The summer of 70 found us still loosely banded together. Some of us were busy with work and others were dearly devoted to their girlfriends, but several times a week we seemed to make our way back to our favorite stretch of asphalt.
On the afternoon of July 1st the day of the draft lottery several of us came together on Angeleno and solemnly gathered in Paul’s front yard to await our fate together. Some of us had gotten together the previous July to celebrate Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. It was a great moment in history, but actually more of an excuse to party and party we did! “One small step for man, One giant party for Angeleno!
This time was very different. Our future was in the hands of Uncle Sam and we were about to find out which of us might soon be Viet Nam bound. It was definitely a nerve racking afternoon, even the cold Buds we shared did little to ease our anxiety.
In the mid afternoon Selective Service Officials began spinning two large drums, one filled with 365 plastic capsules containing slips of paper imprinted with every birthday of the year and the other filled with capsules containing the numbers 1 – 365. One hour later they began drawing, first a birth date then a number. It was a tediously slow process. I was one of the lucky ones, there was no Viet Nam in my future. My birthday drew number 295, my friend Steve was 294. We were officially out of the draft. Some of the other guys were less fortunate, Art, Nosey, Pete and Ernie all had low numbers and were drafted. Of the four Pete was the only one who went to Nam. Thank God he survived his ordeal.
Once the guys were drafted, things around Angeleno really quieted down, it just wasn’t the same without them. We still hung around now and then and on some occasions it almost felt like it had back in the day, but truth be told, it was never like it used to be and never would be again.
Even after over forty years, I sometimes cruise Angeleno just for old times sake. Funny, both Smith families still live there and the street and houses pretty much looks the same, but Angeleno has changed. You can feel it. The spirit, magic and laughter that made Angeleno our special place for so long is gone and now lives on only in our memories.
When I drive down Angeleno it all comes back to me in a blinding blur and seems as real as life itself! The sights, sounds and adventures that were Angeleno. Bob’s VW tooling down the road with that sweet sounding, tuned, Empi exhaust, we could always tell when Bob was coming. Jerry Smith pulling a wheelie on his bike and riding damn near all the way down the street on one wheel. Paul’s white Ford panel truck parked up on the lawn, every door open, his stereo blaring, a little Hendrix or Quicksilver Messanger Service. All of our cars parked on either side of the street all clean and polished ready to roll! All of us there together, an extended family, our band of brothers.
I thank God that I got to be a part of it all. Angeleno and all that happened there are a vital part of me, a part of who I am. Angeleno was about kinship and relationships, the place where friendship endured.
Whenever I drive down that particular stretch of asphalt I can’t help but remember the good time we had having good times. I will never forget Angeleno, never. She will always be a part of me.
Moments etched upon my soul…