Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Abandoned Track

Actually, I have visited Google Maps and found the address. Here is the front of the house.

The neighborhood of the railroad track in the poem has gone almost totally industrial and suburban but the house as a structure is still there, the house we visited in the 1950s for Thanksgiving or Christmas. There we visited Nora Spurlock and her daughter Ruth, married to Stanley. Now it looks like it is part of a business. Next door was Paul and Bessie. That house is still there too. Across the street was Dorothy, I believe was her name. That house has been removed.

All these people, my step-father's people were Okies and all related. They were real Okies, having migrated from Oklahoma in the dust bowl to California seeking better times. They found at least livable times. They were not the totally desperate ones, however and were able to purchase property. They did so in a community called Montalvo, a tiny town on the outskirts of Ventura. They took over Beene Rd, one little portion of it, right at the end of the road, a short L-shaped road opening directly onto fields. The water was terrible. We had to drink bottled water. Across the field not far there was a solitary railroad track, rarely used post WWII.

Ruth was my Dad's mother and Nora his grandmother. Dorothy and Bessie were both my dad's aunts. We ate a major feast at the holidays, all together. They knew how to cook, were especially fond of corn on the cob and of watermelon. In the back of the house was the bedroom my step-dad and his brother used in high school. There was stuff stored in there that was exciting to me, from when they were kids and also from the War.

It appears as the area industrialized the track was rehabilitated and added to. It was mostly idle when I was a child in the fifties, the surrounding agriculture having gone to trucking. When my step-dad was a kid, however, it was an active farming service track. One of the stories is of how my dad played on the rail cars as a kid, fell off one and landed on his head on one of the couplings. The joke was that if he had landed anywhere but his head it might have really hurt him.

My dad did go to war, First Marines in the Pacific, in time for the invasion of Okinawa and after that service in China. He would have been in the invasion of Japan itself for certain. I have a silver cigarette case my dad bought in Tsingtao China dated 1945-1946. My dad was himself an Okie. He was born in Perry, Oklahoma.

The Abandoned Track

I stand on the track,
the rusted rail under my
right foot, a tie my
left, me on the raised
weedy bed of abandoned

I stand in
sun, late sun, autumn's
late light thinking how it must
have been for my Dad
when he walked these tracks
before that War came for him,
took him far away,
there to meet his fate.

August 15, 2010 1:01 PM


  1. I cannot really imagine what it might be like to have had a father about whom I would think those kind of thoughts. Glad you did though.

    1. Thank you. I have no comment in reply except to say that this was my step-father. He married my mother when I was four. My birth father was in the Army Air Corps and a bit of a hero after one incident in the Pacific where his plane was shot up, his pilot killed and the others wounded. As co-pilot he nursed the plane back to whatever island and landed it, all the while wounded in one leg from shrapnel and tourniqueting it off so he didn't bleed to death. They saved his leg and they saved the others. It was a four man crew.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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