After moving to Culver City, California from Santa Monica we had moved into a new school district. Thankfully we moved in at the start of summer vacation so I was able to meet a few kids in the neighborhood. It was hard enough starting a new school, it was my 6th one in 9 years, but knowing a few people helped. From where we lived, Venice High School was about a 3-mile walk. It wasn’t too bad because I had met a boy during the summer and he would walk to my house and we would walk to school together. Along the way we would pick up 4 more friends, so I really enjoyed the walk.
Venice High was built in 1911 and is located about a mile from Venice Beach. It was really a quite intimidating building. I had never seen a High School this large before. It also had a unique history. Many famous actors attended the school including Gary Collins, Beau Bridges, Crispin Glover (Back to the Future), and the schools’ most famous student Myrna Loy. When she was attending here she served as the model for the statue “Spiritual” which stood on the school grounds. There were many singer/songwriters, a skateboard pioneer, a NASA astronaut, many athletes, the world land speed holder, and perhaps the most important, the founder of In-N-Out burger! It has also been used to film many movies, the most recognizable one is the movie “Grease”.
My favorite class was English because our teacher, although we had a lot of reading assignments, would give us writing challenges. Social Studies and History came in a second favorite. I had never really enjoyed P.E. and here I hated it! I don’t know if it was a rule in all Los Angeles High Schools or if it was only in ours because we were so close to the beach, but in order to graduate you had to know how to swim. The pool there was huge and you would have several classes in the pool at once. I already knew how to swim so I couldn’t understand why I had to take the class. I think it was in my 2nd week of class that I came up with an ingenious idea. I had gone to the library and looked up allergies and I discovered that a person could be allergic to the chlorine they put in pools. They really did put a lot of chlorine in the pool because there were so many kids who used it on a daily basis. So, I was told to go up the high dive and just jump in. I did and when I got out of the pool I faked a faint. They rushed me to the nurse and I described my “symptoms” and the nurse determined I must be allergic to the chemicals. I was taken out of the swimming class with a good excuse, maybe I should have become an actress LOL! Guess what class they put me in? Girls football.
A month after school started my boyfriend got a car, so our walking days were over, We still picked up our friends on the way to school but it was nice not having to get up as early. I did miss walking home because we would stop at a little market to buy treats. One of our favorite things to do was to buy a Pepsi in a bottle and one red vine. Once outside we would put the red vine in the bottle and drink all of it straight down. The candy made the soda rush out of the bottle forcing us to drink fast. Then we would have burping contests on the walk home. I would almost always win because unbeknownst to them I could make myself burp at any time so I would continue to long after they no longer could. Now that I look back on this that really was a strange thing to do.
In November my boyfriend and I broke up. So, it was back to walking again. Only now I had to walk alone because our shared friends had been his friends first. After about a week of this, I decided I didn’t want to go back to school. My dad was very upset because he wanted me to finish school and graduate. Knowing his feeling I knew how to turn the situation to my advantage. I had ridden a friends mini bike several times and I found it invigorating. So I told him it was too hard to walk every day, but if I had a motorcycle I would go. He responded with a resounding NO! It took a few days but I finally talked him into just going to look at them. He gave in and that day I came home with a purple Yamaha enduro 250. I loved that bike. I would drive around in my “hot pants” and long hair (no helmet) and enjoy the wind in my hair. Back in those days, there weren’t a lot of female motorcycle riders so I got plenty of stares. I look back on it now and realize how utterly reckless I was. I didn’t have a drivers license, I did stupid stunts, I took it dirt biking and I crashed it 2 times, one that resulted in a concussion. After about 4 months it got stolen from our back yard so I believe that was a “Godsend”.
I returned to school with no bike and I was not happy about it. I used to dress like most kids in those days but I did have a few outfits that pushed the limits. I felt they were okay for school so I wore them on occasion, even after a few “dress code” calls to the counselors’ office. I told my counselor that there were many girls at lunch who wore short skirts and twirled around but they didn’t wear underwear! I don’t twill and I do wear them. Well, one day I wore a long dress I had just gotten. As soon as I walked into my first class I was sent to the principal’s office. I was told the dress was inappropriate for school and that I had to go home and change. I mentioned that the dress touches the ground so I didn’t see how I violated anything. The principal then told me it wasn’t for the length of my skirt but it was for the halter top part that exposed my entire back! I told her if I went home I would never come back. And, unfortunately, I never did go back to school.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.