Tag: Oxnard

In Praise of Children’s Librarians

When I was a boy, elementary schools did not have libraries. We didn’t know what we were missing because our town had a Carnegie Library.

Oxnard Public Library

Beginning in 1889, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie built homes for books. Eventually his philanthropy erected 2,509 public libraries, two-thirds of which were in the United States. The one in my little California farming community was by far the grandest structure in our town. The stairway on the left led up to the adult library. I was not permitted to pass through those doors. But there was a entry Continue reading “In Praise of Children’s Librarians”

Two Lives in a Small Town

The following, in Shonnie Brown’s “Neighbors” column, appeared in The Healdsburg Tribune, our local weekly, on February 9, 2012. [Most of the images were not in the original.]

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Ann, born and raised in Casper, Wyoming, has the dubious distinction of attending high school with both Dick and Lynne Cheney and participating in student government with Dick. Dick, who Ann recalls as being “good looking” back then, wrote “I’ll be your friend forever” in Ann’s yearbook.

Ann attended a Catholic college in Denver and then got married — resulting in a breakup and three kids. She returned to college, putting herself through law school, and then became a New Jersey prosecutor. She moved to the Bay Area in 1984 and Continue reading “Two Lives in a Small Town”

A Teenager Selling Shoes

Marty Stein and Benny Silverstein operated shoe stores in Oxnard, my California childhood’s small town. Marty’s store (Kirby’s Shoes) was on A Street’s east side, right next to my father’s men’s & boys’ clothing store. Benny’s store (GallenKamp’s Shoes) was directly across the street. Marty carried a marginally higher-priced line, but in a town that lived off three military bases and farming, they competed for the same clientele. The men were not friends, but they ate lunch together at least once a week, at which they spoke only lies.

Both Benny and Marty were Continue reading “A Teenager Selling Shoes”

A Return to Kamala School

I was in Southern California all last week hopping from bookstores to schools in an exhausting and exhilarating schedule of 22 Cheesie Mack book events and two Pobba concerts. All were fun and rewarding, but one visit, a spur-of-the-moment trip back in time, stood out.

In September 1952, Oxnard’s Kamala School (K-6) opened to students. I was one of those students, a fourth grader, full of energy.

Almost 59 years older, also full of energy, I returned to Kamala School Continue reading “A Return to Kamala School”

Me and Miss Jones–Gee Whiz!

I am the lad next to Miss Jones

It was 1953. I was eight. I had known California for over five years and knew bits of New York and Pennsylvania through my parents’ stories.

Miss Jones was from someplace between the coasts. I’ve forgotten her first name, and I’ve forgotten the state. Iowa, maybe Nebraska. She was my fourth grade teacher, and as I recreate her image, she was light-haired, pale-skinned, bird-like, under 25, and orderly. She did not laugh aloud. She was a first-year teacher. She was a Christian.

We studied California history in fourth grade. I remember the map on the bulletin board that charted Junipero Serra‘s missions, each so logically a day’s ride from the next on El Camino Real. Continue reading “Me and Miss Jones–Gee Whiz!”