Left: The booming metropolis of Downey, California. Right: Grandpa Teemley
My Real Memoir
First off, I apologize for the offensive stereotype in the title. It’s not a reference to Native Americans. It’s what my Grandpa Teemley called me almost from the moment I was born. It was a common term of endearment back then for particularly excitable toddlers. In fact, I’m told one time I…
But I digress.
As I said previously, I was born in Whittier, California, home (decades earlier) of Pres. Richard Milhous Nixon. The Milhous family had a long, if somewhat forgotten, history in Whittier. In my late teens, I once discovered an overgrown lot in Whittier full of Milhous gravestones (the original cemetery was apparently now a fast food franchise). I considered snatching Nixon’s maternal grandfather’s grave marker as a unique memento. But one doesn’t simply “snatch” a granite headstone.
But I digress. I do that a lot, so henceforth let’s just use the initials “BID.”
Unlike our infamous former president, I didn’t grow up in Whittier, but in nearby Downey, California, a Spanish ranchero founded in 1777, while 3,000 miles away there was some kind of hissy between the east coast colonialists and Great Britain.
Later, Downey famously became the birthplace of the Apollo Space program and home of the oldest still-surviving McDonald’s, as well as the singing duo The Carpenters. Oh, and me. I briefly attended college with The Carpenters when…
While saving up for their first home, my parents lived with Grandma and Grandpa Teemley. I’m told my husky German baker grandfather was the only who one could channel my “wild indian” antics. He did this by tossing me roughly eighty feet up into the air (I may be a little off on the exact number), a precursor to the Apollo program, no doubt. I have faint memories of adoring Grandpa’s rocket-Mitch launches more than anything else during those first two years of my life. Perhaps that’s why, for the next decade or so, most of my dreams were about flying straight up into the air.
Oh, yeah, and about that wild indian thing. One morning, right after we’d moved into our first home, I escaped through a window while my parents were still asleep. I was dressed, I’m told, in nothing but “warpaint” (Mom’s lipstick, plus—cringe—that-which-shall-not-be-named from my discarded diaper). A neighbor called the police, and they promptly returned me to our new home, holding me at arm’s length, I’m sure.
My parents reinforced my crib.
Nevertheless, one time…