72. Prejudice or Just Plain Crazy?

Hotel Miramar kept me busy just as our children kept Diana and the grandparents busy.  Our home was more and more lively with each passing day.  The little bundle of a daughter was still with baby needs but not causing too much commotion, apart from when she decided it was time to test her lungs and then oh boy, look out.  Our son had barely started walking and that’s plenty going on there already, isn’t it?

In all of this Diana was just as effectual in the air mail communications with the family in Fiji, all together with current photos and detailed letters; she wanted to be sure they were up-to-date on their son’s family life in California.

We took our children to the park whenever we could, usually twice a week.  As a quick flashback being at the park with children always reminded me of the family outings from my youthful self back in Fiji.  Then just as quickly I’d return to the giggling voices of my two little ones.

The boy he’s running around happy as a clam just having a ball and my daughter not at all minding the fresh sea breezes and chirping birds.  Of course it was a great way to work up a nap too, for all of us.

We had been living in the Pico apartments for quite some months when a new neighbor moved into the vacant unit upstairs, directly over our place.  I clearly recall this man was of brawny build and with him was (I can assume) his wife and older teenaged son.

The neighbors to our side had been there quite some time and we had long since become regular friends with them.

You know to this day I really cannot figure out an exact reason why this man upstairs behaved the way he did; we can still only guess he may have felt offended by the fact that my beautiful wife, clearly an anglo lady would have married a non-white man and then make children to boot!

Diana and I discussed his behavior briefly chalking it up to well, possibly he was nothing more than a mixed marriage hater?  Before you decide, read on!

The trouble began not too long after he moved in.  He’d pound on my door shouting in a strong southern American accent, “Open the door you damned Mexican!  Come out here, I’m gonna kill you!”  Wait, Mexican?  He’d already made up his mind about me, to include a label on my persons?

Interestingly he’d only do this when I was at home; it never happened while I was at work.  I mean this person never troubled Diana –thankfully- not once had he harassed her or shot an ugly glance her way.  He didn’t come out of his apartment else he wasn’t there at all, probably at work but either way it was clear he was out to torment only me.

He must’ve watched and waited for me to come home in the evenings.  Which is why we would assume his threats were just for me; he being appalled that I even had a place on this planet.  My skin was brown and my wife’s was not.  I mean we’ve really never known what else to think.  Why else he was so adamant to label me?

Forgive my thought for a moment but as you my readers should know me by now, I tell you my story with honesty in all things.  That was then and I am alas, always me. Those life experiences have brought me to who I am now.

And so to tell the story properly, in context I must relay my thoughts as I had them then so all of you can follow the narrative as it occurred.

He’d cause quite a ruckus and the neighbors would call the police.  I think it’s important at this point to mention we didn’t have a telephone.  This man would hear the sirens and dash back up the stairs to his apartment.  He’d actually get arrested but as his fate had it he was released the next day, out on bail each time in fact.

Three separate times he was arrested and 3 times he returned the very next day.  From what little information anyone had on him, he worked at a car dealership; we’re guessing he got them to bail him out?  That’s the rumor we caught in the wind but who really knows and what did that really matter?

It was approximately an 11 to 13 day period in which this went on at the rate of about every other day.  As I mentioned a few moments ago he seemed to wait and watch for me.

One afternoon round about 2 o’clock, the upstairs man came down and immediately began kicking at my front door.  He shouted crude language continually kicking at our door.

I slightly moved aside the window’s curtain to peek out at him.  To my complete disbelief I see in his hand, there’s a pistol.

I swiftly directed Diana to make haste and with the children go into the bedroom.  Not being able to come up with any further plan of action, I was right behind them heading into the bedroom, the only thought being, ‘this could buy us a few precious seconds.’

We sat on the floor under the window and I quickly told her about the gun our neighbor was brandishing.  I raised myself up to look out the window there hoping to see someone downstairs, anyone I could ask to contact the police.  I look out the window there hoping to see someone downstairs, anyone I could ask to contact the police.

At first I saw no one and I turned to look at Diana and the children.  She held them tight.  The poor little things, my son looked frightened, his parents not behaving normally and our daughter well, she’s just being a baby.  Our son softly whimpered but I know Diana encouraged him to stay quiet and fortunately the baby didn’t choose now to test her lungs.

I’m almost certain my wife saw the panic in my eyes.  I looked out the window again and this time I saw a man down there in the alleyway.  ‘Oh thank God!’ I thought to myself.  This man was swerving along his way and for any number of reasons that could’ve been the case why, it was not important to me.

I knew we had a glimmer of hope now and so, shouted out to him through the open window to please make haste and get the police.  I spat out there was a man at my front door with a gun and there are small children in here.

I‘m pretty sure he listened, he looked at me yet he did not respond.  The man then continued swerving along his path.  My heart sank.  Diana looked at me with pleading eyes that cried, Urgent, I’m scared!

At this point I thought for sure it was the end for us.  And then I sank back down to the floor, desperately looking at Diana and my 2 children.  ‘I fear this is it, there’s no one to help us,‘ my voice trailed off.  I took hold of my son and she held our daughter tighter still.

In my mind all I could see now was a dreadful scene of us dying together, as a family.  I really tried to shake it off … I just didn’t know what to do.

 

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66. A Sense of Belonging …

From Summer Place forward, Diana and I went out and around with one another every weekend.  We were certainly entertained enough with what we were doing together yet we hadn’t committed to exclusivity.

Then the time had come in both our minds that I should meet her family.  Her parents were previously divorced and so it would be one at a time meetings.  Besides that her mother and sister had returned to the Midwest after the separation.   

I met her father and I felt he approved of me, at the very least, as his eldest daughter’s companion.  Now I said it this way because interracial relationships were still not easily accepted.

The only real prejudice I had previously encountered in my life was that over religious views.  California was certainly more relaxed than say, the Midwest states where her parents were raised and there was just a little concern that her relationship with me might’ve been frowned upon.  

We weren’t discussing marriage or anything and she assured me that her parents were well aware of her lifelong interest in all aspects of foreign cultures; this shouldn’t be too difficult for them.  

Well the fact is we got along quite well.  He really liked me as a human being and I felt him to be genuine.  One day he invited Diana and myself to dinner at a real nice restaurant in Westwood Village.  

Halfway through our time there at the table, Diana’s father gently placed his hand on our waitress’s hand when she stopped by, yet again with her very big smile and he said, “Doris I’d like you to meet someone.  You already know my daughter … and this is her wonderful friend, Parma.”

I knew it!  I had been pondering the obvious friendliness between Diana’s dad and our waitress.  Maybe they were just casually flirting? I thought.  Here it is, confirmed.  He had a real nice friend there who quite clearly was looking out for him and as a bonus, a nice 20% discount (he told us later) whenever he dined there.  As a single man that turned out to be quite often.

My days and nights moved along at a steady pace and that brings me around to the autumn.  🍁 One day a tenant called me to help her move something heavy in her place. I accidentally left my apartment door open when I went there.  In that time frame someone came into my residence and stole a few things.

Naturally I was alarmed and informed the owner of the building.  She in turn released me from my position and I found myself suddenly unemployed.  In fact she took me to court suing for I cannot even remember what but the judge dismissed the charges.  Apparently he had better things to do.

I say take that whole scenario any way you will because I know what I thought about it.  As might be expected I filled ‘mom’ in on what happened.  In her ever-luvin’ way she said to me, “Honey you never mind all that, I’ll fix things up for you.”  Mrs. Elson had another set of friends up Hollywood way and I found myself in a similar situation up there; resident caretaker of tenants.

As was anticipated Diana and I were still right on track even though we weren’t as close, geographically speaking.  She remained in Westwood and I now lived on Sherbourne Drive.

I was given a nice furnished studio apartment and also had a sort of guardian looking out for me.  This would be an older lady, a very dear friend of ‘mom’ – she’d call me over to her place for coffee or something to eat and ask me how I was getting on, a personal evaluation if you will.  

And Dave’s mom still called up regularly to check on me. We certainly didn’t want a repeat of the previous scene.  Speaking of Dave, we still found time to hang out together and we were both glad of it.  And whenever I could I’d give him advance notice of Diana’s visit, he’d happily make arrangements for the 4 of us to double date.

Out came the lite blue Ford Fairlane 500 again and off we’d go!  A favorite place of ours to dine at was up Malibu way. Just pick up your rotary dial telephone and place the call to GLENWOOD 7 2567 for your table!  We’d take the drive on Pacific Coast Highway to Trancas Restaurant at Zuma Beach for the best swordfish steaks ever.

Back up into Hollywood, the tenants of the building I looked after were nice people.  They all seemed to have everything they needed and most of the times, I was just called upon to help them bring up their groceries from their car.  

And though not in lifeguard capacity, I attended the swimming pool too.  I really felt comfortable here in Hollywood.  Yes the Hollywood of the late 50’s … hindsight, where are you?

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GLENWOOD 7 2567      love those phone numbers of the past.