Sometimes I would put down my pencil and stare out the window imagining the mountains that lie beyond the wall of the apartment building next door, lost in memories of summer. I loved those mountains, I still do. In those days the air quality was much worse than it is today, so they were usually hidden behind a thick layer of smog and haze. But when the Santa Ana winds blew, the mountains looked incredible, so lush and green, like they’d been painted against a rich blue backdrop. I remember how close they appeared, especially from the schoolyard. On those special Santa Ana days I always felt lucky to live in Azusa “the Canyon City”, happy to be alive.
I spent many a summer day up in those mountains. My friends and I would ride our bikes up to the end of Hilltop Drive and hide them in the bushes. Then we’d hike up the fire break to the top of the foothills, to a place known as Seven Pines. From there we’d look down on Azusa and across the valley, admiring the view. Sometimes we’d hike over to the big ‘A’ on a nearby hillside. You could see the ‘A’ from all over Azusa. Supposedly, years ago, a group of Azusa high school football players hiked up the hillside and cleared the brush to form the ‘A’, then they chalked it so it could be seen easily. Each year new players would go up and chalk the ‘A’. It was tradition. The ‘A’ certainly wasn’t much to look at up close, but when you told your friends’s that you’d been up there, they thought it was cool. Sometimes we’d take our BB guns with us and hunt for rabbit or snakes. I don’t think we ever really got one, but we had fun trying.
If we weren’t in the canyon, you could find us at Memorial Park Recreation Center, the “rec” as we use to call it, playing ping pong, volleyball or basketball, or we were hanging out on Angelino Street(between Second and Third) where several of our friends lived. We spent many nights sitting on Angeleno talking about girls, cars, and yes, even our futures. When we were old enough to drive we’d sometimes drive deep into the mountains and find a place where we could just sit around and talk. Many nights we’d go up to the East Fork bridge to watch shooting stars. I remember the mountain skies being so clear, and filled with stars…. I remember so many things….