lost items

This land has nothing to do with dinosaurs or lost civilizations, it is a land for lost personal items. There must be thousands of portals to this land that is full of items that we swear we just saw a minute ago. We’ve all been there before, on our hands and knees searching for something that we had just put down moments ago and somehow the item has vanished. Has it disappeared forever into the Land of the Lost? Or, will it be recovered before it falls thru the magic portal that loves to suck up everyday items? All of us, at some time or another, have had that feeling of panic when we realize that we have misplaced something. We retrace our steps, look in every nook and cranny (including the couch cushions) and decide it must have sprouted legs and fallen into the secret passageway that leads to a whole land of lost items. The Land of The Lost has an abundance of certain items and keys is right on top. Searching for them takes time and causes massive frustration as you are usually in a rush to get going before you realize that your keys are missing. If your keys slip into this lost land it can also be unexpectedly expensive to replace modern car keys which are microchipped and can cost hundreds of dollars to replace. Losing car keys sucks big-time. Living right next to keys in the Land of the Lost are sunglasses. How many times have you set these down never to be found again. It can take hours to find the right pair and in seconds they are gone forever. I’ve lost so many sunglasses that I just consider it in the cost of living. If ever found they usually are bent or broken beyond repair or you see your friend wearing the exact pair…very delicate situation. Your regular prescription eye glasses are the worst to lose because you are half-way blind looking for the only thing that can give you full vision again. Cell phones also rank among the more expensive things you can lose. The interesting thing about misplacing your cell phone is that it is usually where it is supposed to be. Have you ever freaked out that you couldn’t find your cell phone while you were using your cell phone. Because the cell phone has so many different functions, we often use it to serve another purpose, and then freak out when we don’t feel it in our pocket. Missing credit cards also cause a panic because your first thought is that some stranger is out buying a new boat with it. How many weekend mornings have you woken up from a rough night out and immediately dove towards your wallet. There’s nothing worse to add to a raging hangover than discovering your missing a credit card. How many total hours have you missed at the gym because you were spending too much time beforehand looking for your headphones? I’m convinced that headphones, especially Apple ones, have a certain life span before they just vanish. In terms of numbers socks have the largest population in Land of the Lost. Not even worth searching for, they just go away on their own. It’s as if there is a little sock troll living with us, just waiting to steal more socks…never a pair, just one at a time. Chapstick is also a lesser expensive item that can drive you crazy to hold on to. The “chapstick” theory says that the more pants that you put on in a given week, the greater chance you have of losing your chapstick. Buy this item by the bulk and stop worrying about where you put the last one. Has anyone ever used a Chapstick to the end? Restaurants have a direct portal to the Land of the Lost. Taking off a jacket and leaving it there is routine or actually having and carrying an umbrella into a  restaurant is a sure formula for leaving it there along with your doggy-bag. The good thing about leaving items in a restaurant is you can go back and recover them from the lost and found box. Have you ever noticed how all lost and found boxes look the same, a crumpled up cardboard box half-way full of the items listed above. I find some comfort in sorting thru the box that I am not the only one losing things. To keep your items from disappearing the common advice is to put your keys or other items in the same place each night. Sounds reasonable enough, but while your asleep is when most of the items crawl off their designated place and travel to the Land of the Lost. Has anyone seen my nail clippers?




sand castle          summer-pool-party-kid

Since when did kids start school in the middle of August? August is a summer month, not a school month. Even though my 3-kids have all graduated from college, I am representing the thousands of kids who have to get ready for school in the hottest month of the year. August is beach weather. It is perhaps the best beach month of the calendar as the June, July overcast has usually burned off leaving nothing but hot and clear skies. The water is also at it’s warmest…perfect for a day or week’s vacation at the beach. Even if your not a beach goer hanging out in the swimming pool is what August is on the calendar for. I feel sorry for the groups of kids I see making their way home from school in mid-August, particularly those in school uniforms. It is still summer vacation time, time to be in shorts, swim suits and barefeet. Time to see movies in air-conditioned theaters, have sleep overs, play basketball, and yes, read. The dog days of summer should be spent poolside, not in class. Heck, we just had 4th of July celebrations weeks prior…now school? Growing up Labor Day marked the the end of summer and not just another sale at Carpets ‘R Us. The public pools closed, the ice cream truck made it’s last round and school started the next day. We loaded up our new backpacks, put on our new school clothes and made our way to the first day of school, the way it was meant to be. Now, Labor Day is a three-day-weekend complete with homework. End of summer as an event is gone – the last hurrah – the final friendly barbeque with friends and family. The start of school is no longer universal meaning some kids start August 11 or August 18 and so on. What a drag it must be to hear other kids jumping in the pool while your coming home from school in triple-digit heat. It just isn’t right. Trying on new school clothes is a drag enough for kids to endure – imagine it being 90 degrees and humid and your trying on long pants, hoodies and sweatshirts when all you really need is new t-shirts and shorts. The main reason that I could find for the earlier start has to do with standardized testing. The kids starting school in August can take their test before winter break while the information is still fresh in their heads versus taking the test upon returning from break and their heads are empty or full of Sponge Bob cartoons. Low scores on these standardized tests means some schools would lose too much funding…sounds logical without knowing any of the details.

I have fond memories of my childhood summer vacations. It seemed they would last forever and each day was an eternity. Waking up with nothing to do except explore new territories on our bikes, or swimming for hours at a time until our eyes turned blood red from the chlorine. On particularly hot days our parents would drop us off at the old Montrose Theater and leave us there for a double-feature, or at a bowling alley. The YMCA was always open, but that would usually get boring after a few hours – too much supervision when you feel like Tom Sawyer. Then one week per summer we would take a family vacation which was either a hit or miss. The best vacations were spent at a rented beach house enjoying the surf and sand and staying in one spot for a week. The worst trips involved road trips that included several stops and a lot of arguing. I guess that’s the one advantage to having kids starting school early…the hotel and vacation get-a-ways now start dropping their rates in late August. But I would easily give that up to see schools designate the day after Labor Day as the official start day. It has worked for decades…it has only been in the last 10-years that schools moved up the date. The whole month of August is officially summer and should be part of summer vacation.





I was born in 1954 which puts me in the middle of drive-in movie goers. Drive-in theaters reached their peak in the late 1950’s and 60’s. For those born after 1980 they probably know their local drive-in movie as a place for swap meets or church revival meetings. But going to a drive-in is still possible and I recommend that everyone try it once in their lifetime. There is nothing to compare a summer’s night at a drive-in to.  By the way, a drive-in theater is an outdoor cinema consisting of a large movie screen, a projection booth, a concession stand and a gigantic parking area for the autos. Customers can view movies from the privacy and comfort of their own car. I think most of the younger generation has at least heard of them, but have never been to one. It has been 20-years since I have been to a drive-in…since the children were all 10-years old and less. Drive-in movie goers tend to fall into two groups, 1) the family station wagon group – the whole family including the baby can go together and watch a movie. What most people my age remember as a kid was that the drive-ins had a outdoor playground right up front by this enormous screen. Since the cars arrived at twilight it left time for kids to play outside the car until the movie was about to start. This was the best part about the drive-in as a kid, that and the concession stand. I doubt that in today’s times parents would let their kids just roam free at a huge drive-in at dusk without supervision. I don’t know if it was just safer times in the 50’s & 60’s or parents weren’t as traumatized about kids playing in public. I must admit it sounds scary just writing about letting your children roam free in the dark with a parking lot full of strangers. Or, maybe our parents were watching and we just didn’t know or care.  The drive-ins in the early 60’s all had parking spots marked out and each spot had access to a speaker you would hang on the driver’s window. The sound quality was terrible and the scratching and banging on the car window was just part of the experience. Now that it was dark it was time for the movie to start. The younger kids were put in their pajamas, as it was inevitable they would fall asleep before the double feature was over. The second biggest thrill as a kid was going to the concession stand. It usually was right in the middle of the parking lot and was well lit. It seemed enormous in size with so much to choose from and the prices were fairly close to retail, not like the movie theaters today. After being limited to two items, one food – candy, and one drink – soda pop we made our way back to the car and settled in for two movies in a row. Impossible for a kid to make it through, especially since one of the movies was usually a stinker. As a parent we took our 3-kids to the drive-in a few times and repeated the same plan of action as when we were kids and the drive-ins were still structured the same. The biggest difference were the cars, station wagons were out and mini-vans were in. The second group in attendance were 2) – teenagers and date nights. It was the perfect date night. It gave you a legitimate reason to be alone with your date for four long hours. A lot was practiced from the sex-ed class during that time. You could see some of the cars with the windows all fogged up and know there wasn’t much movie viewing going on there. Those lucky enough to have vans or trucks could park there vehicles backwards and open up the rear door for viewing turning your van into a den. It was also fun to go as a group especially on slow nights like Wednesday when admission price was one dollar per car for as many people you could fit in. You could bring beach chairs if the car got too crowded. Drive-ins used attention-grabbing gimmicks to boost attendance like petting zoos and music groups to play before the show. On weekend nights in college when they charged by the person we would stick one or two people in the trunk as we drove through the entrance which sounds rather stupid now. I guess it was just the thrill of getting away with something.

At their peak 25% of the nation’s movie screens had been a drive-in. Today that figure is less than 1% and showing no signs of recovery. The cost of that much land, the whim of nature at a outdoor venue, and the advent of VCR’s and video rentals for family time brought the drive-in theater to an end. Many drive-in movie sites remain, repurposed as storage or flea markets sights. They usually have a 50’s-art deco feel to them . In the Los Angeles area the best drive-in is the Pacific Theater in the City of Industry. It has been well maintained and has current movies. Your can bring in your own food if you want to pass on the cool concession stand. Summertime is the best. The sound now comes through your car radio, so no more damage to the car window. Try it out once with family, friends, or a date night…it’s a slice of Americana.