An OCThen reader named Stan Chamness submits a very enjoyable story of a kid who grew up in Huntington Beach in the 1960's. This story reminds me of the years when I was a little boy in San Diego, between 1971-1978, and venturing out with my friend Mark. It was a time when kids could turn their curiosity into an adventure, get into a little trouble, and at bedtime, stay up all night thinking about what you wanted to do tomorrow...
Orange County to me was growing up in Huntington Beach as my father did. I lived in a housing tract like everyone else at Adams and Bushard. It was one of the first to go in and the frontal houses faced the main streets with olive trees lining the frontal border.
Crop fields surrounded our tract and made it a great place to dig holes, build forts and best of all to make tracks and jumps to ride our stingray bicycles around in. The grass would grow higher than we were tall during the winter so we would make our own maze to get lost in playing.
The empty fields soon gave way to more housing as Huntington grew at a record pace but all the new tracts faced inward with their backyards to the main streets and so grew the city of walls.
At around the age of 10 (1966) I mustered up the courage to get on my bike and head to the beach, alone. Bushard didn't even go through as a paved road at the time. You had to ride through farm fields before coming back to the pavement. That would give you a chance to eat a little something, for they grew melons, tomatoes and corn, just to name a few of the crops that I would borrow on my ride.
Once I knew how easy it was to get to the beach, I spent most of my energy as a kid and high school days trying to get back there. At around 13 I peddled my way down to Corona Del Mar with my best friend Kenny and bought my first mask and fins and went diving. I think of that now and most kids of 13 aren't allowed to leave their block let alone ride 15 miles or so away and swim in the ocean alone. Of course I wasn't either, I just did it.
I remember Kenny and I would grab some lawn chairs and ride our bikes at night to the Fountain Valley drive in over on Brookhurst. We would ride through a trailer park located behind the drive in, park our bikes, then toss the chairs over the fence then climb over ourselves. We would also make sure it was an R rated movie showing so we could hopefully get a glimpse of nudity and catch a nipple or two. We became friends with the security guard who didn't seem to mind that we had snuck in.
We would also at the age of 12 and 13 hop on the bus at Adams and Bushard. Ride it up to Harbor the get a transfer. Ride up Harbor to Disneyland then jump over the exit gate and play in Disneyland all day and then go home. All for 50 cents. It was only a quarter each way. I remember my parents asking where I had been and I would just say "oh, over at Kenny's house."
At the age of 15 my old man kept coming up with stuff for me to do, so it became harder for me to get to the beach. I needed a good reason to be there so I tried out for Junior lifeguards. Gotta be there everyday for that. I remember riding down Main St. everyday to get to the pier. There were great shops like Grandma Bean with tapestries, backlight posters, incense and beautiful girls working inside. Man, my hormones would rage! Then down a little further, Robert August would be shaping boards and who knows what else. I would stop at Jacks to get a t-shirt now and then.
The whole town was completely different in the 60's. I guess nothing stays the same.
When I was real young my parents owned a beach concession just north of the Huntington Pier that made burgers and rented surf riders. So at the age of 3 to 5 I spent a lot of time walking around in the sand with a big burlap sac collecting Pepsi bottles for 3 cents each. Today there is an apartment complex built right on the sand where our concession was located.
I went to Edison High School shortly after it opened and I remember checking the flag in the late summer to see if there was an offshore wind. If so, it would mean no school today (at least for me). And when the surf wasn't good it would mean the water visibility was, so we would head down PCH to Laguna to do some diving and spear fishing. Once past Corona there was an area called the horse pastures with this little shack in the middle of nowhere. The sign read Date shakes. And even if you didn't like dates you would most likely like these shakes, I still try to make them myself to this day.
Well I could go on and on but I think I have rambled enough for now! Late.....