Thursday, May 29, 2008

At the Beach!

I searched my family photographs for beach pictures for this Carnival of Genealogy post, but I found only one that I've scanned. I'm sure that there are more in my family photo albums, but they are not scanned yet.

The one I found is from 1958, and it certainly fills the bill about bathing beauties.

This photo was taken by my father at Mission Bay in San Diego, and shows my mother (the bathing beauty) wading with my brother Scott while I and brother Stan play in the water and the sand.

My parents didn't take us to the beach very often - it was usually not a holiday and rarely more often than once a year. We almost always went to the bay (no waves) rather than the ocean (with waves) - this was probably a safety issue with them! As boys, we loved the beach! Water, sand, sand crabs, seaweed, kelp, fish, shells - what a beautiful playground. We could run and jump and make a big mess ... and take it home too. I remember being buried in the sand with only my head above the ground - a feeling of total helplessness.

When I was a teenager, we would hitchhike from the top of Texas Street to the beach - there were usually three or four of us, and invariably we ended up at Mission Beach, which had not only the ocean with nice bodysurfing waves but also Belmont Park, an amusement park with the Big Dipper roller coaster, and a salt-water indoor pool. Bodysurfing is exhilarating - the wave actually catches you and sometimes throws you down on the sand in front of the wave. There is a science to it. You spend hours bobbing in the ocean waiting for the right wave in the right place. It's difficult without swim fins. As a teenager, the beach was a great place to watch teen girls (and other females) in bathing suits - and learn about some of the finer points of the opposite sex.

I never learned how to surf on a board. The surf boom started while I was in high school and I didn't fit in with that crowd, so I never learned how. I was always envious of the guys who did. And I loved the surf music - the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Dick Dale and the Deltones, the Ventures, etc.

When we married and had children, going to the beach became a regular event for the Easter, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Christmas holidays. When the girls were small, we usually went to the Silver Strand State Beach because they had a snack bar and restrooms. In later years, we went to Imperial Beach (we have a friend that lives right on the beach) or the Coronado Beach by the Hotel del Coronado (the girls youth group often went here). There are other great beaches - notably Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Windansea Beach in La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, the clothing optional Black's Beach below UCSD, the glider port and the Torrey Pines Golf Course (I've never been there!), and more further up the coast. There are fishing piers extending out into the ocean at Imperial Beach, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach and Oceanside. On a holiday weekend, its not unusual to have more than half a million people at the San Diego beaches. Imperial Beach also has a great sand castle contest every year.

My daughters learned to swim early, and it was great fun to watch them scamper from the waves when they were young. When they were older, we all went into the ocean and bodysurfed and boogie-boarded. The real highlight for me was the creativity involved in building sand castles. We always took buckets and diggers, and created intricate English-style castles with moats and tunnels. Then we dripped sand from our fingers to make them look really old. If the surf didn't take the castle down before we left, the girls would body-bomb them - run and jump on them. Then they'd have to wash the sand off of them in the surf again.

The weather in San Diego is usually cool during May and June, with the sun rarely peaking through the clouds (we have May gray and June gloom) and beach air and water temperatures in the mid-60's. By July, the clouds disappear and it's sunny nearly every day into October, with beach temperatures in the mid-70's and water temperatures around 70 F. In September and October, the Santa Ana winds sometimes create hot days (over 100 F) and people flock to the beaches. In the late fall, winter and spring, the water is usually below 60 F but there are often warm and clear days for walking on the beach and enjoying the scenery. We often have beautiful crystal-clear and warm days at Christmas time and Easter time.

When out-of-town visitors are here, we usually visit Coronado Beach, the tidepools at the end of Point Loma, the wave-carved beach at La Jolla, the Children's Pool at La Jolla Cove, and we drive along the Sunset Cliffs on Point Loma.

In our retirement years, Linda and I occasionally go to Imperial Beach or Coronado Beach and walk along the beach for exercise and the atmosphere. We occasionally have a weekend vacation to Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and other Southern California towns - we stay in a motel, shop in the stores, and walk on the beach watching families with children having fun, and remembering the good old days.

See here for information, pictures and videos of all of the San Diego County beaches. There are some beautiful pictures of San Diego scenery - including beaches - here, here and here. I hope you don't mind that I sort of turned this into a travelogue show! I'm proud of my home town!

Actually, I did find another beach picture in my photo collection (not my mother, wife or any other relative) which I posted here.


Jasia said...

I expected a great bathing beauty photo from you Randy and you didn't disappoint!!! What a wonderful family beach photo you have!

I really enjoyed learning about the San Diego beaches in your post. There's nothing like hearing it from a native! I must admit, I have a bit of beach envy now. We have some really nice beaches here in Michigan but, well, the Great Lakes aren't the Pacific Ocean... no surfing, no sea shells, and the water temp rarely gets up to 70 degrees. We do have some wonderful sun rises over Lake Huron and sunsets over Lake Michigan though!

wendy said...

I enjoyed reading about your family's adventures at the various beaches! Thanks!

Terry Thornton said...

RANDY, Great photos -- and great links to all the places in your world. And that last link was so funny too! Thanks.

So you are a sand castle builder too?

Thomas MacEntee said...

I've always wanted to visit Coronado - especially after watching the movie Some Like It Hot where part of it was filmed.

Janice said...


A very nice photograph. I can understand your parents not taking you to the ocean... I bet you were a "sketch." :D