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Southern California – Anaheim, Orange County… Garry Hawley, EK, Greenhills…

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Southern California – Anaheim, Orange County…

The first time I went to California was in 1982. I was 12 years old and I was off to see my cuz, and best bud, ‘Gazzy Galdo’ (Garry). Garry was my auntie Brenda’s son, and Brenda was my Da’s sister. Garry was a year older than me and he had emigrated to America with his Ma and Da and baby sister – Susan, a couple of years earlier.

Garry and I were Scottish – from Greenhills, in East Kilbride. East Kilbride is a Post 2nd World War ‘New Town’ on the outskirts of Glasgow (Scotland), built around the old village of East Kilbride in the 1940’s and 50’s.

At the same time as East Kilbride was being built, Glasgow – a few miles down the road, was being demolished.

After the war, Glasgow Housing Corporation bulldozed its notorious slums and began to build the sprawling housing schemes that surround the city to this day: Castlemilk, Easterhouse, Drumchapel etc..

Our family (the Carroll’s) were from the Anderston area of Glasgow (on the Clyde, and close to Glasgow City Centre), and like many Glasgow families, for one reason or another, we ended up in East Kilbride rather than the sprawling schemes of Glasgow. Greenhills was a new housing scheme in East Kilbride – built in the 70’s, and even then, the majority of my neighbours and pals were from Glasgow.

Anyway, I wasn’t in Greenhills anymore – I was on a plane, to California, to see my ‘bro’ – with my auntie Ellen, my Da’s other sister.

* * * * * * *

Kojak, and Diff’rent Strokes, New York City – big skyscrapers and all that… I had my head in the wrong state. California wasn’t like that! Everything in California was low down because of the earthquakes, except for downtown Los Angeles…
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But I wasn’t in LA. I was in Anaheim – in Orange County, the next county over from LA County. And there were no skyscrapers in my auntie Brenda’s street… I should’ve been thinking ‘Starsky and Hutch’…

* * * * * * *

Our reunion (the two long-suffering pals) was a joyous occasion. Two years had been and gone but you would never have known it. We chatted naturally as if we’d last seen each other yesterday. When Garry had departed for America we had thought that if we got big enough masts we’d be able to keep in touch via CB (Citizens band) Radio. But in reality – with a decent-sized mast, in ‘Polo Mint City’ (East Kilbride), you were lucky if you could pick up somebody in Blantyre, just a few miles down the road. ’10-4 for a Copy…’

Anyway, it had been a long journey to California from East Kilbride – 6,000+ miles, and I was ‘pure knacked’ by the time we got there, but I stayed up because Garry wanted me to see the Disneyland firework display that happened every night in the tourist high season.

When it was time (10pm or so) we clambered onto the roof of his single-story house and lay on the shingles watching the best firework display I had ever seen in my 12 short years.

I stayed in California for three months that time and my auntie Brenda and uncle Graham took me everywhere.

San Diego, Tijuana (Mexico), LA, Hollywood, Beverly hills; they took me ‘Boogey-boarding’ in huge waves at Newport Beach, they took me to ‘Big Bear’ in the Southern California Mountains (where it snowed). And they took me to Disneyland, and Knotsberry Farm, and Magic Mountain…

California was a different world to what I was used to!

Every day me and Gazzy got up to all sorts of mischief. We stole oranges from orange groves, chased skunks through gardens, and had a few fights with black dudes and Mexicans. Garry had never lost his accent so we were just two wee Scottish cats ‘hittin’ aboot’ Cali.

That holiday to California opened my eyes to the world. And I think it was on that trip that I caught the travel bug…

Fast forward to 2014 and I was back in California for my dear cousin’s funeral at the slender age of 44.

The details behind Garry’s passing is irrelevant to this story, except to say that it was a tragic and untimely death and a complete shock to everyone who knew and loved him.

After that first holiday to California, I went back again – a few times, and worked with Garry and my uncle Graham at PSM (Pacific Sewer Maintenance), and got to know all Garry’s pals: Craig, Ron, Rod, Scot, Greg, Leonard, big Brian, wee Finn, and loads more…

The night of his funeral we (me and my cousin Jason – another Greenhills boy – my da’s brother’s son, my brother Owen, and some of Garry’s oldest and closest pals) went back to my aunt and uncles house and reminisced about Garry till the wee hours of the morning. It was good to see old faces and catch up with old pals that I hadn’t seen for twenty-two years. But the face that I wanted to see most of all that night wasn’t there…

Southern California will always have a place in my heart but it’s not quite the same for me now, with ‘Gazzy Galdo’ gone…

Garry Hawley – ‘Gazzy Galdo’ – handsome devil
1969 – 2014

‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’

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Copyright © 2017 Raymond Carroll

24 thoughts on “Southern California – Anaheim, Orange County… Garry Hawley, EK, Greenhills…”

  1. I’m sorry that Garry’s not there with you anymore, but I believe Southern California is special to you partly because of him. Therefore, don’t think that he’s gone 🙂 Enjoy the area as much as you can, for you and for him as well.

    1. It was a bittersweet trip. Good to be back, but sad and strange too. But life goes on, Kari! And I try to stay positive in all aspects of life, even death. Thanks for commenting. Since then, all my travels have been happy ones!

  2. That’s cool that you could see the fireworks from his roof, that sure saved a lot of money and was a memorable way to see them! I hope you guys behaved yourselves in Tijuana, I sure wouldn’t have. It’s interesting how you first caught the travel bug. It’s terrible that you lost Gazzy, your friend but good that you remember the good times and have written this for him.

    1. Spot on, james! I’ve had loads of adventures in California over the years, and a few memorable ones in Tijuana too. I spent a lot of time over there in the 80’s and early 90’s. It was strange being back after 22 years for Garry’s funeral – we’d always kept in touch, and he’d come back on visits to Scotland a couple of times too; meeting up with all his pals (good guys, that I knew from the past) and him not being there was strange! The Disneyland firework display always sticks in my mind, from back in those days. We used to clamber up onto his roof regularly, and ‘chillax’, with the fireworks exploding in the background. Nice times!

  3. So sorry for your loss. But it looks like he lives on in your memories of California and your time spent there! Loved reading your trip down memory lane. Very cool that you could see the Disney fireworks from the roof!

  4. My thoughts are with you and your loss, but it looks like you are remembering him in a beautiful way. California is such a gorgeous place. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sorry to hear about your cousin Garry. It must’ve been fun growing up with a cousin overseas so you have an excuse to travel overseas often. It’s really neat that certain places like CA will have such a meaningful place in your heart.

  6. Im sorry to hear of the loss of your cousin, it is nice that you have some happy memories. I hope you get to visit again as California is such a beautiful place

  7. Sorry to hear about your cousin. Great though that you got to get out there and explore with him several times. Its hard when family moves away as it can mean you barely see them.

  8. I am so sorry for your lost. I am sure it was hard for you but also a great one since you come with the good memory about him. He never really gone, that’s all that matter! You would be traveling around with him in your mind. I think it is very beautiful, that you have them in your head although things may be different but it shows how much they’re meant to you. You should come and visit Bali and chill! Check us out for an amazing place to stay! Cheers!

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