Susan Michael Harris
My family landed in Livermore after a nomadic journey from eastern Washington State to California.
From the time I was 3 or 4 my dad worked at the Hanford nuclear bomb site in Richland Washington. Then one day, when I was 12, my parents announced to the three of us kids that my dad had decided to quit the rat race at Hanford and that we were moving to California. California!! To a tween like me, that was amazing news! I was thrilled to get out of this dusty , boring, company town – and California was the best place on the planet to land.
We packed up all of our stuff and optimism and moved initially to Vallejo where my parents were partnering with some other relatives to run a printing business. We rented the house next door to an aunt and uncle and spent the summer helping the business to get off the ground. It was a fun summer – working (yes, even the kids) and exploring this golden state. In September I started Jr. High – 7th grade. I was absolutely unprepared for this experience. Small town girl meets giant school filled with diversity and chaos! I was terrified. I suddenly longed for the security of my small town.(I am the oldest of three kids. Marsha is just 14 months younger and David is 2 years younger.) For the first we were not together in the same school. It was pretty traumatic.
The printing business was short lived – something about one of the relatives taking the money and running off… ANYWAY .. We found ourselves, along with my aunt, uncle and cousins, renting a house in San Jose. Jr High # 2 – Even bigger and scarier !!
My Dad was frantically looking for work. After all – we had come to California and opportunity was everywhere – right? After a couple of months he was hired at the Lawrence Livermore Lab. We moved to Livermore, rented a house on Falcon Way and I embarked on my third Jr. High experience. I was very wary when I entered Junction Ave Jr High. However, it was a much smaller school with friendly classmates. Some even lived in my neighborhood and so was the beginning of making new friends and finally starting the California – LIVERMORE, California – chapter of our lives.
Change is constant. In 8th grade the news of JFK’s assassination rocked everyone’s world. It was unbelievable – inconceivable!! Our home room teacher left the classroom and returned a few minutes later crying. He told us the news. School was let out for the day. Teachers, students – we were all reeling in shock.
1964 – My parents had a beautiful new home built on El Caminito. (I remember my mom being so delighted that we were going to live on El Caminito – the little road. “Such an exotic street name!” she would say. “El Caminito”. This was a shining moment for my parents. Finally, California was living up the promises that had enticed our family. Not only were we moving into a lovely new home, I was starting high school at Granada High School just blocks from where we lived. This was a brand new, experimental high school. The school opened its doors in September, 1964. This is the beginning!