I remember the first day my wife and I moved into the Hydelor apartments. Moving away from our old place was hard for me. My closes friends lived around us and I really didn’t know anyone from Prospect. It was new territory for me. But my son was getting older and we really wanted to find him a better school district and my wife being from the area, it seemed all to fitting.
The apartments were set up like town houses, each with an up stairs and down stairs. Six units all in a row. With two single units set off to the side. All the back porches faced in the same direction. The back yard was huge. A large grass area circled by large trees. It made you feel like you were a world all to its own when you sat on your back deck. But there was something magic about this place. You could feel it the moment you got out of your car.
I remember the first day I met my neighbor Scott. I thought he was loud, aggressive, and egotistical. But my perception of him quickly changed. He might not always make good first impressions, but he always made great lasting ones. He was very outgoing and always seemed to be up for anything. We would stay up for hours, until the early morning, just talking and drinking.
The tenants of those apartments quickly became family. We were all so very close. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings and not wanting to go anywhere. I had everything right there. Every night was a party. I would come home from work during the week and before I ever got the key in my door someone would open theirs and drag me inside. Friday nights began early and never stopped until early Monday.
We built a fire pit in the backyard. We made sure it was big enough to fit a full size pallet. Then we had a truck load of pallets brought in on the back of a flatbed. We spent the entire afternoon stacking hundreds of them along side of the building. We spent the entire Summer burning them. We would all sit around the pit at night and listen to music and throw a few back. and few more, and a few more. There were nights I never even made it inside, I just slept right there beside the smoldering coals.
We built a pair of horse shoe pits. Filled them with sand, installed a spot light. Had a table a chairs brought down and would play shoes constantly. Three, four in the mornings, all you could hear was..ting…ting. We cooked together, drank together, became intertwined with each others lives. One Summer Scott bought a pool and the pool parties began shortly after that.
For a small row of apartments, built from an old slaughter-house (the tree in the back where they used to hang and gut the animals from still stood, so did the original doors to the barn which were hidden under new siding) it was so full of life and love that the spirits ran carefree and wild.
So the epic parties began. First was the Halloween party. We went all out. Giant spiders, graveyards, kegs, food. Tons and tons of food. And a hundred people easy. The fire raged, the shoes were thrown. It was a Prospect party thrown in true California fashion. I remember the police coming and the fire department came. Both times they saw that everything was under control and left without any problems.
But we had to top it. Scott’s wife Lisa suggested a Luau. For months we prepared. Bought torches, grass skirts, limbo sticks, Hawaiian shirts. Cases of flowered leis. We brought in tables and chairs and tents. We spread truck loads of fresh sand all around the fire pit, with beach chairs and coolers. And we cooked food. Two hundred Hawaiian style shish-kabobs marinated and bbq’d on a single grate over the open flame. We had shrimp, and crab cakes, and fruit salad. We called the mayor of Prospect and told him about the party. After Halloween he told us we should give the heads up next time. So we did. And the people came. So many I couldn’t even begin to tell you an amount. It was epic.
It wasn’t long after that, that we decided to have a pig roast for our next venture. We picked up the pig the night before and split wood for the pit. That morning the guys got up to prepare for the long day of cooking. We got up at six in the morning. We dug out the ashes, set the wood, got the fire going, and it started to rain. We hooked up tarps and built walls around the fire. The wind blew and the rain came down, never letting up. It took hours upon hours to cook the pig. We sat out there from the early morning til the evening, drinking and talking. Then around seven o’clock, the rain stopped. The pig was done, and the people came. Not as many as expected, but enough. The rain fell lightly and we played horse shoes in the mud. Threw the football. We were soaked and cold and dirty but we never let that get us down.
Scott was a unique individual. He was charismatic and bold. He was my best friend during those years. When I left those apartments to move the ever-growing family into a house, I left a big part of me behind. For so long I would go into my backyard and feel so alone. I built a fire pit and horse shoe pits, but it wasn’t the same. We use to call our weekend fire circles the meetings of the tribe. That’s what we were, a tribe.
Years have now passed since those days. Three of the tribe are now gone. Most have moved away. A couple remain. Hard to believe that we have lost three men from that circle. All younger than me. I will never forget those days, they have become etched in my memory, and part of who I am today. I will always shed a tear when I think back to those times, Like I am remembering a long lost love. I will also smile.
Hope you guys are sitting around the pit up top, having a cold beer and waiting for the rest of us to get there.
R.I.P Scott Peil. I loved ya man.