1956 — 6th Grade and a New Baby Sister

In the fall of 1956, I began the 6th Grade at Margaret Hedrick Elementary. There were two 6th Grade classes, and Mr. Robert Blake taught the class I attended. His wife taught the other. Front Row, L to R: Carol Anderson, Judy Gunning, (??), Jimmy Doull, Jim Herberich,...

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A New Year and a New School

The new school year was 1955. Gasoline was 23 cents a gallon, the Mickey Mouse Club had just started on TV, the first McDonalds had opened (NOT in El Centro), and Disneyland opened its doors! A new elementary school had just opened in El Centro – Margaret Hedrick...

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Our Families Move to New Houses – 1954

In the fall of 1954, I began 3rd Grade at Harding Elementary School. I don’t remember the reason exactly, but it wasn’t long before the “powers that be,” namely, my parents and my teacher, Mrs. Shepard, decided I was ill-suited for 3rd Grade studies and decided I...

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My Nano’s Birthday is April 9

On April 9, 1891, my Nano (Luigi Billuni) was born in San Biagio Platani, a small village in the province of Agrigento, Sicily, where our last name was spelled Bellone, but it got changed somewhere along the line. Luigi came to the United States in 1912 and worked in...

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LIFE AT PIONEER TRAILER PARK – PT. 2

When we weren’t playing “cowboys and Indians” or swimming at Sunbeam Lake or riding with Mom and Auntie Honey in the jalopy, we four boys kept ourselves busy with productive projects. With both Dad and Uncle Ernie in the construction trades, we all learned how to...

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Life at the Pioneer Trailer Park

Well, I guess we’ll leave the world of flash fiction and return to those good ol’ days of yesteryear. In 1954, while the Billuni family and the Holden family—all 8 of us—were living on Euclid Ave in El Centro, Uncle Ernie heard from a neighbor that the city had...

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Oma Tells a Story – (Conclusion)

“Oh, please go on, Oma,” Rebecca begged. “It’s a wonderful story. What happened after Opa decided not to be a Jew?” “It’s very sad. You’d think it might be the non-Jewish people who were upset, but it wasn’t. They were happy, in fact, to have a convert in their...

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Oma Tells a Story – Part I

I thought my blog posts could use a little change of pace, so here is some flash fiction that is a companion piece to my novel, Journey to Marseilles. This short story takes place in Amsterdam circa 1932. OMA TELLS A STORY (Part 1) Rebecca’s grandmother, Sara, smoking...

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A New Neighborhood and a New Friend (Continued)

My new friend, Stan, and I continued playing with his spacemen. We ran down the sidewalk, in and out of the gutter, Stan’s shoelaces flapping, the plastic spacemen whizzing among asteroids and into strange galaxies, fighting space pirates and one another. Summer days...

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A New Neighborhood and a New Friend

After school let out in June of 1953, we moved from Heise Station outside Westmorland to the 600 block of Euclid in El Centro, the hub of the agricultural Imperial Valley. The house had three bedrooms, and we four boys shared one on our Navy-surplus bunk beds. My...

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