Thursday, September 24, 2020

Throwback Thursday: All for a Nickle and a Dime

I grew up outside of town in the county. Our house was on a dirt road that ended at the orange groves down aways. It really was the greatest place to live, with fields all around, Mr. Cooper's barn across the road, and orange groves. But when you live down in the boondocks, a trip to the grocery store is a big deal. But a trip to the five and dime...magic!

In the 1950s, they built a Sears and Roebucks up a few streets from us. That became the cornerstone for the Pomona Valley Center, the mall we always called "Sears." "Hey, I'm going up to Sears!" meant going to any store in the open-air mall. The mall had a drug store, a fabric store, and a clothing store. And J. J. Newberry's.

Sears was Dad's store. The fabric store and Long's Drugs was Mom's stores. And my store was J. J. Newberry's. What kid doesn't like a five and dime? I remember shopping at Christmas time for gifts. My sister and I both must have at least five dollars by Christmas, to spend at least one dollar on five people: Mom and Dad, Sister, and Gramma and Nanny.

Newberry's was the perfect store to find affordable cool gifts! My sister and I would walk up and down the aisles, Mom watching over us, as we searched for exactly the right gift for our five people. We'd finger all the little stuff in the center bins. We'd check out the toys. In the basement, we'd check out even more stuff. Newberry's was a child's dream come true.

As I grew older, Sears would become even more important. By the summer I was almost 13 years old, I could walk to the mall with a friend. To get there, we had to cross Mission Blvd (which was Route 60, a major road through the Inland Valley), walk aways to East End Ave, cross over the railroad tracks, and on up to Holt Blvd, another major route from Los Angeles-to-San Bernardino.  Actually we avoided going all the way to East End by crossing the fields to First Street, then over the railroad tracks. The lower mall parking entrance was well before Holt Blvd. So it was a great walk for your pre- and teen girls. We would laugh and giggle and wave and flirt with the drivers as we walked.

Newberry's had a record section. It is where I bought my first album, Teenage Triangle, with Jimmy Darren, Shelly Fabares, and Paul Peterson (on whom I had a massive celebrity crush). I bought tons of 45s--much more affordable than albums. Newberry's had lipstick and other make-up. I remember buying lipstick and keeping it in my purse because I wasn't old enough to wear make-up. Looking back, Mom had to know. I mean, my lips were pink :)

But the best part of Newberry's was the lunch counter. I mean c'mon! A lunch counter! You could buy stuff and then eat lunch! Amazing! 

So when my friend and I would walk to the mall, we each had to have at least 50 cents. This was needed because one of us would buy the cokes at the lunch counter (25 cents each) and the other would buy the pictures at the photo booth (50 cents for four pictures), which was conveniently located right there at the end of the lunch counter! A win-win situation! 

And then, after we looked through all the records, drank our cokes, and took our pictures, we would walk through to the mall itself and wander a bit. And then, we'd head home, retracing our steps back to East End, Mission, down Pipeline to my house. 

Ahhh life was good.  Lunch counters, photo machines, five and dimes, all together in one place. My own kids had malls to wander. Big under-cover malls that had bunches and bunches of stores to peek into. But, poor thangs, they didn't have a J. J. Newberry's with a lunch counter and a photo machine. I think their lives were a bit deprived. 

And so it goes

Monday, September 21, 2020


When I was a child, I loved spinning and then stopping to feel the dizziness. I loved rolling down grassy slopes. I loved merry-go-rounds. I really enjoyed the feeling of being a bit off-kilter.

Now let's spin forward to my forties and fifties. I would occasionally get vertigo and I still enjoyed the feeling of dizziness. I would hold onto something and move my head just to enjoy that feeling. I remember once when I was at school and vertigo came on. It was near time to head home and I was laughing and tipping my head while I held onto a colleagues wall. He wasn't amused and wanted to drive me home. Oh no! If I hold my head still, I'm fine. And drove home safely.

Now I am 70. Trust me, it doesn't feel as old as it sounds. But I woke in the night with vertigo. Still there in the morning. Walking through the bedroom was an, it was no, it was a bit unsettling! Yeah, that's it. It was a bit unsettling. I needed to hold onto the dresser and then the wall and then the doorway, touching the wall all the way to the shower. As I showered, I needed to hold my elbow against the shower wall. I have to admit, it was a little bit fun, but balance is always an issue as I am aging, so not as fun as rolling down a grassy slope.

Okay while I'm having a bit of fun with myself during my ancient years, I understand that some people suffer a great deal from vertigo. The spinning causes vomiting, headaches, disables them severely. I'm not making light of those who suffer greatly. I know that I am fortunate that this isn't me. Living Magazine describes the feeling well:

Imagine opening your eyes and the room appearing to be whirling around you like a tornado. Turning your head ever so slightly sends your world spinning, and even when lying still, there’s a moving sensation. Standing up and trying to walk sends you lurching to and fro as you attempt to maintain your balance. You feel nauseous, like you have motion sickness or the flu.

So, what is causing this? According to WebMed, "Vertigo is often caused by an inner ear problem."  There are a few common types of inner ear problems. There could be a build up of tiny calcium particles (canaliths) that clump up in your ear canals. It can occur for no known reason and it is thought it may be associated with age.  Yay.

There can be a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo along with ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Or, also more common, it can be an inner ear problem usually related to infection (usually viral). And then there's the less common reasons, like head injuries, stroke, migraines, medications. 

Sooooo, how do we tend to it? I mean if you are not like me and don't like this "tiltilating" experience, what do you do? That depends. In general, it usually goes away all by itself. This is because your brain is able to adapt, at least in part, to the inner ear changes, relying on other mechanisms to maintain balance. There is physical therapy that can help adjust. There are medications that can help. It all just depends.



Meanwhile, I am going to attempt walking downstairs to have some breakfast. See ya down below...


And so it goes

Sunday, September 20, 2020

I Am

It's been less than two days since Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died and I am still trying to process her death. She so deserves to rest in peace after fighting for her life against cancer, fighting for her life as a woman, for her country.  And I am glad for her. But I am so very sad for myself and for women, for the LBGTQ peoples, the peoples of color, for marginal people. So much she stood for, fought for, did for America.

I remember in the late 1970s I was standing near the train stop at Saturday Market, my clipboard in hand, asking for signatures to get the Equal Rights Amendment on the ballot. One man stopped to ask me what I was doing. I explained what I was trying to do and he said, "What do these women want? (did he not notice me, a woman, standing in front of him?) My gawd, we gave them the vote! What more do they want?" and he stomped away. He left me no opportunity to thank him for his "gift."

I remember sitting on the lawn in the Park Blocks in the early '80s in protest against the possible removal of Roe v Wade. Hundreds of us were listening to speakers. Those around me were cheering and chanting. A few others booing. And I was crying, sometimes great sobs caught in my throat, crying for the fight, crying that we have to continue to fight those things that have already been fought. And then something boiled up in me. I stood up and began cheering. I was ready! I was ready to fight the fight, ready to continue to fight as long and often as needed.

And I am, still am. But I am tired and spent. I'm tired of living with a horrific pandemic. I'm tired of world-wide wildfires out of control, killing koalas and kangaroos and people, evacuating from homes and safety, blowing smoke around the world. I'm tired of "Me, Too!" no longer meaning as strongly as it did. I'm tired of weird pills from China. I'm tired of murderous hornets. I'm tired of riots in Portland, riots that no longer have meaning. I'm tired of hearing "All Lives Matter" when some moron reads that "Black Lives Matter."  

"Face it," as Lili Von Shtupp once said, "I'm pooped."

My friend Pauline wrote this on a FaceBook post: "I’m so tired...tired of being sad, depressed, angry; tired of the uncertainty and anxiety; so tired of one gut punch after another. I’m tired of the raging virus with no end in sight. So tired of all the lies, hypocrisy and hatred, of a rudderless administration with no solutions! I’m so so tired. And sad!"

The sun is shining today in Portland, sunshine with blue skies. I believe this helps us all feel more energized. No longer are we living in the weird Mars-like orange-yellow world where we lived for two weeks. And hopefully I can soon stand again and shout, fight the fights needed to be fought. For America is great and all we need to do is allow the people to feel the earth, the love, the care. To feel empowered once again.



Thank you Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You have truly been the notorious R.B.G. I vow to stand with others so we can continue our fight.

And so it goes



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Fly Like the Wind

As a little kid, there wasn't much we could do that felt like freedom. Oh yes, little kids can run and play and laugh and chase one another, but it is always contained somehow. "Stay out of the street!" "Watch for cars!" "Stay in the yard!" School had fences. Oh! but I remember when I was in sixth grade and we were enshrined in a heavy fog. At recess, Georgia and Sue and Diane and I would go out to the far corner of the play ground and draw houses in the dirt. Then we'd play neighbors. Well, this one day the fog was so thick that you couldn't see one another at times in our little "neighborhood." It was so thick that it softened the school bell. We never heard it; thus, we never came in from recess. All the adults came out, calling our names, searching for us. We still didn't hear them until they were almost beside us. I guess that was a way we ignored the fences LOL Anyway, it was difficult to be totally free as a little kid. 

But kids still found ways to fly. Yeah I mean FLY! Swings! Swing sets were the best thing ever! 

Back in the 1950s, when I was a little kid, most people bought their swing sets. Sears and Roebuck catalog had a great swing set for the hefty price of $24.95. But wait! There's more! For five dollars more, you could get the slide. 

We lived with the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Montgomery Wards was a cheap knock-off. Dad loved to looking through Sears' catalog, finding tools and appliances and good stuff.  "Good stuff" is usually stuff you don't have. For Dad, it also included stuff he already had but could get more. Yet, except for Craftsman tools, he rarely bought things new. New was a waste of money. Why buy something new when you can buy multiples used and put one together? Yeah Dad was like that. So we would peruse the catalog and add it to a wish list.

One of the problems with the store-bought swing sets is that when you really got to flying, the poles would lift up off the ground. Dad didn't want his little girls to get hurt, so he built our swing set himself. Our set had sturdy steel pipes set into the ground like a fence pole. It wasn't going to move. It had two swings and I think we had a slider thing on one side. It was built right outside the living room window so Mom could watch us. It was on the grass, under the elm tree.

My sister was always braver than me. I was a real wuss. I mean, when Dad taught us to roller skate, I stayed near the frame for his pick up truck while Pat skated like the wind with Dad up and down the driveway. It was the same with the swings. Sister would pump and pump and fly like the wind! I would sit and twirl. You know, twist the chains together and let go. Twirl! I always did like the dizzy feeling you got from doing that. Maybe that is why Dad always called me his Dingy Daughter. I was "My Darling Dingy Daughter Dori," which later shortened to "Four-D."

As I aged a bit, I fell in love with pumping high and flying. The contest (of course! Everything was a contest, wasn't it?) was who could touch the leaves on the elm tree with their feet the most. It only worked during spring and summer. Now that I am old and smarter, I know why my sister always won. I mean she was older and had longer legs. But the competition was REAL! 

Sadly, my sons didn't have a swing set as they grew up. We did have the school and a park near-by, but never could they just go out and fly. If we could visit the park, they were more interested in other gymnastics. They did have an open field connected to our house where they would play football and other muddy games, but no swings. My grandboy never had a swing set either, but we have a huge park only one block away. He and I would go play at the park all summer when he stayed with me. And I would push him as high as he could go, holding onto the seat and running with it, me under it, letting go and still running. And he would squeal and laugh. Flying.

And that's what it's all about. Feeling that freedom when you are contained. Hmmm...maybe I need some sort of swing in the house while we are staying-in-place from the smoke and pandemic. Let's see. I could somehow attach wires and ropes to the ceiling in the living room...

And so it goes

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Weird Portland Wednesday: Brothels, Opium Dens and Shanghai'd Sailors

Portland is known in the nation for its hipster and extremely liberal and environmentally-friendly behavior. We think of ourselves as the good guys out to save the world. Even though our reputation is a bit tarnished as of late (those nastily boring riots), Portland is seen as a green city with caring people, We
look upon ourselves as being nothing more than a humble Victorian settlement that grew into a respectful, liberal, weird city. How sweet.

Somehow we forget--or perhaps many just never knew--that Portland was once considered the most dangerous port in the world. According to Wikipedia (I know. I know):

Portland developed a reputation early in its history as a hard-edged and gritty port town. Some historians have described the city's early establishment as being a "scion of New England; an ends-of-the-earth home for the exiled spawn of the eastern established elite." In 1889, The Oregonian called Portland "the most filthy city in the Northern States", due to the unsanitary sewers and gutters, and, at the turn of the 20th century, it was considered one of the most dangerous port cities in the world. The city housed a large number of saloons, bordellos, gambling dens, and boardinghouses which were populated with miners after the California Gold Rush, as well as the multitude of sailors passing through the port. By the early 20th century, the city had lost its reputation as a "sober frontier city" and garnered a reputation for being violent and dangerous.,_Oregon

Portland had a large population of Chinese immigrants. Our Chinatown dates back to the 1870s, making it one of the oldest in the country. Chinese immigrants began arriving in Oregon in the 1850s, with many working as miners in the southern and eastern parts of the growing territory. By 1900, Oregon had more than 10,000 Chinese residents, and Portland's Chinatown was flourishing. Unfortunately, so was xenophobia.

"In Oregon," The Oregonian wrote in 2016, "Chinese residents were prohibited from voting, holding public  office, attending public schools, serving on juries, entering professions and becoming naturalized citizens."

Around the late 1800s, terrifying stories circulated of drunken men getting conked on the head at saloons, dropped through trapdoors and dragged through secret tunnels to the river. They woke to find themselves serving as oceangoing slave crew. This was called "Shanghaiing." Underneath Old Town Chinatown is a labyrinthine of these tunnels. 

n 1933, journalist Stewart Holbrook broadcast stories of shanghaiing and bawdy times on the Portland waterfront in a series of romanticized articles in the Sunday Oregonian. While his stories were undocumented, they grew in reputation as authentic. Portland historian, Barney Blalock says a few men probably did get Shanghai'd in Portland back in the day, but that it surely didn't involve the tunnels under Old Town Chinatown. Those were busy being used for other, more profitable purposes.

So here it goes: Blalock wrote, "They were built by Chinese back in the days when Chinatown was the center of gang activity related to the different tongs. The gambling dens, brothels, and opium parlors of Chinatown were connected to separate labyrinths, with steel doors, trapdoors leading to secret stairways, and tunnels for escape into far alleyways. These were security measures designed for dealing with both rival tongs and police raids." And yeah, they were also used to bring through goods to and from the ships, both imported and exported.

Ahhhh so we had no real shanghaiing in our tunnels, but we had brothels and opium parlors and gambling dens and gangs! And the occasional citizen was shanghai'd.  Dang, Portland was busy! 

But the tales.... It’s the stuff of terrifying legend, filled with stories of forced prostitution, murder, ruined lives and an underground catacomb that facilitated it all. While how much of the tales are true is hotly debated, we in Portland grab onto this as part of our history and give guided tours through the Shanghai Tunnels. It's just one more way we keep Portland weird.

And so it goes