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It's happening again, a road trip out West to the Land of Perpetual Smog primarily to the 60th anniversary of Mira Costa High school, my Alma Mater of 53 years ago, in Manhattan Beach, California. What happened after this terrific All-Class reunion was an all-day expedition to the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory followed by an all-day visit to the Griffith Observatory.
Moby, the old white van passed its physical, sort of, and I got packed up and headed out Thursday morning, July 22. The trip was the same old route I've described many times before, heading out to the annual Riverside Telescope Maker's Conference (RTMC), a reunion of sorts in its own way. This time it was straight through Barstow, on I-15 on to Victorville then down into a layer of seriously dirty looking air into San Bernardino, then West toward the beach cities.
The Los Angeles Basin is one giant traffic clot. After 20 miles or so on Highway 210, things plugged up and for the next 55 miles or so, it was creep and stop, creep and stop, creep and stop, top speed on the freeway maybe 45 in spots, mostly less than 20.
Alas, I arrived at Hotel Hermosa Friday before noon. The room wasn't ready yet, so I pulled the bike out of the van and headed off for a ride around the old neighborhood. So much has changed, and yet a lot is the same. After about 6 miles (the place is a lot smaller than I recall when I was a kid). I returned to the hotel and got checked in and all. A really nice place with very pleasant folks at the helm. Hotel Hermosa is at the top of a serious hill, it used to be the Hi Spot drive in. The ride up Gould Lane did get my attention! The hotel was within fairly easy walking distance of most of the activities planned for the reunion. When I returned, I had a call from someone named "Don". Turned out it was really from Herman, and we did finally connect. (Don was here for the reunion as well, Class of '61)
That evening was to be a party at Ericoles, in Manhattan Beach. I didn't realize Ericoles had been there seemingly since the last ice age. I sure didn't remember it from those years ago. The place was quite small, and we tried to stuff the whole class of '57 plus in there. Shades of Benigan's, or was it still Pen and Quill, when the Decade of the '50s all tried to cram in the place, drinking it dry within minutes! At least Ericoles didn't go dry! Several of us then went around the corner for a scrumptious seafood dinner. Herman drove down the hill and was able to park within easy walking distance of Greater Downtown Manhattan Beach. That avoided climbing back up the hill to the hotel - a definite plus.
The next day, Cecelia, Herman and I had a wonderful continental breakfast at the hotel, then the three of us hoofed it over to the high school, less than a half mile away. After the opening ceremonies, a bit of music from the MCHS band (yes! they still have a band, and a pretty good one, too) the obligatory speeches from school board, city council and the like, it was off to explore the campus. For the last several reunions I've tried to see the campus, but it was always locked up like Ft. Knox or under serious construction. (Recall Raul Granby and I got heaved out while trying to see the campus 10 years ago at the last (and first) all class reunion).
Well, this time the campus was wide open. It did bring back memories, although there had been 50 years of tree growth and newer buildings since the good old days of studying there! After that. it was onto the field to the tents for the various decades. I reconnected with Tom Littlefield, class of '56 and next door neighbor. He suggested finding Kay Ulrich and see if there was a possibility of finding Charles, who I used to bum around with, I think as early as Grandview Elementary. He gave me a probable address in Manhattan Beach. It was truly terrific to run into many of the "kids" from those halcyon days.
It seemed this, this second anniversary all class, was sparsely attended relative to the 50th, 10 years ago. I think a big part of this may have been the almost non existence of forewarning. Thanks to Herman Brown, keeping up with the goings on of the class of '57 and all, I knew it was coming. I did get the "official" notice the day before I left - 3 days before the event! Aaugh! The reuniting, reminiscing, and just having a great time, went on for the rest of the day.
We got back to the hotel in time to unwind for a bit then headed off to the Cattle Union, a large eatery in Hermosa Beach, where the decade of the '50s was to convene. Again, many reunitings, and great food as well. Unlike Benigans, ten years earlier, we had lots of room and the drinks and food kept flowing.
One problem, and it could have been a big one, is there is absolutely
no on street parking in the entire city of Hermosa Beach! Thank heaven for a
parking garage at the restaurant!
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