BALBOA VACATIONS                                                        MARCH 19, 2012

          With Easter season coming up, I started to reminisce about some of the old days at Balboa, and zeroed in on my Aunt Lucana (Lukie) and her daughter Ysidora (Babe.)  Lukie was my Dad’s sister who lived over in Placentiain the middle of 40 acres of navel oranges along with her husband, Tom McFadden, who was an attorney in Anaheim, and their daughter Babe. Fullerton Union High Schoolwas the only high school for 6 other neighboring towns, and so Babe was enrolled there, and she and some of her friends would stop by our house after school to wait for a ride home.  This meant there were always young people around in that house, and it kept my Mom and Dad “young.” I don’t know why they just didn’t go bonkers, though.

          Bud and Babe — she was 2 years older — were very close throughout their lives, and one of Babe’s best friends was Laura, Bud’s girlfriend, until he went off to UCLA. Her other best girlfriend was Wiggles, and she had this natural curly hair.  If there had been any way for me to grab it off her, I would’ve. Oh, how I wanted  that head of hair.

                                  CONCLUSION OF PROLOGUE


          Each year that Babe was in high school, Aunt Lukie would rent the same house for one month in the middle of the summer at Balboa. It was in a great location right on the ocean front, with the waves making their roar night and day, and all that expanse of sand to lay out for a tan. It was on the boardwalk, a few houses east of the Balboa pier. Babe could invite several of her school chums for a week at a time, but I think Wiggles and Laura managed to be there the whole month.  Viv and I were too young to stay there the first year or two, but the folks would take us down there for the day on a couple of the weekends, and we would have a fantastic day — running all over the beach, then plopping down in the sand when we were a bit winded;  out to the end of the pier, and we could get a hot dog or hamburger and a bottle of cream soda when we were hungry.  Aunt Lukie and the folks would sit out on the front porch in hammocks where they could gab to their hearts content and watch the beachgoers.  We would head for home — two tired-out little Indians.

          After the first year Aunt Lukie had Viv and me come to the beach house for a week;  then for two weeks the last years. Every day we had  so much to do.  We would lay out on the beach and go down to the edge of the water and splash about. Then we could go and wander all over the pier.  It was lots of fun to watch the people with their fishing poles trying to catch some poor sucker of a fish.  We could also walk 2 blocks from the pier to the Balboa Pavilion on the Bay where boats would be docking, people getting on and off; and the ferry making its trips back and forth toBalboaIsland. It was so colorful, and the excitement of it all just had us 2 little kids thrilled to pieces.  We roamed around all day in our one-piece bathing suits in case we would want to go back on the beach.  When we were hungry, we’d go back to the house and Aunt Lukie would fix us a bite to eat.  After the bite, off we would go again till dinner.

          Lukie always had a pot of frijoles, and her frijoles were especial. She also would put together enchiladas a couple of nights a week,  and everyone was crazy about them. These were not the rolled up enchiladas we see today.  In that era, everyone stacked the enchiladas.  Using a roasting pan, you could have 2 big stacks.  First, you would lay one tortilla flat in the pan, then spread the filling on top, another tortilla, more filling on top of that one, and so on till you had a nice big stack resembling a cake. Finish cooking in oven, and when served just cut out a wedge from the middle. 

          In the meantime, the high school group did their thing.  Viv and I did not mix in with them unless we were asked — maybe to lay on beach with them for a little while, or play a card game, but scoot outa their sight if some fellas were on the horizon.  They would go out in the evening to dance, or roam around the streets like teenagers are wont to do.  Babe was always so great with us, no matter what age.

          The girls used all the bedrooms; Aunt Lukie had a cot on the back porch of the house, and she would stash us with our cots in the dining room, or wherever.  We slept no matter where she stacked us — dead to the world after our busy day. 

          I need to tell a little more about Aunt Lukie. At her ranch in Placentia, the home sat upfront on Valencia Ave., then there was a huge barn in which she parked her maroon Hudsonsedan — always bright and shiny because she went out every morning to wipe and shine it.  Beyond the barn, came the Whoopie House.  This was the greatest gathering place for family and friends on Sundays for years.  Lots of food and drink.  Kids and grownups. Big parking area, then on in back was the caretaker’s home.  The Whoopie House structure was one big room, screened in with  kitchen stuff at one end.  Everybody loved Aunt Lukie, Sundays with Aunt Lukie were widely received.  After all, she was the Pearl Mesta of the Forster Family on Sundays.

          Babe went off to Stanford, and we were lucky. Aunt Lukie did her thing a couple more summers, and then I think she finally threw in the towel.   I would imagine Babe and her BFF’s missed going after such a long run, maybe not, they were almost grown up.  On the other hand, Viv and I could’ve gone on for years.  No cares. No worries. Just fun at Balboa.  Thanks to Aunt Lukie.



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