When I was fourteen I had the good fortune of leaving the hustle and bustle of the big city and moved out into the country.
I had no choice in the matter, but it worked out quit nicely, for the most part. We had lost our lease on our previous location and so we moved south.
The town of Bonsall had a population of five-hundred people back then. The new building had several storage rooms attached to it and we quickly turned them into bedrooms. I had my own separate apartment at thirteen. I can still remember the musty sweetness of the damp carpet and flowers growing outside my window.
To say that I had an unusual childhood would be putting it mildly. I don’t know why my parents let me do what I did, but I have my suspicions. I was a very good child and my parents were too busy with the restaurant and trying to keep their marriage afloat to worry much about my activities. I was left to run wild as a hyperactive child and I did. I never got into trouble, but that was just luck, I suppose.
We grew up with guns around and often went out to the desert to shoot at cans and bottles. My dad was from Wyoming and he lived a different lifestyle out there, I’m sure.
As I said earlier, all of my friends were adult criminals and I was shooting pool at the age of eight or nine. Pool isn’t a bad game. It’s where you do it that causes the problems. I did it in my family’s own bar. You can learn a lot from criminals and junkies if you take the time. Don’t do as they do, do the opposite.
That path worked well for me, but criminal friends do come in handy sometimes. When my parents locked their keys in their car, they just called Pepe, our friend, the cat burglar. He was an excellent car thief and picker of locks. Cars or houses, it made no difference to him.
My first kite was given to me, not by my dad, but by a convicted kidnapper. A friend of the family, I presume. We had the roughest bar in the county and would have had the police on speed dial if it existed then.
I went to Bonsall Elementary school back then and it had only two eighth grade class rooms and maybe one for each of the other grades. It was a small school. The town was just four corners with a market-gas station combo, a post office and and a real estate office.
I often went hunting when I was twelve or so and never got hurt or hurt anyone else. I had a .22 long rifle and had loads of fun out in the hills. We were taught how to handle a gun in our family.
I bought a donkey for $17.00 dollars from a farmer who saw me, a city slicker, coming a mile away. I used the donkey to keep the weeds down in front of our restaurant. It added some color as well. He didn’t stay around long.
I rode him bareback down route 76 with just a rope around his neck more than once. He didn’t like me riding him and always headed for the trees and tried to brush me off with them. That was fun. He woke early in the morning and brayed and farted endlessly.
I don’t know who was happier at our parting, but it was amiable on both sides. My mother was relieved as well, I suppose.
I took him back to the same farmer and tossed in the chain that I had used to keep him tied to a dead bulldozer. I got my $17.00 back and learned a little something along the way.
Sadly we were flooded out after just about a year and moved back to Huntington Beach, California. My dad went to work at Douglas Aircraft then as a flight line electrician.
By the way, I would have graduated from Fallbrook High school in 1970 if we would have stayed put. I’ld love to hear from Bob Owens whose father owned a fruit market in Rainbow and one at the San Louise Rey Bridge between Vista and Fallbrook or any of you who knew a Ray Matthews back then. He and I were very close.