Feeling Nostalgic for Past Holidays, Friends and Trees

by on December 17, 2020 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

By Kathy Blavatt

This holiday season, many people seem to be appreciating simpler things. The New York Times reported Christmas Tree sales are up.

I loved seeing an Ocean Beach yard decorated with an antique truck and snowmen Christmas decorations. It pulls at my nostalgic heartstrings.

All photos by Kathy Blavatt.

I stopped to look at a lovely fence with an ocean swell theme. Then I had to smile at the playful snowman tossing a snow-child into the air behind the fence.

Nearby was a minimally decorated home didn’t need a lot of ornaments because of its lovely paint job of white, beige, and subtle shades of green and red, tied in wonderfully with the pots of poinsettias on the steps and white light.

I was very impressed by a Christmas tree, not just for its candy cane style of garland decorations, but that it was a large holly tree trimmed into the shape of a plump Christmas tree.

Instead of buying another rosemary Christmas tree this year, I decided to treat myself to a gift of a Reed Avocado tree for my yard.

Ever since I learned of the first Reed Avocado tree was propagated in Ocean Beach in 1938, I’ve wanted to grow one. I am keeping my fingers crossed that my new tree does well. A bit of rain would be helpful since we’ve had months of no rain except one day this entire season.

Unfortunately, the dry weather and bugs, especially beetles, have caused havoc with our older tree populations, especially the cypress, pines, and palms. Every time one dies and is cut down, it leaves such an empty space. Also, the building spree has caused a lot of large healthy trees to be removed.

Sadly, like stately old trees, our community has lost many of its elders in 2020. These beings are our version of “Wise Old Oak Tree”… much like our palms, pines, and cypress trees standing high on hillsides, along our roadsides, and overlooking our cliffs, adding character to our neighborhoods.

Like many of the trees, these people spawned generations that added to the fabric of the community.

Dean Hollenbeck was definitely a palm. You would see him daily along the street. Of course, which palm we can only guess since he walked much of the peninsula and chatted with the locals.

Dean knew and lived history; he literally was a walking encyclopedia. On one of our O.B. walks together, he was show me the first “1938 REED AVCADO TREE” with its City sign describing its history.

My husband Ray and I had a joyful experience filming and interviewing Dean, and making the online movie “O.B. Walkbout-Talkabout” available to see for free at: www.obhistory.org

George Greenwell, O.B.’s longtime insurance salesman, was in my eyes a Christmas Tree that must have been planted and took off. Both as man or tree, George loved being lit up at Christmas.

George Greenwell and friend at Newbreak Cafe in OB

George thoroughly enjoyed the holidays and knew how to party! He dressed in wild outfits, hats, masks, with props and a bevy of jokes. He would bring a smile to people’s faces, especially the children at O.B.’s Cliffs Café (Newbreak Cafe), as the two of us would hand out token toys.

For his adult parties, George was legendary for his entertainment, which included “Elvis”, belly dancers, musicians, and an array of colorful guests.

George became friends with Jean (an English Rose) after I introduced them at lunch Pepe’s. The two of them talked about their experiences during WWII.

They both found out that during the war that many people, both English, and Americans, would sing the song “Kiss Me Once, Kiss Me Twice, It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” on the phone when they called home to their loved ones. The two of them sang the song to Ed (Pepe’s owner) and the waitresses that day. They sang it again for the last time together at my Thanksgiving dinner in 2019.

One of the secrets, not so secret, is Ocean Beach appreciates its trees and its many colorful OBceans.

A “family tree” that has decades of generations living in Ocean Beach is the local Ospreys.

Local photographer Steve Rowell keeps our Ocean Beach Historical Society updated on the Ospreys. He informed us Ospreys are doing well this year.

Recently, I looked up at the trees at Ocean Beach  Elementary School and saw a crow and a young Osprey sparing. Soon, the crow flew off, and the Osprey perched on a telephone pole. I wish the kids had been in school to see the Osprey at their campus.

Another recent treat from mother nature found in my garden was a small cactus that bared a beautiful star-shaped flower that looked like a jeweled Christmas tree ornament.

Taking time to look closely at plants and animals can surprise you with unexpected treats.

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Avatar Mark Dodge December 20, 2020 at 8:57 am

Great Read Kathy: Appreciating the simple things while getting into the Christmas spirit. You have inspired me to be more observant on my walks, runs and rides throughout the Peninsula.

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