By MARTY RELLES, Valley Community Newspaper columnist
By the time I reached my 19th birthday, the atmosphere became a little cloudy in the Relles household.
My dad seemed a little on edge. I think he felt I was old enough to move out on my own.
I hadn’t given that possibility much consideration at the time, but I could feel dad’s angst. The whole issue came to a head when I decided to get with the times and grow a goatee.
Wow, that rattled dad’s cage. He insisted I shave it off. “No son of a Sacramento police officer should sport facial hair.”
Of course, I refused to give in. This brought the whole matter to a head, and dad and I agreed that I should find a place of my own.
Fortunately, my uncle Ross provided a solution to this dilemma. He had two flats above his florist shop in midtown. One had just become available. Thankfully, my cousin Bob agreed to share the flat with me, making the move affordable.
Subsequently, we agreed to pay $50 each per month to rent the flat. Can you imagine that? $50 rent?
So, on the first day of the next month, we moved into my uncle’s second-floor flat. Our living arrangement was pretty humble.
The flat only had only one actual bedroom. So, Bob and I moved two twin beds into the single room. In addition to the bedroom, the flat featured one bathroom, a large living room and kitchen.
Life was good.
My cousin and I adjusted quickly to our new living arrangement. The good thing is that as close relatives, we knew each other well.
Also, our day-to-day lives were very similar at this time. Both of us attended Sacramento City College and worked in the florist shop down below the flat.
I attended school in the morning and delivered flowers in the afternoon. Bob made up arrangements in the mornings, then went to his classes in the afternoon. The arrangement worked out well.
Neither of us cooked at the time, but we learned quickly.
I constantly bothered my mom for new recipes. In quick order, I learned how to cook things like spaghetti, Spanish rice and Swiss steak.
Bob did the same with his mother. To this day, I still cook these dishes along with many others.
We soon blended into the fabric of the midtown area. I still recall sitting on the balcony in front of our flat in the evening watching the cars scurry out of town during rush hour.
As our commute involved walking up the stairs to our flat, the hubbub of rush hour seemed pretty funny to us.
On weekends, we invited our friends over for parties. We befriended a slightly older man who lived near us. He bought beer for us, if we asked.
This made our flat a popular venue.
We turned the volume of our stereo up as high as we could stand it and played the Beatles, the Stones and the Beach Boys.
Sometimes, our musically-inclined friends came by and played live music. This usually brought the police to the apartment, advising us to turn the volume down, which we did, but only briefly.
I have fond memories of living over uncle Ross’s florist shop. I lived there for four pretty care-free years.
However, in 1969, I received my draft notice, and those care-free times ended abruptly.
I will tell you more about that in a later episode. Now, my time of living on my own, above my uncle’s shop, is just another laid back Janey Way memory.