1958

   Garden Grove, Ca was our new home now.. We lived on Otis Ave, very near Harbor and Chapman Blvd. Not far from that new theme park they called Disneyland. My father loved breakfast and one Saturday he said “Come on Linda , let’s go to Belisles.”.. I was ready in a hot minute, I loved Belisles. It was a local diner with good food and a particular specialty..everything, everything was supersized!! All food was served on big white turkey sized platters. The cups were about 32 ounces and the straws about two feet long. When you walked in the pastry case was right inside the door and they had apple pies that stood up about six inches, have no idea how they did it, but the food was fun and very good.

   We got in the car and Belisles was right on the corner of Harbor and Chapman, they were there for many years, but after Disneyland really got going , because of their location the spot was worth a fortune and they sold… This morning though my dad turned right on Harbor and went past the restaurant… ” Hey, where we going?”.. is what I said. Dad just smiled very big and said he wanted to show me something. We drove for a few minutes and then he pulled over to the side of the road. “This is Disneyland.” he announced. Half of it was still unfinished and he showed me the “river” they were digging for the Adventureland area…  Next week you and Nancy, (she was my best friend) can go. I was so excited , could hardly wait to tell her about it, but first breakfast.

   That afternoon was very hot and swimming sounded like a good idea. Wanted to tell Nancy about Disneyland and thought maybe Dad would take us swimming too. There was a big pool in Santa Ana at the time. It was located in a very nice area, where our family doctor lived. They called it the plunge and Dad often took me and my brother there. He would drop us off and for $1.00 we swam all day. No cell phones back then so when he said “Be out front at 4:00.”, well we had our butts out front. No texting “give me another hour,” or “I am late”…. no way. Dad did not play that, when he gave a time, that meant exactly that time and you better be ready….

   Dad was very agreeable this Saturday and we got Nancy and he dropped us off in front of the Plunge and said he would be back at 4:00. We got in line to pay our 50 cents. The line was long, lots of little girls and boys. I never noticed that they were all white, not something I thought about, so when we got to the counter to pay and the guy in the window said to Nancy, “We don’t let Mexicans in the pool.”, I was , can’t quite explain what I was… mad, shocked, sick to my stomach, not quite sure. But I know that was wrong and we were going swimming!!!! Nancy was crying and I did not know what to say to her.. so I just gave her a great big hug and said “I’ll call my Dad.”

   Now that was no easy task then. They would not let me use the pool phone, but even though we did not have cell phones back then, we did have pay phones about every other block. So we walked to one and waited a few minutes, I wanted to make sure my dad had made it back home. I called and mom answered, “Is dad there yet?”..  “Yes, what’s wrong?” she knew me, my loud voice always did get a little shreiky when I am emotional.  “I just need to talk to Dad for a minute”.. I could hear her say “Bud, it’s Linda”… she called him Bud and my first brother we called Buddy. When he got on the phone and I told him what happened, I could hear the anger in his voice. All he said was “Go back to where I dropped you off and stay there until I get there!!!”… He showed up allright, much quicker than we expected, he must have put that Chevy wagon into high gear. He grabbed me by one hand and Nancy by the other hand and led us up to the counter and walked up to the window.. Now my dad was not a huge man. He worked hard all his life and was muscular and slim, but his physical presence would not scare anyone by itself, but my father grew up in Maple Shade, New Jersey and South Philly, Pennsylvania, he lost his father, grandfather and uncle one day in a car crash, he went to work when he was thirteen, he fought in the second World War and bottom line… he did not take crap from anyone. He put his arm in the window, I do not know what he said, but in five minutes we were swimming in that pool. Swimming was fun, but the water in the pool could not wash off the pain at the counter….

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