After school we would all walk or ride our bikes home together and wind up kickin’ it in front of Pete’s house, admiring Jeff and Pete’s older brothers “cool cars” as they tooled up and down the street. Both came from large families so believe me, there were plenty of cars! Sometimes some of their friends would show up and there would be ten or more hot rods on the street. Once in a while my cousin Charles would cruise down in his 56 Chevy 2 door hardtop. It was hot and had a super loud exhaust system! Way cool!
You can’t imagine how exciting it was for a twelve year old to be in the proximity of the cool guys. An even bigger thrill was to be acknowledged by them. When that happened you knew you’d made the big time. I can still remember the first time it happened to me. I was leaving Pete’s, heading home when his older brother Bob cruised by slowly in his black 39 Ford sedan. I remember him looking over at me and giving me the ‘nod’ which was the cool way of saying hello. I, of course, pulled my head back in a slow, snapping motion and nodded back. It was awesome! And as if that wasn’t cool enough, a few minutes later Jeff’s brother Ron drove by in his primer grey 30 Ford, gave me the nod, then pulled over and offered me a ride home, which I readily accepted. That was one of the best days of my young life.
As we grew older and our interest turned to girls and our own cars (in that order) We began hanging out more and more on Angeleno Street. By then we had befriended several more Angeleno’s who were within a year or two of our age. Among them were Jeff’s younger sister Cathy, two of Pete’s younger brother’s Jerry and Joe, Cheryl Hahn from across the street, Jeff’s neighbor George Harvey, Stoy Hughes and The Robertson girls Paula, Shelly and Debbie who lived a few doors down from Cheryl. The outsiders who hung out on Angeleno on a regular basis included myself, Art Vasquez, Bob Pacheco, Dave Morales, and Mike “Nosey” Narez. Other, “occasionals” included Brian and Mike Muldrow, Ron Nava and Ernie Breceda. There were others but their names escape me.
It wasn’t unusual to find us there most late afternoons or evenings just hanging around shooting the shit. Many an adventure was born on Angeleno, some incredible, others incredibly stupid! Like the night we decided to play car chase, definitely one of our dumber ideas. A
group of us had been sitting on the lawn in front of Pete’s house talking. As darkness fell and boredom set in someone got the crazy idea to play chase. I remember jumping into my VW with Art, Dave and Eddie and taking off down the street. Bob and Rabbit right behind in Bob’s Bug. We raced down Angeleno to Second Street, turned right on Second to Orange Ave, right on Orange to Third Street, right on Third, then right again on Angeleno . We were having a blast! Each time we passed Pete’s house we honked our horns and flashed our lights, yelling and flipping off those who were still sitting in Pete’s front yard. It was awesome!
We made two passes without incident and were coming around for the third time. This time however as we approached Pete’s house I decided to slow down and pull over to the curb. Unfortunately, Bob was too busy flipping the guys off through his sunroof and didn’t see my brake lights. A moment later he crashed into the back of my car. I was nearly stopped, he was going about twenty. The impact was intense! It rocked us! Fortunately no one in my car was injured. In Bob’s car, Rabbit, who was in the passenger seat, was thrown forward and whacked his head on the windshield, hard enough to shatter the glass and pop it out. Fortunately he was okay, but it wasn’t to be his last incident with Bob’s windshield. A few years later he would have the misfortune of being with Bob on New Year’s Eve and again make contact with the windshield.
Both cars were damaged but driveable. Before the police arrived we got together and concocted a story about a small black dog running into the street causing me to brake fast in front of Bob. Not the greatest story but it was all we had. When the police unit arrived the two officers began by questioning Bob and I about the accident, they then spoke to our passengers.
Everything seemed to be going well until, as the policeman was recapping our story, little Timmy Smith blurted out that the dog had been a big black dog, caught his error and changed it to a small dog. Well it was pretty obvious that the police were a little suspicious. It didn’t take a genius to know there was more going on there than what they’d been told, but they were cool. They finished up their report and after a little lecture about driving carefully they went on their way.
After they’d left we all razed Timmy for awhile then headed home. Just another night on Angeleno. Unbelievably Bob’s insurance company contacted me the very next morning and by late afternoon I had a check in my hand for the repairs! Yeah, those certainly were the days!
To be continued …