Friday, September 12, 2008

Utah Culture Shock, Part 3 of 3

In California, I was this Mormon minority, usually the only one in my grade, and I felt like a freak for having so many brothers and sisters and not being able to play outside on Sundays. The worst year was when Halloween fell on a Sunday and I just watched the other kids trick or treat. I can still remember sitting out on the bumper of our motor home in my church clothes, watching costumed kids prowl up and down our extremely steep street.

There were lots of genius Jewish kids in my school, and there were lots of Asians—in fact, today Vista Grande Elementary is 55% Asian and 40% white, the Internet tells me. I really wanted to be accepted by the Jews because they were so smart and funny and sophisticated, but I didn’t have the social skills and I could tell they always looked down on me. However, they did put me on the Jewish foursquare team when we played Jews against Christians, because no one knew what else to do with a Mormon. I used to be jealous of their dreidels and Hanukkah and stuff—in fact, I even told some kids that Mormons celebrated Hanukkah too.

On the other hand, I got to be close friends with several Asian kids, and a Japanese guy named Joseph Hiraoka was my best friend for a couple of years. I did a report on Japan in fourth grade, and ever since then I've been somewhat fascinated by Japan. I don’t remember knowing or even seeing any Hispanics in my neighborhood or school, but I remember one black girl named Natalie who seemed to be much more mature than everyone, and she had the coolest handwriting that I tried to imitate.

Then I got to Utah and everyone was white and Mormon. Our seaside town of Rancho Palos Verdes was upper middle class, even downright wealthy in some areas, but my Utah elementary drew on lots of middle and lower income areas, including some farms, and some of the kids were pretty rough around the edges, if not downright white trashy. I remember how weird it was to hear a kid talk about raising pigs—again, I didn’t know people still actually did that in the modern days. And my sixth-grade class included Charlie Kingston, a cross-eyed kid from an inbreeding polygamous group who never said much and seemed to wear the same dirty plaid shirt every day.

Well, that concludes this round of memories. I’m sure Bountiful was backwoodsier than Salt Lake back then, and I’m sure things have changed a lot since then. And I admit that due to boundary shifts, I went to rougher, lower-class elementary and junior-high schools than my siblings did, although I got to go to upper-class Bountiful High, which was mostly a relief. I'm sorry, but it does make a difference in the caliber of people you hang out with, although of course there's also a snobby downside to it.

12 comments:

mandi said...

Did you go to Hannah Holbrook?? I went there! Arthur and Steven Kingston were in my classes. Arthur was a very hideous inbred boy, but Steven had a quiet coolness about him, and I always felt bad that he had to have that polygamist stigma held against him.

Anyway, that's funny! I moved to Sandy in the 6th grade, and that's where I felt all the trendiness pressure. I still feel wistful about my Bountiful days - I loved it there.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Yep, Hannah Holbrook it was, just for sixth grade.

The materialistic trendiness actually came just from the handful of richer kids from the new developments up in the foothills (where I lived too).

My parents still live in our same house at 1445 E. and about 300 S. just a few hundred yards north of the temple and a titch west. Where did you live in Bountiful?

That's our second connection, Mandi. Your brother is married to my wife's nephew's former girlfriend Tiffany.

mandi said...

I forgot about that. That's quite a connection. I'm glad we got Tiffanie instead of you guys. I really like her.

We were right on that corner up the street from Hannah Holbrook. I could climb over my backyard fence and be at school. 229 N. 1050 E.? That sounds familiar.

Next time I see you we'll have to reminisce about Rocket Park, the Dairy Ann, hiking to the B, and the flood of '83. Good times.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Yeah, I did lots of Rocket Park time, even a streaking episode. I probably walked past your house a lot on my way home from school, which also took us through Rocket Park.

My mom loves Pace's Dairy Ann because their Cokes have mega-syrup. One of those suckers can last you all day. She says people often wait in line for it to open in the morning just so they can get their day's Coke.

I feel guilty about the floods because I just goofed off the night we went down to fill sandbags...

mandi said...

I would always get a rainbow slushy at Dairy Ann. Mmmmmm....those are tasty.

I was 10 when the flood came, so I didn't have a lot of responsibilities. I mainly just enjoyed it. It was pretty exciting.

Rocket Park always seemed to have areas that smelled of urine. You weren't a streaking urinator were you?

mandi said...

Oh yeah! And there was this guy - Bob.....Mitchell? I'm not sure of his last name. But he lived in the "rich" area like you. He was jogging and got hit by a car and died. It was very shocking and sad. Did you guys know him?

Christopher Bigelow said...

I can neither confirm nor deny contributing to the Rocket Park urine stank. (I really don't remember...)

I remember a kid my age's dad got hit and killed while jogging, and the driver at fault was another kid I knew. I think the kid whose dad died was named Matt Mulligan and the kid who hit him was named Todd Miller. Do you think that's your same person, or do you have a different Bountiful jogging death story?

mandi said...

I think it's the same person - that's for sure the same story. But it CAN'T be Matt Mulligan. I'm sure it was Bob. I'll have to ask my parents. So much to talk about! (I would type a smiley face here, but I'll spare you.)

Christopher Bigelow said...

The dad who died may indeed have been Bob. It was his SON my age who would have been Matt.

But I'm not 100% sure either way.

mandi said...

It just came to me. The kid who's dad died was Todd Miller. His dad was Bob Miller. They were in our ward. Todd had a sister Stephanie. The kid who hit him must have been Matt, because I don't know him. I'm glad we got that all sorted out.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Ohhhhh, yes. I had it reversed. I can still picture Todd, a year younger than me in high school. Matt Mulligan was the kid my age who hit the dad. I wonder how it affected his life and where he is today...

Did you have the people in your ward with the round house? They sold us two beagle puppies and then the puppies ran away.

Hey, wait, I thought Todd Miller and the people who lived in the round house were in MY ward. When we moved to Bountiful in 1977, we were in the 41st Ward. We later split into the 50th ward (the newer area above 13th East).

Where you in the 41st, or had the boundaries changed on your side too by then?

I bet we know a lot of the other same people...

mandi said...

I wonder how that affected his life, too. That would be so horrible.

We WERE in the 41st! Crazy! Do you remember the candy lady that would pass out licorice after Sacrament Meeting? That's a funny memory.

One of my best friends lived in that round house - Holly Johnson. Their basement was stacked with hundreds of boxes of sandals that they were selling. It was weird. Holly and I would "swim" down that canal behind her house. We would be gone for hours, and I don't think any of our parents bothered to find out where we were. It was really a different time back then.

I lived there from 1979 (1st grade) to about 1984. I don't remember the ward splitting, but I was young and oblivious.

Wow, that's so weird. I bet we do know a lot of the same people.