Pictured is my Mom and my two brothers. Chris the eventual photographer extraordinaire is seen sitting next to her and Frank the youngest and today’s birthday boy is behind the wheel of the car. My Dad took this picture, but as to where the black sheep of the family might be, meaning me, that’s anyone’s guess. The scene is in the atrium of our Lucas Valley home. Mom and Chris are sitting on a bench that my Dad had built. The rectilinear shadows on the wall behind them were cast by the morning sun, which was shining through the house. It is probably Sunday morning and we are on our way to church.
There was a huge oak tree in the center of this atrium and another one in the front yard, on the other side of the wall. It was the trees that made this home unique among all of the other tract homes in the subdivision. I can still remember the smell of the bay tree in the backyard. Dad had built us the most extraordinary tree fort in it. The center of its lower trunk had rotted out, such that you could climb up through it and come out underneath the fort. The smell of bay was most intense inside the tree and its fragrance helped to alleviate the icky feelings that always I got from crawling through the rotting wood and all of the accompanying bugs. Once underneath the fort, I could jungle gym climb through the support beams to the fort’s entrance and storm the castle.
Lucas Valley, a part of the city of San Rafael is in Marin County, California, which is across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. Dad drove to work every day across that bridge. The photo was taken in the summer of 1963, long before George Lucas built Industrial Light & Magic over the dairy farm, a few miles away. The picture was taken a long time ago, but it reminds us of the obvious good times that we all once enjoyed together. Today is Frank’s birthday, but it is also the fifth anniversary of our mother’s death, an unfortunate coincidence. We all miss you Mom. Frank is currently running for political office also in California. I wish him well. I also wish that I had sent him a bag of Cheetos for his birthday, so that he could sprinkle some of its orange dust over his head, the next time that he went out campaigning. Don’t knock it Ski, it would probably help. I love you and happy birthday.