Southern CA. vs. Anchorage, AK

I was born in Orange, CA when oranges grew in groves, rather than big box stores.  I remember playing in the orchards, and throwing oranges at boys.  Southern California, Beach Boys, sun, beaches, sunburns and fabulous weather.  A kid growing up in Southern California does not appreciate they live in paradise, just like kids growing up in ridiculously cold climates think there is nothing wrong with freezing cold temperatures and snow.  Human beings are remarkable.  We live in extreme climates, and think nothing of it. 

A favorite quote of mine is, “When scientist want to inhabit the dark side of the moon, they will recruit Alaskans”.

I feel like a salmon, returning to the place of my birth.  I am not swimming up-stream, but towing an Airstream travel trailer along the west coast and marveling at the Pacific Ocean.  The Pacific is an ocean, the Atlantic is a pond.

Yesterday, I play 18 holes of golf at The River Course of Alisal in Solvang, CA.   My family visit Solvang annually to pick pumpkins and eat split pea soup.

So when I teed off, I liked the fact High School kids were playing golf.  Did kid’s play golf when I was in High School?  I doubt it.  Granted these kids were not from my socio-economic group.  Far from it.

Elliot JHS on Lake Street in Altadena, CA was predominately black.  I liked the fact I was a minority, it made life interesting. 

I have never liked living in a homogeneous community that does not celebrate diversity.  Also, as a white resident you are less likely to experience crime.  I have only been burglarized after white people move in and ruined the neighborhood. 

Sorry, back to Southern California.  Wow!  What a spectacular place.  The sun is shining, the beaches are fantastic, the traffic is ridiculous, the Rich are incredibly Rich, and the poor are poor.

Not what it looked like in 1968, but loved.

My parents bought a house on Rubio Street, in Altadena, CA around 1960.  It was way out of their price range, but for a mire $30,000+ we lived in a mansion.   It is the house we all loved, and still do.  In April 1968, we moved from that beautiful, sunny, glorious house, to Anchorage, Alaska.  

When we arrived in Anchorage, Alaska all we saw was grey and mud.  Spring in Alaska smells of thawing dog shit.  Because it is grey, muddy, and there is a lot of thawing dog shit.  In addition to everything else 8 months of winter has buried under snow.

To give my insane parents a little bit of credit for moving 4 pubescent girls from Shangri-La (aka S. CA), to Anchorage, Alaska – we all achieved and flourished, except for my Father.  

I have often wondered, if we had not moved from S. CA in 1968 (Woodstock) to Anchorage, Alaska (Happy Days), how our lives would have been different?  Certainly, our risk of skin cancer – no sun in Alaska, was diminished.  

But, Alaska offered incredible professional opportunities — you were a big fish in a very little pond.  

Alaska was the LAST FRONTIER, full of opportunity and promise.  It was not the place to move when sinking into alcoholism, so my father did not survive.  Alaska has one of the highest per-capita rate of alcohol consumption, especially when ‘Happy Hour’ starts at 3 p.m.   Strangely when my Father driving home at 3 p.m. in the afternoon hit and killed a kid drunk driving, it set my life-path on a strange trajectory.  Alaska gave me incredible opportunity and advantages.  My first real reinvention.  When life hands us lemons?

So on my return and in retirement, I am loving the beaches, sunshine and weather.  Somehow I doubt I would have been so fortunate to be living my dream, if my family had never moved from S. CA to Anchorage, Alaska in 1968, my life would surely have been very different. 

Who knew?

3 thoughts on “Southern CA. vs. Anchorage, AK

  1. Alison, I didn’t know that sad fact about your father killing a boy. I’m so sorry. That must have been very hard on everybody. Glad you’re able to go “home” to happier times. Hope to see you in the Bay Area.

  2. Alison, I was just reading your blog to catch up and saw your note about your father. Unfortunately, I do understand and my father’s drinking forever changed our family path.
    Since you are golfing across California, don’t forget that we have 38 courses here in the Monterey Peninsula area.
    Safe travels,
    Solange

  3. I enjoyed your family story of moving to Alaska… I found out that we have another thing in common… Keep those stories coming!

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