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Friday, April 1, 2011

Through The Eyes of A Child - Napa, CA - Part 1

When people think of or mention Napa, California, in this day and age, most people automatically think of the wine country.  I don't disagree with appreciating the wine now that I'm an adult.  Let me tell you, I love my wine, especially red wine.  As a child, wine never entered my mind or thoughts in reference to Napa.  Through a child's eyes (inasmuch as I can remember from my childhood), I will present my memories of Napa, California.

Napa, California carries a lot of my family history.   For many, it might seem rather mundane.  That is ok, I am still writing this information down to share with everyone who wants to read it.  I also write it down for the future.  I would love it if my own children have the opportunity to read this someday.

Three weeks after I was born in Sacramento, California, I was baptized at St. John The Baptist Catholic Church in Napa, California, located at 960 Caymus Street right off Main Street and up from Soscol Avenue.  I was christened in the "new" church which was built in the 1960s.  About six months later when my Dad got out of the military, we moved back to Ohio so that he could get his MBA.  I do believe that those four years saw my Mom very homesick for her hometown of Napa.

My father graduated from the University of Dayton (UD) with his Masters in Business Administration.  He had achieved his Bachelors Degree from UD years earlier and then spent just over four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.  After all of this, it was time for all of us to "move home".  We arrived back in Napa, California in time for summer.

The house that my grandparents lived in at 2131 Spencer Street was a very small house.  There were six of us living there for about six months.  I do think that my parents would have liked to live in Napa but that was not meant to be.  They bought a house in Fairfield, California near my Dad's new job.   During the six months that we lived in Napa, I started Kindergarten.

Just as my mother and grandma before me, I attended the "Old" Lincoln School.  From what I remember of the old school, it was an old stone two-story building.  Talk about a school with some history!  I'm sure that it had it's fair share.  Sometime in the late 1970s, early 1980s, the old school was torn down completely and a new school facility was built to replace it.  The old school was probably not real safe considering earthquake standards.

I tried to find photos of the old school online but only came across a 1916 group photo of students at the school.  Nowadays, the current Lincoln School is known as the New Technology High School in Napa, California.

Another school that I recall in Napa, California, is Silverado Junior High.  I never attended school there but I took swimming lessons there.  My Mom actually attended 9th grade there.  I believe at the time she also attended 10th grade at Silverado.  This leads me to Napa High School.  I can't tell you how many hundreds, probably thousands, of times I passed by the school on Lincoln Avenue on my way to my grandparents house.  I watched it get a paint job one summer.  It went from being an all cream colored reinforced concrete building to a golden wheat color with cream trim.

Both of my grandparents attended Napa High School in the old historic building.  My Grandparents and my Mom all graduated from Napa High along with several other relatives from Flanagan's to Mueller's to Vienop's, Borchers' and more.  I may have been to the swimming pool there myself at least once.

Near the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Jefferson, stands a pink and white striped building.  It looks kind of like a cake.  I suppose it should since it is Butter Cream Bakery.  As a child, we'd walk over to Butter Cream to buy fresh baked bread and donuts.  On special occasions my Grandma would buy a champagne cake.  Butter Cream makes the best champagne cakes.  Sometimes, we'd get the opportunity to watch cake decorating through the front window. 

Another spot near the intersection of Lincoln and Jefferson is a liquor store.  So what was I doing in a liquor store as a child?  Lawler's sells some of the best ravioli's around.  You could even bring your own pot or container for them to fill.  Between the sauce, the ravioli, and those malfaties, no one can beat the taste, expect maybe the Depot.  I'm not sure if the Depot is still open.  It was an Italian food restaurant in Napa.  I think that I only ate there once or twice.  I do remember that the tables and chairs were so close together that it made it tough to get into your seat.  If I remember correctly, Lawler's actually uses the Depot's recipies.

Many of my memories of Napa do revolve around food.  I can remember going to Swenson's ice creamery, the ice cream shop at Vintage, and Partric's Candy.  My Grandparents would buy my sister and I each a one pound box of Partric's Candy every Christmas.  The cream filled chocolates were the best.  I also remember Ruffino's.  We ate there every once in a while.  Eleanor "Riedenbach" Ruffino was my grandma's (Dorothy Borchers Flanagan) first cousin.  They are all from my Vienop Family Line and from Napa, of course.

I'm trying to remember other places that I've been in Napa.  Remember, these are all through the eyes of me as a child.

To be continued......

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