Saturday, April 16, 2016

There Goes the Neighborhood: Piedmont, California in 1980

A bunch of my Icelandic friends are talking about Barnamenning, which is some festival celebrating children's culture. Or something. So to honor that, I thought I'd post some truly anxiety inducing childhood snapshots. Kidding. They're actually quite pleasant. For me, anyway.

They were taken in and around 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California—and, according to the stamp on the back, they were developed in March 1980. Since it's also National Stress Awareness Day, I'll try to remember something stressful about each snapshot.

Jessica Butz poses with a cat in her lap in the kitchen at 19 Ramona Avenue in March of 1980.

This was my babysitter, Jessica Butz. She always seemed like such a big ol' grown-up. One time, she put on Eight Days a Week by The Beatles and forced me to lipsync with a hairbrush mic. I remember being really confused because I thought a week only had seven days.

Yoorah Lee poses with a cat in her lap at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980.

This was our neighbor, Yoorah Lee. Her brother, Laju, was my BFF and partner-in-crime. Perhaps influenced by the 1962 British sci-fi classic Day of the Triffids, Laju and I thought we'd "scare" Yoorah by ripping a bunch of Canna plants out of a neighbor's yard and stashing them in her bed. Yoorah did scream when she pulled her blankets back to discover a rotting pile of cannas, but I wouldn't say she was scared. We thought it was hilarious; Yoorah, not so much.

Laju Lee poses with cat at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

This was Laju. Not sure what's stressful about this photo. Probably his pants.

Heather Horne aka Heather Clark poses with a cat at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

This was another of our neighbors, Heather Horne. She actually lived in Corte Madera, but would visit her grandparents on our block for the weekend. I remember she would stage these elaborate pranks—like faking a Southern accent for an entire day, insisting she wasn't Heather, but rather her look-alike cousin from Georgia. I was definitely jealous of her flair for the dramatic.

Jessica Butz poses with a cat on her ass at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in 1980

Not to be outdone, my babysitter Jessica poses with the cat on her ass. This is actually a little-known stress management technique, and quite effective.

Frank Russell and Alex Brooks on Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in 1980

Not everyone in our neighborhood was a kid. We also had old guys in cowboy hats. These gentlemen were named Alex Brooks and Frank Russell. Alex is the one with his pants hiked up to his ribcage. That seems rather stressful, honestly.

Alberta G. "Maggie" Blatt eats soup in bed at 23 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

Eating soup in bed can also be a stressful experience. This was our next-door neighbor, Alberta "Maggie" Blatt. This snapshot fascinated me as a kid because I thought the cat was passed out with a cartoon bump on the head.

Yoorah and Laju Lee, and Dionne ride bikes on Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

Long before the hipsters invaded Oakland, we were definitely the coolest neighborhood gang.

Natalie Pavloff Powell, Chrissy Myers Austin, Yoorah Lee, Heather Clare Horne Clark, and Tanya Pavloff Rockwell terrorizing Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

I'm not sure whose idea it was to buy me a plastic shopping cart. It seems like a weird toy for a kid, right? It's, like, "Here, pretend you're grocery shopping and/or homeless."

But whatever. Happy Barnamenning and National Stress Awareness Day to you and yours!

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