The Early 70’s and Living in a Trailer Park. High School in New Hampshire and California.

Evening Folks!!


I never discussed my early life but as I put things together on this blog to fill in the blanks I want to let folks know that the path is never easy nor is it valid to look at the end of the path to make a determination on things.


I got handed NOTHING! I worked hard all my life and still do even though I don't have to. But my journey did teach me how to work smarter and think before I invest time in something.


In the early 70’s my dad, an electrical engineer, got laid off. At the time he was 61. The market for 61 year old electrical engineers was nil when they could get a 25 year old that just came out of MIT for half the cost and much better longevity. So in my senior year of high school we moved from New Hampshire to California. My brothers stayed back in Boston. My mother stayed back for a while to sell the house. I think they got $20,000 in those days. Probably not much equity.


So it is now Fall. My mom, dad and I are living in a 21foot travel trailer that we pulled 3000 miles behind us in a 1966 Chevy. Have to take a shower each morning in a public bathroom in a small trailer park in Van Nuys before going to school. It was a miserable time. I was 17. I missed my friends in New Hampshire. I used to call the information operator from a public payphone because it was free and I could actually talk to somebody in New Hampshire. When I had enough money I would call my old girlfriend. But that was not often.


I think it is actually harder now looking back then it was at the time. But it really did suck and my dad and I had our moments.


A few months later we got a 1 bedroom apartment in the San Gabriel Valley. I slept in the living room. They decided to open a little Dry Cleaning business. But they made a fatal mistake when they had a chance to rent a place in a good area and opted for one in a not so good area that had a cheaper rent. So I learned early on and first hand about how important a location and demographics were.


So now I am in my second different High School for the last semester of my senior year. I started making some friends, a girlfriend and by the end of the semester I had found some degree of comfort and a life that would soon start. I made the honor roll for the first and ONLY time in my life.


It cost $12.75 plus books to go to a community college in those days. Free college was a large factor in moving to California to begin with. I described those years in this post.


There was one time when I worked in retail Furniture during Thanksgiving weekend. The manager of the store I worked at and I went out the night before Thanksgiving. We went to some bar in Monrovia and he ended up going home with somebody. But before he left he gave me a wad of money which was all the CASH the store took in that day. He was drunk and did not want to get rolled or whatever might happen. So he hands me like $5500.


At the time I am driving a 1968 Javelin. It had 130,000 miles on it. The alternator blows out on the way home and my lights go dark and I pull over I don’t where but about 15-20 miles from my home. I am broke. All I have is the company money. What to do?? It is like 3AM and I got all this money on me and I am stranded.


So I eventually get a cab and pay for it with company money. The next day is Thanksgiving. I get a hold of an alternator. I have no money. I pay for it with company funds. I still have not heard from my manager. There are no cell phones in those days.


I get a ride to where my car is and I change the alternator. Not something I am good at, but when you are broke, you learn FAST!


So now I am like $80 short and I go into the store on Friday morning after Thanksgiving. My manager finally shows up. His eyes still bloodshot. I tell him the story. Luckily Al Heller is not in yet. We have a couple hours. He is pretty broke too.


We wrote each other checks and floated some dollars to get us through the day. That means we had until Monday to get money in our accounts before everything started bouncing. Thank goodness for the “Float” back in the days before computers.


But the point of this post is to let folks know how I can relate to different situations from many spectrums of life because I was there. In my years I was a Jew in places that they did not exactly welcome Jews. I have been as close to homeless as you can be. I was once in Gary ,Indiana with an empty tank of gas and 25 CENTS in my pocket as the bank grabbed the only credit card I had and I was stranded. That was with my furniture job that I discuss here because I had to beg my employer to pay me for what I actually earned. He never realized that when I did not get paid, my motive to work went with it. May as well go party and get laid.


So I am especially sensitive to all types of situations and why they have the expression “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” I've been there. I have climbed almost every step on the ladder. I know the landscape. I know the signs of a con. I know the signs of sincerity. I know the signs of ill will and back stabbers. I've been on both sides of so many aspects of life. I have seen hate close up. I have seen winners and losers. Success and failure. Good will and ill will.


It always come down to 2 things. 'Human Nature' and then applying it to 'Lord of the Flies.'


Have a GREAT Day!

Rick Schwartz

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10 thoughts on “The Early 70’s and Living in a Trailer Park. High School in New Hampshire and California.

  1. Jan.Jane

    I love hearing your stories Rick.
    You give and give and give and never take.
    And I cant think of anyone I know that has gone through what you have.
    You are a true American hero.

    Reply
  2. John

    Write a Book Rick
    I think a lot of people would buy it & learn a lot from it, especially in today’s economy

    Reply
  3. Poor Uncle

    Hey, I happen to live in the San Gabriel valley..well, a little bit East of that. I know all the places you mentioned.
    Nice story. I know people had it tough back then…yours is probably worst than most.
    People say that this is the worst time since the great depression. I am sure you would say otherwise. Keep writing about your younger days…I think it is good for us younger ones to really know what suffering is like.
    [Though, I came from a communist country years ago…I was never on the verge of being homeless – thanks to my parents…I did sleep on the street for a few nights on my way to the Promise Land, good ol’ U.S.A.]

    Reply
  4. Jan.Jane

    You could give seminars and people would pay a lot of money for it.
    Even though I dont think you would charge for it.
    You just want to help people.

    Reply
  5. Tia Wood

    As I like to say: count your blessings. Life could always be much worse and things can get much better at any moment. I’m glad you learned, Rick, that we are much more than our past and the things that happen to us.

    Reply
  6. Perchboy

    As usual, your post is inspiring, Rick. It’s especially helpful given so much negativity out there.
    With your Dad being an electrical engineer, that speaks volumes for intelligence in your family. I’ve noticed that on each NASA flight, usually half or more are EE’s. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  7. Domains, Oil, Gold, Land, and Food

    Awesome!
    Those tough experiences is what makes the rest of life rich.
    Tough times can be a blessing in strange ways one would never expect.

    Reply
  8. Junior Perrera

    Yeah, we all experience tough times and happy times. That is how we learn our own purpose in life. It’s like having a journey in your favorite car. You can experience flat tires and terrific food stops along the way. You can meet good and not-so-good people, and there may be those who are willing to join you as a partner. Your life story is truly an inspiration to everyone.

    Reply

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