4.12.2011

TAR BALLS & POTATO BUGS

Over a glass of wine the other night my sister and I began to reminisce about the area in So. California we grew up in. As we talked we mentally toured a huge stretch of Pacific Coast Highway familiar to both of us.

Starting in Malibu, we traveled south down PCH testing our memories as we recited the names of each city along the coastline. Down through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Ray, Playa Del Ray, El Segundo, and then our neighborhoods of Hermosa-Manhattan & Redondo Beach, and beyond as far as Orange County.

We talked about houses we lived in and streets we lived on as children, apartments we rented as adults, restaurants frequented, schools attended and what ever came to mind along the way.

It's funny, neither of us can remember what we had for breakfast on any given day, but we both seem to have total recall for that coastline as if it were yesterday.

These photos were taken at Hermosa Beach in July of 1955. I was 3 years old, there with my beautiful Mother and two sisters. We lived nearby on 8th Street, just a few blocks from that very spot which we walked to frequently for leisurely play in the sun.

I have vivid memories of coming home from the beach with a bathing suit full of sand and globs of black tar stuck to the bottoms of my feet. A common occurrence caused by deposits in the sand from an oil refinery in near by El Segundo. I wonder if that still happens today.
A few years later my parents built the house in this photo. Coincidentally on 8th Street too, but in Redondo Beach, not Hermosa. For our little family these were the best of times and the worst of times. I can remember when the back yard was being excavated to accommodate a swimming pool. For some reason my Mother let me play in that gigantic dirt hole where horny toads and potato bugs roamed free, to me they were fascinating.

Many years later, around 1992 I found myself near 8th Street in Redondo, so drove by to see if the house was still there. It certainly was, and with plenty of upgrades, but not so many that I didn't recognize the neighborhood. I stopped and took the next photo for comparison. Wow, someone has done a masterful job with the aesthetics. It's such a shame that during those years my Father became a philandering flake, bringing our family nucleus to it's knees and changing our lives forever. To try and imagine how differently life may have turned out for us boggles the mind, but of course, it is what it is.

My Sister and I have decided to plan a real trip to the area some time in the near future. Maybe make some new memories to associate with our long but not forgotten stomping grounds.

Our first stop will be a little further inland, near the race track at Hollywood Park where there is a resturaunt called the Cockatoo Inn. I'm not sure if it's still there, but for decades they had a famous recipe for marinated cracked crab on the menu. That recipe has eluded us for as long as we can remember. If anyone knows it, and is willing to share, we would do almost anything to find it again. Anyone?

13 comments:

  1. This brought back memories of dealing with the inevitable tar stuck to the bottoms of our (my sisters & I) feet while visiting some beaches as a young lasses.

    My husband & I lived in Carpenteria when our daughter was three years old. A return to de-tarring! Good times.

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  2. what great memories, thanx for sharing...I love the photos...the ones I have of my mum and I from yrs past just can not be replaced.

    I'm impressed of how much you and your sister remember...wow.

    I swear I saw that eatery the cocatoo in a movie I recently viewed, the name of the movie has lone since left my mind, but I am fairly sure they did a scene at the place you speak of...

    very nice post ;)

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  3. I found this- http://www.insidesocal.com/history/2009/03/the-cockatoo-inn-former-south-bay-hot-spot-fell-on-cold-times.html

    and am looking for you...what a wonderful story...yours and mine differ so much, except for the family ending...we had weevils in our flour lol weevils wobble but they don't fall down! I am losing it! Wish it was the weight not my mind :)

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  4. Marinated Cracked Dungeness Crab

    2 large Dungeness crabs, cooked,
    disjointed and cracked
    1 cup olive oil
    3/4 cup wine vinegar
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup chopped parsley
    1 lemon, sliced and squeezed
    1 teaspoon oregano
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    Salt

    Place crabs in a shallow bowl and add oil, vinegar, garlic, parsley, lemon, oregano and pepper. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    Makes 2 to 4 servings.

    This is what I found, someone who used to go there wrote a cookbook, and this was what they wrote for The Cockatoo Inn, what history that place had! You have introduced me to a really great thing here!

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  5. those last two pictures are the same house? WOW! Pretty amazing! I think you too will have a great trip. Such fun!

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  6. I absolutely love your photos! We lived in Southern Cali for 17 years...it was such a great place for us to raise our family. I didn't mind the occasional tar ball at the beach but I never got used to seeing those gross potato bugs. Ewww!

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  7. ​Keri, remember people leave things out if they make it themselves first, try it and alter it as you see fit. I am pretty sure it would be the one, since many restaurants of the old school culinary technique would have made it-

    There are three kinds of crabs known to the US- Alaskan, Dungeoneous, and blue, so it has to be that one, Alaskan are long and leggy, blue crab are smaller and they charge more, the one mentioned in the recipe just means its more abundant and restaurants use them. Back in the day Crab was a high end food item, unlike today because they farm them in cages off the coast or at a crab fishery somewhere and privately selling to local restaurants. E

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  8. I'm happy you got the recipe Keri, it sounds awesome!! What fantastic memories, yours got me thinking of our trips to my aunts cottage and the walks to the beach. So precious, nice ahhh moments! Thanks for the memories, and enjoy yours!

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  9. Memories are wonderful - thanks for sharing yours; it gives us a taste of the California life we can only imagine :-)

    WOW! To have grown up where movie stars and surfers hung out!! How cool is that? And Orange County is still a hopping place; LOL

    TTYL

    ~Val

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  10. our childhood landscape exercises a magic spell over us indeed!



    Warm Aloha from Waikiki


    Comfort Spiral

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  11. What beautiful memories, and gorgeous photos!! Your mother looks like an old hollywood glamour and the scenery is just so nostalgic.
    Unfortunately I have never been to America, but it is most definitely on my bucket list.
    Thank you so much for sharing - I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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  12. Hey Keri, I have sent you regular emails and not sure you are getting them...elizabeth@cookappeal.com if you get a chance, and congrats on volunteering :) its good for our karma and soul :) we should give back even if people have pissed us off (don't publish that I said a bad work! he he)

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  13. I love you and everyone else in these stories! You're the best Auntie a girl could ask for! And I love seeing Mommy as a little girl! Too sweet!

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