all our yesterdays

An Olive Street recollection.

I started a new novel on Friday evening. The title is All Our Yesterdays. It’s the story of a group of friends over the years starting in 1968 in Berkley. The story opens with the narrator talking about the party he and his roommate held in their small, grungy apartment off campus at the beginning of their sophomore year. A review will no doubt be forthcoming, but what I have to write about today is the memories that the initial scene evoked.

These are thoughts that I have shared before, but I haven’t gone there is a while. When I graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont in 1975 I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Claremont. I stayed in town becoming what we called a Claremont cockroach. I shared an apartment on Olive Street with my friend George. And it’s that place that the opening pages of All Our Yesterdays evoked.

George was the consummate computer nerd in a day when that meant working at a remote time-sharing terminal connected to a mainframe. Though George was one of those rare few who had access to the sacred Computer Room. I became well acquainted Alison, his girlfriend, since George was often off writing a program when he was supposed to be spending time with her. Alison and I became the best of friends. There was Anne, the butch dyke and Ann her willowy femme lover. There was Julie who lived in an apartment upstairs on whom I had a terrible crush. Eric and Jim lived across the hall. After George moved to Westwood my roommate for a while was another Jim, about whom the less said the better. I then shared the apartment with Beth, a Scripps College sophomore.

There was my job at the B. Dalton/Pickwick bookstore in Montclair Plaza. There was the strip shopping center right across the road from the apartment. It contained a somewhat run-down Safeway where we did a lot of our grocery shopping. It also had an old-fashioned newsstand which carried pretty much every magazine, including titles such as the The Village Voice and the New York Review of Books. It housed the laundromat where we did all of our laundry.

Such, such were the joys. Though that and $3.25 will get you a grande decaf cappuccino, dry. (With apologies to George Orwell and Boston Pobble.)

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