outing, 1946 Or So

There were two phases to this celebration of my eighth or ninth birthday: equestrian at the pony-ride facility, and a picnic by the lake in a park.

The first part of the day was remarkable in that one of the ponies ahead of me stopped to make road apples, and my pony would not be steered away from him, so my knee rubbed the back end to serve as toilet tissue.

During the second part, playing at the edge of the lake, one of the guests was leaning over to pick up something in the water. He fell in. My dad rushed to pull him out, over my body, overriding my small effort to do the same. Dad was convinced I pushed the kid in. I didn't and don't think so. Shades of "Niagara." Is that how 'bad seeds' get their start?

These took place in Orange County, California. Santa Ana Canyon, or another whose name I can't remember. Santiago Canyon. Something. I think they built the freeway from Santa Ana to Riverside through it, destroying considerable nature, and spelling the end of the roadside stand where you could buy honey and avocados grown within yards of where you were, and drop peanuts through a tube into the eager paws of a few captive raccoons, who caught and fastidiously washed each goober in a jar of water.

I'm not certain, I think this might be the same park, or a nearby one, where Linda Spahn and I joined two of her neighbors at another picnic, 1955 or '56. "Rita." Rita Thornburg and her husband, whose name I do not remember. "Rusty." Story there, too.


Joan Keller, or "Joanie" I think I remember, since her Mom was a Sr. Three or four years older than Your OBedient Servant. Brother Don, five years younger than me. Are we having fun, or what?

The Keller pater familias, David, was one of the first Kaiser-Fraser franchisees. He couldn't sell one to my Dad. Keller had a cream and black Bugatti in his garage, the one Davy and I used to sit in for fun, and that needed a can of ether to start before he could rent it to the movie folks from time to time. Davy said you could go into a turn with the "Bug," let go of the steering wheel, floor it and it would go right around 'like it was on rails.' David also had an Austin Bantam in there. More fun.

I recall Mr. Keller gave us good help on a couple of car problems, since he was an expert, and we asked.

 Patsy Keller, a year or two younger than me. David, or "Davy" Keller, a year or two older than me, but a pretty good friend. When my dad bought a set of four 16-ounce boxing gloves, David could whip me easy, the few times he caught me. I believe he became a Deputy Sheriff, if not a whole one.

Kellers were our west neighbors on Borchard Avenue, Santa Ana, middle- late-40s. Their house was on the corner, facing Ross Street. I don't remember if I ever knew the east neighbors, who had a big fence around their yard. No such barrier to the west.

Philip Eaton, my friend. I don't remember anything about him except he had red, red hair, and that my Dad pulled him from fully submerged in the lake before his socks got wet. Wait. My Mom used to really enjoy the play on words in his name . . .

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