chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: Santa Barbara


LRK to DAK in SBAs I search to understand myself through the evidence of my childhood, I rely on scraps of memory, old photographs and a few pieces of early artwork. While each is revealing in its own way, I’m never entirely certain of the truth — whether I’m seeing something real or simply what I want or expect to see.

I don’t know how often my father wrote to my mother during the months she lived in Santa Barbara, or whether she wrote back to him. But from that time, when I was 3, this letter survives.

My father recounts in some detail our dinner with cousins, then writes,

“I made a remark to Ida [my babysitter] yesterday that Judy’s hair was getting pretty long. Well, our Tootsl [one of my father’s many nicknames for me] picked it up & wouldn’t let me rest last night until I had given her a haircut — which didn’t turn out too [word missing] at all and was well worth saving $1.25.

“She said to me tonight, ‘Why is Mommy staying in Santa Barbara?’ I said, ‘So Mommy will get strong & healthy & we’ll have much fun together.’ She asked, ‘D’you mean that Mommy won’t have to eat in bed any more?’ which, I think, is pretty sound observation.”

It’s a rare glimpse into my young self, not as remembered, but as observed: trying to understand my mother’s absence and make sure not to displease my father by having hair that was too long. Between my parents, it was easy chat about the day’s events; for me, it is in some way the kernel of my story.

blue roofs…

pastel drawing by D.A. KleinbergThis is what I remember about the place my mother went when the doctor sent her away: the drives up the coast in the ‘49 Dodge, the blue roofs, her stories of the train that sliced through the grounds: how she couldn’t sleep for several nights then never heard it again.

I went back to the place with the blue roofs years later. The roofs were still blue, the night train still noisy. I think I expected it to be familiar, mysterious or romantic, large in the way that all things are large to a three-year-old. But it was by then an ordinary place, a hotel with slightly tired furnishings and children splashing and screeching in the swimming pool. The grounds were manicured around the bungalows, flowers blooming, but I couldn’t find anything, or anyone, I knew. Not my mother. Not my father, opening the car door so I could climb out of the back seat. Not my confused and frightened young self.
pastel drawing by DAK 1951