Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
“MY NEIGHBORHOOD”, South Mission Beach
South Mission Beach has got to be the best neighborhood in San Diego. Twenty years ago my two best friends and I decided to leave our hometown of Chico, California and take a road trip due south.
We quit our jobs, cancelled our apartment and sold everything we had except a suitcase of clothes each. Keeping the best of our three vehicles we sold the other two, with no idea of what we were going to due except that San Diego was our destination.
Loading up we hit the road knowing we had to make something happen once we got there, remember no fall back position in Chico, sure we all had family there but the thought of the humiliation of crawling back to say it didn't work out and admitting failure was not an option, it was all or nothing.
Driving down the coast we only had one scheduled stop along the way, in Lucadia, where a friend had moved six months earlier. Not wishing to impose on the family he was renting from we set up our “Amway Army Tent” in the back yard. That lasted about a week and with a little more awareness of the area we moved on.
Next stop the “KOA” campground in Chula Vista. The sun was going down as we arrived but no worries as we had mastered setting up the tent in the dark. Not knowing the area we wondered about all the bright lights just over the hill, and came to the conclusion it had to be a baseball or soccer field.
The next morning I decided to sleep in so my buddies took the car and went exploring. About four hours later they returned and by their exitement you would think they had won the lottery, before I could ask where they had been the tent was down and we were loaded up. Hey where are we going, I asked, you'll know when we get there was the reply, and by the way we discovered the bright lights last night are at a prison.
We headed north on Highway (5) and about twenty five minutes later our exit was West Mission Bay Drive, then about five minutes more we arrived at Mission Blvd. and Ventura Place. All of us knew we had found our new home!
This place was like a giant “PARTY”, all we needed was a home base. Before the day had ended we had rented an apartment at San Gabriel Place, South Mission Beach, only one hundred yards from the ocean and fifty yards from the bay, life was going to be good!
Even better, there are two bars The Pennant and the Beach Comber a short stroll away and it didn't take long to meet all the locals. Every weekend at the seawall and San Gabriel Place there were people playing horseshoes, mostly locals, and a tradition has grown that continues. Now we have a Thursday Night Horseshoe League that's been going strong for more then fifteen years thanks to organizer, Robert Chubinsky, court resident.
The best part is the friends you make and the fun you have, especially my friend , “Terry Moore”, if we weren't playing shoes we were throwing darts, most often with a few beers. Terry is memorable for his old address, (2929, 29th Street). Back when I arrived in San Diego, I delivered magazines to the local grocery stores and Terry delivered the “Reader”.
Anyway, after twenty years I'm still in South Mission Beach, and almost everyone I met when I arrived are still here. Down here at the beach you'll find Real People, Real Fun, Bars and REAL SAND!