|Back in our day . . .||
As I've mentioned before, I grew up in the very affluent neighborhood of Point Loma, an exclusive suburb of San Diego, California. I've covered the circumstances more than once, so I won't rehash it here. I've talked about my family not fitting in due to our meager financial means, but this time, I'm here to talk about the good stuff.
And there was plenty of good stuff. My teenage years began in the fall of 1961. While I was largely unaccepted by the general population at school, I did have a cadre of friends from my own neighborhood that I had made from the time I moved in at the age of six. Our "neighborhood" consisted of one block of houses set off a main street, and not directly connected to anything else. These homes had been built as a single development and sold at roughly the same time to young families, and I have calculated that there were over forty kids living around that cul-de-sac, all very close in age. On the map above you will see a curving road at about one o' clock from the red marker. Our block was at the top (west) of that road. There were two Little League fields at the end of our street in a back-to-back arrangement, and we could field four baseball teams to play on them when all the kids were available. There were always some fun and games going on, from cowboys and Indians to hide and seek to wrestling on the lawn. It's always spring in San Diego, and fun times were readily available for the price of walking out your front door.
Go straight up from that red marker until you come to the ocean, and you will have found Ocean Beach. OB was one of those fabled little California beach towns where it was always summer, and the living was easy. It was full of hippies and surfers, and everyone was friendly. It was three miles away, an hour's casual stroll from my house, and on the far side of the world. Nobody cared about the size of your money pile down there, in fact, nobody seemed to have any. I would ride my skateboard over; going down the ultra steep hills into town seems like suicide today, and I have to wonder where I found the guts. If one little thing had gone awry, I would have had a good view of them while I waited for the ambulance!
The town has gone upscale in recent years, the five-and-dimes, the sandwich shops, the Strand, a 25c creature feature theater, all having been replaced by antique shops, photography studios, and high-end furniture stores, but the last block down by the water has kept its flavor through it all. Down there you can find surf shops, the OB International Hotel (an antique in its own right), and The Black, a dimly-lighted store selling every sort of hippie paraphernalia from tie-died clothing to marijuana accessories. Feels like home. And yes, they still have that diagonal parking. Real easy to park, you just crank the wheel and you're in; getting out on a busy weekend day is another matter all together, but that's just part of the charm that is OB...
At three o' clock from the marker can be found Shelter Island. Today this is some of the most exclusive real estate in Southern California. There are resort hotels that feature top-name musical acts on an almost daily basis, the world class Bali Hai Restaurant at the northern tip, and several yacht clubs, chief among them the venerable Shelter Island Yacht Club. That little pier in the photo has a bait shop at the end that sells a wicked fish taco, and Bonnie and I still go there to hang out sometimes.
But back in the early 1960s, it was largely undeveloped, with only the Bali Hai and SIYC occupying opposite ends. A rock sea wall about three feet high backed a calm relaxing beach, and when I wanted to fall off the radar, this is where I went. I'd beachcomb, chase the seagulls, fly a kite, or just lie in the grass and watch the clouds, and to my certain knowledge, no one ever thought to look for me there. If anyone asked where I'd been, I'd just straight-up lie, and tell them OB, or Mission Bay, or Portland Oregon, anything but let my secret out. It was a source of great serenity, and helped me keep it together when things were tough at home or school.
I have recounted how I was sent to Monterey to live with mom three times. First in the summer of '62 for two weeks. That wasn't bad, as I was unsupervised for about 16 hours a day, and plus had I not gone, I probably never would have seen Hatari (or PT-109, for that matter). The second time was 1964, when I did the first semester of 10th grade at Monterey Union High School. Didn't like being away from home, and returned to San Diego to complete 10th and 11th. I was sent back for the summer of '65, and when it was time to go home, I was told that I would be doing 12th grade in Monterey. I told mom that I by God would not either, and by mutual agreement I joined the navy on October 12th, 1965, five days after my 17th birthday, thereby officially bringing my four carefree teenage years to a close. Yes, I was still a teenager, but the navy will have discipline, and I have to say that they taught me a lot. I saw a lot of places and learned a lot of skills (some more useful than others), but those are stories for another time.
I hope you've enjoyed these anecdotal tales of life from Southern Cal in the '60s, and I'm glad to have lightened the mood somewhat. If it sparks any memories of your own, click on Comment and pass them along.
Meanwhile, get out there and live life like you mean it!
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??