It's just after midnight on Sunday morning. My pal from the "old days" Mike should be in town visiting his father, as his dad has some serious health problems. Sleep is playing hard to get with me tonight and thinking about Mike started my mind on a trip back to my lost Fresno.
So many things in this town have changed in the 40 years I've lived here, so many things from the good ol days now exist only in my memories. For those of you who have never visited the raisin capital of the world (yes Fresno) these places won't mean anything to you, but for some of you I hope these places bring a smile to your face and a happy memory too.
My "lost" Fresno List.
10) Al Radka Commercials. Al was know as Mr. Fresno, he was on local TV from the time there was local TV in Fresno! He did a commercial for Oberti Olives
(O-nly B-etter E-aters R-eally T-ast I-t!) Mr. Radka aslo did a commercial for Kiddie Kinema (see #9) Old Al passed a few years back and now has a park named after him here.
9) Kiddie Kinema. My parents bought a movie house in the late 60's early 70's catering to kids under 12 years old. It did well until the larger movie houses noticed it was taking business away and set their sights on it.
8) The Giant Slide. On Blackstone ave just north of Shaw ave was a giant slide like you may see at a fair now. My parents took me there once. It was way cool! Have never forgot going.
7) Carrosel Skating Rink. Not the only skating rink in town, but I thought it was the best! When my sister Suzie would take me, I was on top of the world, altho I'm sure she felt different having to baby sit me there. The BEST red lickerish!
6) Starlight Drive-in. My dad was the manager of the drive-in for years! As family members, we had free passes so you Can imagine where all my dates were! Can it get any better than that???
5) Ferrells Ice Cream Parlor. Old fashion ice cream with old fashion flavor! I took only my "best" girls there and it always made from special memories! Actually had a girl order "The Pig Trough" and FINISH the whole thing! Yes, she did get sick but hey, it was worth it...for me anyway!
4) Harpain's Dairy Farm. The worlds best chocolate milk ever, hands down! AND a petting farm AND monkeys in a cage AND a spitting Lama AND the worlds biggest manure hill that my sister Jay told me "lets play king of the hill!" I had manure in my hair, pants, under my nails as I rolled down that hill. At least I won the game! Wait a minute, nobody else played!?!
3) Big Tree. Across the "Major" street (a 2 lane road) and in the middle of leaky acres was a canal but not the kind made of concrete, just dirt like a creek. There was a big ol tree there with a rope and tire. It was where the "cool" kids went to hang out. The coolest kid I knew back then was my sis Suzie. She took me there on day with her friends and that day I was in Heaven! I WAS IT!! There was only a little water flowing and I have no idea what she was doing, as I played in the water and swung on the tire like a 7 year old would do. It was one of the best days of my life and one of the best memories of Suzie I have. Crazy huh?
2) Pantry Market. The local 7-11 type store that was close enough to walk to. Bought many a Archie taffy and baseball card there! Had my first "date" there when I walked there with my 3rd grade girlfriend after school one day. Stayed too long and when we came out, both were met by scared parents who thought the worst! When when your in 3rd grade, there is nothing worse than your mom interrupting your date!
Before we get to number one, a few honorable mentions!
Payless Discount Store (my 1st grade date with my mom), Happy Steak(my dad loved it), Sierra Jr High (mud football), Loves Restaurant, Cedar Lanes, Colonial Miniature Golf, Perry's Smorgasboard, Penny Candy, Fresno Guide Newspaper, Pizza and Pipes, Gemco(altho Yvette doesn't like me bringing that up), Winchell's Donuts, Bobby Unser Mini Motor Speedway, Triple J's, Country Boy Market, Cruising Belmont in my 67 Camero, The POP Shoppe, my green Schwinn stingray bike(stolen! broke my heart!!) and of course, Lisa, John, Mike, Dave, Kristen, Robbert, Greg, Terri, and my all time love...pre Yvette of course...Darla. All people or places or things I cherish from my childhood and would love to visit again.
And my number one.
1) The Batting Range. This may seem strange as a #1 but I spent a lot of time there. It was the first one in town. I would go there when I felt down, or needed to think or had girl trouble or just wanted to hit some balls. I'd hit balls pretending I needed a sac fly to get a run in or practice going the other way to move a runner up or hit the 3 run homer! Went once with my dad just before it closed. He tried hitting in the fastest speed it had, 70 mph, and whiffed badly! I snickered and he decided to try it again. This time he missed the first ball then proceeded to rip the next 9...all batting lefty...and he was a righty. He was, and still is my hero!
Ahhh Fresno! How I love ya but for the life of me I don't know why I still do!!!