Monday, December 12, 2005

Polliwogs, or Pollywogs?

I wish I had a better memory of the dates involved in these job descriptions…I’m afraid you will have to put up with vague and inconsistent dates here.

For this job description, let’s just say it was in the late 1940’s…My best friend and neighbor, Larry Johnson, came up with the job. The city of Manhattan Beach had finally installed a sewer line down the street where we lived. It was the responsibility of each homeowner to make the connection from their house to the new line. Larry’s father, Les, had decided to do it on the cheap and asked us if we wanted to dig the ditch from the property line to the house. And he would pay us $10…each! It certainly sounded more interesting than mowing lawns and since we had never dug a ditch before, we had no idea of the work involved. We agreed and began by removing the grass from a narrow strip that defined our area of operations. I think that took two days. Then it was serious pick and shovel work. We lived on Pine Street, named for the Black pines that were present in each front yard and the roots from that tree had invaded the space we were trying to dig in. (By the way, this ditch ended up being about 6’ deep. Just think of the safety laws we were violating!) I remember that day after day, the ditch called to us. Beckoning us into its depths. Would we ever finish it? We had to. Les had told us that it was an all or nothing job.

We finally got our $10, although Les had to climb into the ditch and do the final digging at each end. Ditch digging was forever off of my list of things I wanted to do.

And speaking of Larry, a memory from that time. When we weren’t digging ditches, one thing we enjoyed was making trips to Polliwog Pond. This involved our walking about a mile east, across the big street, Sepulveda, and down the hill on the other side. At the bottom of that hill was a huge pond and it was filled with, of course…polliwogs. Our favorite activity here was to find a raft or to make one from abandoned rafts. Then we would push out from the muddy shore and sail as far as we could. I have no idea as to how deep the pond was, it was far too muddy to see the bottom and once we were near the middle, our poles no longer touched the bottom and were useless.

The pond is gone now and I understand that it has been replaced by a park of the same name. I don’t think I want to see it.

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