(He never reads me so this won’t ruin the surprise.)
My son recently moved from Temecula to Laguna Beach in California. One of his big beefs – and one of the things that I really liked – about Temecula is that it was a planned city that rose up out of the dessert all at once. It had a history before the 80s, but it was one of dessert, small ranches and isolated avocado farming. Once the 15 interstate went through, suburbia blossomed.
The good is that since everything – homes, business offices, malls – went up at once, it all has an identical design style and homogeneous look. And of course that overdone corporate park-style public landscaping that I enjoy so much. (Seriously). The bad is that there was no variety and no room for long-established mom-and-pop businesses. Everything was a franchise of some national chain. As my son put it, there was no soul, no character.
But now, thanks to an upturn in his professional fortune, he had to move closer to where he works now and he chose Laguna Beach. Native son of the Jersey Shore, he "missed the ocean", and I suppose the bikini-clad chicks don’t hurt either. Laguna Beach has a history*, and history pleases him so for a housewarming present, I’m making a collage of vintage postcards pressed between glass.
eBay abounds with postcards and quite a lot of them are the kind I’m seeking: "postally used", meaning they have personal messages on them. The first one I bought was sent in 1943. The LB address still exists but neither GoogleMaps nor MSN maps shows an existing address for the recipient. This is the message:
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It doesn’t specifically say so, but I imagine that it must have been from a young war bride, maybe her groom was at Camp Pendleton and was due to ship out – that would account for the "fastest ceremony I ever saw".
This is a card from 1950 that has an appealing image of the Hotel Laguna, but I can’t make myself buy it. Look at it.
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In 1950, my mother was newly married to a coal miner, just pregnant and standing in the snow at 5:30 am to take a bus to the dress factory she ultimately worked in for 40 years. I used to think that the whole world had the same history that I did. It’s too crushing to realize that other young women sunned themselves in settings like this while my mother was hoping the bus came before the snow soaked through to her thin cotton socks.
*including several modern-era visits from plesiosaurs (maybe).