Sunday, July 08, 2007

Places I've lived In Humboldt

I should probably title this Places I've Lived In Eureka since I've spent almost my entire 34 years up here in Eureka. I spent a year outside of town, though.

I moved up here around the beginning of August in 1973 with a friend I'd been living with in Orange County, Jim Broughton. I was going to just move up by myself but, when I mentioned my plans to Jim, he said he was interested in heading up here too. Neither of us had ever been here before.

We drove up Pacific Coast Highway, cut across to I-5 when we reached San Francisco, and took Hwy 299 from Redding. We drove in to Eureka on a cool summer day with patchy fog- something we don't seem to have much anymore.

First stop: Sun Harvest Natural Foods, corner of 4th and ?, in Eureka. Second stop: Kacy's Market on Fifth, where the old Co- Op used to be until recently. It was there we had to sheepishly ask where we could find a place to rent. Someone suggested the Tri- City Advertiser (now the TC Weekly).

We couldn't find an Advertiser right away, so we drove around looking and ended up out at Three Corner's Market on Old Arcata Road. We asked the guy working there if he knew of any places for rent. He suggested trying The Squires Apartments back down the road and gave us directions.

We found the apartments up on Pidgeon Point Road. They had a sign outside: House of Squires. We came to find out the place used to be an old rest home run by Floyd and Ruth Squires and family. It was really scenic and very quiet. We liked it.

Ruth Squires was there at the time and told us the only place she had open was the five bedroom upstairs. It was $500 a month- a lot of money for us. We took it.

It really felt awesome to leave the big city and actually have a place right across from a big stand of redwood trees. I couldn't believe I'd done it. I felt a step or two above those Southern California city dwellers.

We lived there for a few months and found a few people to put in the other rooms. The Squires finally sold the place. The new owner died shortly after he bought it and someone else bought it: Joe Scarpellino.

His daughter, Dorothy, moved in shortly thereafter. I guess she was kind of a manager but I don't recall her really doing any managerial type stuff. I ended up moving in with her shortly after she showed up. She had a one bedroom upstairs on the other side of the building.

I ended up working as a dishwasher for the Scarpellinos at Sabrina's Restaurant right after that. Not long after, it seemed Joe either sold or lost the Squires apartments. I forget just what happened. Dorothy and I ended up staying at her parent's house in Eureka on the 3300 block of K street for a while. I forget how long.

All kinds of the Scarpellino's friends and family had followed them up here from L.A. Some of them stayed at Joe and Sarah's house now and again. It was quite the busy place.

Eventually, I felt I should have my own place, especially after Dorothy dumped me. I ended moving back, to all places, the Squires Apartments. This time I just rented one of the rooms downstairs. There were a bunch of bedrooms downstairs that were rented separately with a common kitchen.

That just wasn't me, though. I either didn't fit in, didn't like the crowd, or maybe it was because I didn't do much but store my stuff and sleep there. I didn't feel comfortable there anymore. I looked for a place in town and found one- probably the biggest dump I've ever lived in: 502 West Del Norte Street, Apt#1. That's just a block or two from the church with all the fuss over Teen Challenge.

That was a dump, but it was close enough to Sabrina's, where I still worked, and close to the bay, where I fished quite a bit. I was surprised I lived there so long. In early '77 I moved out. I was going to basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. I saw no reason in hanging on to that dump. I just cleaned the place up real good and left. Never notified the building owner. I doubt he cared.

That place was demolished shortly after I left. There's some modern low- income type apartments there now. I think there was a murder in one of those apartments a while back.

I came back from basic training not knowing what I was going to do or where I was going to stay. Spent my first night back at the Downtowner Motel. Then spent a few nights in friends houses. It wasn't long before Babs Francis dropped my name to a friend of hers. They needed a caretaker for some property they had out in Maple Creek.

So I went for an informal interview with Bob and Judy Phanenstiel(sic?). They let me have the job. Wasn't much. Just basically a $50.00 a month stipend and free lodging at a cabin they had on one section of their property. No running water, no electricity. It was a challenge to me and seemed fun, me being an outdoor survivalist type back then.

Their property was on the Kerr Ranch. They leased it and had some cattle on it. I actually enjoyed it for a while but, after I had to put my dog, Nika, to sleep, it got a bit weird out there all by myself. That, and the fact my truck had broken down earlier on in that adventure, I was stuck out there, depending on a ride from the boss to get into town and he only came out there on weekends, if that much.

After about a year I figured it was time to move on.

I went down to the national guard armory in Eureka and asked the First Sergeant if I could draw a pick up truck to move my stuff to town. He let me use one. I don't know if they still do it but it was common practice back then- one of the bennies of being in the Guard- for guardsman to borrow unit equipment.

I went back up for the last time, loaded up all my stuff and brought it back down to town. Joe Scarpellino had a storage facility he was renting out on Jacob's Avenue. He let me store all my big stuff there. I don't think I ever went back and cleaned any of it out. Wonder if it's still there?

I still hadn't a place to stay at that point and, in typical national guard tradition, First Sergeant David gave me a key to the armory and let me stay there, jobless but not entirely homeless at that point. I don't remember exactly how long I slept at the armory but maybe three months.

I finally got a job pumping gas at the Texaco Star and Bar on Fourth and M Streets in Eureka. Part time but it was just enough to get me out of the armory. I found a trailer to rent at Eureka Trailer City on Allard Avenue. Not the best location and, in hindsight, not much of an improvement from the dump I had on West Del Norte Street. I stayed there for probably over a year.

I'd finally gotten a better job from a contact I made with a customer while working at the Texaco station. Funny thing was, I'd moved on to a different station- same boss- and was working full time as "manager" of the Beacon station on Myrtle and McFarland in Eureka. I was doing ok and when the call came from the Humboldt Bay Power Plant regarding my application for a security position there. If I wanted the job, I could have it. I took it.

The boss at the gas station then offered me the official manager position and a salary to stay on but I went for the security job as they paid pretty good, even at that early time. It wasn't a year or two after I started the pay doubled, as I recall, going up to around $10 and hour. Good pay back then in the late '70s.

One of the gals that I worked with at the power plant had an uncle that lived out in Cutten who had a rental. Her husband drove by the trailer one day and mentioned it, suggesting I might want to take a look at the place. I drove out there and thought it would be perfect for me.

The address was 2611 Beechwood Drive (they've changed the number since then. Some 9-1-1 conformance thing), out in the Ridgewood Heights area of Cutten. It was a very small...what would you call it...cottage (a friend labeled it Fred's Shed)? But it was CHEAP. I believe rent was something like $125 or $150 a month.

It was on the same property as the owner's house and there was plenty of room. I even started my first garden there, with the owner's permission. He had a rather large garden of his own.

I enjoyed my stay there. Real nice neighborhood and I felt like I'd be going on vacation driving back from town on Walnut Drive with all the trees and such. Quiet and friendly and we even had our own neighborhood store: Ridgewood Heights Market on Avalon Drive. They even sold gas there back then.

But the house did have some drawbacks. In the wintertime it was damp and cold, with only a small electric heater. It helped a lot when I bought a dehumidifier and took some of the moisture out of the house. Still, in the wintertime, the sun never hit the house because of the private tree lot to the south. I'd come home at 3pm and there's still be frost on the roof.

After three years it was time to move on.

Back in the rental market after three years I was shocked again at the rents, but I've found that's just the way it is. Seems like the average rent raised $100 bucks or more every time I'd move. But I got used to it and the next move was worth it.

I found a place I've mentioned before here: My studio on Trinity Street in Myrtletown. I forget exactly but that place was like, maybe $425 or some such. Seemed like an awful lot, especially after paying only $150 a month for three years. But, I had my first washer and dryer, wall to wall carpeting and more.

Really nice place. Looking back it was probably the best place I ever lived. I was there maybe four years there and probably wouldn't have moved if we hadn't been evicted. The owners had the place on the market before but I was told they were asking too much and they couldn't sell it. They put it on the market again.

I wasn't worried. It was a duplex and I figured the only people who might be interested in it would be someone interested in rental properties.


Some lady bought it who wanted to live in one part and her daughters would live in the other half. Damn! To add insult to injury, I had to hear it from the other tenants rather than the landlord herself.

I drive by the place fairly often. It's the gray duplex with white trim a couple spaces behind B&B Grooming. I lived in the two story section in back. It's changed through the years with the vegetation having grown considerably since then, so it doesn't seem quite the same. Good thing, otherwise driving by might bring a tear to my eye remembering the best years of my life.

Anyway, time to move again.

Found a place fairly quick and, strangely enough, off we were to Beechwood Drive in Cutten again. This place was on the other side of the street and down a ways from Fred's Shed. It was a nice place with washer, dryer and wall to wall carpeting. It was behind the owner's house and attached to it by a deck.

It was good to be back in that neighborhood and we enjoyed the Cutten atmosphere once again. Only problem I had arose when some people bought the lot right behind us and put one of those prefab trailer houses on it.

I had enjoyed our privacy with the empty lot. Now, not only did they cram themselves in next to us, I got the feeling they didn't like us intruding on their privacy from the way the guy would glare at me whenever he'd come outside. What an ass. We were there first.

We were there maybe a couple years when Connie got the bug to buy the house we live in now. At first I balked at how much we'd have to pay each month but finally decided it would be best to own rather than rent. We went ahead and bought this place right smack in the middle of town on Trinity and E Streets. Something rather odd for me as I never thought I'd buy a place right in the middle of town.

But we're here and it doesn't look like were going anywhere, at least in the short term. I often wonder if I did end up moving, sometime in the future, how I would describe my stay here?


At 2:39 PM, Anonymous mresquan said...

I've spent all my time in Eureka on Pine Hill.First lived on Meyers,a few houses down from Patty Berg's place,for a couple of years,now I stay at my place just off of Higgins.Pine Hill has cleaned up quite a bit,and it's a quiet neighborhood.Moving sucks,absolutely hate it.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Yeah, moving does suck. Certainly some of my moves have been improvements, but it's still such a hassle there's not much to like about the actual moving.

Glad to get out of the place at West Del Norte. Strangely, I was actually relieved to move out of the first place on Beechwood, since it was so small. But being small, I didn't have much stuff to move and just a few pick up loads moved it all.

I remember leaving there for the last time, looking back at my little shack and wondering how I could have lived there as long as I did.

The worst one was moving to the house I'm in now. By the time we'd moved here, we'd acquired all kinds of furniture and stuff. Rather than take pick up truck after pick up truck load, I rented a U- Haul van. Seems to me I still had to take more than one load.

Not only that, it was raining like crazy that day. Not just the rain was pestering us. We found out the back patio flooded and had to work in four to five inches of water bringing stuff into the back part of the house.

Worst move ever and probably one of the big reasons I'm hoping never to have to move again.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger hucktunes said...

Nice story Fred. My first house here was across the street from the volunteer fire dept. in Arcata. My housemates were Bill Fisher, from the Open Door Clinic, and a KXGO disc jockey named Alan Bates, plus a few other folks. I stayed there about three months with my girlfriend. Our second place here was a little cabin built on a stump on Canyon Drive in Cutten. Free rent in exchange for watching the place for the owners who lived in Alaska. That was 1971. I stayed there til '73. It was my old high school buddy Wes Chesbro that told me about the first place. He and I hitch hiked here a couple times in high school and after he moved here I decided it would be a good place to live, too. My girlfriend wanted to go to C/R, so I quit my job and we hit the road. Besides, my dad lived in Pepperwood as a kid and I had a great uncle here in Eureka.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Hmmm...Was Alan Bates a bald or balding guy? I went to a movie in Arcata one time back then ('74ish) with my roommate and some people he was acquainted with. One guy was supposedly a dj and his name was Alan, if memory serves me correct. Seems to me he was quite a bit older than us- in his 40s maybe.

I remember being a bit stoked at the time, a young yippie like me in the company of a dj. The others with him seemed like his groupies, too. I got the impression he liked having us groupie types around him.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger hucktunes said...

Yep, that sounds like him. He was a cool guy. Gray, bald with glasses, and a kind of rough voice. In the morning he would put a teaspoon of instant coffee in his cup and add hot water from the tap. A kinda gruff, no nonsense guy. But a very kind man. I once got in a car wreck, whacked my head pretty good, and he took care of me. He surprised me with a party on my 21st birthday. The last time I saw him I was hitch hiking out of town, going to LA, and he picked me up with a carfull of young gals. They were all going camping at Lake Mendocino and he dropped me off in Ukiah. That was 1973 and I haven't seen him since, as I stayed in LA til 1976 with only an occasional visit in between.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Yep. Must have been the same guy.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger hucktunes said...

My other house mates in the house across the street from the fire dept. were two theater arts students, Joy and Tara, and a young couple Joe and Elly, from New York, and then Carl and Melody. In the late 70's the house caught fire and got pretty well damaged. With the fire dept. right across the street. So another old friend of mine from high school, named Lenny, bought it real cheap and fixed it up. It's still a very beautiful house. Man, Arcata was a real fun town in those days. You could actually buy a pair of pants and a shirt at the Ben Franklin store. Lots of loggers and mill workers, plenty of money, lots of bars, and all these hippies moving in. Always something exciting going on.


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