...a mailbox...

Back then, skateboards looked like skateboards.

But they were, in fact, death machines. The wheels were made of red clay. The trucks worked, sort of. The boards were about 18 inches long and as wide as your foot. No one wore helmets or pads or anything remotely resembling safety gear. Safety gear was for sissies! You were supposed to get scabs and have gravel ground into your flesh and end up with broken skulls and things.

...a mailbox...

That's what being a kid meant. Breaking things.

Roller skates were also nothing like today's inline versions. The wheels didn't even have the benefit of being made of hard clay – they were hard metal. Why this was considered a good idea defies logic.

My neighborhood was constructed so that the rows of tract houses sat on embankments above the street. Perhaps this was meant to suggest that the street was a canal in this desert city and our cars like Venetian gondolas, taking us to wondrous and magical places like Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. Whatever the reason, it meant that the driveways were all curving inclines, making going around and around in circles on your childhood vehicle of choice that much more ... exciting.

At the foot of each driveway was a mailbox, placed high enough so the mailmen (there were no mailwomen) could slip your mail in easily without actually exiting their little Jeeps. Then they'd scoot to the next house, the sound of that motor and the opening and closing of mailbox doors an announcement (to children like me whose only thrills were visits by the street sweeper, the ice cream truck, and the mailman to brighten our otherwise dull-as-a-cardboard-box-of-hammers days) that there was something to go do.


Strongbow Stadium, Bakersfield, California
...a mailbox... ...a mailbox...