It wasn’t long after my first drive-in movie date that I found out that Hayward Motor Movie was going to be torn down so that Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) could build a terminal and a parking lot. I would soon be leaving Nana and Grandma. I would finally be moving in with my parents for the first time in my life. They would be taking over Westlane Auto Movie in Davis. There was a trailer and we would all live together right there on the drive-in. I wasn’t even going to finish out the fifth grade at Horace Mann.
Grandma helped me pick out a set of jeweled squirrel pins that were popular at the time for Theresa. My father drove me by her house so I could drop off the gift. Theresa wasn’t home, so I gave the little package to her mother. There would be letters and phone calls, but I wouldn’t see Theresa again until 2011. She is now happily married and has held the same job for more years than I can possibly imagine.
I spent my last days in Oakland drawing mazes and eyeballs. Some of the eyeball drawings had people coming down a rope. I was a big fan of Fantastic Voyage. The story of people miniturized and injected into the body of a dying man had captured my imagination.
Because I was going to be living in a trailer, and space was limited, I was instructed to get rid of as much of my personal property as I could. This meant giving away most of my books to the cousins on my mother’s side and selling my comic book collection to my cousin, Kim, on my father’s side. I was told that we all had to make sacrifices because we were starting over.
At last, we were going to be a family. I remember sitting in the multipurpose room at Horace Mann waiting for my parents to pick me up on my last day of school. I had good memories of the multipurpose room; macoroni and cheese lunches, assemblies, including one where Captain Satellite, a local TV celebrity, came to visit us. I had acted in a play where all the kids were different planets on the Horace Mann stage. For a short time, I played the clarinet. The music room was attached to the stage and we would take out music stands and folding chairs and practice on the stage. There was a portable record player that teachers would wheel out in front of the stage and we would learn folk dances. At one assembly a sixth grade girl sang “Downtown” and blew me away with her impression of Petula Clark. Was it real or was she just lip-syncing to the record? I think it was real.
I thought about all these things while I attempted to draw Raquel Welch in a scuba suit dangling from an eyeball. My mother came through the double doors and the montage that was playing in my head came to an end. I was about to make my escape to fifteen acres of asphalt surrounded by farm land.