Mas Digresiones de Robb

September 29th, 2011

A side of Robb I saw often, although by then he didn’t have the outfit.


(So little time)

… but before I get back to the story – continuity be damned – I’m gonna tell you how we got to Bass Lake in the first place because it turned out to be one of those days that absolutely changes the whole course of your life – I shit you not.

See, my first thirteen years were spent in Burbank California. I would say growing up but I didn’t even do a lot of that. I was a runt. Looking back, I see the whole Burbank period in muddy black and white as opposed to the mind saturating Technicolor that later illuminated Sierra High. The only things I could remember about beautiful downtown Burbank were: embarrassments, social failures, and episodes of being bullied, boredom, and a vague feeling that I couldn’t really get a hold of anything. I don’t want to go all Dickensian on you or anything but 90% of my Burbank experience was akin to the sensation of walking underwater in my sleep.

Considering the shortcomings of life in Burbank

The only great things from that period were the summer vacations. We had a little trailer baking away in the back yard that we opened after school let out and took, on alternate summers, either to down to Newport Beach…

Mom in swimsuit

… or up to Yosemite.

Dad and me in sailor suits

Both destinations were just tits with me – loved every moment of either place.

Opening the trailer for the first time each year was the most visceral experience of my early life. When that door swung wide, one was overwhelmed with a hot, stale, oxygen-less blast of air that – because of all its implications – still smelled Valhalla sweet.

Door to adventure

I’d sit in the newly opened trailer for hours sucking in the trailery smelling air and loving it because it meant not only camping, but the sheer joy of getting out of Burbank. Watching my mother stocking that tin box with bedding and utensils and Dad fiddling with the trailer hitch built my excitement to a barely containable level.

And we were off. This year it was Yosemite. It was the summer of ’52 and I was nine. I lobbied intensively to ride alone in the trailer, something my parents were reluctant to let me do, (I think they had images of it breaking away and rolling off with me in it while they watched helplessly) but they were usually worn down by my onslaught and let me have short stints.

The ride took five hours. I had been returned to the back seat of the Pontiac as we neared the south gate of the park in a long line of cars. Things were unusually slow and when we finally reached the gate… the worst of all possible news. The park was hopelessly overcrowded that year and we were being turned away. Devastated, inconsolable, we came down that mountain, with me watching, through a vale of tears, the tall pines beginning to morph into twisted oaks.

Suddenly, I realized that we had stopped. My parents were staring at a sign on a side road that said BASS LAKE 4 MI. and had an arrow pointing to the left.  “Wanna try it”’ Dad asked.   “Won’t be Yosemite but it might be okay.”   TRY IT??? OR GO BACK TO BURBANK FOR THE SUMMER???? I was bouncing around in the back like a frenetic chimpanzee. Mom said okay and Dad turned down the road toward a 1×7 mile lake and a life of an entirely different texture.

It was paradise. Tall pines that grew right up to the waterline, gorgeous campgrounds with little wisps of aromatic smoke snaking around the trees. With our newly bestowed providence we immediately found an idyllic camping spot; an unexpected cancellation that fell miraculously to us. We spent the first two days, swimming, boating, building campfires and watching my mother doing those little things that made the tiny trailer a comfortable living space.

By the third day we had settled in a little bit. I saw my dad staring intently across the lake at what seemed to be a whole shoreline of private lakefront houses,

“I wonder if any of those are for sale,” he said.

13 Responses to “Mas Digresiones de Robb”

  1. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I want to comment first and to say I LOVE this, and that I also want to salute Robb’s daughter Jessie, who handles getting all the pix digital and sending them to me. This one drove her crazy, but it was absolutely worth it. To me, anyway, and I hope for Jessie, too.

  2. EverettK Says:

    Another “home run,” Robb! Isn’t it amazing how the seemingly smallest of decisions can change the entire course of our lives? It doesn’t happen often, but I have to wonder if it doesn’t happen more frequently than we’re aware. It’s becoming conscious of how these smallest things can effect such big changes that should encourage us to strive to be more and more conscious of every daily moment.

  3. EverettK Says:

    PS. For example, a little over a year ago, I got pissed off at how much Tim’s publisher was asking for the e-book version of Queen of Patpong, and in a moment of frustration decided to write an email to the publisher expressing my feelings, and in a very brief moment of, “I wonder if the author’s email is available on the web?” tracked down Tim’s email address and cc’d him on the email. That one little decision didn’t change the entire course of my life (sorry, Tim…) but it’s SURE may a BIG difference in a lot of the past year’s details! And that, in turn, has had some effect on Tim and others, and their “little decisions” have had effects on me and others. A veritable hurricane of chaotic “path choosing!” 🙂

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    I’m going to have one of those weirdly serious moments and remind you guys of Robert Frost-I think it goes-“And I chose the road less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” I know it’s cliched and over used, but think of how many turns in the road there have been. Robb, you must have been just a delightful kid. I had daughters, but I worked with a lot of little boys, and I just loved them, and their energy.

  5. Suzanna Says:

    Hi, Robb

    Love the pics! About the top pic, how on earth did you develop that much swagger that early on?

    You were blessed to have those idyllic summers away from Burbank that’s for sure, and it’s good to know how you ended up at Bass Lake because I was sort of wondering about that, but, ahem, I’m still hanging out here on the cliff waiting to hear more about your summer(?) alone in the mountains.

    I’ll just be over here twiddling my one thumb. Anytime you’re ready. Thank you.

  6. Robb Royer Says:

    Delightful kid, Lil? Didja SEE Ransom of Red Chief? Did you NOTE the attitude of the kid in the Hoppy suit? (I personally thought the scarf was a nice touch.)
    Suzanna, Everett et al, the meandering river is about to hit the sound. This will be paid off in the next episode. I just wanted to roll it on the tongue for a while and taste of its essence. Writing this (and reading it back) has shocked me how huge small moments can actually be. Love to all.

  7. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    But that’s what makes little boys delightful. Besides, the kidnappers got what they deserved!

  8. Larissa Says:

    Brilliant! Why aren’t you writing books again? Ha-your dad and my dad sound a bit similar. I love the story so far and I will read as many digressions as you throw at us. Thanks for keepin’ it all coming (c:

  9. Sharai Says:

    Good work on the photos Jessie!
    Robb, please continue to digress. This is a lot of fun!

  10. Robb Royer Says:

    Ah in my seventh decade I’ve finally found my skill in life… digression! Wait ’til I tell my dyspeptic college professors (should any of them still be alive) they were wrong all along. Thanks to Larissa and Sharai and indeed all of you for this new ammunition. Meanderers unite!

  11. EverettK Says:

    But… but… but…

    If meanderers united, they wouldn’t be meandering anymore would they? Wouldn’t they just be hanging with the crowd?

    I’m so confused.

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I like to lay out of these so you all can talk among yourselves and with Robb, but this here is a transition. I want to say that I agree with Laren that Robb should be writing a book, and in fact, I invite him (as I think I said before) to write my next one.

    If the kid in The Ransom of Red Chief, against all odds, were allowed to grow up, you’d get Robb, although I have to say that his family life has mellowed him.

    Everett, it changed things for both of us when you tracked me down. I think I’m going to ask $17.95 for the next Junior and see who turns up.

    New Robg installment, coming right up.

  13. EverettK Says:

    Tim: ask whatever you like for the next Junior, I’ll be there. As much as I like Simeon and Poke and their casts of characters (and I do like them, a lot), I think Junior and his cast is my personal favorite of your creations.

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