Not facing the monthly, "Rent
Is Due" crisis, having Kaiser Health Care insurance and shopping with a
checking account and credit card were new perks, worth more than what I did as
a stay at home mom. I awoke each morning knowing I was safe from eviction, the
pantry was stocked and the future secure, pleasures not understood unless one
has experienced their lack.
I filled our bathroom cupboards with rolls of toilet paper, standard sized bars of soap still in their wrapping, bottles of unopened shampoo and large fluffy towels without motel logos. I shopped with no food stamp stigma at Lucky supermarket without buying the cheapest selection. At the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto I bought sheets, blankets, dishes and furniture. For the first time I had "new stuff". Not only was there no constant scramble for money, we saved. We were rich. I was a happy wife in our Camelot and hummed, what do the simple folk do?
A few miles across the Bay Shore freeway from our house, east of Mountain View, was Moffett Field Naval Air Station with its obsolete blimp hanger, and huge jet aerodromes, the landmark for the area. I was born a few miles to the southeast of it. Every time I saw it I felt a sense of connection of being in the right place, my place.
Mountain View's population, however,
had increased 10 fold since I was born nearby in a pear orchard. It was still
multiplying in annual double digits. Moffett Field, now occupied by Google and NASA
reflect the rapid metamorphous occurring. The constant bulldozing of fruit
orchards to make Silicone Valley started with Stanford’s Professor Shockley and
The pace of change kept accelerating. New cities like Cupertino and Fremont suddenly sprang up from orchard terrain while existing ones like Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, even San Jose exploded into high tech centers with seas of new residential subdivisions constantly under construction. While thinking I was in the right spot, an economic earthquake, the actual “big one”, was shaking my home.
Home prices escalated rapidly after
our purchase. Mountain View when we purchased was mostly lower middle to middle
class white with a few Mexicans plus a fair number of Filipinos associated with
the naval base. It was laid back but one rapidly changing as home ownerships
flipped. New arrivals came not just from the US but everywhere. What was
important was, "having a good time" not who your parents were or what
your background was, blessings for us.
While we made new friends and enjoyed backyard BBQs, neighbors tended to
come and go.
With the kids a little older we
periodically drove to San Francisco as a family. Dad had always taken me to San
Francisco Chinatown to buy Oriental specialty foods. Mom never went with the
excuse she had house chores. I knew the shops to go to and the foods to buy for
Dad. We discovered brunch at the Yank Sing restaurant on Broadway, the first to
introduce Dim Sim. There we splurged on delicacies as the food carts passed
spending more than intended but always skipping the chicken feet. We also
bought a bottle of their hot sauce for Dad.
Afterwards it was the zoo, a Golden Gate
Park picnic or the Steinhart Aquarium, simply family stuff. Afterwards as we
drove back to Broadway and took the Embarcadero Freeway on ramp to home. Hubby on
Broadway always sneaked a glance at the blatant go-go girl signs, especially
the large corner marquee announcing Carol Doda’s topless twin 44’s and her
swing. As far as I know he never saw her swing but his quick glance confirmed
men have a breast thing.
On Sunday we visited parents in
Tropicana Village. I smuggled bars of soap, bottles of shampoo and fluffy
towels to Mom. We took all to breakfast at Uncle John’s Pancake House with kids
cooing on mom's lap or playing about in the cargo area of the station wagon
before seat belt laws. After breakfast I took Mom to Saint Joseph's Church in
downtown for mass, which brought back my Notre Dame days.