When I was born in Fairfield in 1957, the population of this “farming community” was around 10,000 not including the base (Travis AFB), until ’66. A different time, place…
I remember quite a bit as a kid growing up on Kentucky St, I recall the house layout and playing in the backyard, my dad taught me to ride a bike I got for my 5th birthday by running me around the block until I learned. My dad was part owner of the only hardware store (Evans & Pyle) in town at that time, and hardware was his lifelong profession. I shared a room with my chemistry major brother who had a large amount of them stored in our room!
The school (Fairview) I went to kindergarden and 1st grade at was a couple blocks down Kentucky St, the hospital where I was born on Empire St (now gone) was a block from that.
Just after my 6th birthday in Sept of 1963 we moved to a new development on the very northern part of town then named Martin Estates (later Travis Estates) after the former owner of the land our new housing tract was being built on. There were trees, open land, and a house with a barn for horses I believe. All this was removed and bulldozed to make way for new homes. I remember watching the fireman training as they burnt down that house.
We were around the 5th family to live in the new tract. I remember having my own room, even vaguely spending my first night in my own room. I was also going to a different school, Dover elementary in the 2nd grade, across a field and down a road. I walked most times, with a friend or alone, it’s what we did then.
I could see the lights of the bowling alley sign downtown from my room and from my sister’s room you could see the drive in movie screen at the north end of town. At that time highway 80, used to be old state route 40, came thru town on West Texas to North Texas and out of town to get to Vacaville and Sacramento, in the west direction to Vallejo and San Francisco.
About the time we moved there, a nearby hill was bulldozed in half so the dirt could be used for the foundation of Fairfield High school which was completed probably not much later. But that hill, we called “half hill” was a place we played a lot! Seemed a lot taller then! We found arrow heads and even fossils in the side of that hill. It was where we rode our bikes up and down. We would let our mom’s know we were going to half hill and she’d tell us to be home for lunch, or dinner depending on the time.
We walked to school, rode our bikes anywhere, even downtown, there was no fear of anything, just adventure; it was definitely a different time! In the field across the street from our house we used to play in, they built a new Kmart I think around 1970. The field north of that we used to play in was tomatoes and some fenced in sheep with a house on it, the land by the drive in was also tomatoes, Mr Dickson’s farm, and tomatoes as far as we could see! This is now shopping, apartments, tract homes.
We spent full days climbing the hills and exploring. The highway (US 80) was put in to the west of our house so no more going thru town to get from city to city! There was a stream we played in and caught frogs that ran by half hill. A ditch that ran under the highway led us to “Honda hill” named after a new auto dealer just under it by the highway. We used to get large pieces of cardboard in the summer and go flying down that hill!
A new school was built a couple blocks away named after Amy Blanc, I started in the 4th grade there, in a brand new school and new teacher in her 1st year, Mrs Cox. Later, when I was in my 30’s, my son was starting in that school and Mrs Cox was on her last year teaching there! We met with her (now Mrs Schwartz I think), and she was glad to see me again, it was great to see her!
My dad’s hardware store was sold and he tended bar at Hickey’s Brass Rail for a couple years before going back into hardware at a new Ace Hardware warehouse in Benicia while I went to that school.
By the time I started high school most of the homes were built in our area, we used to play a lot in all the homes as they were being built! It was a fun time and place to grow up! It was a farming community and my parents were involved in the local scene and seemed to know everybody!
My dad is gone now, my mom lives in Sacramento, the area where I grew up is so different. You’d never let your kids out of your sight if you cared about them, it’s all very commercial now and the population is around 110,000. The richness of growing up like that is a reason we moved to Tahoe while our kids were young, it’s a nice place with much open space! Till next time, God Bless,