In 1979 I was enrolled in Columbus Junior High, I was thirteen or fourteen. I was enrolled in the eighth grade in the middle of the bussing situation that was sweeping through the Los Angeles Unified School District.
My mom had just gone back to work, and they wanted to bus me to Crenshaw, and I wasn’t going to be home until after 6:00 pm every night. So, my Mom sought out other ways to keep me closer.
One night we attended an anti-bussing rally at Pierce College. The people rallied against our lack of choices for “our children.” Really, there were no solutions, mainly whining. As we were leaving there was a guy outside the Pierce football stadium, passing out anti-black literature, dressed in full Nazi uniform. My jaw dropped, other than a few war movies on TV, I didn’t know that Nazis were real. Most people just ignored him, whereas, nowadays in this Jerry Springer culture – man, woman, and child would’ve assaulted him.
After researching some schools my mom found that Columbus Junior High wasn’t bussing out. They had been doing a voluntary bussing program for years, kids from downtown would be shuttled in daily in such numbers that the “white” student body was less than 10% of the whole student enrollment.
The plan was that my Family (my mom, brother and I) would move from Reseda to Canoga Park to live with my mom’s friend Linda so that we would be within Columbus’ district. Right as we prepared to make this move (even if it was just temporary) Linda’s husband, Don, committed suicide. Don was a great guy, always good to my family, and me, but he suffered from problems relating to alcohol. I believe it was the first funeral, I ever attended.
I started Columbus a week or so later. Because of the turmoil at Linda’s home, we stayed in our place in Reseda, but used her address, and commuted to Canoga Park everyday.
It was one rough-ass school. The racial tensions were overwhelming. Every day during PE my name was “honky,” for a whole year. It was at this school that I learned the significance of the golf cap. Depending on how many golf club pins you had on your cap dictated which street you represented, three pins, you were from Eighty-Third Street, etc.
The two cool things about going to this school were meeting a fellow punk, Linda “Ziggy” D., and seeing a bonafide music celebrity.
One of the teachers was rockabilly legend, Ray Campi. I don’t know if he was a regular teacher or a substitute, but I saw him for the bulk of the year. I think Rodney Bingenheimer used to play him sometimes. I never approached Mr. Campi, I viewed him as too much of a star (hey, I was thirteen).
Eighth grade was by far my worst school year, but as with most things, there were some good memories too.
– Last One To Die, 2011