Grandma then moved into our home on Record, but I continued to spend a lot of time there until I went to college because I felt strange in our new environment.
An indication of why I had doubts about life beyond Record was as rude as it was puzzling. A classmate called me a nigger.
The term was unheard of on Record.
George Juarez was one of the neighborhood kids I grew up with. He was a street-wise guy who seemed to know a lot. And showed it. But the years have not been kind to George.
He is a victim of the Eastside's street-gang reality. The facts seem hazy; the neighbors, as well as Grandma occasionally whisper about it.
But it seems that George, now 41, was with some friends who brawled with other Eastside youths in a rather ugly incident back in 1961. George was run over by a car and left for dead. He recovered from some of his injuries after time at County-USA Medical Center and two years of rehabilitation at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey.
But a brief conversation with George these days betrays his pain. One leg is damaged, and he needs the help of railing to get up the stairs of his home, where he lives with a brother and his mother. His speech is slurred and his memory is hazy -- he still asks about my brother Michael who died in 1954.
"Pues ya 'stuvo, Georgie old boy," he says in Eastside street lingo. "I dropped a few pills, drank a lot of hard stuff ... y pues era muy loco."
"Ahora, I know better, My leg hurts a lot. I drink a little beer, but that's about it."
Several other guys on Record have had run-ins with the law. One neighborhood guy had drug problems after he returned from military service in Korea. Several of my friends joined the local street gang, Geraghty Loma (named after the hill that Geraghty Avenue winds around), and sheriff's deputies paid occasional visits to unsuspecting parents, who insisted that their sons were good boys in school.
Another companion and I were friends with a rival street gang, Los Hazards (named after nearby Hazard Avenue). The conflict occasionally meant defending oneself with more than fists. Two friends from Record who were part of that conflict eventually became part of California's burgeoning penal system.
But for every problem kid, there is a success story.
Two brothers on nearby Herbert Street, for example, have done well by neighborhood standards; one is a career soldier and the other is a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy,
And one resident became a reporter.
Some in the area are alarmed at the street-gang violence and say they won't go out at night, Others bristle at the suggestion that the area is unsafe, Raquel, one of George Juarez's sisters, is eloquent in the street-wise vocabulary that is Record Avenue.
"I tell people I'm from East L.A. And they tell me, 'Wow, man, you must have been chola. Or you're my homegirl.' I'm no I come from a good area. I went to school there.
"I live in Whittier now and I wouldn't have any problems if my kids went to school here."
I have often wondered what will happen to Record Avenue. Will its rural ambiance remain? Will Record still be an obscure corner of society in 20 years?
I don't know all the answers. But of this I am certain.
Spanish will still be the neighborhood language, but the dogs won't always heed it.
Grandmothers like mine will still be there. Life's many chores will be done as they always have been, haphazardly on occasion and other times with meticulous care.
A family's success will not be measured by how much money it earns. It will be evident in the accomplishments of its young.
Record still will nurture dreams of young families for a better life, as well as hold old families to an area where they have grown comfortable.
For those of us who lived there, the world of 812 N. Record Avenue will never be obscure. It will never die.