A tale of two rivers

I was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa on the Mississippi River. Davenport is bounded on the south by the Mississippi (yes, south because the Mississippi runs from east to west at Davenport) and on the north by Duck Creek. The Mississippi is a mile wide at Davenport and Duck Creek is larger than many western rivers, so there was always somewhere for me to enjoy my favorite pastime, fishing.After World War II and college, my wife and I moved to Los Alamos, N.M., where I worked on the atomic bomb. The Rio Grande River is just a few miles east of Los Alamos, and the city is bounded on the west by Frijoles Creek. Both are good places to fish, although I had to learn to fish for trout instead of catfish. Our first two children were born while we lived at Los Alamos, and this posed a problem. All housing there was rental housing handled by the Atomic Energy Commission. You were qualified to rent a place based on your family need, length of service and salary level. When our first child was born we were allowed to move from an apartment to the two-bedroom part of a two-bedroom/four-bedroom duplex. When our second child was born, we were eligible for a three-bedroom structure when one became available. Because of my low salary and short service, and the disturbance caused by four teenagers with motorcycles in the other part of our duplex, the wait seemed interminable. A fellow I worked with had come from California and subscribed to the L.A. Times. In perusing the paper, I found that North American Aviation in Downey was hiring so I applied for a job. When I received an offer, I announced I was leaving for California. This was the winter of 1951-52. My co-worker showed me pictures in the Times of Firestone Boulevard in Downey where water was flooding the storefronts. Since I was familiar with the spring floods in Davenport where the river spilled over its banks regularly, I wasn't concerned. My mood brightened greatly when I noted on a map that Downey had the Rio Hondo River as its western boundary and the San Gabriel River as its eastern boundary. At least I would have a place to fish after work if I chose to. I mentioned this to my co-worker, and when his laughing subsided, he explained that these were seasonal rivers that were dry most of the time. So here I sit in my easy chair surrounded by two dry rivers, my fishing pole gathering dust and my nylon line rotting, waiting for a chance to go fishing again.

The Downey Patriot welcomes non-fiction, first-person stories from Downey residents for publication in the newspaper. Stories may be e-mailed to eric@thedowneypatriot.com or mailed to Downey Patriot, 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240. Unfortunately, stories submitted to this newspaper cannot be returned.

********** Published: July 10, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 12