My Hometown

Posted: July 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Blythe isn’t a place where much ever happened that’s of any importance to the majority of the world. It’s a quiet little town on the California side of the Colorado river. For most of its existence, it has been a farming community relying on river water to feed its crops, although in recent years it has found some growth due to the proximity of the Chuckawalla prison facility (a dubious achievement, I guess).

There are some intaglios, a mesa, lots of canals feeding the farmland, and the Cibola wildlife preserve, but it’s probably best known as one of the few places to gas up or grab a bite to eat between Palm Springs and Phoenix- when they know it exists at all. A lot of its businesses have closed down-  Don Julian’s, where my mom waitressed for numerous years, was lost in a fire when I was young. Morelock’s Taxi Service- my grandfather’s business, ended shortly before he passed away a few years ago. The classic Googie diner Courtesy Coffee Shop still remains, in all of its midcentury glory, but most people rolling through town ignore it for McDonald’s or Taco Bell.

It’s a town that means almost nothing to a lot of people out there- but it means everything in the world to me. I won’t romanticize it too much- my parents realized that there were better opportunities elsewhere when we moved out in 1990, and it is a quiet, some might even say dying desert town. But at another time it must have offered something that told my grandparents it was a good place to settle down. And I returned there a lot of times- as far back as I can remember my granddad and grandma lived in a red house at the corner of Murphy and North Ash. The land was purchased and the house demolished shortly after my grandfather died, and my grandmother moved in with my aunt.

Walls that held lots of memories for me- shooting out a window (by accident, I swear) with a BB gun, eating the tremendous and always heartily greasy biscuits and gravy and bacon my grandmother would make, watching old Western movies with my granddad, Christmas mornings, summer nights so hot and humid you couldn’t sleep- all of those walls have been crushed to dust now.

I’ve got still other memories of the town. About the time I started Middle School my granddad let me drive one of the taxis down the street and back- that Oldsmobile Cutlass was only the second car I’d driven after my dad’s Toyota pickup (out in the nearby desert), and the first I’d felt that thrill of a V8 rumbling under the car.

I don’t have a lot left of my grandparents. The cars were sold off, the house demolished, and my grandmother didn’t really have much of note left when she passed away a few years back. I’ve got a ballpoint pen with the Morelock’s Taxi Service logo and I’ve got one of my grandfather’s hats- other than that, all I’ve got are memories. The corner of Murphy and North Ash is just a vacant lot now.

There’s a lot more than just that. There’s the R&R mini mart (which may or may not be there anymore, I don’t know) where I would always pester my dad to buy me a Root Beer. There are the railroad tracks, which I distinctly remember because of a time my sister and I found a flattened cat there. I’ve caught a lot of fish in the canals, and witnessed the outright insanity that sweeps the town when dove season hits. There are some places to get food I won’t tell you about because they’re closely guarded local secrets.

And I’ve visited the Frye mortuary more times than I’d like to remember.

Maybe it’s because I just moved to the other side of the country, but I’m starting to wax a little nostalgic about that little middle-of-nowhere town. It’s a place that most people won’t give a second thought, and that most other people want to badmouth. Not all of my family has left- we’re still part of the town’s lifeblood, just like we’ve been for the 50 or so years. And I suppose the town’s part of my blood, too.



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