I remember a car, a red Chevy convertible. Mom said when they got it as a wedding gift, “it was as bright and shiny as a red toy top pulled out of the toe of a Christmas stocking.” They’d had some wonderful times with that car, but now the war was on, Dad was gone, everything was in short supply, especially gasoline and tires. Rationing was in effect, and you couldn’t buy a drop of gas without an “A” card, and even then Mom said you “couldn’t get enough to get around the block.” So, making a game out of it some people called “frogging,” we’d crest a hill cutting the engine coasting as far on the other side as we could.
But when they started rationing re-tread tires Mom figured the “game is just about up, without even re-treads we’ll be riding around on bald tires waiting for a blow out.” She wasn’t joking thinking of her friend Patty on her way to work having a double blowout. Patty’d limped her old Plymouth over to the curb getting out, kicking the dead tires in frustration, sitting down on the curb crying because one of the tires was her spare. She was out two tires without even a re-tread replacement, telling Mom if she’d had a gun she’d have shot her car putting it out of its misery.
So, it was a real surprise Mom taking me for a “joy ride” with the top down on the road next to the beach somewhere between Venice and Santa Monica just before sunset. Felt like we were driving faster than the thirty-five mile victory speed limit, listening to the bald tires rushing over the road with the swooshing sound of sandpaper smoothing a piece of wood. Air whistling in through the wind-wing, sounding like steam screaming out of Granny’s big teakettle. Wind tugging, pulling my hair back, Mom’s Betty Grable hairdo swirling around her head like a spider weaving a web across her face so she kept brushing her hair back with her hand trying to keep it out of her eyes. Turning radio on, Mom singing with Andrews Sisters, “I’ll be with you in Apple Blossom Time.” Me, like a dog sticking its head out the car window, mouth wide open gulping, cheeks wobbling, tongue tasting the salty air like licking the top of my Nabisco cracker before crunching it up putting it in my tomato soup. Salt-wind tears seeping from the corners of my eyes, Mom’s eyes stinging, too, tears running all the way down her face, one dropping from her chin to her lap disappearing among the white polka dots in the fold of her blue dress.
Mom told me to try and remember as much as I could like I was going to mail a penny picture postcard to myself. I think it was on her mind she hadn’t gotten a letter from Dad in a long time, and the last time she got one the censors had read it before she did, blocking out some parts making her wonder what he’d written that she was missing. I think that’s why she took me for that ride in the red Chevy convertible on the beach road that meant so much to them. The moonlight rides they’d taken together before the war. She was driving the car with me sitting beside her, thinking of my dad, scared. The sun turning color from a grapefruit to an orange at the edge of the ocean went down in a splash leaving an orange glow against the sky. Starting to get dark and cold, Mom pulled over to the side of the road, and we spotted the first evening star. Mom said we should make a wish—I think we were wishing the same thing. Putting up the tan canvas top pretending it was a circus tent, the ocean looking like a black rolling blanket with a line of silver curls before the waves crash sounding like a huge newspaper being crumpled up in the hands of a giant.
The next morning, Mom got up slipping into her slacks and Eisenhower jacket taking the car keys off the white rabbit’s foot key chain, hanging the key chain over the door “for good luck.” I asked, but she wasn’t sure why it was supposed to bring good luck, laughing and saying, “I guess it wasn’t good luck for the rabbit.”
6×9 • 262 pages • $17.10
- Bill, you’ve done it again, great stories. I thought your first book was good, but, this one was even better. It brings back memories of growing up in Pomona, California. i enjoyed all the stories you put into your book. It got so where I’m hoping there will be a series of Remembering Gordon Street. Or maybe you will venture into another type of book. Guess I will just have to be patient and see if one develops. You are truly a great writer and know we all have stories to tell. Thanks again, for sharing (By Lois Swick on Jan. 18, 2014)
- This book is a must read! Wow! We are grabbed by a mystery in the very first chapter of the book. I will not give away anything except to say that I could not put it down. One minute I was thinking that I knew the outcome and the next minute I wasn’t so sure. But, I do know that I could not put the book down until I came to the end of the chapter. So, I read on. Once again as in “Ghosts”, Mr. Wallace takes us back in time to post WWII America. And, as I saw the pages that I had read growing in number compared with those that were left to read diminishing, I wanted to slow the reading down so that the story could continue and yet I was driven to keep on reading. Mr. Wallace begins by relating to the reader that a strange object floats up on Venice beach one morning, igniting fear, speculation, and wonder. At the same time, on a different beach. over 3,000 miles away, my father, then in the Navy, was patrolling for enemy submarines in the Atlantic Ocean of the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. We are all united, often without knowing it, in a moment in time, that binds those of us who experience it together. And, once again, Mr. Wallace takes us there. He set the stage for the time by relating stories of family and friends and other residents of Gordon Street. He tells of the things they do together, their traditions, their strengths, their weaknesses, their successes, their failures, and their dreams. And, Mr. Wallace conveys all of this through his skilled way of relating stories about the characters’ individual experiences and their experiences together. I want to extend a very special thanks to Mr. Wallace for finding a way to bring “the girl in the white shoes” into “Remembering”. I fell in love with her in “Ghosts”. And, I was not disappointed. It was a very touching story. I would love another book. Perhaps, “Where Are They Now?” GREAT JOB! (By Mrs. Carol Selva on March 21, ,2014)
- I enjoyed this book so much, I hated to finish it! Does this make sense? I didn’t want to see the story end, so I forced myself to read only a chapter at a time to make it last longer. Mr. Wallace’s first book, “Ghosts of Gordon Street”, told the tragic story of Dwainie, the pathetic kid that sees to be a universal character in everyone’s childhood — you know – the kid that pretty much everyone ridicules, avoids, and perhaps even fears a little. Within that story we got to see bits and pieces of other characters so intriguing that I wanted to know them better. “Remembering Gordon Street” goes a long way toward granting my wish. I loved meeting Granny, the homesteading woman who could shoot a varmint or pluck a chicken, but loved her elegant clothes and her collection of perfume bottles. Mom and Dad, Poppy, and Uncle Bill all came to life on the pages of this book. And I loved Casimer, the genius kid who’s at the opposite end of the scale from Dwainie – also ridiculed, avoided, and feared a little by all the other kids, but who had too much going for him to be bothered by it. I hope Mr. Wallace is already at work on another Gordon Street book because there are still plenty of stories waiting to be told and I can’t wait to read them. (By “rabid reader” on Jan. 24, 2014)
- What a truly engaging book this is. Wallace is a gifted writer that transcends the long list of talented authors that have mastered the skills necessary for penning exquisite descriptions of people, places, things and events. By gently, gradually and seamlessly sliding the reader from the role of a remote observer into a full-fledged story participant, he clearly distinguishes himself from the pack. Get ready to meet Thomas R. Hawk, Jeremiah Stroad, Casimer, Gary, Miss Kingsley and other unique and intriguing neighbors residing in the vicinity of Gordon Street. In the process of meeting these folks, you begin to understand that most all of us have been abundantly blessed and have shared many of the same and similar experiences while living in America on our Gordon Street. Remembering Gordon Street, by William H. Wallace, Jr., is a book I highly recommend. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Wallace’s first book, Ghosts of Gordon Street, is also a must-read and comes with my highest recommendation. (By Bob R., Jan. 4, 2014)
- Redefining the Inland Valley. Wallace has done it again. I loved the first book. This is even better. I did not grow up on Gordon Street or even in Pomona. I grew up in LA and Van Nuys. These stories are universal and so very moving. I went to the same Saturday matinees, had the same dirt clod fights from our forts dug out n the vacant lot. I had the same kind of quirky neighbors and saw returning soldiers suffer their night sweats and family violence. That car on the cover could have been my mom’s. I did not want this book to end. The characters are so real and their situations very touching. It is like being in a movie that you want to go on and when it ends you want to see it again. Thanks Bill Wallace for a deeply satisfying literary return to my boyhood in an urban neighborhood long long ago. (By Robert E. Smith on Jan. 6, 2014)
- A MUST read. Remembering Gordon Street is the story of an era that will never be seen again in this country. Those of us who grew up in that period can identify with the times, the characters, and the innocent joys of living during that time. Remembering Gordon Street is one of the best accounts of post-World War 2 America, specifically in Southern California. We who lived it appreciate the opportunity to relive it through the eyes and words of William Wallace. And any who did not live through the time should read this book to see what they missed . . . the 1940s and 1950s . . . the BESt time ever to grow up in a much different America. Let’s hope Mr. Wallace is busily planning to continue the series. It is a MUST read. (By Lowell G. Rice on March 2, 2014)