Jeff Smith noon, March 8
- Community Blog
- Vista Blues
Luna House--Life And Death In The San Luis Rey Valley
"Home, Home again! I Like To Be Here--When I Can!/ And when I come home, cold and tired-- it's good to warm my bones beside the fire!" --from "Time" by Pink Floyd.
In October of 1986, I had just been terminated from my job at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station as a Firewatch. It was also then that I discovered that my Schizo-Affective Disorder had kicked in--to the point of I was now considered "disabled" under Federal standards.
One year later, I moved out of my apartment on Oceanside Blvd, and into Luna House's annex, Elaine House (both were named for the streets they sat on). the house manager, Carole, set me up in a shared-bedroom facility. There was an enclosed backyard with a fence, a parking pad out front, and a 7-Eleven nearby for snacks, drinks, and smokes.
It was like living at home, but with roommates--and we had a wild bunch there. My roomie, Bob, was addicted to coffee, porno, and masturbation. He was also a pothead. I caught him toking in the laundry room, and I turned his butt in. I have no tolerance for such tomfoolery, since pot smoke can make me sick. Bob got tossed a month after I moved in.
Then there was Beth. A supposed "goody-goody" with a "Chrisitian" lover (definitely a follower of Dr. James Dobson), she was not a very nice person. If you had something she wanted, she pulled her "kitten" act, nuzzling up until she got it...then reverted back to her old self.
There was also Jeannie, Terry, Dwight--all good people. I stayed at Elaine House until January of 1988, when we all moved out to Luna House. There was Maureen, David, and Tom to welcome us. I settled into the "annex" room (the one w/o central heat" and began to assses where my life had taken me.
A true "Independent Living Home" takes in high-functioning Mental Health Clients (those who can stay on their treatment regimens w/o supervision). For $350/mo (at the time), you are provided with a bed in a two-person room (same-sex occupancy); cooking equipment, plates, and silverware; a TV room with Standard Cable (basic plus all non-premium channels); backyard with high fencing (which allowed me to take in a bit of target practice with my old Daisy BB Gun, which I kept locked away in a case under my bed); storage in the garage area; and a parking pad for a personal car (which I had until October 1987, when a heavy-duty storm fried the electrical harness); and plenty of grass and trees.
In return, you are required to provide your own clothing, shoes, and bedding. You have to purchase your own food (and keep an eye on it, since there are folks out there who will eat anything not nailed down), as well as cook for yourself. You have to not drink or use street drugs while on property, and take your medications as prescribed. There were coin-operated washers and dryers in a separate laundry room, and you were encouraged to use them. The house phone was a coin-operated model. Plus, of course, pay your rent, follow the rules, and look for ways to improve yourself (find a job, go to school).
Between 1987-1993, Luna House was my home. The house was an older model, with one "annex" room that was uninsulated (hot in the summer, freezing in the winter). There was a major German Brown cockroach problem (which eventually got the house shut down by the Health Department), plus termites (an old apple tree was that source, which I removed via a few blows of a axe). We also had a loquat tree (when it was loquat season, the tree ended up picked clean).
While I was there, we had three owner/managers. The first was Linda Grangetto, the best of the bunch. Then came Rick Williams, the longest-serving, and a working case manager to boot. The third--best forgotten, since I left one month after she came to be the owner (for an apartment on the South Oceanside coast).
During my time there, we had two deaths. One of them, John Williams, died of a massive stroke on the property. The second one, Butch Goodwin, died at his girlfriend's house from a massive heart attack. Butch was my closest friend at Luna, and we shared an affinity for knife collecting, firearms magazines (once a month, we'd go to the old Coronet Newsstand to get our monthly "reading material"), and "men's adventure" books (violent pulp fiction geared towards a male audience, i.e. Don Pendelton's "The Executioner."). He was also a "Trekkie by two" (A major fan of both the original and "Next Generation"), and especially liked Counselor Troi.
Eventually, I felt the itch to move on. I heard through the MHS Grapevine that there were some apartments available in the Tremont Street area. Same deal as Luna House, but only two people-per-apartment (single-sex occupancy). Did I jump at the chance? You bet your bippy! Trade the San Luis Rey Valley for the coast? Anytime!
Still, I would never have done as well if I did not spend time at Elaine/Luna house. It was there that I made a few good friends, met a lover (she lived in another part of the neighborhood), and practiced my cooking skills. Even though it was in April of 1988 that I started recieving SSI/SSDI bennies, Carol arrainged for me to stay in exchange for my General Relief checks (plus to make up the difference when I got my backpayment). I had Food Stamps (the real deal was available in the 1980's) to pay for my food and my sodas (Food Stamps paid for those as well).
But more than that, I leared to deal with many different types of people--up close and personnal. From a punk rocker-cum-troublemaker (Joe), to a self-described Irish Wench whose main ambition was to get back up to Northern California to be with her lover (Maureen), to a Burger King employee that secretly had (I suspected) a crush on me (Della).
And on the final day, I last saw Luna House in the rear-view mirror of the Ryder Truck that was hauling my stuff (and your's truly) to my new home on Tremont Street. Though I was tempted to flip the image the bird? I merely smiled and looked out onto the street, looking forward to my next adventure.
And after 23 years, I remember my time fondly there, at the house on Luna Drive in Oceanside's San Luis Rey Valley (near "Melba's Bridge."). It wasn't the "Bad Street" of Michael "P.S." Haynes hit song (though the Summers could be "Nasty and Hot"), nor was it the "Mean Street" that David Lee Roth sang about on Van Halen's FAIR WARNING.
It was what you made of it--just like life itself! --LPR