Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Going Back - Huntington Beach

I visited my oldest and bestest friend Alexia a couple of weeks ago.  It's been a couple years since I've seen her and I went to her place in our old stomping grounds.  We had a wonderful time together in the present and spent a little time going down memory lane.

An old post card
I grew up in Huntington Beach, California.  It was just a funky little beach town back then in the 1970s.  You could drive down Main Street - There were no massive hotels (except the Sheraton) spoiling the view on Hwy 101 - and what is now Bolsa Chica State Beach we called Tin Can beach, a deserted stretch of sand the surfers called home.  All the houses downtown were the old 50s style bungalows that the hippies and surfers lived in.  It was laid back and wonderful.  But not so much anymore.

There are huge hotels and resorts dotting Pacific Coast Hwy.  Main Street is a total shopping zone - and all the restaurants offer al fresco dining out on the sidewalks and you can't drive on the lower blocks.  The homes are all rebuilt and have that Newport feel to them - and they cost in the millions!!  

We ate at the Sugar Shack - best for it's pancakes.  When I was living there it was a little hole in the wall place that the locals hung out in.   Although the original restaurant is the same, most of the dining is outdoors.  I was not impressed - even the food had changed too much (and not for the better).

We headed off for the pier - Looks quite different!  It was rebuilt in the early 90s after it collapsed for a second time in 1988.  

Complete with street musicians - and this kid was GOOD!

 Looking over one side looked like a remembered it.  A long stretch of sand full of sunbathers and surfers.  No buildings or clutter on the beach. 

Looking over the other side exemplified the changes - multi-floored hotels, restaurants along the beach.  A mecca for tourists instead of locals.

Right on the corner of Main Street and PCH is Jack's Surfboard shop - an icon of the area.  That store has been there since the 1950s and up until the 80s hadn't changed much at all.  Just a single level store full of surfboards and surf paraphernalia, it is now a two story tower set up to fit in with the surrounding villas of shopping and eating.  Even the merchandise has turned tourist.

Here's how I remember it (a photo from the 60s, but very much like the 70s).

And here it is now......

We drove past the high school.  It has been remodeled and added on and changed a lot.  Even the surrounding area has changed - built up.  No more bean fields or open areas.  Then we visited Dwyer middle school - that is where I met Alexia.  We were in what was then called Jr. High School (that started at 7th grade, not 6th).   It hasn't changed much.  As one past student recalled, "Still looks like a prison".  But it has stood still in time.

As I pondered going back, it was odd to be in a place that was familiar but so different.  It felt like home but a world away.  Am I that different now?  Have I evolved to something that is familiar but totally changed?  I think so.  Time has a way of making us who we are.  Those experiences and memories are integral in who I am right now.  And although I do enjoy strolling down memory lane from time to time - I am completely happy to be in the now and revel in the who I've become.  

You can't go back, but you can delight in the memories and dance with the passage time.


  1. One of my mentors frequently said "You're either growing or dying pick one"
    Slow growth or fast track, but growth has to happen for survival.
    I'm glad some of the familiar memories still exist . Huntington Beach was one of my favorite places to hang out as a youngster .

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I recently met up with a high school friend I hadn't seen in 40 years!

  3. Sometimes it can be a disappointment when you go back to where you lived growing up. Time changes everything including ourselves. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing with us at #overthemoon link party. I've shared on social media. Have a great week and see you at the next OTM.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

  4. Despite all the changes, it sounds like it was a great trip. Thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party this week!

  5. Thank you for sharing this - I could definitely relate! :-)

  6. This is why I like were we live, downtown is small, but a trip back in time. Seems to me some see how they can make a buck, tear down, build up and change the feel of a town. Like Teresa said, overall it seems like you had a good time. Followed you from the Simple Homestead party.

  7. I grew up in Compton so remember Huntington Beach from those days. It's fun to go back to old stomping grounds. - Margy

  8. Change is inevitable but it's not always for the best. I think so much of our coastline in the US is loosing that unique feel that make them so wonderful.


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