By in Personal

The Long Road Home to Templeton, California

I was born in Long Beach, California and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, a small town named Bellflower. I could walk almost anywhere I wanted to go, but all I saw were buildings, sidewalks, and whatever greenery was in people’s yards. Trees were all of the cultivated variety except in the city park.

The first home I can remember in Bellflower was on a third of an acre lot and had a huge garden. I used to help my dad with it, and I developed a taste for fresh peaches, plums, and apricots picked at peak ripeness. Since then supermarket fruit and almost any that’s not fresh from a tree has lost its appeal. That's me as a toddler in the rhubarb patch. My dad loved rhubarb.

Family Photo Collection. I have the rights.

When I was ten, my brother was born, and we moved to a three bedroom house in a different part of town that was only two blocks from Bellflower Boulevard, the main commercial area. The yard was smaller, but we still had room for an apricot tree and a few tomato vines behind the garage.

I loved being able to walk from one end of the town to the other, to all my friends’ homes, to church, to school, and to the library, where I spent a lot of time. I suppose it didn’t matter much then that the yard was smaller, because I wasn’t home much anymore, and when I was, I tended to be curled up with a book. I lived in that house until I went away to UCLA for my last five semesters of college. The photo below was taken of the family in front of that house in 1963 when I was home for a weekend.

Family Photo Collection. I have the rights.

In Westwood, I lived in the dorm. That experience on campus was a highlight of my life. Again, unless I wanted to make a visit home, I could walk anywhere I needed to go. Although Westwood Village itself was a small part of Los Angeles, the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards was one of the busiest in the city of Los Angeles. We continued to live in West Los Angeles for a few months after we got married before moving back to Long Beach for graduate school . We stayed in Long Beach for about two years, while I got my teaching credential and taught English at Long Beach high schools.

When my husband transferred to what was then Los Angeles State College, we moved to Culver City, a long block from the MGM studios. By this time we were both driving, and that was good, because I could no longer walk everywhere I needed to go. Our church was in the Crenshaw Area of Los Angeles, about a twenty-minute drive away. Good shopping also required a car for carrying everything home. The closest shopping was about half a mile away.

The Culver City years were some of the best of my life. It seemed our house was always full of students from our church college group on the weekends, and these students were the people we were closest to then. (We were the advisors to the college group.) The conversations were deep and the friendships that began then continue to this day. The photo below shows the family again, shortly after we moved into this, the very first house we bought. I'm second from the left. My husband is on the right.

Family Photo Collection. I have the rights.

Although we were definitely in an suburban area, there was a small park on the corner by our house, and often I would take walks there. We also had a pond in our small back yard and we got to know the neighbor children who climbed over our fence to play there. I would invite them in and read them stories. Our own efforts to start a family weren’t going very well, so I enjoyed having the contact with the children, since I was no longer teaching. I probably would have been content to stay in that house, but after we had been there ten years, my husband got a job in Newbury Park in Ventura County, and we moved a county north.

Newbury Park was a fairly new town. The house we bought still had a lot of undeveloped land near it in 1977, and there was a state park within walking distance. This was the closest we had come to rural living, but it still wasn’t even close. We only had room for a small garden, but we had lots of fruit trees. Although we liked most of our neighbors, we didn’t always enjoy listening to whatever they were watching or listening to. The houses were simply too close together for people who enjoyed peace and quiet. The photo below was taken on the only day it ever snowed at that house. Sarah and Jason are playing in it. The year was 1988.

This is my photo.

Still, though, we made some happy memories in that house. The fifteen years we were there were our parenting years. We adopted two older children, a natural brother and sister, when Jason was five and Sarah nine. It seems the house was always full of kids. We traveled a lot with the children, especially during our three home schooling years. But Sarah had many unresolved issues, emotional baggage she had brought with her when she came, and she decided to take off a few days before she turned seventeen. In August, 1991, Jason died in a jet ski accident at the age of fourteen.

The weekend before Jason died we had all decided to make an offer on a house in rural Templeton, in San Luis Obispo County. Jason had hoped to get a dog and a horse. We were planning to have a large garden and orchard and try the homesteading kind of life. With Jason’s death, that dream ended. We still moved north to Templeton, but our lives took a different turn. I had started a business as a home school vendor and we were on the road too much to have much of a garden.

By 1995 Kosta’s hips were worn out. They need replacing, but we had no insurance and we had to wait almost eight years for him to get on disability so he could have the surgery. Meanwhile my thirteen-year-old nephew needed a temporary home and he came to live with us for almost a year. He traveled with us and I taught him at home.

For most of those first years in Templeton, the book business, which I had taken online by 2006, kept me too busy to have much of a life outside of it. By the time I started to write for Squidoo in 2009, I was finally learning to enjoy what Templeton, and nearby Paso Robles had to offer. We were finally living far enough from our neighbors that we rarely heard them. We were surrounded by open space and vineyards.

It was a long road to get here, but after being here for over twenty years now, we know that we are in the right place. It was a long road north from my first years in Los Angeles County, but we finally got to Templeton and it feels like home. The photo at the top is of a portion of Las Tablas, a country road in Templeton that I often take to and from farmers market on Saturday. The photo below is of the house in Templeton where we live now. We are in that little barn house in the center of the photo. I took the photo from our neighbor’s vineyard . None of the trees in the foreground or any the vineyards belong to us. We just get to enjoy having them as neighbors.

This is my photo.


Image Credit » I took the photo

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bestwriter wrote on July 29, 2014, 4:30 AM

This indeed is an introduction or may I say an autobiography? Nice pictures. I specially liked the one when you were a little girl. I quite understand your not liking fruits other than those plucked straight from the tree.

Welcome to PP. Hope we will bump into each other with posts of mutual interest.

SandraLynn wrote on July 29, 2014, 7:11 AM

What a wonderful story :) Thank you for sharing. I almost wish I had a cuppa, though I don't drink coffee. Maybe some tea. I'll read it again. Welcome to Persona Paper. Enjoy :)

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 12:01 PM

Thank you for the warm welcome SandraLynn . Would you believe it? I don't drink coffee either, and tea is also my preferred beverage. I usually have a cup while I'm reading posts.

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 12:04 PM

I didn't exactly mean it to be what it turned out to be, but sometimes posts take on a life of their own. Thanks for welcoming me here. I promise, all my posts won't be this long. But it was a long road that led me here and 71 years is a lot to look back on.

sandyresearch wrote on July 29, 2014, 1:52 PM

I enjoyed your story. Although, I'm not totally familiar with all the locations, I've been to the Crenshaw area years ago ( and walking though there was tough; although it could be better now) I also noticed the theme of your love for books from five years old. I'm wondering if up to five years old, did your parents or a significant other read to you? I've read remnants of your story before and each time I see something more. One of the homes(the white one) reminds me of the home I had when I was 5. I believe back then they had asbestos siding. There are still homes like this in my old neighborhood that are now on the market for: 10,000 dollars.(a suburb of Detroit) Can you believe that?(especially since you're from

inertia4 wrote on July 29, 2014, 2:52 PM

BarbRad This is one amazing story. I remember the late 60's and the 70's and of course the 80's. For me those years are all great memories. You are a great writer. Like I said in another response on your first post, I always enjoy reading your posts.

tinamarie wrote on July 29, 2014, 3:41 PM

Thank you for introducing yourself and bringing us into your life. I feel like I know you already. :)

SandraLynn wrote on July 29, 2014, 4:07 PM

YAY :) So glad to have met you :)

paigea wrote on July 29, 2014, 4:37 PM

That was indeed a long road to home. I am so sorry for the loss of your children. Have you ever heard from your daughter who took off? I have a long lost daughter and a deceased niece who I raised as my own.

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 5:21 PM

Crenshaw wasn't too bad most of the time we were involved here. I was at the church on 48th St. and 8th Ave, a residential corner, on Sunday mornings and many Friday nights. It was a mission church. There was not too much commotion there when we were, between 1967 and 1977. When we started visiting now and again in 1991 from Newbury Park, it had gotten much worse. They had asked us to come back and help keep the church going, but after Jason died, we just couldn't keep making that trip. There was just too much going on inside us.

I had lots of significant adults reading to me as early as I can remember. I was reading myself by the time I was three. I'll cover that in a separate post.

As to the houses, I didn't pay too much attention to asbestos back when I was growing up. The Culver City house was stucco. Newbury Park had those asbestos ceilings.

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 5:25 PM

I was happy to find you here. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts, too. I'll have more time if I ever finished making my rejected Squidoo posts visible again and my broken Bubblews posts presentable.

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 5:29 PM

I'm afraid anyone who reads my posts will get to know me. As the tag line for one of my blogs says, I am what I write and I write what I am. It's really hard for me to write purely objective posts, even when their purpose is to inform.

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 5:40 PM

Maybe by now my daughter has found your niece. I completely wrote Sarah's story on Squidoo. She got back in touch when they put her in the group home after she had blown some wonder opportunities with foster families who had known her when she was still with us and got licensed just to take her. She wouldn't speak to us then. She called when she wanted to get out of the group home for a day, but made it evident she was really just wanting to evade their watchfulness.

She was released on her 18th birthday and we had some contact because she needed me to access her custodial bank account. That gave me some leverage in getting back some of the stuff she had stolen from me that she had insisted she didn't have. She did come, bringing what she had rounded up of her birth family, to Jason's service. And she called me a few times when she was working in care-giving situations to ask for recipes. She called me once when she was living in Paso Robles, and shortly after that she moved to Colorado and then Texas, and we only has hearsay knowledge of her whereabouts until her death. She had told her common law husband in Texas that if she died she wanted to be buried next to Jason. Her husband couldn't even afford to come, let alone send her. But she must have trusted us enough to honor her wish, and we did.

paigea wrote on July 29, 2014, 5:56 PM

Heartbreaking. My long lost daughter has not been in contact for years. I miss her but have accepted she is gone.
She hasn't ever met my husband. I assume she will have heard that my niece passed away. Of course you buried Sarah next to Jason. My thoughts are with you.

inertia4 wrote on July 29, 2014, 7:35 PM

BarbRad Well I have decided not to edit any Bubblews posts. Mainly because they frown upon that these days. It seems if you edit one there it goes back into rotation as a new post and counts toward you daily limit. So I leave the old ones alone now. I will be writing here and there and also on ChatAbout. I love all three of these sites for different reasons.

BarbRad wrote on July 29, 2014, 9:05 PM

My edits go back into rotation, but don't appear to count toward my daily limit. Of course, it really doesn't matter to me, since I never post up to my daily limit. I just fix old posts and put most of my new ones here.

sandyresearch wrote on July 30, 2014, 12:29 AM

Thanks for responding BarbRad. Yes, I'd love to hear the story about reading to yourself at 3 years old. I've heard that many parents are reading to their children before they are born. Looking forward to your story.

It's funny how building materials change over the years...

inertia4 wrote on July 30, 2014, 11:13 AM

BarbRad Oh, so then they must have fixed something there. I thought they counted toward the amount of posts we have for the day. Thats cool. I did notice that they are getting better at answering back when we email them also. Just I wish they were more like the Admins here. But we can't always get what we want.

BarbRad wrote on August 2, 2014, 1:32 PM

The property is why we bought it. The house is only 1120 square feet, and way too small for the kind of life we have. it's a converted barn. That's why I'm recuperating from my foot surgery in our second hour a few miles away that I inherited from my mom. It's only one story and has handicap access if anyone is immobile. We are keeping it because of our age, since it's got what old folks need - shoe grab bards, etc. It also has more space.