Sunday, October 11, 2009

To Oakwood - (Rough Excerpt from Book I Am Writing)

When the trail was over, I remained at LA Child Guidance for another year.  Considering all that I had been through, my parents felt that it would be better for me to stay in a familiar environment in order to maintain some consistency.

I became more confident in myself during this time.  Rather than being a follower, I began leading my friends in activities and becoming more the center of interactions.  My last year there was like being a senior in high school.  I knew the lay of the land so to speak, and everyone knew me.  In hindsight, I think it was a wise decision on my parents’ part to keep me going to school where I had been, even if it meant a 28 mile round trip drive for one or both of them from our Hollywood Hills home to the neighborhood around U.S.C.

Around this time, my parents were tipped off about a private elementary school in North Hollywood called Oakwood.  It was very much an art-based school promoting individualism and group projects such as painting, thematic class subjects and class performances. 

I was enrolled into Kindergarten there for a few months until I was seen to have a brighter future in first grade.  One day in Kindergarten, when the other students were lining up blocks, which were in numeric lengths, I took a set of the blocks and built them into an upside-down pyramid.  I remember my teacher, Ms. Alexander, being impressed by this, saying to me, "I knew you could do it, Fred." I assumed for many years that my ascent into first grade had been a result of this moment.

At the time, Oakwood School was also home to a lot of Hollywood industry people’s children.  And when I think of those annual performances I used to be in, that the hilarious thing on some level is that technically many of those people, Robert Blake, Claudette Pick, Jackie Joseph, Ken Berry, Bridgette Fonda, Jacqueline Scott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joley Richardson, and a few others I'm no doubt forgetting, to no fault of their own, have seen me act.  I assume they have gotten over the trauma by now.

I was almost completely oblivious to the fact that I was surrounded by industry folk, or maybe I thought that going to Robert Blake’s house after school, or being in an occasional carpool with Bridgette Fonda was normal.  But again, I think my parents made a wise choice in putting me in this school.  Because Oakwood’s environment was artistic and experiential, it was not a rigid environment, which would have been tough for me at that time.  I still needed some coddling and soothing after having lost my biological father and having to end whatever the relationship with my biological mother was.