Saturday, October 26, 2013

Memories of the Beach

The summer of '85 was a magical one for me; I was about to enter my senior year in college and I had just turned 21. It also marked the first time that I stayed at my father's vacation home on Mission Bay in San Diego. Although there were times during that two week stay that he (and his wife) drove me nuts, it was also one of the first times that we were able to start relating to each other as adults. Both of us were born in San Diego, but my father actually grew up there. I loved driving around town with him while he pointed out certain memorable spots that had been part of his childhood. I remember him talking about The Plunge (shown below), which was the largest salt-water pool in the world when it was built during the 1920's. This 1985 photo that I shot with a film camera (like all of the photos in this post) was taken two years before the Plunge and the rest of Belmont Park was (temporarily) shutdown for a major renovation.

I also remember my dad pointing out Saska's, which was a hangout for him back in the 1950's. He also seemed to recall that it was a place that he would run into my mother before the two of them wed in 1956.

We also walked around the San Diego State University campus, where both he and my mother attended for two years before he went off to the Marines and she went off to finish her degree in Arizona.

A year later, I took one of my college friends, Rob, out to Mission Beach for Spring Break. Unsupervised, unchaperoned, and ready for fun! We never let the cast on his leg get in the way of our vacation.

The Lahaina Beach House at Pacific Beach was a great place to grab a burger and brew while “people watching” the interesting folk on the beach.

We found this broken surfboard on the beach; neither of us had any idea how to surf, but we sure had a blast posing for photos as if we did.

For nightlife, the two of us walked down Mission Boulevard to Club Diego's, THE hip dance spot of San Diego. I can still picture that rube on the dance floor with a cast on his leg, pivoting around it while flailing the rest of his body.

I shot this photo the morning we were leaving to go back to school in Indiana. What a farewell.

Rob and I returned to Mission Beach a few months later after I graduated; he was staying at UCLA for an internship and I was still floundering around, trying to find my way...and find a job. I eventually got frustrated and moved back to Indiana...for another 13 years!

I would still make occasional trips back to Mission Bay, and often brought friends to show them why I was so hooked on Southern California. There was boogie boarding, which I like to refer to as "Surfing for Idiots."

For those who like to build things with their hands, nothing like sand castles to stretch your creativity.

For thrills, nearby Belmont Park had The Giant Dipper, an old fashioned gut-wrenching roller coaster.

Hold on tight...this one is guaranteed to move your intestines around...

I am so glad I have this shot, taken in 1995. When I went on the coaster recently, they told me that cameras are not allowed.

Finally, after a few lukewarm attempts to job search while still living in the midwest, 1999 brought on my life changing epiphany; I could either stay in Indiana and flatline, or take a leap of faith by quitting the job, selling the house, and attempting to start fresh in San Diego. At that point, my dad was retired and living full time in his beach house. Being able to stay with him while I job searched made that leap a lot less scary. Living with a parent again in your 30s can be a bit nuts; at times it was like a bad sitcom.

It took me three months to get my first job. Although it wasn't ideal, the skills I learned there helped me secure my current position. My father passed away suddenly a year later, which makes me oh so grateful for that time that we spent together and even more aware that it is important to listen to the messages that the universe sends. Well, most of the messages at least. I am a firm believer that things happen in life for a reason, and having that three months of living with my father again was a gift that I will never forget.

My visits to the beach slowed down to a screeching halt once my dad was gone. Without his beach house to use as a mission control center, it became more of a production to go to the beach while dragging the boogie boards, towels, and attempting to find a place to park. Even to this day, it just feels weird to go there knowing that he isn't around.

Still, I look back fondly on the days that I spent there and think how much I owe my father for all that he shared with me. Thanks for the memories, Pops!

See more vintage & current San Diego Pacific Beach photos on my San Diego web pages.


K. Martinez said...

Thanks for sharing your memories Dave. There's nothing like that fleeting feeling in youth when the world is yours.

My father also passed away while I was in my 30s. It's been a while since then, but I still miss the guy.

Looks like your approaching a major milestone soon.

Anonymous said...

Great story Dave. I am blessed still having my folks (early 90s) living independently at the family house in Orange County. I visit them frequently coming down from Portland. While there, I always head down to my old teenage beach hangout in Newport. Usually it is off season and empty. I'll find a closed lifeguard station and sit on the platform wondering where all my friends of that era have gone. KS

Danni said...

I loved your story, I grew up in San Diego, but now live in Las Vegas, man do I miss everything about it! Your posts about San Diego always make me smile, thank you for sharing your memories with us.