The bathing beauties of Pismo Beach

*Before I begin this chapter I should mention that I had two sisters while growing up.  Charlotte Rae was born in 1932 and Cynthia was born in 1940.  Charlotte Rae was 10 years older than me and when I was 9 years old, she left home and was married to a young sailor and lived on the east coast from that time on.  When I was 21 years old I found out that both my mother and father had been married before they married each other.  My father had no children with his first wife but my mother had Charlotte Rae from her first marriage.  I never knew until that time that Charlotte Rae was my half sister and her father was not my father.  Cynthia passed away in March of 2004 at the age of 63 from complications with diabetes.  Charlotte Rae is still with us and lives in Pensacola, Florida.....Now on with the show.....

During all the years I was growing up, Pismo Beach was the only place we took a vacation.  The last time I visited Pismo Beach was in 1960 before I was married and I was seventeen years old at that time.  The excitement would build once the vacation dates were marked on the calendar.  Packing the car the night before and the special treat of a box of sweet rolls from the bakery.  Rising before dawn, making hot coffee and chocolate for the thermos jugs and the ritual of going thru the house and making sure all the electrical appliances wer unplugged and all lights turned off.  Everyone into the car and off we went.

My earliest recollections were of a much older car packed with grandma, mama, daddy, my two sisters and myself. I did not have a seat to sit on other than a little wooden stool on the floor of the front seat between my parents ( a real child safety seat).  The car was a stick shift and around the stick shift in the floor you could see the road passing by thru the cracks in the floor.  The exhaust fumes managed to seep back thru the cracks also and sometimes I didn't feel real swell.

During our trips to Pismo, we would stop around the small towns of Shandon or Chlome.  We would use the restroom at the gas station, then park along the side of the road and have coffee, hot chocolate and those wonderful bakery rolls.  Nothing ever tasted quite so good.

The excitement of seeing the ocean soon made the three plus hour journey seem not so bad.  Our accommodations were another adventure.  For many years we stayed at Baker's Restwell Cabins.  We rented two cabins each year.  They were quite small with a bedroom, small kitchen and bathroom.

After we settled into our cabins, we would start begging our parents to go to the beach.  Everything had a schedule and first we had to go to Ford's Market (which was inside an old quansett hut) to buy groceries for the meals grandma and mama would prepare.  In the mornings we would all take a walk on the beach.  It was always cold and foggy.  Even grandma would walk down on the beach with us.  After lunch it was much warmer and back to the beach we went.  Daddy would park the car up on the road overlooking the beach.  While we were all sunbathing and playing on the beach, grandma would stay in the back seat of the car reading the newspaper and taking a nap.  Sometimes she would walk to the edge of the railing and look down and wave to us.  We tried not to get a bad sunburn, but we usually did.

After dinner we would take a walk around the neighborhood.  We all remarked that the flowers in Pismo were bigger and better than we had seen elsewhere.  The geraniums were everywhere and asters as big as a dinner plate.  We would finish off our walk with a stop at Ford's Market to enjoy an Eskimo Pie ice cream bar and watch the sunset over the ocean.

One year our vacation dream almost turned into a nightmare.  We couldn't get our usual reservations at Baker's Restwell Cabins and instead we had to settle for much lesser accommaodations.  This place was off the beaten path and no ocean view like Baker's.  I can't recall the name of the place, but we named it "Stinky Hollow" for good reason. This was around the same time Daddy was laid off work and we thought we would have no trip to Pismo.  True to form, grandma saved the day.  She put up the money for the trip, she always had that envelope that had "vacation" written on the outside.

Over the years Pismo built better motels.  The Edgewater Motel was one of them.  I always wondered how it would be to stay there.  I never did find out myself, but my parents and grandma did stay there after I left home to be married.

I should mention that my dad liked to smoke cigars, but grandma would not let him smoke cigars in the house.  Daddy always managed to get even.  He would load up on cigars and smoke them on the way to Pismo in the car.  That always made for an interesting trip.  We were all held prisoner in the old 1949 Dodge by Roi Tan cigars.

Some of my best childhood memories were from these annual trips to Pismo.  We were not wealthy folks and both of my parents worked to make ends meet.  My father only had an 8th grade education but what we lacked in money we made up for in love, happy times and respect for each other.

Daddy and Cynthia at Shandon for sweet rolls.

1949 Dodge and sweet rolls on the way at Shandon.

Grandma enjoying the beach at Pismo.

Grandma at Pismo

Grandma looking for shells on the beach.

Grandma and Mama on the beach at Pismo

Baker's Restwell Cabins

Daddy at "Stinky Hollow"

Cynthia and Joan at "Stinky Hollow"

Bar-b-que on the beach

The Edgewater Motel in Pismo Beach..........look at those old cars!