Friday, June 30, 2017

Independence Day

It's almost the 4th of July.  In my family, a holiday was an event and we celebrated with gusto!  Growing up in Huntington Beach, the fourth always starting with a walk down to Lake park to grab ring side seats for the 4th of July parade (going early was dad's job).  After the parade it was time to go home or to the beach for the barbecue - an event for friends and family full of good food, good fun and good people.  


Gotta do croquet!

California is always warm and sunny in July so a backyard barbecue was perfect.  And then, when it started getting dark, we took a walk downtown to the pier for the fireworks display.  

It was a long, full day that was dedicated to family and the celebration of the freedom we enjoy in the US.

Seems things have changed a little.  Although there is still a lot of celebrating, the cause seems to have gotten lost in all the political conflict.  I hear so many people complain about the left or complain about the right - our leaders are doing nothing for us...blah blah blah.  I haven't heard much lately about how great it is in our country to be able to voice those complaints and to have an opinion that differs from the mainstream ideas.  Our country has gone through a lot of change and I believe it will continue to change - like it or not.   But the one thing we cannot ever lose sight of is the freedom that has been fought for over the last 200 years.  The freedom that continues to be fought for.  The freedom that gives us the right to our beliefs.

I've decided that during this month of July - the month that celebrates our independence as a nation and our freedom as people - I will reflect on how much we have and the freedoms that make our nation great.  I will be grateful for all the sacrifices made to give us those freedoms and not take for granted my rights that are given because of these freedoms.  

America IS great and I for one am honored to be here.

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.