Editors Note: And now for some real nostalgia. The following article appeared in the Sept-Oct 1953 issue of San Diego Magazine. Thanks go to Larry OB for retyping it and sending it to the OB Rag. Larry kept in the original typos. Larry sent the following personal note:
I retyped the words as spelled, and included all punctuation as it was written. I made just one correction where Ocean Beach was written as Oceanbeach in the first paragraph. I figured it was a mistake in the magazine editing. I’m fairly certain the cottages were near the NE corner of West Point Loma Boulevard. Condos now occupy that space. Were they beatniks? Commies? What sort of “community gatherings” did they have there in the early fifties? One can’t help but wonder.
by Lois Schustra
Hundreds of cars go roaring down West Point Loma Boulevard everyday, blissfully unaware that behind a certain high hedge, there nestles a little spot of historical interest, a vestige of the “Ocean Beach” of yesterday. To the tenants that live there, it is a bit of Shangra La.
Here on the bank overlooking Mission Bay and the sea, cling our little redwood cottages, giving the impression of growing from the earth, buried deep in the tropical growth. To us who live here, we wouldn’t trade them for all the modern chrome, steel and porcelain “modern apartments” in the world. Our plumbing is modern and well behaved but the pipes are a chaotic arrangement that stick out like ribs down the back of the cliff. But nature is kind and has tried to shield their nakedness with vines and wild growing nasturtium and geranium.
Much of the structure of our homes is the “added-from-time-to-time variety”, but I say it kindly since time has dealt kindly and mellowed the adding of a wing here or a room there while the sea wind has beaten and blended all with a harmony of tone __ unkindly called “weatherbeaten.” To us, this means beaten by the elements we love: salt spray from the sea and winds blowing across the wide open expanse of sand below us.
Beside my house is the “Hunting Lodge,” a name now lost in history and the progress of our city. But there was a time when it played an important part in the live’s of men who came out by street car for a day of sport __ game hunting in the marshes that once lay before us. No doubt many a tale was spun here. Now the street car track and trestle that bore them to Ocean Beach is no more, submerged under tons of sand, the result of dredging to create Mission Bay, the Million Dollar Playground. One of these days man will be playing golf or dropping his coke bottle where once the snowy white egret, the mud hen and the duck preened their feathers or swam undisurbed in the shallow lagoons winding thru the marshes.
So close to the road are we that many times we have born the brunt of passing motorists who miscalculated their speed on the slight curve tha begins by our houses. The Lodge has been run into and rebuilt many times, with even the fireplace being torn asunder by man’s feverish wish to get where (?). Now guard rails protect us and we sleep more soundly.
No longer are there marks to show it, but one little house formerly had winding steps leading to a minature dock to which a rowboat was always tied. Many a pleasant journey was taken leisurely in this boat, winding in and out of the lagoons to the sea, a mile distant.
Behind my house is the “Crow’s Nest,” a tiny apartment with a tiny fireplace but furnished well with brass and copper.
It’s major asset is an unsurpassed view of distant mountains, level upon level of blue and purple. At sunset, the red glow of the sun’s reflection shines from the windows of Clairemont, high upon the hills, another evidence of the city’s phenomenal expansion. And from the window, one sees a scene lika a Japanese painting framed by the long arm of a cypress tree.
Tropical growth surrounds us. Little fish ponds appear in surprising places but if that weren’t enough, the largest house of all (our pride and joy) has palm trees growing through the roof of a room filled with treasures of the south seas and of Malaya. There is an exotic air in this room where gourds, beads, jungle mats and strange weapons grace the walls. But its bizarness is modified by a rock garden in one corner of the room. At the bases of the palms, grow minature gardens, while one looks up through a glass roof to the sky above.
My own little house has a long branch of driftwood fastened rakishly across the front of it. A composition, but very real looking pidgeon, or white dove, sits upon my roof and gazes sightlessly at the traffic. From the pergola beams in front fall vines that give a lacy pattern against the house when the sunshine flickers throught the leaves. Among the vines hangs a big brass gong from far distant China. At night one goes to sleep listening to the tinkle of the little glass windbells.
Inside, I have a pleasing but motley array of treasures, a cuckoo clock from Germany, a little clock from Tokyo, a dog that rolls his eyes with each beat of time. I have rare porcelain, opium pipes from Shanghai, portraits from Japan, well worn books upon the shelf, and red and green candles that flow like jewels at night when friends set around just talking or listening to music. Our community gatherings and our environment make us feel very rich indeed __with friendship and contentment.