My Aunt Binkie Remembers Valley Center

Last Saturday I interviewed my grandfather, Pete Davidson, about the town he grew up in — Valley Center, California. I am going to make a habit of it and try to take an oral history of his life.  But after his sister — my great Aunt Binkie — listened to the podcast, she sent me this note:

Lat night I  listened to your recent interview with my brother and I’m so happy that you are doing this. We lived in unique times in a unique area with unique people.  Pete was pretty much on target on what he did tell you.  Hasn’t he ever shown you any of our childhood pictures?  That would help you get an added sense of what Valley Center was like.  I could send you copies of the ones I have.  Regarding our financial status at that time, Pete was right in saying we did fare better than some families-and some fared much better than we-but these were depression years and every minute of the day was directed toward providing. My parents opened their business close to 6 or 7 in the morning and we usually didn’t close until 9 o’clock or so, and this went on 7 days a week. Finally, I think after our parents were divorced, my mother closed the store on Mondays.  True, we always had food on the table and clothes on our back. In those days, if anyone wore blue jeans, you were poor-they cost about $1.00.  Everyone wore blue jeans-or as we called them, ‘overalls’.

And when Pete talked about no indoor plumbing, etc., when my mother washed clothes a big tub of water was heated outside over a fire and once the clothes were dumped in, she used a plunger to stir the clothes around to agitate them.  Then came the rinsing of the clothes and she had to wring them out by hand – no fun with big items like sheets.  Then they were hung out to dry.  (And let me tell you, there is nothing like the wonderful fresh smell of clothes that have been line dried outside.  Anyway, these are all fun things to remember, and I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.  I am so grateful I was born when I was and where I was.

Another thing, the welfare system was a far cry from what it is today.  It hardly existed.  If a family was down and out, neighbor helped neighbor. I can remember my mother boxing up groceries and delivering them to someone in need. One Christmas in one family, the mother had come down with pneumonia and there were no gifts for their young daughter and not much food in the house.  On Christmas Eve my mother took one of my gifts from under the tree, boxed up some food, and delivered it to their home.  I never asked my mother what would have been my gift.  I didn’t want to know what I wouldn’t be getting.  I honestly think that the Lord wants communities reaching out to those in need instead of just having people pay their taxes for government subsistence to those people, thus leaving a void in true charity and the knowing of ‘giving from the heart’.

Well, enough of my idle chatter.  There are just lots of stories about prohibition days, the ‘taking of the law in people’s own hands in the ‘wild, wild west’, and of the different personalities who lived in Valley Center. It was quite a cross-section.

Oh, and when Pete mentioned that I was born in a hospital in Escondido, when the nurse called the doctor to tell him my mother was there, the doctor told the nurse, “Tell her to go home!  She’s not ready to have that baby.”  While the nurse was in the midst of this conversation, my father came out and said to her, “There’s a baby in that room so you had better come in and help us.” And so, Nicco, that’s how Aunt Binkie came into the world!

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