Chapter 1: The Pre-Work Years
I was born at Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, California in 1959, at or near the tail end (depending on who is doing the counting) of the great Baby Boom, that unsightly bulge in the United States population demographic. My parents actually lived at the time in Broderick, a suburb of an exclave known as West Sacramento, which was so thoroughly disowned by its parent city that it wasn't even allowed in Sacramento County. West Sac had to be satisfied with eking out an existence as an industrial wasteland in eastern Yolo County, staring wistfully across the Sacramento River at its more famous capitol city name sake.
My father was a mechanic, and in those first few years of my life, before I could form any memories, we moved about quite a bit. He mainly worked on large equipment, so he had to follow the work to various construction projects. The story goes that we even lived for a while in a boarding house somewhere near San Luis Obispo in California's central coast area. Once my dad got a job with Madonna Construction Company in SLO (where the then-new and soon-to-be famous Madonna Inn still stands), our lives became more stable.
|This water wheel urinal at the Madonna Inn used to scare the pee out of me. Pretty useful, when you think about it.|
I remember seeing a picture of me sitting on a tricycle in the driveway of a house in SLO, but I have no memory of that house. To the best of my knowledge, my earliest memory must have occurred shortly after we moved into the house which I think of as my childhood home. I was playing outside when I met a neighbor boy from a few doors down named Billy M. We roamed about between his house and mine, which was something that you could do pretty safely back in the early '60s, especially in a quiet suburb of a small college town.. It must have been raining, because I remember we were both wearing coats. We found an attractive puddle (I almost said "on the ground" until I realized how painfully obvious that would be). Billy said, "Jump in that", which I immediately did. Like the ending of "Casablanca", it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, which lasted until I moved away around the age of ten.
My childhood was pretty ordinary and unremarkable. Unless theirs was terrible, it seems like most people describe their childhoods as "perfectly happy". Mine wasn't "perfectly happy" -- my dad was pretty overbearing and critical -- but it was far from bad. We were very comfortable. I was the youngest of the family, by a good 10 years. In addition to me and my parents, in the home were also my sister Buff and my brother Jack. "Buff" was a garbling of "Elizabeth", courtesy of a young Jack, who was just "Jack", not a nickname for "John". Our oldest half-brother Dick (short for "Richard", thank you very much) was already living away from home.
But this blog-book-thing is about my relationship with work, so let us not dwell in the distant past, when I wasn't expected to "get a job". We're not quite done with childhood yet, but you shall have to content yourself with this for now.