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Up in the Back (Part 3)by Marilyn Yorba Lasker,
Between Times June 2005 page 4-5
Before the upper reservoir was built on that site, when the hay had been cut and baled, Albert piled us into the back of the pickup, riding according to age; little ones had to sit inside the bed of the pickup toward the cab, older ones across the tailgate, legs dangling behind, ready to catch any errant little ones who came too close to the edge. Only the adults were allowed to sit on top of the side rails- those old enough to be beyond A.J.'s law. The very youngest, of course, rode in the cab, noses pressed longingly at the rear window, awaiting their time to be bounced mercilessly about in the bed of the pickup. Any change in the seating status had to be approved by Albert. In the 1940s, we were entertained by the antics of one especially exuberant Australian shepherd we had, Joe or G.I. Joe, (so named because we adopted him on December 7, 1941.) I have detailed his antics in the chapter on pets, as he jousted playfully with every errant eucalyptus branch that nodded his way, snapping and grabbing until one finally flung him from the pickup for a roll on the dusty road!
Out we tumbled when we arrived at the scattered hay bales. Albert plunged the hayhook into the side of a bale- “thunk!” With a heave, the bale was wrested to its side, revealing nests of scurrying field mice, upon which we were then expected, ordered, to stomp, to kill as many as we could. “Faster! Faster!” we were admonished lest the mice escape to freedom. I moved as slowly as I could get way with. Was there really a belief that we would wipe out the field mice population by such forays? We children believed that was what we were doing- but we were children. We were saving the hay crop. I must have blocked any “pleasure” I might have felt, for I suspect there must have been some feeling of power to be able to snuff out those tiny creatures with one stomp of my chubby little legs. Today I do not like to accept that possibility. That was another person, that child. But that other person was me. The unexpected impromptu hunts which occurred added to the anticipation of our frequent trips up in the back. The truck would slow, and we all knew we must become silent by Albert's signals to us. He slowly opened his creaking door, reaching behind his seat for his shotgun. And we all held our breaths as he sighted on some unsuspecting cottontail that we often could not even see. He had incredible vision for spotting life in the vast brush covering which surrounded us. He rarely missed, and we would have rabbit for dinner, biting gingerly to avoid the jarring clink of tooth against buckshot. Rattlesnakes and deer were rarer delicacies enjoyed at our table. Deer, which were illegal to hunt, were referred to with a lowering of the voice, as though our farmhouse walls had ears, as “mountain goats.” Sort of comical today. For had  there been such a thing in our area, they surely would have been a much more endangered species than deer!
And there is more, oh so much more; barbeques, the vineyard, the dump. Yep, the dump. A ravine buried under streets and houses holds generations of leftovers, precious and non-noteworthy. Shards of Shirley Temple glasses and one beloved Buddy Lee doll blend with orange peels and torn lace curtains. We had no garbage disposals, and we burned our combustible trash in big steel drums in the orchard behind our house, also in those long ago smog free days. So the pickup was now and then our dumptruck, and the “hydraulic arms” that reached out to load the barrels were those of my Dad or Uncle Marcos.
Just north of the irrigation ditch on a little knoll, about where Albert's house sat on Via Perla, there was once a vineyard, where the grapes were grown for our winemaking. As Albert, the vintner, and his chief competitor, Uncle Henry Del Giorgio, became more and more discerning in their choice of grape variety, the vineyard was abandoned in favor of purchasing from other grape growers. When I was a child, we picked grapes, loading them into lug boxes, a stickily sweet business, which attracted bees and dirt as the juice ran down our arms. The lug boxes were then loaded onto the pickup and trucked into Placentia to Mr. Farmer's Market or to Gatewood's or Meyer's Markets in Atwood. Though the grape picking was a hot and sticky chore, I must admit that a basket piled with beautiful bunches of succulent grapes with some of their leaves still attached, pale green muscats or deep purple concords, was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
After the coming of the reservoir, a trip up in the back became a much more prolonged event, as a palm thatched ramada was built alongside the water; trees were planted; electricity was hooked up, a dutch oven was built, and long tables and benches soon filled the space where more generations of family and friends gathered for picnics, barbecues, card games, campouts, hunting parties and dutchpots. 
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