These are photos of the house in Apple Valley, CA, at 15791 Winnebago Rd., where I remember growing up. My family only lived there three or four years, but after that my grandmother lived there for another 20, so it was a weekend and summer vacation spot for me into my late 20s. It remains the one place that I idealize as an idyllic place that can never be recaptured. Its remoteness and surrounding desolation were part of its attraction.
After renting the first Apple Valley house (previous page), my father bought this house in, I’m guessing, 1959 or so. While living there I began school, kindergarten and then 1st grade, at Yucca Loma Elementary School, several miles away by schoolbus. At some point during my 2nd grade, my father followed his boss John Blesh to an architectural office in the Los Angeles area; the office was in West L.A., and we initially settled in a rented house in Santa Monica before moving to a purchased house in Reseda, in the San Fernando Valley, where we lived for some six years.
My father was unable to sell this 2nd Apple Valley house at the time we moved away, as I’ve understood, and so he kept it, and moved my maternal grandmother, who’d relocated from Illinois to Costa Mesa, into the house. She settled there and lived there for over 20 more years, finding work and a church community, until her death in 1984. For the many years my family lived in the Los Angeles area in the 1960s and 70s, we would make a two-hour drive on a weekend every month or two to visit her. For a period in the 1970s, as a college student living at home with three younger siblings, it became a refuge that I could escape to by myself; I spent parts of seven idyllic summers there in the Seventies. Thus my idealization. More about those Seven Seventies Summers later.
Here’s a photo of my father’s of the house when I lived there as a child:
Here’s a later photo, from around 1980, after my father had sold the house to my Uncle Bob, and he’d had it remodeled. (That’s my uncle’s Mazda RX-7 in the driveway.)
The house was built in 1953. It sat back from the road, with a semicircular unpaved driveway in front. In the area enclosed by the driveway was a crab apple tree and a pear tree. For years my grandmother made apple jelly and apple butter and apple sauce from the pickings of that apple tree, which can be seen at the left of the photo just above.
There was a large square lawn on the south side of the house — these two pics are both from the south and south-west — presumably installed in the manner of folks from the verdant eastern US moving west and assuming green lawns were necessary, no matter how environmentally ridiculous we realize they are today. (And relatively few nearby houses had such lawns.) It was surrounded by a low wall of loose cinder blocks. A couple trees (elms, I think) marked two corners, and another couple sat in the lawn. Along the front driveway edge of the lawn was a cluster of cactus plants, which alas my Uncle removed, along with a couple trees at the northwest corner of the house, with the remodel.
The house sat directly south of Bell Mountain, a bell-curved shaped desert hill whose smooth symmetric shape was best appreciated from this one direction, from directly south. It became symbolically important to me, especially once I saw the hill from other directions. Here’s a view from the road in front of the house.