With the scent of lemon drops in my nose and the taste of their sugary tartness in my mouth, I started across the highway. The cars were going fast that early Sunday morning in Santa Monica as I, an intrepid two year old, crossed Pacific Coast Highway dressed in my bedclothes, a diaper and teeshirt with milk stains and graham cracker crumbs on the front.
We lived with my grandparents in Ocean Park a block from the beach where many old 'Russians like my grandparents sat on benches everyday eating salted sunflower seeds a taking the sun, and in the other direction, one block from the highway.
Across PCH was Safeway where my mother shopped and the residence of the fabled sugar coated lemon drops that she bought for me. The Sunday I went on my grand lemon drop adventure I had climbed out of my crib, walked down the cement steps of my grandparents house past the fig tree that was the home of another gastronomic delight, figs, and onto the sidewalk guarded by the yellow Labrador of our neighbor. The cat who slept with me , a tabby, named Freckles had not left the house and stayed by the open front door when I exited.
it was early morning and the California coastal fog filled the air with a cool dampness. When I reached my destination, the holy grail of lemon drops, Safeway, was closed.I stared through the big outside windows at the darkened store and began to cry. I wailed and sobbed as I suddenly realized I was alone.
My parents who realized I was missing after awaking with parental intuition, found the front door open, Freckles meowing in the doorway. They rushed outside. My wailing cry reached them about the same time as it was heard at the local police station.
Both the police and my parents ran to the sound and found me, a scared frustrated two year old with a wet diaper howling outside Safeway saying one of my few words, "Lemon".