FREE AS THE FISH IN THE SEA JULY 22, 2013
(CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK, JULY 15)
Last week when I started my story, I thought it may be a good idea to throw in a little history about DanaPoint since that is the locale where the story takes place, and also since it had played a part in the history of the Forster Family including me, Melitas.
So here is the part that had sparked old memories in my old brain, to remember something I loved to do. Every once in awhile, we would make a little short trip – I was maybe 4/5 years old when I began the trip – over to Dana Point; it would be sometimes just for pleasure, and other times it would be for business. Sometimes, it would mean just driving over with Titán (my uncle John,) or maybe just my Aunt Mae, and sometimes the three of us. It didn’t matter to me, I would have so much fun.
At the time, they owned all of DanaPoint, and when they sold the property — can you believe? for $60,000 — they had retained a 10 acre parcel up on the plateau above Del Obispo St. that leads out of San Juan Capistrano Valley along the west side out to the Coast Hwy. which, leads up to the bluffs of the area. They also kept a 250’ X 250’ parcel on the very point that is (not now) the south east land defining the promontory. At the west end of the bluffs, maybe a mile and a half as the albatross flies, there is another high promontory. In between the two was the “crescent of the new moon,” a very slight bay.
Where we were heading for on these little jaunts, was Aunt Mae’s point where you could see almost forever: Southeast down the coast, you could see San Clemente, Oceanside, and beyond to La Jolla; south, there was the huge Pacific Ocean, and on clear days you would take in Santa Catalina Island (which my Great grandmother Ysidora Pico’s brother Governor of California, Pio Pico had lost possession of that Island on a horse race,) then turning your gaze inland to the northeast, you would enjoy the beauty of the SJC Valley, also Saddleback Mountain, with all its majesty, would fall into view.
We weren’t taking the trip to admire the great views from atop the Point. We were going to the sea level area where there was a person to see. It took some doing to get there. There was no sandy beach at the foot of the bluffs — it was all rocks, all sizes and shapes, worn smooth by the incessant waves of eons past crashing against the bluffs. We would take the car on an old trail as far as we could then it meant walking — and don’t forget your balance — to make it around the corner of the Point. And then there was our journey’s end: It was an old beat-up shack which was the home of a fisherman who had been staying there for years fishing, trapping lobsters, and gathering abalone.
We had to always check to arrive there during low tide.
The Interloper who trespassed here was Charlie Free. “Charlie” was his real first name, but the locals tagged him with the “Free” since he just moved in on his own years before, and never did pay any rent. When we would go and look him up, it was usually because Aunt Mae was going to be having a big party, and she would need lobsters to serve as one course. It was a delicious, mouth-watering recipe with the lobster served in a wonderful sauce (don’t forget the brandy) served over flaky pastry shells. I can still salivate just remembering that tasty dish, and I can see it too. How good did it get?
During negotiations, I would be pushing my luck at the water’s edge, then poking around to inspect Charlie’s tools of the trade. He had nets, lobster traps, tire irons to grab off the abalone. Interesting stuff for a little kid to look at, but don’t touch!
A few days later, Charlie would arrive up on the hill where Aunt Mae and Titán lived laden down with huge gunny sacks, some filled with live lobsters, and another with abalone. We would have a busy time around there. Aunt Mae had a big service porch off the large kitchen for the day-to-day cooking. The service porch was equipped to serve up big-time cooking when she had her grand parties. There was a six-burner stove, and a 4-burner thrown in for good measure, huge refrigerator, huge sink.
They even put me to work, or I would’ve horned in anyway, helping with getting the lobsters out of the sack, and letting them run all over, then handing those wriggly critters to the cook to toss into the boiling water. As I grew older, I was allowed to toss some of the lobsters in the huge pot myself.
Aunt Mae’s soirees were always the height of the social season. She may’ve been the front-runner of Auntie Mame.
We have now been through the “peaches and cream” of Charlie Free’s residency at the Point. All those lobsters, abalone were such good eating.
Now, the nitty gritty. Every few years Aunt Mae would have to go to the Judge and get an eviction order against poor Charlie. If he stayed over the time limit, he could claim the rights to the property, and then for sure he’d probably stop dropping off all those gunny sacks filled to the brim those tasty morsels from the sea. So, the papers would be drawn up advising Charlie that he had to go, and if, he didn’t the Sheriff would bodily remove him. He would plain old have to move out of his seaside villa. Well, he never did move out on his own steam. The Sheriff always hauled him off — I don’t know where to – then the Sheriff would keep an eye on the property for so many days to make it all legal.
When the legal number of days passed, Charlie Free would then be back ensconced in the villa, and life went on. Never any ill will from either party. No harsh words ever spoken.
I love the old days’ way of doing business. “But Charlie don’t dare stop leaving off the gunny sacks at the house on the hill.”
It could turn painful.
Along came progress years later, and that gorgeous Point was leveled so they could build a jetty and a whole lot of commercial stuff, and a wharf, and a bay. A Marina
How rude. At least I have all the memories.
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS