Matthew Lickona 1:14 p.m., May 24
When you ponder a particular zip code, ordinarily, a one size fits all demographic/stereotype has a tendency to emerge regarding that geographical location. My zip code happens to be quite different from this description however. I reside in the 92111 zip which is quite eclectic and diverse in its socioeconomic and cultural characteristics. I’d like to share life in the Clairemont Park section, for a few moments, located across the canyon from Bay Park, just above the old Sam Snead Golf Course (for you old timers out there) now using Tecolote Golf Course as its moniker. The latter reference point might not be a positive for golf widows.
The area is predominantly blue collar, middle class which is conducive to my penchant for prior to sunrise power walks before I have to put on my business facade.
Our neighborhood surfaced in the 60’s and 70’s so the original architecture is pretty boxy and nondescript but comfy and manageable for the original owners. Upwardly mobile couples have been increasingly partial to the affordability of the area and have moved here sprinkling the streets with attractive remodels and new landscaping.
Our house butts up to a multipurpose park which was transformed from basically a dirt and fox tail ridden lot (one of my boxers inhaled one) to a lush grassy softball/baseball diamond Mecca for youths of all ages (seniors included). We delight in the background noise consisting of excited screams and cheers radiating from some of the tiniest uniformed competitors I have ever seen.
As previously mentioned, walking is one of my passions (logging 25 to 30 miles per week) and it gives me the perfect opportunity to observe the ambience of Clairemont Park in a positive way. I’ve met many of the boxers in the neighborhood for example Ed walking Mindy who then plays with Roxy at home. Maggie lives down the street and gets excited and legs turn squirrely (due to a previous stroke) when we greet her out front. Of course I see dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds along the way. A few of them have startled me acting as if they wanted me for their next meal. Thankfully their owners had tight control of them on the leash.
My Tuesday route wouldn’t be complete without seeing one exercise enthusiast working out to her DVD in the garage as her mellow golden retriever keeps watch in the driveway. Everyone is friendly for the most part and greetings abound for a fresh start to the day. I’m the local lost and found, accumulating items finding their way to the street and have found a wallet (belonged to a Brazilian student leaving the next day), digital camera, property tax payment & many sets of keys and cell phones. Most items have found their way back to the owners. I just found a fishing license that I will have fun tracking.
Not all the finds have resulted in a positive outcome. Some hood types did call several times based on one of my notes, and threatened my husband and me over a lousy set of keys that weren’t even theirs.
An uplifting start to the day comes in the form of our local senior greeter with white tousled hair and sun glasses, plopped in her lawn chair at the corner of Mt. Acadia and Mt. Ackworth. She waves and smiles enthusiastically to the constant surge of bustling commuters under the watchful eye of her amused husband.
Rummage and yard sale buffs should visit this area on weekends. Good weather encourages a plethora of treasure hunting. One local rummage sale at a nearby Korean Church yielded a couple of notable items. I discovered a high end Nordstrom Classiques Entier shiny blouse for a couple of dollars. I was told it would cost over $100.00 new. My most unique find there at a previous sale was a stuffed (taxidermied) wild fox. After much rumination, communication and “packagization”, the fox eventually found a home at Tallullah Gorge State Park in Georgia. My sister’s boyfriend donated “Fred the Fox” to the park and he is now looking up at stuffed bird on a low lying branch. Fred has found an appropriate home!
On my particular block, some neighborhood kids thankfully rescued my rescued boxer, Wilson, after he jumped the fence his first day home with our other boxer Myrtle while we were at work. The devastating day turned to joy when we found him down the street.
When one seeks some escape or solace from the everyday pressures of the city, Tecolote Canyon is an inviting source of respite that can be accessed by walking a mere half mile from the neighborhood. If it weren’t for the tops of the cliffs being lined with homes and buildings, you could imagine being lost in the foliage and sanctity of the coastal canyons of Southern California. Additionally, Mother Nature contributes an encounter with a wondering fox, coyote, possum or skunk pre dawn or post sunset if lucky or possibly unlucky, in the case of a skunk siting, depending on the timing of a stroll. As you can see, we have some cool perks over here to be enjoyed if desired. And, on the subject of our list of perks, we have a peek-a-boo view of the Sea World fireworks during the summer with only mild sound effects conducive to keeping our pets sane.
I would be remiss in failing to note the convenient location of this neighborhood. We are close to water (two miles from Mission Bay), a quick 15 minutes from downtown and have speedy access to all of the major freeways. For the most part, commuting against traffic is more often the norm than the reverse which is a pretty priceless commodity these days you have to admit. I've heard comments supporting this attribute many times over from insiders as well as outsiders of Clairemont Park.
The neighborhood isn’t all saccharin and cream, however. We have our share of break-ins, obnoxious neighbors and yards devoid of any manicuring. Our park has attracted youngsters whose late night amusement included loud games of two square accompanied by shots of booze, occasional attempted break-ins of the snack bar (culprit jumped our next door neighbor’s back fence and police made a bust). Soused neighbor with like “playmates” gathering in his garage issuing loud mouthed comments to passersby in addition to thinking it is cute to pop firecrackers in order to torment us mellow folk. My husband threatened to call the authorities during that incident if they didn’t cease the annoying activity. They complied. The local strip mall fights to keep a 100% occupancy rate and a smattering of the houses around here have been affected by the economics of the subprime debacle. BTW, I do recommend Carmen’s Mexican Food for some great Mexican fast food.
Despite the negative aspects, the positives definitely outweigh that category. All in all, I’m pleased to live in this neighborhood and find that it tends to be a “Pleasant Valley” type environment and just your basic Middle America community with residents doing their best to live the American dream.