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Looking Back -- Pat Paddock

Our near record dry year brings to mind other times when Mother Nature

was overly generous with her offerings. Over time, we have learned that

things tend to balance out. Too much precipitation still creates

problems, but in the old days it was worse.

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There was a paucity of paved streets in old Laguna, which made driving

on some of the hillside roads after a heavy rain an exciting endeavor.

Part of my duties with Dad’s paper was to deliver that free offering

every Friday starting at about 2 a.m.

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Traffic was never a problem, even at midday, but the slick muddy roads

were. My old Dodge coupe needed more than its slick tires to hang onto

some of those tilting paths. More than a few times sideways took over

from forward progress. Fortunately it occurred when there was a vacant

hillside rather than a house to skitter into. I did have a few

heart-stopping stops at the top of cliffs.

Glenneyre was just a two-lane dirt road that was seldom used at the

time. Traffic was so light that the toddler daughter of the next door

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neighbor of Dorothy had a daily routine of dragging her tiny rocking

chair to the middle of the street to endlessly rock and hum away the day.

That street had a sufficient crown so that rain drained to the sides,

but without curbs or gutters so people had to watch their step. One of my

friends, when alighting from his parked car, neglected to look down and

went up to his ankles in the soupy mud. A real tragedy because few people

had more than one pair of shoes in those deep depression years. His were

new brown and white saddle jobs that were all the rage at the time. When

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he finally got out of the gunk he was shod in mud and crud to his ankles.

The shoes never fully recovered.

In the winter of 1940-41, there were several real frog stranglers that

got publicity all the way up to the L.A. basin.

We were living in a furnished home, called The Chart House, on a cliff

above the ocean in Three Arch Bay. Dorothy’s mother had given us the

first year’s rent, $25 a month, as a wedding present. Dorothy still says

that was the reason I married her. Not true, but it certainly made the

union less of a drain from my $90 a month salary, only half of which was

cash, the rest trade.

We had enjoyed one severe storm with its howling winds and our

unobstructed view of the churning seas. The booming and shaking of the

crashing surf as it slammed into a cave beneath the house was more than

discomfiting at first, but soon merely awesome.

We got a frantic early morning phone call from Dorothy’s mother in

Pasadena who had read in her morning Times that homes near us had slid

into the ocean. We laughed at her concern, assuring that aside from a

leaky roof created by horizontal wind-driven rain, we were fine in our

honeymoon cottage. Adding that any such story was sensationalism, more

fitting of the Examiner.

When we left the phone we glanced up the coast and discovered two

cliff top homes above the cove just north of us were now down on the

beach. Nothing but a pile of rubble.

* PAT PADDOCK is a Laguna Beach resident and contributor to the

Coastline Pilot.


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