My West Coast Childhood

Play in the SurfThis picture reminds me so much of my first six years spent living one block away from the Pacific Ocean.

My dad pastored a church and ran a training ministry for pastors. He preached twice a day every day just to fit in with all the demands for truth. His sermons were broadcast out to sea for miles and miles.

Many commercial fisherman attended our church, and as a result, several of my friends lived on fishing boats, tethered to cables running the boat’s length lest they fall overboard!

The year I was born, 20 other babies in our church joined the celebration! I’m the youngest of five, btw.

Our diet was rich in seafood, admittedly a bit too many oysters, eels, clams and octopus for this gal! I’ve shared the story before of how commercial fishermen would stop by evenings with some of their catch to share. Sometimes their catch would consist of a five gallon bucket full of live octopus. They’d pour it into our kitchen sink and mom would rave over how cool it was. Yeah, to the point of her sticking my little arm down into the writhing slime so I could “experience” the suction. Twas just lovely, I can assure you. (Thanks, mom.)

That was in the early 80’s. Mom and I walked to the beach every day when we found out Dad was taking a pastorate in the midwest, where only wheat made waves. We collected seashells, starfish, beach glass and driftwood for the last times. I still have those treasures….in hand and in heart.

It took me several years to get over the west coast, to quit comparing its oceans and redwoods to the browns and golds of the prairie that I love so much now.

Where did you grow up, and what are your favorite memories of that time and place?

13 thoughts on “My West Coast Childhood”

  1. I grew up in Florida and call myself a sunshine baby! I was the youngest of two, and remember getting all the special treatment being the only girl! I also remember several other young kids on the “block” and we’d all play outside. My best friend lived right down and road and we’d have slumber parties, play with our dolls and do all sorts of things! My parents still live in the same house and I always feel at “home” when I go back there!
    Great post and memories of your childhood!

  2. Great walk down memory lane! I really envy you living so close to the ocean…that would be my ideal.

    As you know…I grew up in Colorado. And to this day I don’t like mountains! LOL People say that is awful since I grew up just a few miles from the Great Rockies. But, I remember drives through the mountains being just scared to death. I sat on the floor for most of them! When my parents moved back there a few years ago, I thought maybe I could appreciate them at last as an adult…but I was even more terrified. I was physically sick the entire day that we spent exploring Trail Ridge.

    When I turned 13, we moved to Vermont and my memories of that one winter spent in Burlington are SNOW,SNOW and more SNOW! There were piles of it in parking lots of stores well into June. I did love the ferry rides on Lake Champlain though. We then moved to upstate New York for a couple years and I loved the history in that area. We were very close to Fort Ticonderoga. We also spent some time in Arizona and even though I didn’t like all the varmits there…it had it’s own unique beauty. My father worked for IBM…so we were able to see a lot of the country and I will always appreciate that. When we were moving so much I always was envious of those that had stayed in one area their entire life. I still think that’s pretty neat too, but I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had and the many people I’ve known from different areas.

  3. I grew up in an exotic country for most of you, in Poland. Mind you, the memories of my childhood are exotic even for my children, because this was then a country behind the Iron Curtain, a country ruled by communists, dependent on the Soviet Union, yet always longing for freedom.
    I grew up in a big town, but spent my every summer holidays in the country, at my grandparents’. A simple life, but very sweet memories of a big forest, berries, of cows and pigs, of simple people, of love.
    All this ended when grandma died, I was 17 then… I think this was the ultimate end of my childhood.

  4. Now, Mary, here we are 25 years later and you have a memory of how an almost-expired octopus feels when it clamps weakly onto your arm! My memories take me back to a basin in Wyoming where my Dad homesteaded in the early 1930s. Any direction we looked, there were mountains. They can be scary, Deborah, I grant you that but we lived 45 or so minutes from the nearest so we just enjoyed the beauty. “Thy righteousness is as the great mountains”, the Psalmist said. In “Psalm of David” Spurgeon said, “Yon Alps that hold their lofty heads above the clouds and hold familiar converse with the stars, are dust, at which the balance trembleth not, compared with His divine immensity!: That whole poem is awesome. “Earth’s ponderous wheels would break, her axles snap, if freighted with the load of deity!: I love it!

  5. Don’t you guys love my mom! She has the perfect scripture and poem for every occasion, I have many running through my head thanks to my gem of a mom! That was a new one to me, though! I’m sure glad you shared it. I think that’s a deficit in my homeschool, and probably in many schools these days. Kids just don’t memorize poetry! When I was in grade school we had to memorize a poem each week. Sadly I don’t remember any but The Jabberwocky, and In Flander’s Fields. In any case, I love my memories of visiting Wyoming as a child. Touring the Bad Lands in Uncle Richard’s pickup truck–watching wild stallions fight it out and collecting “ant money”. Not to mention Yellowstone and Buffalo Bill’s Lodge…and counting antelope to pass time in the car.

    So, Deborah, I fully agree that any travel/exposure to the beautiful states is a memory to be cherished. I was hoping you’d share about your childhood, since I knew you’d lived in many neat places. I would have never guessed you’d be terrified of mountains! I think my mom’s love of them translated over to me–I never thought about falling rocks or such, just enjoyed the view. (Hey that last sentence would be a good theme describing my life! Ha.)

    Ann! I want to hear more about what it was like growing up in a communist country! Please blog about it sometime– :). Have you ever read, “Good-bye Is Not Forever” by Amy George? It’s the story of a Russian family torn apart due to communism, and how she was reunited with her father like 50 or more years later…such a good auto-biography.

    Colleen, so you grew up in gator-ade country! I, too, had best friends on the same street and would walk unchaperoned down to their houses to play all day under their lilac bushes with baby dolls, etc. Those were the days! And like you, my family home is still in the family! My big brother is raising his family in it, so someday I’ll make it back there and walk my children down memory lane…

  6. ‘Twas brilling and slithy toves
    did gyre and gimble in the wabe
    all mimsy were the borogoves and the mome raths outgrabe.

    Didn’t you love that poem??!!

    I don’t remember much of my childhood. One of my fondest memories, however, was when i was about 5 years old and my cousin and I decided that we wanted to play outside – it was pretty hot in mexico on that day. My grandma sripped us down to our underwear, let us loose in the backyard, and we proceeded to play a game of “you-can’t-catch-me-with-the-hose!”” It was fabulous! How i wish i could strip down and run around in a backyard, with water from a hose splashing me!! Thanks Mary, what a great memory about the octopus.

  7. Teresa! Thanks for commenting and for those adorable pics you emailed! Your girlies are growing up so fast!

    Yes, yes, good memories of 7th grade Eng. Lit, having to quote The Jabberwocky with an English accent. We had such great teachers, huh! I fully intend on making my daughters do the very same poem, accent and all!

    I love your childhood memories! Everyone’s have been so good, they’ve all brought a little bit of mine back to me…yours reminded me of frolicking in the irrigation ditches with my cousin Joanie, ‘course we had swimsuits on! Aren’t we all blessed? We can only hope to recreate some of these for our own children, despite how different culture and daily life is from our own growing up years.

  8. What a lovely childhood you had! Seafood galore – yum! I grew up in the big city, far from where I live now but it was good. My parents were ok (another story in itself) but here in nz you don’t have to travel far to get to a beach, any beach so we lived about 10 mins walk away from the nearest one that we went to all the time in the summer 🙂

  9. That sounds heavenly, Amy! My girls have never seen a real beach. They’ve had fun in the sand at beautiful lakes…which will have to do for now!

  10. I love the sea and sea food.

    I grew up in a surburb in Auckland New Zealand
    Favorite memories playing in our backyard in the summertime 🙂

  11. Ah summertime! Warm weather is flirting around with us, can’t wait till spring is here to stay…

    Dh and I have always wanted to visit New Zealand…and Scotland. It looks so beautiful, and we’d love to see the home of the Border Collie!

  12. Thanks, Holly! It was wild! And even wilder the way mom prepared it…ever eat dehydrated octopus? Try chewing rubber first!

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