After our short stint in Brazil, we moved back our cozy little house in Pico Rivera. The time in Brazil proved to be good for my dad's career. In preparation for the Greg's birth, we moved to what I would assume was a bigger house in a newer community of La Puente. 581 Peckam Drive will be forever ingrained in my head.
For the next few years this house became our home and, often times, the gathering place for our extended family. The three bedroom, two bathroom house fit our needs. It came complete with neighborhood children that we would traipse around the street with, riding bicycles, roller skates and toy cars up and down the block till dark.
It was here that I truly remember my first Christmas's and Easter's. It was here that I lost my first tooth and lay in bed at night, if not fighting with Eliz about whether the door should be fully or half closed, then talking silliness until our dad ordered us to sleep.
It was during the start of my 2nd grade when I realized that a change was about to happen. One of the first clues where a series of appointments to the doctors for vaccinations. On December 1 (Greg's 3rd birthday), we moved to Ponce, Puerto Rico. This was back in the day before 9/11, terrorist threats and underwear or shoe bombers so the whole family came with us to the airport to say goodbye.
I was both sad and terribly excited. Plane travel at that time was glamorous and not many people could say they had been on a plane. I had no idea what or where Puerto Rico was. I just knew there was plane travel and hotel stays. We flew from LAX to New Orleans to Miami where we stopped for the night. The next morning we took a little peddle jumper to San Juan, Puerto Rico where we stayed at the InterContinental Hotel for a few nights while dad did some work in the city. It was luxuriousness like we have never seen before.
For the first year, we lived in a little house near a co-worker of my dad's and thus began our long friendship with the Keeney's. Genevieve in third grade at the time so right in the middle of me and Elizabeth. Her brother, Richard, was a year younger than Vic which worked out perfectly, too.
It was in many ways paradise for us. Mom and dad joined a country club that many other Fluor employees belonged to and there we would spend weekends and some weeknights swimming like little fishes. On the weekends that we didn't go to the club, we frequented the beach which had clear blue water, nothing like you see in California or we would go sight-seeing.
Dad didn't get along too well with the woman who owned or managed the house we lived in and it had leaky ceilings and other issues so we moved to a house on Constancia Gardens. It was here that I met my other best friend Jill. She was in my class and it was so exciting to live on the same street as her.
Because there was still no such think as email, texting and telephone calls were too expensive, it was so exciting to have dad come home to find out if there was mail. Christmas would bring a flurry of packages in brown paper. While I missed our family, they were never far from our memory or conversations.
Because everyone that we knew was in the same boat (away from home) our friends became our extended family.