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I live in WLA now but I grew up in Hermosa Beach in the 1950's in a big, old frame house on 7th and Strand (now demolished and replaced by condos).
Then Hermosa Beach was full of quirky, nonconformist types and was not the wealthy area it's become. No one locked their doors unless you were going out of town. It was a great place to be a kid because one could get a long way from home w/o crossing a street. As long as we were home by the time the street lights came on we could be gone all day.
We used to earn money by collecting soda bottles for the 2 cent deposit and doing jobs for neighborhood grownups. Someone was always yelling, "Hey kid!" to get us to come and do a job for them, a run to the store for smokes or carry a note to another neighbor, etc. We usually got paid a dime a job. One lady had me come in her kitchen to scrub the sticky paper label off her new coffee pot. She gave me a quarter! These jobs were a great addition to my ten-cents-a-week allowance.
Our money usually got spent on snow cones and cotton candy or on the matinee at the Hermosa Theater or on some little toy from the shops on Pier Ave. We also used to go to the little aquarium to visit Molly, the blind seal. The keeper would let us feed her. One had to slap the tile wall to get her attention and she'd break away from the other seals to come get her fish from your hand.
We used to spend hours on the beach (of course) playing all sorts of games and holding funerals for dead birds and sea life, decorating their graves with shells and seaweed. We'd collect as many sand crabs in a bucket as we could dig in and then let them all go again. We were endlessly amused watching them plow back under the wet sand. A big treat was begging an old inner tube from a gas station and then a gunny sack from the back of the grocery store. We'd stuff the tube in the sack, add a rope handle and voila! a boogie board. I can still remember the itchy rash one got from the gunny sack rubbing against one's skin while riding the waves in.
The pier was derelict then, but the entry arch housed the Chamber of Commerce and the library.
The big events in town were the "1812 Days" festival, grunion hunts and watching for the new window paintings at Bacon Ford (They had a big slab of neon bacon as their sign).
I went to South School. It was so riddled with termites that one day during class an entire window fell out into the yard.
Smog was a terrible problem some days. You couldn't open the windows or leave the house.
We ate a lot of abalone. It was my job to beat it before cooking to tenderize it. Now it's for rich people.
I'm very grateful to have grown up in Hermosa Beach. It was the best childhood ever.
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