If nostalgia is a state of mind in search of a mooring, then my wife and I were destined to live on picturesque 36th Way in East Sacramento.
Especially since we were native Midwesterners marinating in Southern California’s monotonous weather, freeway gridlock and a tract home for two decades.
During our first 45 years of marriage, we settled for a succession of residences that were routinely lacking in one way or another. The cramped college-era apartment soon gave way to living in a mobile home when base housing was unavailable to an Air Force lieutenant; and then a wretched mobile home park, which is all we could afford when I became a high school teacher.
Dreams of living in a cozy brick home in Ann Arbor, Mich., dissolved as my meager income could only land a sweat-equity, trilevel ranch close by Lake Erie.
A job in San Diego beckoned in 1984 and we bought a home there that, because of burgeoning property values, enabled us to retire to Sacramento. And we haven’t missed San Diego since leaving there nearly 11 years ago.
We decided to move to Sacramento several years before I retired. It was just a matter of finding the right neighborhood. We used to imagine buying a home along the curve of this splendid, tree-canopied street as we walked our newborn grandson in his stroller. Both sides of the block offer custom-built homes, dating from the 1920s.
Since moving here, we have received periodic inquiries from Realtors and prospective buyers. But we have no intention of selling, nor, it seems, do most of our neighbors, several of whom, like us, decided to expand these small homes. As some have noted: “We’ve lived here for years and aren’t going anywhere else.”
And why would they? The neighborhood boasts a mix of young and old who look out for one another. A case in point is the gentleman who routinely stencils curbside addresses that have faded with age and monitors a nearby lady’s property when she’s gone. There are summer block parties that feature activities for the kids and a sit-down dinner. And a friendliness that reminds us of the Midwest.
Suffice it to say, our street reflects the vibrancy of many others in this splendid City of Trees. Whether it’s the quirky Claw that clears 36th Way of mounds of fallen leaves each fall, or the colorful camellias that flower each spring, or the refreshing change of seasons with occasional thunderstorms, East Sacramento is that safe harbor we’ve been seeking for decades.
Alan Miller, a former editorial writer and columnist for The Detroit News and San Diego Union-Tribune, teaches at American River College. His most recent piece for The Bee ran on April 26, “Haunted by the nightmare of Vietnam.” Contact him at email@example.com.