The following article first appeared in the WINTER 2021 (VOLUME 39 NUMBER 1) issue of “Ojai MAGAZINE”. The magazine is published by the Ojai Valley News. The article is reprinted here with their permission. Photo of Drew Mashburn and George Turner together, and photo of Kent Campbell added by the Ojai Valley Museum.
LOOK BACK IN OJAI
with Drew Mashburn
Contributed on behalf of the Ojai Valley Museum
Mixin’ it Up
AT TOPA TOPA ELEMENTARY
Mikey Payton broke my spectacles more than once; in all fairness, I busted his several times, too.
Mom (Arlou) moved to the Ojai Valley in 1947 with her mother (Peg Wells). The school year had already begun at Nordhoff High School when Mom enrolled. She wound up being one of the four yell-leaders. She became lifelong friends with one of them, Marie Ford. Marie married George Turner. Their eldest child was George. Mom married Dad (Harold) and I ended up as a result. Georgie is a few weeks older than me. He’s the first kid I ever knew. I’ve always liked him, but he did convince me to get into his toy-box, then he sat on the lid and scared the pee-waddin’ outta me! I shoulda pounded him when I finally got out, but I was raised to respect my elders.
I was only 9 months old in 1952 when Mom and Dad bought a brand-new home on East Aliso Street in Ojai. Mikey Payton lived two doors over. He became the second kid I ever knew. Because of living so close, Mikey and I hung together a lot. So much so, we oftentimes fought like brothers over stupid stuff. In 1957, I got my first pair of glasses. I was 6 years old. Mikey was already sporting glasses. We mixed it up a number of times. I don’t think either of us ever got physically injured. The guy who won was the guy who broke the other’s specs first. You could tell the loser ’cause he was crying. Mikey and I seemed to oftentimes have big rounds of tape holding the temples onto the frames of our glasses, or holding the nose-bridge together. That really looked bad. But, neither Mikey nor I were the best looking boys, so it didn’t really make us look any worse.
A few years went by, then Mark Kingsbury moved into the home between Mikey and me. The three of us became tight buds. Mark had two older brothers, Dale and Rick. Our three homes backed up to Sarzotti Park. The three of us spent a lot of time at the park. Of course, there were a lot of older boys at the park. Some of them were bullies. I was with Mark a few times when, on occasion, a bully would threaten us. Mark always told the bullies that he had older brothers who would beat them up should they hurt us. The bullies backed off every time. Sometimes, when I was alone at the park, a bully would tell me he was going to kick my tail. So, I’d pull a “Mark.” I’d tell them I had older brothers who would take them out should they do so. It always worked. I could lie with the best of them when it came to self-preservation!
I had a lot of close calls when it came to fistfights, but I was a pretty fast runner and my legs saved my tail many a time over the years, that is, until I was in a special fith/sixth-grade class at Topa Topa Elementary School. There were a bunch of fifth-graders, but only eight of us sixth-graders. Four were boys (me, Tim Murphy, Mike Hagen and Kent Campbell) and four were girls (Shirley Hurt, Claudia Lindley, Patty Cate, and Carole Shelton). The eight of us became pretty tight. But, my three male classmates pulled a good one on me. To this day, I don’t know what they told her, but they riled-up “Tomboy” Carole by telling her I said something terrible about her or something. We left our classroom at the end of the day and were headed out to the front of the school when Carole grabbed ahold of my shirt and began screamin’ at me. I had no friggin’ idea what in tarnation was transpiring. Carole began pushin’, pokin’, punchin’, scratchin’ and maybe even bitin’ me. She was madder than a hornet! I was taught not to hit girls, so she had the upper hand. She threw me to the ground and laid into me while Tim, Mike and Kent were laughin’ their guts out.
They had a great time at my expense. I just wish I had been one of them, and one of them had been me. Ha!!!
I may have been in a few other scuffles, but nothing significant. I can tell you that Mikey Payton and I are still friends after all these years. I had PRK (like Lasik) eye-surgery a few years ago. I no longer wear glasses. Mikey still wears them. When we were kids, Mikey and I were about the same size. He grew to be quite a bit bigger than me. In fact, he turned into a “Lean, Mean Fighting Machine.” I call him Mike now. I can’t imagine Mike and I ever getting so agitated with one another to ever scrap with one another again, but should it happen … I’d immediately go for his spectacles!