Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moving to California in the 1950s and 1960s

As we grow older, we don't realize that so much time has passed. Things that were commonplace to us are unknown to the later generation(s). I know why my parents moved our family to California from Minnesota but my children do not. Why? Because the subject did not come up in conversation.

As I spend time trying to piece together my family tree, I often wondered why did my ancestor move from one place to another. Then I realized that my descendants may not know why my parents moved unless I document it.

When we moved to California, hardly any of my classmates were born in California. We all had moved from some other place. I had never seen so many different license plates until we lived in Orange County, California. At that time, an automobile owner did not have to re-register a car until the registration from the state in which the owner left expired. Everywhere I looked, I saw a license plate from another state. My classmates were mostly born in some other state, Canada or Mexico. I erroneously assumed that most people living in California in the 1960s were born elsewhere.

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. I made many friends, most of whom were born in California. So much for my theory that most people in California in the 1960s were born somewhere other than California. Then the question for me was why are there more native born Californians of my generation in Northern California and so few in Southern California?

I don't have all the answers but I know what was happening in Southern California when my family moved there. The aerospace industry was very strong in Southern California at that time. My father was a machinist and found work at Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City, CA within a few weeks of our moving from Minnesota to California. My father had lived briefly in California around the World War II years as did other men who served in the Pacific in that war. He saw much opportunity for himself and his family by moving to California.

I am the eldest in a large family. My father had hoped that he could provide the opportunity of a college education for each of his children. When I entered the University of California at Berkeley my annual tuition was $240. The tuition at the University of Minnesota at that same time was $900 a year. My dad told me that the cost of higher education in Minnesota versus the cost in California was a primary reason that he moved us to California.

My father's parents and two sisters were already living in California when we moved. It was a very hard move for my mother as she left so many of her close relatives behind. Most of the family events centered around my mother's family and not so much around my father's family. My father had wanted to move to the Bay Area but my mother's aunt and sister had moved to Southern California. So as a concession to my mother, my father moved the family to Orange County, California.

Even though my mother's aunt and sister were living in California, my mother complained about California. California was too dusty and dry. After I married, my mother and father took a trip back to my mother's beloved Minnesota. That was the end of her complaints about California. I guess the humidity and mosquitoes in Minnesota proved too much for my mother.

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