Pleasant Valley Sunday

I suppose I can blame it on my musical stroll down Memory Lane last night. Today feels like a typical Sunday in Camarillo, California, where my parents lived from 1968 to 1990. It was where Joel grew up for the most part, and was considered the "family seat".

In the Sixties, we who lived in Camarillo believed (I still do, by the way) that the Monkees' song, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was written about our little suburb just north of the L.A. Basin. After all, the valley that leads the eight miles from town to the beach is called Pleasant Valley, and the 10-mile thoroughfare from Camarillo to Port Hueneme is Pleasant Valley Road. What would you think if you lived there?...

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song;
They serenade the weekend squire,
Who just came out to mow his lawn.
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday,
Charcoal burning everywhere;
Rows of houses that are all the same,
And no one seems to care...

Today feels like one of those days. Today, I feel like I should pick up my sunglasses from the bar and say to Nettl, "I'm going over to Dad's. Be back later!" And I'd go to Mom and Dad's.

The garage door would be open and Dad would be at his work bench in the back, working on some TV that he's been meaning to get to for several weeks while Glenn Miller plays from his favorite AM station in LA on that old 1940s radio he fixed up.

I'd grab a Miller from the garage fridge. "Hi Dad!"
He'd turn and smile and begin wiping his hands on a red handkerchief he carried in the back pocket of his khaki trousers. "Hi Hon!"

He'd give me a squeeze, turn down the radio a little, pull out a couple of 4-legged stools and we'd talk about nothing in general. Later, we'd go to Builder's Emporium together and walk through the aisles looking at drill bits, kitchen cabinet hardware and garage shelving. He'd probably buy me a plant from the garden area, as well as some leaf bags and extra batteries for the flashlight he bought me the last time we went there together. Yeah, that's what today feels like. In the front yard, the sprinklers would be watering the lawn he'd just mown and edged, and the droplets of water on Mom's lavender roses would sparkle in the flower bed beneath the kitchen window.

See Mrs. Gray, she's proud today,
Because her roses are in bloom;
And Mr. Green, he's so serene,
He's got a TV in every room.
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday,
Here in status symbol land,
Mothers complain about how hard life is,
And the kids just don't understand...

My dad's garage was a like taking a trip down the rabbit hole in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland... if Wonderland was located at Lowe's, Home Depot, or Builders Emporium. We never had to take anything to a shop or garage, because Dad could fix anything. When I'd ask him where something was, he'd splay all of his fingers, pointing with his hands, and say, "Somewhere over there." It was a mess, but it was an organized mess.

He'd made hinged doors with shelves built into them and then filled the shelves with coffee cans he'd painted matte black and labeled, "Nuts", "Bolts", "Gator Clips", "Resistors" and etc. He had everything out there. Everything but cars, that is. I cannot remember one time when a car could actually fit in his garage. The closest he ever got to that was when he'd pull a car's nose in just far enough that he could work on the engine out of the sun.

Both of my sons remember Dad's garage with great fondness, because Dad always took them out there with him: "You wanna come out and help Grandad?" he'd ask. "We need to adjust the headlights on Nanny's car." I have pictures of Joel out there in his walker, screwdriver in hand, following right behind my dad. So, if you can read this, Dad, or hear it in my heart, I miss you, especially on Sundays.

Creature comfort goals,
They only numb my soul,
And make it hard for me to see;
My thoughts all seem to stray
To places far away;
I need a change of scenery.
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday,
Charcoal burning everywhere;
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday,
Here in status symbol land...

Pleasant Valley Sunday © Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc.