Angeleno Street was ours! Our meeting place, common ground where we all felt welcomed, our sanctuary. It was the first place I wanted to drive to when I got my license, the place I’d always go to after taking my girlfriend home for the night. We were always there! We couldn’t get enough of the place.
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 Messenger 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.
One of the greatest times I had on Angeleno was when I actually stayed there at my friend Paul’s house for almost a week. His parents had gone on vacation leaving him home alone. They had said it was okay for me and a couple of other friends to stay over and keep Paul company. It didn’t take long for word to spread and soon there were six of us living there 24/7 and many more who would drop by to visit. We called it the McCully Commune.
It was wild! We spent our time drinking and listening to music, playing guitar, watching TV and drinking! When we got hungry someone would make a food run or we’d all go to the Roadrunner. We had fun, but we all respected Paul’s house and caused no damage. Our undoing was the party Paul had on the final night. He was lamenting the loss of his girlfriend and just wanted to have a big blow out bash. Well needless to say, there were way too many people there, mostly people we knew, but there were several strangers as well. Dave and I spent most of the night keeping an eye on things as Paul in his melancholy condition was no help.
Everything seemed to go okay, and after cleaning up the house, it seemed fine, but the next day when his parents got home, his mom discovered some jewelry missing from her room. Some one had gone in and ripped it off! Later that afternoon Paul called me and told me what had happened and said his mom wanted to speak to me. I really didn’t want to go over, but I did. I’ll never forget the sad look on Mrs. McCully’s face when I arrived. She wasn’t angry, and didn’t mind at all that some of us had stayed there, but she was extremely disappointed in our lack of judgement for having such a large party and allowing strangers in the house. I’ll never forget how let down she sounded. I offered no excuses and simply apologized. I was so ashamed. In time things returned to normal, but I will never forget the look on her face and the disappointment in her voice for as long as I live.
The summer of 1969 was probably the last, best summer we spent together on Angeleno. Fresh from high school graduation we were free to hang out together with reckless abandon. Most summer nights our cars lined the street, Nosey’s blue 55 Chevy, Art’s 57 Chevy wagon, affectionately and forever known as the ‘Burnt Tortilla’, because of its white color with various dark grey primer spots, Bob’s Blue 67 VW, Pete’s 54 Chevy, Paul’s 58 Ford panel, Dave’s old Plymouth, and my 61 root beer brown V Dub. Classic. Angeleno was our “American Graffiti” Azusa style.
We did some crazy shit that summer and had a hell of a time! Parties, concerts, Disneyland, Huntington Beach trips and countless days and nights on Angeleno! It was almost as though we knew that this was to be our last hurrah before dreaded adulthood finally took control of our lives. We enjoyed that summer like no other, basking in the warmth of friendship and camaraderie, going for it all, staying together until the early AM, night after night, digging our time together. Then, just like that, summer was over.
The summer of 69 was also memorable for another reason. That was the summer that my cousin Dave tried to run me down. If it hadn’t been for the quick action of Art V, I could have been seriously injured or even killed! And what, you might ask, would make my very best friend and relative attack me? A girl of course! Yep, it was classic. Since grade school we both shared the same taste in girls. We were always falling for the same girl.
The previous summer Dave had caught me making out with Cheryl, his “girlfriend” at Memorial Park! They weren’t going steady or anything, it was just kinda of an understood thing. Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I wasn’t scheming on her or anything, it just kind of happened. One minute Cheryl and I were sitting together in my 59 Ford wagon, talking and listening to music, and the next thing you know, we were lip locked! We were so into it that we never saw Dave walking across the park right towards us. Had we been paying attention we would have seen him approaching from over a block away!
Suddenly there was a knock on the passenger window, I opened my eyes and there was Dave looking mad as hell staring in at me. He didn’t say a single word to me, he simply asked Cheryl to come out so they could talk. The moment she was out of the car I started the engine and got the hell out of there. Dave remained pissed for awhile, but he got over it, eventually.
As per usual that summer Dave fell head over heels for a girl a year older than him th. Her name was Janice and she was Art’s girlfriend, Geri’s best friend. Dave was with Art when he met her and it was love at first sight. For days all we heard on Angeleno was Janice this and Janice that, it was sickening. Then on Thursday evening Art and Geri came by my house and dropped a bomb. Apparently Janice had no interest in Dave, but liked me! They wanted to know if I wanted to go out with her on Friday. God I couldn’t believe it. Janice was a cutie and if it wasn’t for Dave I would have said yes immediately, but I remembered the Cheryl incident and told them no.
The following night a few of us got together for an after hours party at a restaurant which will remain nameless in Glendora. There were about nine of us, Art & Geri, Janice, Paul, Bob, myself, and a few others. Dave had to work but was coming by as soon as he got off. Long story short, when Dave walked in I was sitting on a high counter top drinking a beer and talking to Janice. She was standing next to me and had her hand on my knee. Dave glared at me and stormed out of the restaurant. I couldn’t believe it. They say timing is everything and in this case they were right…
Yes, a perfectly innocent situation had just turned ugly. Hell, I’d made it a point to stay clear of Janice because of Dave and his damn feelings, I hadn’t really spoken to her all evening, but the second time she walked by me I got a whiff of her incredible perfume and had to ask her what it was called. She stopped and we talked for like two minutes about the perfume and maybe buying some for my girlfriend. (although we were broken up at the time) Janice told me it was called Tabu, the forbidden fragrance. She made some off handed comment about relationships and patted my knee. Boom! In walks Dave at just the wrong moment, thinks he sees something going on, shoots glaring death daggers at me, and hauls ass out the door. I went outside to try and explain but he was already driving away I called out to him but he just flipped me off and kept on going.
Later we all ended up back on Angeleno, everyone except Dave. We had no idea where he had split to. We were standing out in front of the Robertson’s house talking to Paula and Shelley when I spotted Dave’s plymouth headed down the street. I immediately walked out into the street to greet him and explain what had happened at the restaurant. As he approached I realized he was headed right for me and wasn’t stopping! That’s when Art made a made dash towards me and shoved me out of the way. Believe me, it was close. Too close.
When I got up off the lawn I could see that Dave had finally stopped and Art had the drivers door open and was reading Dave the riot act. Dave was shouting and saying crap about wanting to kick the crap out of me and just wouldn’t calm down. Art finally got in the car and drove him home which was only about a block away.
Well if Dave was pissed, I was even more pissed! The asshole had tried to run me down! Over a girl no less! I made up my mind that moment to go after Janice. Screw Dave! Screw his feelings! I have feelings too! It took awhile for this incident to pass, particularly since I was with Janice the rest of the evening and went out with her again the following night. Yeah it was pretty ugly for awhile. Sometimes I would see Dave on Angeleno but we we never got into it, either he would get up and leave when I arrived or we would just ignore each other. I tell you, there was never a dull moment on Angeleno.
Fall and winter passed quickly but quietly. Although most of us continued our Angeleno antics, things were slowly changing. It was becoming harder and harder for all of us to get together like before. We had other obligations, responsibilities, college and work were taking up more and more of our lives. The times they were a changing and like it or not, we were changing with them…
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 by 73 we had all pretty much moved on. It was never like it used to be and never would be again. The passing of an era.
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 so special for so long has passed and now lives on only in our memories.
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 forever be a part of me…
Moments etched upon my soul…