Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Ship's Passage

Photo Credit Unknown to Me

The first job I was fired from (there have been a few) was at a snack bar located on the pier in my hometown. As I recall, my termination had something to do with a fight I got into with an out of control cotton candy machine. The details aren't important. What is important is that I did not ruin my Huckapoo shirt during the incident and that my job was on the pier at Rio Del Mar Beach. It's one of my stories.

I grew up in Aptos California, situated on the coast, just south of Santa Cruz. Aptos is a little beach town and the heart of the beach is a small fishing pier that leads out to the remains of a cement boat, the SS Palo Alto.  The loss of my $2.65 an hour job notwithstanding, the old ship and her pier are places that have always fondly represented home.

Photo Credit Unknown to Me

The cement boat was more than a landmark, it was a touchstone. When I was in elementary school, my friends and I would ride our bikes down the big hill to the beach surrounding the pier. It was the scene of body surfing and peeling sunburns. As teenagers, we dug holes in the sand for fire pit parties on Saturday nights. These days, my old friends and I are known to use photos of the sun setting behind the cement boat pier as our Facebook cover photos. Everyone from Aptos has a cement boat story.

Last week, the coast was ravaged by a storm. The wind and rain caused turbulent surf that was too much for the old boat and took it down. You can read more about it here. We shared the photos and videos on social media and via email. We mourned the passing of the SS Palo Alto and we mourned the passing of time.

Photo Kevin Johnson, Santa Cruz Sentinel