I drove the Pontiac Chief for about 4 months until one night while returning from a Surfing Movie in Santa Monica with my date the Chief blew up. I blew an oil seal while going over the Mulholland pass. I looked out the rear view mirror and saw a huge billowing white smoke screen blinding everyone in my path, I slowly began to lose power at the apex of my climb and pulled off on a nearby off ramp. I left the Chief there on the roadside never to see it again. My date and I hitch hiked the rest of the way to Sunland California.
I quit my job at the machine shop because without a car didn’t feel like taking the bus again. I was back to square one. No car, no job and now no home. Yes the landlord had returned from his European vacation and was looking for his three months of rent. Needless to say I didn’t have it and I was told to leave so I packed up my clothes into a duffel bag, grabbed my surfboard and walked down the driveway with $75 and started walking the hood. I’m sure it looked a little odd seeing this kid walking around with a duffel bag and a surfboard in a town that’s 70 miles from the nearest beach. I was living on Commerce Ave. which is technically in Tujunga California, in fact I think Commerce Ave. is the divide between Sunland and Tujunga and I was living on the Tujunga side. There are alot of duplexes, mother in law, converted garages, and other non-code type dwellings in this older, more run down part of town. I walked only two blocks and on the Sunland side of Commerce I saw what looked like an empty dwelling down a long driveway. At the top of this driveway there was a big white beat up run down house. I said to myself “Hmmm looks like no one is living in that place back there, I think I’ll walk down and take a closer look.” I walked down the drive and looked through the windows and saw it was vacant. I went to the front door and it was unlocked so I went in. The power was on and so was the gas and water. It was a studio apartment 1 living room, 1 bath, a small kitchen and some closet space. But the real “coup de gra” was the Indian rug that was left rolled out in the living room over the hardwood floor.
I don’t know what it is about me but I have a floor fetish and I love beautiful rugs, not carpeting but rugs and rugs and wood are perfect together. I also like my rugs and floors swept, mopped, and vacuumed at all times.
I inquired about the empty studio with the people living in the big old white house at the top of the drive a hippie couple named Ebb and Flo. They told me it was $100 a month including utilities. I told them about my dilemma and they let me “move in” right then with a $75 deposit. At least I had a place to stay on my very first night out on the streets. This place was a step up from my last shack for sure. But now I was broke again. No food, no car, no job, no furniture. I had to find work fast! I needed money for phone calls and bus fare so I went into survival mode. I went to the local grocery store one afternoon and waited for the Coke, Pepsi, or Seven Up trucks to come in and make their delivery’s. When a truck arrived at the store and the driver wheeled in his delivery I would sneak over to the truck and take off a couple racks of empty glass bottles and stash them behind a dumpster. When the driver left I would wait awhile and then redeem the bottles for $1.25 or $1.50 that way I could make phone calls and ride the bus.
I found another job in Van Nuys California as a welder. I was working on an assembly line welding sports car luggage racks for British sports car enthusiast. The pay was OK but the little burns you got every week were a bitch. Working at speed around hot stuff isn’t real safe, however I did get pretty good at braising a nice bead with my acetylene torch. I befriended a guy at work named Art that lived about four blocks from my place. Art would take me to work each day for cash or grass but not ass. I didn’t buy another car but I did get some furnishings for my pad. Stuff from ads in the paper or garage sales. I got a couch that was comfortable enough to sleep on, an easy chair, a coffee table, and a floor lamp. I never saw much of the old gang during this time and if I did I never told them where I was living. I had a couple of one night stands with a couple of former one night stands but my social live was almost non-existent. I lived there for 5 months and paid the rent every month on time. Then one Friday afternoon I came home from work and all of my stuff was out of the house and on the driveway. “What the fuck is this all about!” I went to the front house to find out what was going on but no one was there and it looked like it was almost empty inside, like they were in the process of moving, turns out they were. I never saw Ebb and Flo again. So here I was again with nowhere to live only this time I had “stuff” including that really nice Indian rug. I slept that evening outside on the couch under the stars. It turned out to be a nice night for sleeping outside with a full October harvest moon and mild Santana Winds. I laid down and starred at the moon and thought about life, did a little soul searching, gave myself a good talkin to, then made a plan for tomorrow.
The following Saturday morning I went to a U-Haul rental place and rented a small moving truck for the day. I didn’t know where I was moving too but I needed a truck for my stuff so I went back to my driveway and loaded up the truck and started driving around town looking for places that were for rent or vacant. I didn’t use a newspaper, all of those places were to expensive.
Later that evening I found a little one bedroom house at the top of Hillrose Street in Tujunga with a For Rent sign in the window. I went up to the sign and read the details written in black Marks Alot. “1 bedroom 1bath and kitchen $125 a month including utilities. Owner next door at 1552.” I went and talked to the owners and they let me move in the next day. This was actually another step up from what I was living in before because of the separate bedroom and it was a little bigger, plus it had two big pine trees on the property complete with pine-cones and pine needles, it gave me a feeling of being high in the mountains and I like the mountains almost as much as the beach. I moved my stuff in, did a little decorating ie. hung a couple of framed pictures of waves breaking, and I even bought a cheap single mattress at a garage sale that I threw on the floor in the bedroom.
I was still a loner, still working at the welding place and I just bought another vehicle a 1948 Ford pickup truck primer gray, straight flathead 6. Things were going OK for about a month then some people stepped back into my life and it got real, real bad.