Thursday, May 10, 2018

On Knowing Your Childhood Home Has Burned Down

During the December 2017 Skirball Fire in Los Angeles on a news website I saw the below photo. It brought what I can best call a distant and mild sense of dread and nostalgia:

The highway is the 405/San Diego Freeway going down the Sepulveda pass between the San Fernando Valley and West L.A. The buildings belong to Leo Baeck Temple.

Here's a picture of the same scene from Google Earth from 2016 (somewhat skewed and distorted due to how aerial images are converted to an oblique view). Note the homes right above where the flames covered the hillside last December:

When I saw the photo of the fire, I had no doubt the homes above were burnt down.

One of those homes my parents built in 1966, and my family lived there until 1973 when I was ten years old (and Bel Air must have been a lot more affordable then, as my parents managed to build a 4 bedroom house on my father’s salary as a junior high school vice principal). The house is on Casiano Road, on the east side of the Sepulveda Pass. A familiar landmark (which wasn't there when I lived there) is the Getty Center, across the pass, on its west side (Google Maps view from above).