Brimming with the innocence of the thirteen-year-old in the eighth grade that I was, I eagerly handed over my $2.50 to the cashier at B. Dalton Pickwick Books in Peninsula Center. B. Dalton was the one bookseller at this mall of the Los Angeles suburb often referred to as P.V. (short for Palos Verdes – Spanish for green sticks).
Penn Center was where bygone stores like Buffums, J.J.Newberries, and Lucky Supermarket anchored the mall when it was built in 1960. In 1973 these stores were awaiting their slow death that would come decades later, leaving them vaguely familiar names today to a select few. For now, Penn Center, shown in the picture above, showcased the consistently superb weather found throughout Southern California, creating a boom that spawned many outdoor malls like this across the southland while the population soared.
This mall and the book I was about to acquire are also where the title of this blog came from. And this title shows the attitude the blog and its author take.
Palos Verdes was where my mother, father, and I had relocated from the New Jersey shore. After being Jersey born and their three other children and many years, my dad finally took the promotion offered by his industrial-military-complex electronics manufacturer of relays. Buoyed by the title of Vice President of Sales, my parents sold their big Jersey house, and we drove cross country the summer of my eighth grade, where I was about to experience both a cultural whiplash and an education I may not have recovered from.
Los Angeles, then, might as well be Mars. I knew nothing of LA beyond the obvious. Sports teams, Hollywood, and proximity to Disneyland, I suppose, were what sounded familiar to me. As for towns like Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and Palos Verdes, I had no idea about them.
It is important to note that had my older brother not trailblazed the route to CA with his big-eight CPA a year earlier; we may not have followed.
The Palos Verdes Peninsula and its four distinctive cities, Rolling Hills Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Palos Verdes Estates, were indistinguishable from each other to me and anyone who didn’t live there. In the ensuing years, I would understand these very subtle differences that adults like to make a big deal about intimately.
Penn Center and the book I was about to buy was in Rolling Hills Estates, which
Plus, this was the 1970s. There was no PC, Internet, or smartphone to keep me forever distracted in my bedroom and refusing to go outside as if I was agoraphobic.
The hilly two-and-a-half-mile hilly bike ride from my parent’s house in Palos Verdes Estates (one of four PV cities) to the outdoor mall in Rolling Hills Estates was a welcomed, and dare I say, fun activity. My mom, dad, and I had just relocated from New Jersey, and going outside in