We’re on vacation in the San Diego area where I grew up back in the Fifties and one of my favorite places for a delicious meal amid the relaxed ambiance of Southern California is the outdoor room that my best childhood friend created at the rear of their modest, decades-old home. Not only does it offer al fresco dining for every meal but features cushy sofas and rattan chairs designed for interesting conversations and peaceful naps, all wrapped up in the warmth of Provençal colors and artwork, with every nook and cranny filled with pottery and potpourri. Created by putting a real roof with skylights over a patio enclosed by a half fence, it is both charming and relaxing, drawing family and visitors alike toward a small back yard chock full of fragrant flowers and colorful vines. Just imagine you’re there!.
Ah, summer! And Danville, California’s Hot Summer Nights Hot Rod & Classic Car Show. Row after row of the cars we all necked in the back seat of back in the Fifties or wished we could ride in but were too dorky to snag the cool guys who drove them.
I’ve been a car buff since I got my very first car at age 16, a Morris Minor that seemed more like a blue-gray pre-pubescent VW Bug. Of course, I didn’t even drive stick shift on that 16th birthday day and poor “Mergy”–named after my dread of merging into freeway traffic–suffered the arrows and slings of grinding gears for several weeks. But once mastered, Mergy became THE mode of transportation for me and my three best high school friends. It took us to evenings at Oscar’s, the local drive-in restaurant, where root beers and french fries sat on metal trays attached to the window. In my college years, it made the trip up and down the coast of CA to college at Stanford and then UC Berkeley (yes, I went one year each to both of these rivals, causing each to lose Big Game when I attended!).
Upon graduation from college (by then it was San Diego State, and, yes, much to my mother’s chagrin another school was interposed in between), I somehow talked said mother into car number two, a stunning 1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL. This photo was taken in 1965 just before I drove back to graduate school at the University of Illinois via Route 66. And the thrill of driving the last leg from Salinas, Kansas, without reverse, 1st, or 2nd, and no starting motor. Found a motel on a hill and popped the clutch in 3rd that last morning of the journey.
Alas, the Mercedes succumbed to the evils of Midwestern winters (sold it for $3000 to my father’s milkman–now worth $95,000!) but it was replaced by a 1966 green Mustang, another classic I wish I still had. Check out this ad from the era.
My era of cool cars disappeared as I entered into marital bliss and was talked into a 1968 Plymouth Fury III in a sickening pea green combo. But it did have a hot motor to help us escape from the Hawk (the wind blowing off Lake Michigan in the winter).
So back to the car show which I attended with my best friend. The owner of a too-cool Thunderbird took pity on us poor old ladies without a ride of their own and took these great photos. So here we are–Thelma and Louise. I actually was hankering after a Jaguar Mark II (of Inspector Morse fame) and my friend got hung up on hood ornaments!
Maybe next year I’ll have my own entry for the show.
My love affair with double begonias (probably not their official name but then again I can’t claim even a pale green thumb) began as a child, admiring my mother’s array of these colorful, effusive blooms on our back patio in Southern California. Her magenta fuchias suspended like a troupe of dancing ballerinas ran a close second. Both flourished in the fog drenched atmosphere of La Jolla in the 1950s.
So I’ve tempted the fates, risking that my plant-killing tendencies could bring them all to a sudden and ignominious end and planted three of the tender blossoms on my balcony. I even laid one recently deceased bloom to rest in an abalone shell
Fortunately there are two marvelous gardens that I have visited where begonias and all other flora thrive. The first is the Mae E. Lauer Display House at the Mendocino Coast Botantical Gardens. I could take up residence there in a heartbeat, a potter’s bench my bed.
My photos from a 2008 visit highlight not only the begonias but the haunting beauty of the rest of the gardens which meander down to a spectacular view of the pounding surf of the Pacific that marks the Northern California coast.
The other begonia paradise is, of course, the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada. So if you’re in the neighborhood when I take my last breath, ask my family to surround my casket with mounds of begonia blooms. I like the orange ones the best!
In 2014 on a Sunday, you find families filling the deck and enjoying the great view across San Francisco Bay to the City.
We were best friends from the 4th grade on and in 1963 roommates in an off-campus apartment at UC Berkeley. Every Sunday morning we headed off to Sam’s with a couple of friends in the back seat of my Morris Minor and downed more Ramos fizzes than was prudent.
Amazing that we survived. Must have had more than one guardian angel looking over us. No one gave a thought to driving under the influence. Figured no harm could come our way if we were back on the road by one p.m. What can I say? We were both nineteen and stupid. All our friends drank with the help of the ubiquitous fake ID’s available on campus.
So here we are in March of 2014. Alive, well, and still best friends. I went on to a Ph.D., a 40-year career as a therapist, a union leader, the mother of two, grandmother of four, and, of course an author. My BBF went on to a fabulous career in catering, head of special events at the San Diego Convention center, a leadership position in the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), and also a mother of two and grandmother of two. We turned into church-going, upstanding members of the community. This is a reverse cautionary tale for mothers who are worried what their college-aged children are up to, that they’ll never amount to anything! Of course, we both came to terms later in life with the risks we took around alcohol and we both have experienced the devastating effects of addiction within our own families. So certainly nothing to be flip about! Thank God for the gift of recovery.
Wind ‘n’ Sea Beach watching the sunset. I grew up in La Jolla and as a junior in college lived in a tiny apartment directly across from this famous surfing beach.