I am not a Facebook user. Why that in particular should seem a bridge too far, I don't know, but I have at least for now decided to forego the entertainment I could have by stalking my friends in favor of other pursuits. The main drawback I can see is that in this world of searching out long lost acquaintances, people are typing in my name, and coming up blank. Well, not exactly blank--I believe that what they actually get is an attractive young black woman, whom they would probably be much happier having as a Facebook friend anyway.
There are one or two people I wouldn't mind connecting with again out of the past, though. And on just that whim, I tried to search out the identity of a boy I went to kindergarten with before we both moved away. It's not too likely that I will be successful at this, because I don't even remember his last name, although that might come back to me--you never know.
Anyway, purely on a whim I did some googling around our old grade school, and when that proved fruitless, I decided that somehow researching the old apartment complex where we both happened to live might help. It didn't. I mean why would it, it's not as if he signed the lease.
But, as is sometimes the way with fruitless searches, the secondary rewards can compensate you to a degree for the loss of the primary ones. Because just by chance I came across a blog post about those very apartments. And here is where my subject and the theme of this blog finally come together.
I didn't know, for instance that when I was between the ages of about three and six that I had lived in a housing project. This isn't because I was ashamed about my past, or tried to block it out, it's just that I didn't think of it as what we've come have as the stereotyped image of a project, which I suppose would include the adjectives 'scary, unsafe, graffiti-scrawled and probably in a skyscraper. These two-story buildings with spacious lawns in between were none of that. But their building was funded with section 608 subsidies by the Federal Housing Authority. Section 608 was born out of the emergency need for housing for returning vets after the war and was thought of as War Housing Insurance. Lots of scandal around it too, but that's another story.)
Anyway, my parents were part of that wave of veterans who married and came to L.A. and began starting a family as they, meaning mostly my dad, began his post service career path. This housing complex in still low-priced Venice, though still near to my grandmother in more tony Santa Monica must have seemed a fine first step.
Seems like enough to know about a place you once lived in, right? Well, maybe, but in this case, no. Because one of the most important events to happen in this place happened in this our current millennium. In August of 2005, the tenants of the Lincoln Place Apartments were treated to the largest single day eviction lockout in L.A. history. By then, the property owner was AIMCO, one of the largest apartment owning companies in the country. Predictably, they wanted to tear down this complex and put up expensive condominiums.
Okay, enough holding out on my source for all this stuff. You can read the blog and see the pictures here. There is a little film about the eviction that is quite moving. You'll be happy to learn that the story has a happy, if ambivalent ending.
For me, of course there are other reasons to be moved. The touching thing is how little any of this has changed. There might be a slightly different demographic these days, but apparently the way of life that the architecture was meant to facilitate remained intact for almost half a century. It is a bit uncanny to see, actually.
It's as if I never left.