One of the first stories of the many I’ve submitted over the transom to the Coronado Eagle & Journal over the last 20 years was titled “Coronado B.C.”, as in before condos.
Those were simpler times.
Unless my articles took on a political bent (it could happen), I’d write about growing up in ‘Nado upon whose shores we alighted around Easter 1967 when I was nine going on ten. My parents purchased a Palmer a block and a half away from the original ferry landing.
In those times nearby Third Street was a virtual ghost street where we’d play ball with only the occasional car to interrupt us. The traffic was over the hill on Fourth, even then a subject of “concern,” just a different pattern.
But I digress, as is my pattern!
Recently because of certain local closures (sigh), I’ve avoided walking along the bay-front promenade as I assumed (uh-oh) it was also off limits. Yet when I spied a cop and asked, he said it was open. Thus I was pleased to take advantage forthwith! As I began my stroll down our alley and caught sight of the bay where I played as a kid, I was transported back in time.
Let’s take a tour.
Down at the foot of D Avenue, once upon a time we wee ones would fish from the old Navy gig landing just offshore adjacent to the creaking pilings of the busy car-ferry docks. We’d ride our bikes out across the short narrow causeway to the small floating platform, observing the stingrays and sand sharks scurrying below on patrol. Once aboard, if the tide was low we’d pull mussels from the exposed barnacle-covered pilings. We’d attach morsels of the orange gloppy meat to tiny treble hooks to snag unsuspecting smelt to use as live bait for bigger fish.
Wile E. Coyote, without TNT!
The gig landing was but a short cast away from the ferry, making it a rich habitat for bass, croaker, perch, halibut, bonito, and those ever-present sharks and rays. Some days we’d hook a bass a cast. One of us landed a big (monstrous to us) leopard shark. None of us knew what on Earth to do with such a fearsome-looking creature, so we just cut the line and let it flop its way off the dock and back to freedom.
Enough fish stories.
Opposite the ferry landing stood Coronado Little League’s minor league field where as a skinny bespectacled nine-year-old I played for 20-30, the blue team. I think we were undefeated in ‘68, no thanks to yours truly, as I don’t recall getting a single hit. Thankfully contact lenses the following off-season solved that problem!
Abutting the minor league diamond the old Coronado High School baseball field shared its mostly-dirt “digs” with Pony League and Senior Little League. The grass may have been sparse at best but what could be cooler than hitting home runs into the bay? Been there; done that! Home plate was where Burger King is and the left field fence ran along the bay where Peohe’s stands.
Going, going, gone. Splash!
Nearby was a decrepit scary-looking enterprise called Marvin’s Auto Repair where various and sundry vehicles in varying stages of disrepair littered the primitive dirt lot, site of many a spirited dirt-clod fight fought amid the constant yapping and yowling emanating from the “friendly” confines of the hardly soundproofed dog pound next door.
Across First Street near where condos now stand stood the massive queen bee water tower waiting to be dismantled. The railroad tracks still held sway down the center of First Street to North Island although the trains no longer ran. Around the bend in the bay across from Coronado Hospital was Glorietta Elementary School. And before we welcomed Oakwood, the Marriott, or Tidelands Park into Coronado’s fold, the old Navy Enlisted Housing stood in the shadow of the bridge.
Oh, wait. The bridge hadn’t been built … yet.
Again, it was a simpler time.