Friday, September 26, 2014

Hobos, Hippies, Gangstas and Gypsies

How could we come across a place like this and not go in?


Hobo Junction in Long Beach is a happy conglomeration of nautical items, curiosities, and antiques.


We meet the owner, who resembles his shop: full of interesting tidbits of knowledge and ready with a joke.  He tells us about a kid that once showed up at his shop wearing his baseball cap cocked to the side.  The owner asked him if he knew why he was wearing it that way, to which the kid replied, "It's gangsta." 
 "No, it's crop picker."  
The kid demanded an explanation, which was as follows:  when migrant crop pickers would go down a row, they would turn the brim of their hat to keep the sun out of their eyes, then at the end of a long day they would leave it tilted as they went home.  

The kid sulkily mumbled it was still gangsta in spite of the explanation at hand.

Hubs and I get a good laugh out of his story as we continue to explore the corners of the Junction.  I pick out some beautiful Japanese books from the 30's, and we make these our "souvenir" from the area, which the owner gives us a discount on just because he is nice.


(If you are a Christian, please pray for the wife of the shop owner, who has just been diagnosed with cancer.  They are believers and the kind of people this world needs more of.)

On the recommendation of our new friend, Hubs and I take a drive back to Marsh's Free Museum and buy a quart of clam chowder from the obscure food shack next door.  We happily polish off the whole container under the thousand yard stare of this fellow:


One of our goals of the day is to have clean laundry, and the laundromat in Seaview is a full-timer's dream.  Most of the machines work, the building is clean, and there is a good variety of washing machines for different load sizes at all price points.


Hubs has books on the brain as we make our next stop to Banana Books.  This has to be a good place: there is a shop dog!  


This is Angel.  The sweet lady that runs the bookstore had this dog show up on her doorstep while she was visiting family on the east coast.  Angel was just a pup and had cigarette burns all over her head.  The poor thing had been abused, and if taken to the local animal shelter, she would have been euthanized because she was part pit bull.  This lady jumped through numerous hoops to get Angel on the plane with her and back to Long Beach, where Angel has physically recovered from her past abuse, but still bears some of the emotional scars.  But what a sweet creature, in spite of her fears!  Pitts can be some of the most loyal, gentle dogs, and I am so happy to see this one in the best of homes and lavished with love.

Upon our return to the Sou'wester, we see a wooden gypsy wagon parked across from us.


The owner built it as his "winter project" and completed it with hand-carved oak leaves.  I'd love to see what he does for his summer project!


For all of the beauty of the gypsy wagon, it is parked next to a beat-up VW Westfalia camper-van with several surf boards strapped to the roof and a long-board leaning against it.  The inhabitant is a man in his mid-forties, balding at the top with flowing white hair starting around the tops of his ears.  Sporting a large white beard, he looks like Charlton Heston at the end of The Ten Commandments.  

He is friendly enough, although mostly incoherent and says man a lot.  

A warm evening gives way to a pleasant night, and we are able to leave our windows open.  Around midnight, the distinct smell of marijuana smoke fills our trailer as Mr. Heston and a few friends smoke joints less than four feet from our bedroom window, forcing us to batten down the hatches.  Once the air clears and the hippies have gone to sleep, we open the windows again and breathe the clean air.

In the wee hours of the morning, we hear him peeing on the ground behind our camper, practically on our bumper.  

Hey man.  Groovy.

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