Crystal Pier at the end of Garnet Street in Pacific Beach…that is my sand, my original beach, my sunset place, my surfing destination, my first bikini debut (had to sneak so my Mom wouldn’t know), my first kiss (Russell Lanthorne), my second run-away-from-home spot (my first was to hike to the top of Loring Street Hill, 2 blocks from our house, so steep and high, I could see my entire world from there).
These memories came tidal-waving back, Badfish, when you mentioned the pier in a comment. Some of the pictures I found online were images as familiar to me as my own hands. (By the way, I am still learning how to find and use free photos on my blog.)
Memories, in order of significance: starting with…well, you can decide if they go most important to least, or the other way…
1) My bathing suit. I wore the aforementioned bikini on that beach.
I found my first bikini and bought it with babysitting money. A whopping $13.
It had to pass inspection by both my mother and grandmother.
Luckily, in this instance anyway, even at 15, I still had nothing “up top” to show for my age. As a matter of fact, my nick-name from some Junior Highschool bullies was Busty (a logical transition from my last name, Bessey), but chosen for me because I wasn’t.
Here’s how creative I was in my pitiful to fit in.
It was camouflaged as a two piece bathing suit, with maximum coverage.
You could wear this one particular bathing suit in a modest, cover your belly button way, OR, your could pull on the drawstrings hidden on each side of the suit bottom, and Voila, decide exactly how itsy bitsy you wanted your Yellow Polka Dotted Bikini to be! (Mine was pink and green plaid.)
I opted for minimum coverage, pulling those secret drawstrings as tight as I could…once I got away from the house, that is. I was hoping, I think, to draw attention away from the also adjustable, Kleenex or Kotex stuffed bra top. (Yes, when I swam, it was a soggy mess until I switched to my cut up gym socks.)
2) Battle of the Surfer Girls and the Spider Babes. Picture a long flat sandy beach, about 15 stair-steps down the hill from the sidewalk, parking area and life guard tower. Me and about 15 other girls, with our surfboards, requisite bikinis on ultra tanned bodies and our long, straight, variously attained blond hair are gathered on the beach. We have heard the Spider Babes are coming today. I don’t think any of us actually know what that means but we are ready. Honestly, this could have been a competition over our hunky Surfer Brother’s or just a face off over make up style. Who knows?
But here they are, all lined up along the cliff overlooking our Crystal Pier Beach…only about 8 of them to our 15. They are dark haired, over clothed, pale skinned with ratted hair adding several inches to their height, and sporting exaggerated Twiggy eye make up with almost white lipstick.
Oh, and our foxy guys? They are here too. This is rare because the area south of Crystal Pier is insultingly named “the girl beach”, meaning long slow very flat waves, compared to Tourmaline canyon just a few blocks up the coast where the guys surf.
At the time I thought the boys were standing at a respectable distance, trusting us to handle ourselves, but now I bet it was that these adolescent boys were drawn to the possibility of witnessing females fighting.
What is that anyway?
3) Maynard’s–In those days, there was a tiny biker bar at the corner of Garnet street and Ocean Blvd. If you crossed Ocean your were ON Crystal Pier. The place was called Maynard’s. Amazingly good food, and they served meals 3 times a week for a quarter (25 cents) to minors (Hippies/surfers/street kids) out the back window.
Maynard’s in Pacific Beach, California
4) And last memory, for this post anyway, My favorite Runaway Place-As a kid, 7 to 13 years old, I would sneak away from my “oldest kid” duties at home and walk to the beach. Got in big trouble for that. Did it anyway.
As an adult (all of 19 years old) I ran away to that same beach again. This time it was after discovering I had become pregnant (my very first time out of the gate) and the love of my young life, had dumped me. At 5 months along, I ran away this time, with a fist full of hard-earned der weinerschnitzel and Fotomat dollars, to the cheapest motel I could find on Ocean Blvd. facing my same old beach.
I could only afford two nights and it was the longest 48 hours of my life, filled with anger, grief, confusion and terror. How would I ever raise a baby on my own working at Fotomat? I walked on the beach. I wrote in my diary. I watched the sun set. I ate at Maynard’s. (They actually fed me for free one night. I mean, what were they going to do? Turn away a crying, hungry, pregnant teenager??)
But my Crystal Pier Beach came through. I left knowing exactly what I needed to do.
What happened next is definitely for another day………