|All photos on this post were taken during yesterday's walk|
My assignment is to write my last blog post of 2021 and do it in under an hour. The trouble is I’ve got no topic to write about. (As I finished that last sentence, a notification appeared on my computer informing me that tomorrow is New Year’s Day. I appreciate the reminder but it was totally unnecessary. I have never not known when it is the last day of the year or when it is the first day of the year. When I was a public school teacher I never needed to be told that the next day was the first day of the school year nor that it was the last day of the school year. For that matter, I didn’t need the reminder last week that the next day was Christmas. But I guess it’s the thought that counts.)
Yesterday I went for a long walk. It was cold, partly cloudy (and partly sunny) late afternoon and perfect for walking through some of Berkeley’s many (dare I use the word) “cute” neighborhoods. Maybe “charming” would have been a better word. I could have gone with “nice.” But my god "nice" is a word that has been done to death. For example: "he’s a nice guy." Pretty much everyone this side of Jeffery Dahmer can be called a nice guy. Even me. We had a nice time. Everyone there was really nice. ESL students use the word "kind" a lot as in, “he is a very kind man.” Native English speakers don’t use "kind" so much anymore as an adjective. I’ll tell you how we do use it: “it was kind of good.” Way too many things are kind of or sort of. I used to work with a teacher who described everything as “sort of.” It was sort of annoying after awhile. Go ahead and say: “it’s a new program we’re developing” rather than “it’s sort of a new program we’re sort of developing.” Thanks.
Anyway (or, if you prefer, anyhoo) I was discussing my walk through “cute” “charming” “nice” neighborhoods….I’m always impressed with how many (here we go again) charming little houses there on this city. So many of them appear to have been built in the first half of the 20th century. A lot also in the sixties and of course many are new but, with no evidence to back me up I feel that a lot of the houses I admire were constructed between the twenties and fifties.
More then a few houses in the area were built — in part, he didn’t do it all himself — by my father. I remember driving places with my dad and him pointing out apartments or houses he had built. It always made me feel good and of course proud of him.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my dad started as a carpenter in the Bay Area at exactly the right time, 1946. He worked into late in the 1970s which meant his entire work life here was during the building boom. He always had work. It didn’t hurt that he had a sterling reputation.
Okay, so back to my walk.... Berkeley is also replete with a variety of trees and flora. We’ve got towering redwoods, palm trees not to mentioned cherry, beech, elder and others. I also like that the area boasts a lot of bushes. Bushes can be anything from beautiful to annoying depending on appearance and placement. Many in Berkeley blend right into yards, fences and houses. So too flowers. Many locals clearly put a lot of time into their gardens and keeping up appearances with lovely front lawns. Then again some people don’t give a damn and their front yards are ugly messes. Thankfully these people are few and far between.
My walk took me by the house I lived in for the first three years of my life. Not surprisingly I don’t retain a lot of memories of that duplex on McGee Avenue -- none of the interior. Across the street from it is a house that, in the Sixties and perhaps into the Seventies, a lot of the LSD distributed in the Bay Area was produced. I’m reasonably certain that the acid I dropped while in high school came from there.
I was near 1516 Edith Street so took a look at that house. Why that particular address? I’m not entirely sure. It’s an address that is fixed in my memory from my youth, obviously a friend had lived there but I haven’t a clue who. I just remember the address. It’s a (here we go again) charming little house which, as I later learned via the magic of the internet, was constructed in 1907. I had hoped my memory would be jogged by seeing the house but I have the strong feeling that I never visited the abode when I was young, I’d just committed the address to my memory. The internet offered no clue that I could find as to who might have lived there fifty years ago. It has sold five times since then.
Berkeley also boasts a lot of parks. Some are huge, like Tilden, and others occupy a tiny space that you could barely build a house on. Some are specifically for wee children, others are for dogs, some are for playing baseball or softball and many are multi-use. I stopped by the dog park for a bit and watched pooches frolic, always entertaining. One of the parks I came across was the one in which I played the vast majority of my little league games. I was a slick-fielding shortstop and a decent contact hitter with little power. Mostly I had fun playing. I eventually gave the sport up when I started excelling in soccer.
My walk lasted well over and hour and covered three and half miles. I liked it. And I have liked reliving it by writing about it here. I’m glad I made myself write. Assignment completed.