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.
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.
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
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
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