The Sandbox

Upland High School with San Gabriel Mountains

In the Beginning, (1955), there were three sprouts transplanted from rich Kansas plains, to an uprooted Southern California Orange grove upon the diluvial side of the the San Gabriel mountains. In a newly planted subdivision of tract houses I was soon helping daddy rake rocks out of the bare yard, planting grass, and shrimp plant (Justicia Brandegeeana) under the windows. An empty window box would soon hold purple Clematis Jackmanii, which would thrive until the day it was sold, thirty years later.

885 West 11th (left) was a garden (a rocky diluvial suburb of a garden) I grew up in. In many ways, it was the classic American story. On the other hand, it was a place like no other: It was mine! (Click for map)

The Sandbox was just the start, nestled in the corner of the backyard, under the shade of a lone remaining Valencia Orange tree. The rest of the grove still remained one door to the west, after which was the newly built Baldy View Elementary school, which I attended. On the block to the east was Upland High School (left), where I did not attend, but most of my friends and my sisters did, while my Mom was Director of Food Services (eventually for the entire Chaffey High School system).

Further afield to the south, down San Antonio Ave, was the Upland Brethren in Christ Church: A second home for a faithful family, if not particularly pious (by grandfather's standards). Across the street was Upland College where my Dad first came to California, and it's offshoot Upland Academy, our church's school which later became Western Christian High School on another campus, which I attended. My paternal Grandparents lived on a small lot on Arrow Highway in a direct line between the church and the Upland College gymnasium, where I oft ventured in my teen years.

By bicycle I eventually mastered the stores and businesses of downtown Upland (left), and haunted the Carnegie-established Upland Public Library, where I visited distant places and times, and discovered the stars-- of Science Fiction! Next door to the Library was the Upland Police Station, of which my Father was a Reserve Officer. I was once locked up there, via my father's idea of "seeing what it's like so you'll stay out!" I had a friend who lived in the Cracker-Jack mansion (built by the inventor of Cracker-Jacks; the famed peanuts, popcorn and a prize snack). I also built forts and had rotten-orange wars with my buddies in the groves.

My bike, and eventually my first car, took me through Jack Benny & Bug's Bunny's, Cucamonga, to the newly built Chaffey Community College in neighboring Fontana (left). There my father was the Director of Transportation, and a founding member of the California Association of School Transportation Officials, CASTO, and a consultant to the NTSB West Coast office for investigating school bus accidents. In later years I drove bus for the College and headed the football game-night parking detail. I also joined CASTO and, with my father, held CASTO School Bus Driver Rodeo competitions. And I was one of the initial proof-of-concept testers of air-operated stops signs on school buses.

I went further afield with the family in a camping trailer, on long-weekend holidays camping in the mountains, beaches, and deserts around So. Cal. Further I had frequent road trips and summers spent with my maternal grandparents who owned a motel near Caldwell, Idaho, then, in John Day, Oregon. Further summers included a cattle ranch in Oregon, and my Uncle Fred's dairy farm outside Weatherford, Oklahoma. Those coming-of-age adventures introduced me to hard work and the true values of where milk and meat came from.

The rest of my life is what this digital Sandbox holds! So take off your shoes and socks, roll up your blue-jean cuffs, and climb in. The sand is warm!

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