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Growing Up in Bishop

November 19, 1989

In 1957, the small Owens Valley town of Bishop, 280 miles north of Los Angeles, was no less remote than today. Its first housing tract was completed that year. It featured ranch-style houses designed by the late Cliff May.

Our family bought a new one with three bedrooms and two bathrooms for $16,300. The tract, typically financed by the Veterans Administration, was named "Westridge Manor." (Some dubbed it "Mortgage Manor.") So great was the demand, the tract sold out before the houses were completed.

The generous expanse of windows solar-heated us in the daytime; at night, we closed drapes for warmth and privacy.

Garages, evolving from barns historically placed behind houses, now were attached at the front. Spacious yards resulted from this Cliff May innovation. Many of us redwood-fenced our back yards on Robert Frost's theory that "Good fences make good neighbors." With enormous pride we planted lawns, rose bushes and fruit trees. We ordered Jungle Gyms and swing sets and barbecues from the Sears, Roebuck catalogue.

Garages and carports were easily converted into family rooms to accommodate the baby boom. In 1961, our tract had a kindergarten population alone sufficient to fill a classroom.

Today, a new generation of baby boomers enjoy the good life in those same functional houses Cliff May designed.


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