To begin our vacation, we headed towards the Coachella Valley, located in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. The Colorado Desert is one of the hottest areas in the United States, with summer temperatures often over 115 degrees. Most of the towns are at or below sea level and surrounded by several mountain ranges.
The Coachella Valley includes the city of Palm Springs and Indio, which were the two main desert cities in the mid 1950's. My grandparents lived in the town of Coachella, which was (and still is) east of Indio. Coachella was a small town, consisting of a few stores on the main block, a movie theater, schools and churches.
My grandparents home was a corner house across the street from the grammar school. Bill had built the home himself and it was very modern for the time it was built. The entire back of the house was glass, so that you could look out and see the backyard and nature at any time. The kitchen was unique in that it was a galley kitchen with an opening at each end. It was very open, airy and different at that time. I loved sitting in the dining room and watching my grandmother cook. She usually cooked and smoked a cigarette at the same time. The ash on her cigarette would grow and grow, longer and longer, and all of us kids would watch and wait for the ash to fall into the food that was being prepared, but it was not something that ever happened, or at least not when I was looking. She would stand in the kitchen, and I remember her waving a large chef's knife, and talking with that cigarette hanging from her mouth.
We were so excited when we finally reached my grandparents house. When we drove up and parked in the driveway, they came out to greet us with hugs and kisses. It was so good to finally see family again.