There is already a story I wrote last year called “Balboa Vacations.” Those vacations took place in July during the mid 1920’s, and it was my Aunt Lukie (Dad’s sister,) who would rent a house on the ocean front near the Balboa Pier. Her daughter Babe could invite a few of her friends from high school for a week at a time, and her closest friend Laura was always there the entire month. Aunt Lukie would “choose” my younger sis, Viv and me as her “guests.” We were really young, and Oh what fun we had. So go back and find “Balboa Vacations.”
By the way, there was always a pot of frijoles on the stove in case someone was famished before dinner. Later in life, I was the one that she gave her secrets to about how she cooked her frijoles. I was the one to carry on the tradition after her demise.
But here this story is, and it’s about Easter Break vacations during High School and Junior College in the 1930’s. When a new year started, just about everyone in school would take a calendar and start the countdown to Easter week. For my friend, Betty P. and I, this Easter Week started when we became freshman. Her older sister was now a senior, and her friends had been going for several years — always with some mom for chaperone. This year it was Mrs P. their mother, so she told Betty to invite a friend because she was going to take Betty along. I was the lucky invitee. The house they rented was actually in Newport Beach, right next to Balboa. Betty and I had a swell time, just the two of us, because there we were with SENIORS and SENIORS would NOT be caught dead associating with lowly freshmen.
When we were Sophomores, we had to do our own thing. We would find our own house to rent, and we had already sucked in Mary Francis F.’ mom for chaperone. We found our rental on the bay side of the BalboaPeninsula. The owner was a school teacher who needed a vacation away from all the hordes of kids running around in scant attire and acting just like the teenagers they were — me included.
The rent was $75, there were 3 bedrooms, 2 of them on the second floor, and baths upstairs and down. We had to bring our bed, bath, and beyond linens. There were 8 of us revelers plus Mom F.
We’d be up bright and early, Mrs. F. would fix a hefty breakfast for us. No telling when we would return. We would be in our bathing suits, have a big colorful beach towel, and a bottle of Baby Oil to get that tan started for the summer season. We would lounge around on the sand in a big circle — that way there would be room for the fellas to join us. Then off down to the water to stand around and wade, and then there were some of us who could ride the waves just on our bodies — no surf boards in those days.
After the beach most of the day, we’d high tail it back to the house to clean up for the evening. Remember there were 8 of us, and only 2 baths. We would draw a number for our turn in one of the baths to wash the sand out of our ears, and wherever else it might be. It did take awhile for all of us to be ready to have dinner, and then get on with the rest of the night. The yelling and screaming while we readied ourselves must’ve had Mrs. F. want to retire as chaperone, but she was the laid back type, and took it all in stride, and somehow she managed dinner.
At least one of the nights of this magical week, we would have “meals on wheels.” Aunt Mae and Mom couldn’t stand it any longer so they would drive over in the ’33 Cadi Fleetwood to check things out. They did not come empty handed. They knew what would make us love them forever and ever. Mom would bring a big pot of frijoles. There was no Spanish blood in her, but she sure learned how to make them superbly. (Looking back, maybe it was Aunt Lukie who gave her the secret long before she gave me the know-how.) There was no Latin blood in Aunt Mae either, and she brought huge roasting pans of enchiladas to die for.
I have mentioned this before in some of my ramblings about when our families would have picnics or barbecues: Aunt Mae and Mom would always make their potato salad. There was always an undercurrent going on between them as to whose salad was better. Aunt Mae always said it was hers. I didn’t get into this. I was between a rock and a hard place. My mom’s was really better, but I could not say anything to crush Aunt Mae. It’s a very good thing that they brought different items to the beach for us. Everything was copasetic.
I’ve wandered away again from our “Bal” week. After dinner, we’d get going to the Balboa Ballroom on the boardwalk close to the pier. It was a place to go all year round. There was a live band, and everybody danced the “Balboa:” we weren’t aware of the “Jitter bug” or the “Lindy Hop” or even the “Charleston.”
So after the seven days, our Bal week came to a close — we were all pooped out, for sure. We would go back home, get back into the old routine, then begin looking forward to summer. I just don’t know when we had time to think about school.