There’s a bit of an 80′s invasion in today’s installment of ‘Alleys Rock!’ but perhaps I have already said too much, too early, let’s zoom out…
Today’s alley is nestled between Glacier Drive, Oak Grove Drive, and Ruth Avenue. It’s one of the shorter alleys, only spanning about 145 feet. Obscuring it, and likely making it more neglected than most alleys is not only the short length, but also its location: adjacent to a ‘Not a Through Street’ (better known as NATS!) part of Ruth Avenue and a curved section of Glacier Drive, and parallel to Yosemite Drive. This alley is even eclipsed by a neighboring alley which is far more visible!
During my cross country days at Eagle Rock High School, I became aware of this alley when some of our long training runs would pass the area. I also noticed the alley when my friends and I turned practice into leisure walks, giving my eyes time to process the whole area with more detail. Outside of cross country and track practice there was no reason for me to notice this alley. I only recently found the joys found in walking around our town, discovering and appreciating little details along the way.
I don’t know why I have such low expectations, but I didn’t think there would be anything interesting about this alley– I was wrong.
The first obvious observation of this alley is that there is a fair bit of vines growing, especially along the South side, but random vines are not exactly an unusual sight in Eagle Rock. On the North side, however, there’s a specific type of vine which we are less accustomed to seeing around The Rock– grape vines!
I saw a bunch of grapes hanging, wondered how long they had been growing there. For the sake of exploration and my readers’ interest, I tried one. Thankfully, but perhaps with little surprise, the grape was fine. It didn’t taste different from any other white grape I have had but I decided not to try anymore.
The grapes are growing on a metal barrier which appears to be protecting the home below from any reckless driver who may accidental go head-on towards the house rather than any of the two neighboring alleys. The barrier was at some point painted red but now exists in white with a tag from The Avenues.
After eating the grape I walked along and discovered there is actually a garage here too.
The garage does not appear to be used frequently and is in poor condition, with another Avenues tag.
Beside the garage, underneath all the vines, I spotted arroyo stone wall. This discovery called to mind a thought I get frequently when exploring alleys: How did this alley come to be? Was this alley ever popular? Has the appearance changed much? And for this alley in particular, what did it look like before the vines took over?
After seeing all that is in my regular line of vision, I looked down at the ground. Some alleys are nothing but dangerous cracks though this one remains in good condition. Along the North side of the alley, I see some scribbles in the cement. Taking a closer look, it becomes clear that someone took the opportunity to become part of urban streetscape history. Somebody wrote a year in the cement. Perhaps this was done when the concrete block wall was put up to protect the privacy of the adjacent homes. Then I noticed there are actually quite a few signatures and years in the cement, all from the 80′s!
I don’t think I have ever seen a car go through this alley but somehow I suspect it may still be used by people who park at the end of Ruth Avenue. Now I won’t advocate playing in this alley at night, but it seems like kids can have fun playing catch, soccer, hop scotch, and riding scooter, bikes, or roller skates in this alley in conjunction with the cul-de-sac of Ruth Avenue in the mornings and throughout the day. Am I the only one who wants to see more kids playing on the streets rather than indoors? Eagle Rock is privileged with three parks, and there are plenty properties with nice yards, but the streets are available to all of us and as long as Eagle Rock is primarily residential, there’s no reason why most of the streets shouldn’t have slow traffic with kiddies playing about.
Reason #4 to walk Eagle Rock: Travel to the past, and have a grape contemplating the history of what goes on in some of Eagle Rock’s secret alleys.