Budding Friendships…………….#27 (the 50’s)

Linda Grindstaff

The neighborhood having expanded, the Bryant’s having settled in at the new  house on Shone Ave.  Mr. Bryant a banker,  Bev the eldest of the two children  and Donald Theodore Bryant,  known as Don,  a 1/2 year grade senior to Mike in School.    Don’s Mother was a stern looking lady who wore glasses, the lad never picturing her as a Harriet Nelson as portrayed on television.   Mike having somewhat limited contact with Don on school mornings, the two sometimes riding home together when Don took his bike.    He was a little envious because Don’s bicycle was a three speed english bike with hand brakes, sporting a small hard seat that  he thought looked very uncomfortable.   The captious neighborhood news being the house across the street from the Bryant’s that had been damaged by fire was ready to be occupied.  The displaced family and their son whom young  Mike was acquainted with for some unknown reason didn’t return,. the fire giving a reality  message to the lad, that  life threatening perils do exist and before long  a new family moved in, Mike acquiring a new classmate.

The Bryant’s house on Shone Ave.

Mike, Hand & Don

The Grindstaff family occupying the renovated fire damaged home, the daughter Linda enrolling in Mike’s class at Burckhalter.  Mike having two sister at home feeling  comfortable around Linda and on occasion even walking to and from school with her and found she was attentive to most of what he had to say.  In the spring Hi Flier Kites  alway had a big promotional, Mike enjoyed his kite episodes, especially adding three or four five hundred foot rolls of  string sending his flyer soaring into the stratosphere or so it seemed to him.  The Lad was taken by surprised when Linda accepted an invitation to join him at the open field at the top of  82nd Avenue  where one could experience  the evening ocean breeze journeying thru the golden gate coming alive,  embracing the top of the hill, sending the kite with knotted tail soaring into the sky.   Times like this furnished the young man with moments of reflection,  not to be avaricious,  but to share with someone his own age these credulous experiences.  .

Hanks house on Sterling Dr.

The new house entrance behind Linda’s Shone Ave residence was on Sterling Drive and from first observation seemed to be  occupied by another Ozzie and Harriet type family.  A family of four taking up residence,  the boy in the family a year older than Mike, his full name Henry Albert Ball Jr. III,  and seemingly a was a very impressive title, but to all that got to know him he was just Hank.  The word was his father was the  Plant Manager at the family owned Ball Cannery,  his mom Marie a homemaker and there was  little sister Jeannie.   Like Mike, Hank was a sports enthusiast and it was evident that possess the physical credentials to support it.    Mike and Hank having common ground, both listened to the radio broadcast of the Oakland Oaks baseball team in the evening hours, the two collecting Topps  Baseball Cards,  both enjoying sports board games such as Parker Brothers Baseball,  Foto Electric Football and even going to the extent of forming teams and keeping stats on player in their Cadaco All Star Baseball game.   When playing under the  hoop on the patio slab behind Hank’s house,  like most young basketball player wannabe’s when playing they would assume the names of their hero’s,  Hank would be Bill Russell and Mike would K.C. Jones,  both All-American basketball players at the University of San Francisco.  Mike finally discovering someone close by his own age to share an interest,  it was a world of sports for the two.

Foto Electric, the ultimate home football game

Foto Electric, the ultimate home football game

Oaks Park – home of the Oakland Oaks

 The two boys entertaining an idea about going to afternoon ball game at Oaks Park, but when mentioning their idea to their parents the first response was no, but the two emerge persuasive.  Mike having been there with his dad and traveled alone on the A train to the San Francisco Transbay Terminal, getting off and taking a streetcar through the Twin Peaks Tunnel, then walking four blocks to visit his Aunt Alice.    It was  rather elementary to the boys, take the Oak Knoll bus to MacArthur,  take the MacArthur bus to San Pablo Ave,  walk the four blocks to the ballpark.  Mike finally convincing his parents and apparently Hank having done the same, the two youngsters were on their way to a Oakland Oaks game at the ballpark in Emeryville.  Twelve year old Hank and eleven year Mike arriving at Oaks Park before game time, once finding their seats and buying a program they directed their attention not to the before game activities on the field  but to the happenings under the stadium,  the two discovering the labyrinth of corridors beneath the structure,  finding the players field entrance way.  With program and pencil in hand, the two waiting patiently for the players to exit from the dressing room to the dugout.  It wasn’t long before the players appeared, the two waving  their programs at the team member,  the minor league players appeared exuberance at being asked to sign,  as were the boys doing the asking.   Hank and Mike relishing more in getting the autographs of the players  than witnessing the game.   This a beginning of many neoteric shared adventures by the two boys.

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