First of all, I guess I should set the record straight. "Valley Joe" refers to the city of Vallejo. It's one of those California city names that eludes me. Not for it's origin -- the Vallejo family owned a great deal of land in the Bay Area prior to California becoming a state -- but in how folks now choose to pronounce the name. The closest I can get to the pronunciation is "Vuh-lay-hoe." It's almost as irksome as how folks pronounced "Villa La Jolla" ("vil-la la hoy-uh") when I lived in San Diego. If they understood the Spanish double-L in the last word, then why couldn't they apply the same rule to the first? Sorry. One of my pet peeves. Where was I?
Oh yeah. Vallejo. My first memories of the place in the 70s was this kind of country place. (Definition 7 is probably the closest to what I mean.) I went there often after my parents' divorce as my other parents are from their. My mother and I spent many holidays with "mom's" family. So much time that they are now my family as well.
Things started changing in Vallejo though after Marine World (now called Discovery Kingdom) moved there. Around this time housing prices started to go up. And Vallejo had all of this open land just waiting for developers. Now I know folks who have chosen to move there. It's now what I think of when I hear the word "suburbia."
Now anyone who knows me knows that I am fond of stream of consciousness. I didn't just start thinking about Vallejo randomly. Nooo. It was like the universe wanted me to think about the place. First there was that Surf MCs thing. Then yesterday I got the August issue of Vanity Fair. (No, I still haven't finished the Africa issue.) And this issue has an interview with Sly Stone. Squeeee!!! There are two songs I remember singing with my best friend at nursery school during the early 70s -- Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summer Time." So of course after reading the article, I had to sit down and listen to some Sly. It almost made me want to leave the house. But I didn't. Instead I followed it up with some Bill Withers.
And then I got to thinking. Yeah, I know -- a dangerous thing. Age five is about the time that I discovered that there were other things in the house that I could put on my portable phonograph besides the "Sesame Street" album. (I loved that portable phonograph. By age six, I was bringing that thing with me on a near daily basis.) I would sneak selections out of my parents' LPs. The ones that stick out in my mind are The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, and Johnny Mathis. I keep saying that I'm going to go back through the boxes at my mom's house and reclaim some of those. Because she said that I'm free to take whatever I want at this point. Hmmm. Maybe I have a reason to head out after all.
Today's a different tale though. Today I must leave and head up to Sacramento. More about that tomorrow.