Sunday, December 30, 2007

memories of a beach childhood

My parents had a summer house in Newport Beach where the family went for 5 or 6 weeks every summer. They had met on Balboa Island in about 1933 where their parents had summer houses, so there was a romantic tie to the place. My father built our house in 1947, a wonderful light-filled, high-ceilinged place with big windows fronting on what was called the "back bay." We would pack up and head for "the beach" in late July to spend the next few weeks living in shorts and sandals, eating our meals in the patio, socializing with a whole different crowd than our "winter friends." My sister and I slept in bunk beds, went swimming and sailing, got sunburned and had a splendid time.

What has brought this to mind is an afternoon ritual practiced here, too. After a morning of work and chores, a relaxed lunch that usually includes a bottle of Indio, then a bit of reading, it is time for swimming. We went to Jack's for a couple of hours of chit chat and a few laps in the pool. Then it's home for a clean-up, a change of clothes in preparation for the evening's puesta del sol and, since it's Sunday, tacitos from the wagon in the jardin. I come to the evening refreshed, clothed in a clean T-shirt with freshly washed hair, ready to enjoy a tangy margarita and a nice dinner. This brings back those wonderful memories of doing the same thing as a child. After a morning taken up with chores, projects, trips to the hardware store (with my father) and the market (with my mother). Then a late morning swim followed by lunch, then a nap, and then the afternoon at the beach. We would be summoned by our mother about 5 o'clock that it was time to come in off the beach and get ready for dinner. We appeared around the dining table scrubbed, shampooed, tanned and newly outfitted in "decent" clothes. After dinner my father would take his usual walk with his colleague and friend Tommy. Mother would put her feet up and read. My sister and I would retire to the bunk beds to read and fall asleep in a gloriously sweet fatigue, looking forward to doing it all over again the next day.

Some things never change.


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