SHORT TRIP, LONG BEACH

Being a writer can be challenging. Being a great writer is a disease. Being a writer with wealthy friends that will let you stay at their vacation homes for free—NICE CONSOLATION!

Some of my earliest childhood memories float through my mind like the fog that rolls toward the California shores, particularly Belmont Shores Long Beach, where my father procured a rental every summer for our family. I was too young to understand that this was not the most tony of beach resorts, but did take note that my father often told other adults that he preferred the weather in Belmont Shores to any other costal city. And my father did have an aversion to big shots and people who fancied themselves chic.

As years passed on, the family vacations came to an end. And as more years passed my connection to Belmont Shores, like so many of the great wonders of youth, became a distant memory relegated to an occasional visit.

I pause to think now about my dream of buying the beautiful brick house that to this day sits on a corner of an island called Naples, which juts into the bay at its most favorable bend. In my lifetime I earned the money many times over to buy this spot so beautifully balanced between the earth and sea, but the foolishness of still larger dreams caused this one to vanish like the sandcastles of children with the rise of the tide.

My friend Ed, EY, Big Ed, or Edward Yawitz, he answers to all cheerfully so, grew up in Montebello a few blocks from I. And his family too escaped the heat of August by family vacation in Belmont Shores—and many other neighbors did so as well, it was the Catskill’s West. Even though many friends of my childhood kayaked in the bay in my company, and broke bread at my wooden table on the patio of The Beach Burger, or stood in line next to me at Woody’s Goodies, it had never occurred to me that their dreams had taken the shape of my own. But unlike my easily corrupted, by greed and grandiosity, vision of existence my friend Ed bought a home on the shorefront of Alamitos Bay, Belmont Shores, Long Beach.

“Why don’t you come down to Long Beach and spend the night? We’ll paddleboard around the island,” Ed suggested whilst we drove around the city smoking Cuban cigars in an American made truck he uses for work on occasion.

“Okay…” said I.

The home, built in 1903, was the first on the peninsula. Originally a Grand Victorian it was the sales office for much of the neighboring beachfront property. Later the first home on the bay laid claim to being the first brothel of the beach. And then came the remodel that converted the magnificent home to an apartment building—with three thousand square feet preserved ground floor, in front, for a hint of grandeur past.

And it is this valuable footage that my friend Ed has turned into a vacation rental. It warms me to think that other families are experiencing the summers as I once did. Ed is a wealthy man, he does not need to rent out such a special place—he won’t admit this. But in his heart I see that he wants others to know what we know about this little part of Earth.

I paddleboarded up and down the bay, after an unfortunate moment in which I attempted to mount the surfboard like contraption—it slipped from underneath and I landed face first in the shallow water. “Warmer than I remember,” I thought to myself, as Ed and several children accompanied by their parents had a great laugh. I chose to make it a teaching moment. And after failing so miserably the first time, I tried again and succeeded excessively.

Post paddle, I took a luxurious hot shower. This particular cascade of pleasure can only be experienced by walking directly from the sand to the shower bath—and even an adult must smile at the sand that washes down the drain after finding its way into the most inappropriate of places.

Ed took Frankie (another of his friends) and I to dinner on Second Street. We sat on the patio of a restaurant, the name of which I do not recall, and ate Mediterranean…it was good. The other direction and over the bridge is Michael’s one of the best restaurants in California—I recommend dropping in for some fine Northern Italian Cuisine, but not dressed as our motley crew happened to be in beach shorts and flip flops. It was joyous to see that Second Street was still a lively place—many a pretty, blond haired, beach girl strolled by. “Too old for them now,” I thought to myself. And admittedly this thought made me a little sad.

I slept the night, as I hadn’t in many years. The warmth and safety of a family I no longer have, just a ghost now, comforted me…no cuddled me, throughout and I do not recall my dreams or if I dreamt at all. I woke up to an empty place, Ed had departed long before the sand in my eyes, but although normally I would have minded this absence of a friend—I didn’t. I stood in the rear of the long hallway looking out the wall of windows that spied the sand and the water. And the warmth of my childhood and family returned.

I walked along the Bayshore Walk, which at some point becomes the Bayshore Drive toward Second Street. My motivation was black gold and a sense of excitement prevailed in my thoughts at experiencing my first cappuccino from It’s A Grind. It’s A Grind occupies the location where my mother took me for my first Fish ‘n’ Chips—at a place with a funny name “H. Salt…” The bay seemed smaller as I strolled, but of course I am much larger. I stopped in front of the apartment building my family had first stayed in—such old memories. “I’m glad they restored it back to its original look,” I thought. It had for a decade or so been made to look French Quarter—truly awful! I gazed out at the water and watched as my father and I swam…

Woody’s Goodies is now the Kayak Shack. The Beach Burger has become Barry’s Burger. Gondolas, which are new to me, have been renting for twenty-five years…Rides through the canals of Naples Island departing from Leeway Sailing Club. But my own Sabot Sailboat departed that same dock many years before. And they still block off Bayshore Drive from traffic during the summer days to protect the kids, which have replaced my friends and I.

“Jerry Lewis had some great parties in that Penthouse,” I almost said out loud, looking across the bay. I recall the lifeguards talking about this. What were their names? Rob something and Randy Davis. Rob was going to go to dental school… The library at the corner of Second Street and Bayshore stood behind me as I thought about these things. And I watched a beautifully formed girl emerge from the bay, walk to her bike, and leave. “I used to do that…I used to swim in the bay…” The library, forty years and I’ve never entered it—should have all those years ago. So I left it alone and kept walking.

Ed, knowing me since my sixth year on Earth, guessed I’d be searching out coffee and guided the Avalanche to the curb. He shouted something out of the window, but in my distracted state of mind I did not hear it—I know his drink, skinny vanilla latte. Upon arriving at the counter I was greeted by a creature so lovely I’m reluctant to call her a girl or woman or anything else so pedestrian. The skin is so fresh in the morning at the beach…Because I am a Barista by nature I can be churlish in assessing coffee or espresso experiences, however the quality of the drink in my hand was equal to the Siren that had taken my order.

Ed took me to an elegant breakfast at Chuck’s…No cell phones allowed and they don’t accept plastic—I found this out when I tried to pay.

I spent the rest of the day on the large covered veranda that fronts Ed’s vacation rental. I wrote, I spoke on the phone, and contemplated the difference between surviving life and living it. Ed worked around the place getting it ready for this weekend’s occupants—lucky folks. If at this point you’re entertaining the thought of a stay—call Ed 626 298-5444…He doesn’t stand on formality, so just tell him you read this blog and decided to call.

When we left, late in the afternoon, the melancholy spirit of the day after Labor Day fell upon me. Not because it is September, to the contrary, I am not confused that the very moment I am speaking of is precisely the dead of summer. No the dark cloud of which I speak is now, too, a fond memory because it is the day every year that my family left that nice little place—only a few stone’s throw, away, from Downtown.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stan Lerner is an award winning-author whose diverse credits include the novels “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, “Blast”, “In Development,” and the children’s book “Stanley The Elephant.” Stan Lerner is also the creator of the Las Vegas music spectacle “Night Tribe” and the writer, director, producer of the hit motion picture “Meet The Family.” Mr. Lerner was born in Montebello CA and has lived in downtown Los Angeles for the last fifteen years.

For more information about Stan Lerner please visit his author profile at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stan

4 thoughts on “SHORT TRIP, LONG BEACH”

  1. I remember those summers well. And Grandma’s for Ice Cream. Here’s to the memories we are making this summer.

  2. Your eloquently written words paint a beautiful picture of Belmont Shores and treasured memories . I can recall my own fond memories of Belmont Shores as it was the first beach I visited after moving to America in 1971 . Hold on to old and treasured memories and now it’s time to make new memories . Sounds like an amazing rental …

  3. Well well, Mr Lerner… NOW I truly ‘see’ (thru read)… Thank YOU for taking me to just One of your amazing places/times/memories, and just incredibly Clear realities. From here forth I will be returning quite frequently… From near and AFAR/All for a Reason….
    -Sterling

  4. Thanks for the memories i probably cooked your burger at woodies goodiesmy father Ray Roice owned woodies goodiesfor 20 years starting in the early 70′s

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