I was Born In Santa Anna, California in 1980 to parents Jane & Paul Rowan. We Lived in Long beach, California for most of my early years. We lived in the very most corner region Of Long Beach So our neighborhood cornered 3 other cities. What had once been built as your average upper middle class suburbia in the 1960’s soon became a hangout spot for drug dealers and thieves from the close by Hawaiian Gardens; where gangs and drug dealing was a common place. Despite the increased crime and such, my school of Douglas A Newcomb Elementary was just 4 blocks away so every day i would walk to school, not knowing exactly what I was in for. On some occasions I came across people brandishing weapons in there driveway, and I would walk faster. Most days at the end of my street I would pass by an open window where you would here a parrot say things like “Fuck off” and other colorful mockings. it was always an adventure. And then, there was the ice cream man with his vast assortment of wares, and his lovely musical truck. The warning of your parents and teachers would resonate in your brain that there is probably broken glass or shrapnel in the ice cream, but on the hottest of days you would give in and just take small bites to avoid the potential of glass.
My mother was agoraphobic and my dad still had a job at this time so my parents didn’t do much outside the house growing up, except for going to my grandparents in Anaheim a couple times a month for dinner. Then, once when I was 5 we took a vacation to Yosemite. It is one of the few things from my childhood I can remember and despite the tourism and crowding and fires that have plagued it in recent days I still very much would like to go back sometime soon.
So with my parents not being much for doing anything, I would use my bike to get around and go exploring. I was supposed to stay on our block, but with no enforcement of that I often ventured out quite a bit. I remember some of my more far off field trips, I took the Los Coyotes River (which inst much of a river at all more of a spillway with concrete) the 4 miles to Seal Beach. On another trip I explored the bus system and headed towards Norwalk, and then rode my bike back through Hawaiian Gardens. looking back today and knowing what I know I would of never done that for fear of being stabbed, mugged or just plain ran over by a car. After all it was the heart of Gang Territory in the 1980s. But being naive and a kid it was just another exploration at the time.
I finally got the realization of my surroundings when I was 8. I went up to the pet store (3 blocks outside my restricted zone at the time) and while I was walking in a Kid came up and Stole my bike. I was pretty distraught. It was a BMX stunt bike and a rather nice one my grandparents had bought me. As far as I recall, I never had one as nice again. After that I chose to primarily hang around home and mope for a while. My parents had let me have my brothers old circa-de 1970s Schwinn bike that we had turned into a “frankenbike” made from 3 other donor bikes. It was 3 speeds and 6 colors.
It was also around this time I began to become aware of our families Economic standing. Kids would point out in school the “out of date” nature of my 2nd hand clothes, the Kmart special shoes, and the homemade haircuts. At this age I had also peaked an interest in tropical fish and really wanted an aquarium, but my parents could not afford any of that and a $1.50 bi-Monthly allowance was not going to get me one of those. during the summers I would sell myself out to do yard work and wash cars. This is something i had started with my brother when I was 6, but did not end up with an equal share of what was paid.
I think this is a good time to stop and talk about my brother. Kevin Michael rowan, Was Born in 1971, which made us 9 years apart. I am not 100% privy to the whole story of his life, but what I know of him comes from what bare minimum contact I had with him, and the stories and Journals my parents left about him. Kevin was very sickly growing up, he had asthma, eating issues, would pick at his skin, and didn’t do well with other people. But most of all Kevin had several social disorders. This was not to say he was not smart. He had a high vocabulary and probably a high IQ but he used his intelligence for fabrications and manipulations. When i was younger Kevin was admitted to a center for Children with behavioral issues. They have a maximum treatment time which he doubled before he was discharged from the program. After he left there uncured, no psychiatrist would help him, he lived out the remainder of his teenage years with my grandparents.
So around this time, I thought I would try the yardwork thing again, and do it solo. It turned out to generate some decent income especially for someone of my age, but it was seasonal and i grew restless. As fate would have it a realtor had heard I was into the the self employment thing and offered me $40 per distribution to pass out real estate flyers to everyone in our half of the neighborhood. This turned out great. At first I had to walk it, but after a couple times I was able to afford a new Huffy 12 speed bike, and eventually I was given the other half of the neighborhood to do as well. now Making $80 Bi-Monthly. I was making unheard of money for a kid my age. I was able to get the aquarium setup I always wanted and get the new things for it regularly. I was also able to buy some more appropriate attire for my schooling and what not. But more importantly this setup sort of an entrepreneurial drive in me that would continue to this day.
Overall growing up in LA during this time was memorable. We had a dozen major earthquakes, The LA riots, and Tommy Lasorda. Although I would never live there again, I hope to sometime soon go back and retrace all the places I had been when I was younger.