Probably, the vast majority of the people who flee to California, do it for the same reason I did, the warm climate. Not the traffic and the smog which permeates the highways in greater Los Angeles. I think I was a typical, Go West, Young Man, Go West.” Another reason I was ready to flee was the fact that I was put on academic probation, and my friends knew I had gone away to college, and I didn’t want to have to admit my failure. It sounds pretty immature as I write it, but “dems” the facts as they say. Of course, I didn’t believe I deserved an “F” but “F” it was! The first “F” I ever had in my life and it drove me to change direction, and not only the place where I would live.
Ohio became the place, I didn’t like anymore. The weather didn’t suit me, too much snow, slush, salt, slag (salt and sand). My parents were not getting along, they drank like fish, and it was time for me to “beat feet,” as they say. I had just been successful in landing a great job, after flunking English in my freshman year at college. Having answered an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, I was hired on the spot by the owner, Art Rimback, who had just invented and designed a, Waterless Air Conditioner, and he was seeking a commissioned, H.V.A.C. Estimator. In high-school I had had a very extensive mechanical drawing course from a teacher who also taught Physics and I learned a great deal from him. The owner and I reviewed some blue prints, and at the time, I had no clue that that would get me hired on the spot. I landed my first job, made a good fat commission, and thought I had fallen in a bucket of you know what, and came out smelling like a rose.
ON THE ROAD TO PROSPERITY
Home, the weather, and a lot of confusions at, Rimbach Waterless, set my sights on Altadena, California, where my wealthy Aunt with two daughters about my age lived. I decided not to tell her I was going to descend upon her right then; but, I did so upon arrival at the Los Angeles Greyhound bus terminal, crowded with every form of humanity known to man. This was the image I held in my mind, when I set my sights on going west. This was supposed to be paradise, you know! Movie stars, Hollywood, where opportunities abounded back in 1954.
Having been able to succeed at HVAC estimating I had no fear of not being able to be employed. Boy was I shocked to hear that you have to be certified, and have a four year degree to be an estimator. Bad news bears for the kid. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. I only wanted to take one suitcase, so I packed summer like clothes, and left all of the winter Ohio gear for the moths. I had about $300′s in my pocket and a lot of hope.
The telephone call to Aunt Ruth beggars all description. I had never experienced rejection like that from someone I had never met, but in closing she said, “You can stay for a couple of days, and then you’re out.” That was clear, crystal clear; so, the only good news was that I could get to her house by bus, and I could get back downtown LA by bus to look for work. After I said goodbye to my Aunt Ruth, that was the last time we ever spoke. I was told that I was not welcome, and that I was admonished not to socialize with my cousins. Well, that door was definitely closed. My other Aunt, Medora, lived in West Covina, raised Scotties, and worked at the California Hospital in downtown LA. But, after the Aunt Ruth shock, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and that I would find an apartment, and a job before I called Aunt Medora. That proved to be the right decision.
Part II, tomorrow, THE FIRST YEAR IN LOS ANGELES, a ride you won’t believe, I guarantee it!