Livermore Stories

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of home, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break. “ Chinese Proverb

“Growing Up In Livermore”

Julie Winkelstein

Like Barbara, my memories of growing up in Livermore are complex and intertwined. One of my earliest memories is holding my dad’s hand as we stood together, watching our new house being built on College Ave. This must have been about 1952 or 1953, when I was around 2 or 3. I don’t know why that memory has stayed with me – maybe it was the comforting presence of my father while we together watched something that was exciting and interesting.
I also have faint memories of nursery school, where I met (I think – this is how I remember it, anyway) two children who would stay my friends for years: Sally Hill and Paul Leith. My adventures with both of them are integral parts of my childhood. All day bike rides, an attempted 50-mile hike the year Kennedy (I think it was) challenged the nation to exercise. I remember my parents and Paul’s parents driving by frequently as we trudged on, stopping occasionally to add more bandaids to our increasing number of blisters.
The year I was four was a big year for me. I learned how to ride a bike, whistle and tie my shoes. It was also the year my brother Geoff was born and I remember going with my sister Debby and my uncle Peter to see Geoff for the first time – through a window at Kaiser hospital in Walnut Creek. My mother brought him over to the window and held him up so we could admire him. The best part of him being born was that for some reason my parents gave me a pocket watch – one of my most prized possessions for years. I wonder what happened to that watch. Read more…

“Send Me On My Way”

June 2013 in Berkeley California
Barbara Jessing

I can see the University of California Berkeley’s Campanile Tower from my hotel room, the outline softened by coastal fog which rolled in sometime after midnight. On this cool morning, it has not yet dissipated. And I am out the door, early Sunday, walking back to campus after more than forty years. There are a few things on this visit, not many, that I want to find again, and one of them is fog. Within a block, I find something else: the scent of eucalyptus. It is the Mediterranean heat of the full day that brings the sharp scent out of the leaves – but the damp night air holds it close to the earth overnight, like a blanket. More prosaically, I can smell the extremes of urban poverty – a homeless man who spent the night in a doorway, urinating across the sidewalk. I’d rather have eucalyptus. In the deep shade of the West entrance to the campus, there is a trail ascending along Strawberry Creek.

Forty years ago I was an undergraduate liberal arts major here, one small and lost person among 26,000 students. Day to day life had an overlay of solitary worry; stretching a few dollars through the week. The price of my room at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza last night would have paid a month’s rent in 1970, in one of those shared and shabby apartments or boarding houses I could afford then. I remember being tired enough after a late shift at a residential institution where I worked then, to fall asleep on the ground in this same eucalyptus grove; head resting on my backpack. Read more…

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