Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The cowboy of the Mission Beach boardwalk

I don’t tell nobody nothin’

Wes Alvens was decked out like a cowboy long before you ever slid your tender feet into a pair of citified cowboy boots, and he’ll likely be tucking his riding gloves under his broad leather belt long after you’ve left those boots to rot in the closet beside your fancy cowboy hat. And Alvens has probably spent more time on the boardwalk at Mission Beach in the last five years than you ever will, though he isn’t out there to be cool; he’s out there to be what he is: a duded-up cowboy eager to befriend beach folk and content to savor sunsets.

Anyway, how could he be cool dressed in a suit and tie, with a shirt buttoned tight at his crinkled throat, wearing jodhpur riding boots and a heavy cowboy hat? “What’s hot to people here is cool to me,” explains the sixty-three-year-old Alvens, sitting on a piece of cardboard atop the concrete boardwalk wall at the end of Ventura Place. This Alvens’ spot, contested by no one, beside an old lamp post with new signs nixing dogs and bottles on the beach, windward of the withering Belmont Park roller coaster. Practically every day since the summer of 1977 Alvens has sat here at the vortex of San Diego Beach Life, while the nearly naked throngs have shifted to and fro before him on bare feet, polyethylene skate wheels, and balloon bicycle tires. And not once has entered the water, or shown up to claim his perch in a pair of shorts. “The heat doesn’t bother me,” he says in a not-so-faint New York accent. “When you’ve been around Texas and Oklahoma … and North Africa was hot, too.”

These days Alvens beds down in the Cecil Hotel at Sixth and C downtown. He pays $135 a month for a small room, forty dollars more than he paid when he moved in back in ’77. He survives on a veteran’s disability pension of $413 a month, the result of a bum left leg he says he’s had ever since shrapnel tore into it during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Alvens was in the Army then; he’d enlisted in New York City in 1938. He says his acquaintance with horses and riding began when he was assigned to the 7th Cavalry Regiment, which still rode horses then and was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Alvens was apparently a busy soldier. From the 7th Cavalry he went into the 36th Infantry Division and he says he eventually saw action in North Africa under General Patton as a machine gunner and radioman. While in Europe he says he was appointed to General Eisenhower’s staff as a combat photographer and communications officer. (He says he got a wartime commission.) He recalls being on the general’s flagship on D-Day, when Eisenhower directed the invasion of Normandy. He still wears the general’s eagle staff pin on the lapel of his cowboy suit.

In 1950 Alvens settled here and went to work as the track photographer at the Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana. He held that job for nearly twenty years, until John Alessio sold the track in the late 1960s. He took up with a Mexican girlfriend and lived in Rosarito Beach during that period. He’s worn cowboy garb ever since, and has tried to ride horses at Rosarito or La Jolla farms every chance he gets. He usually trades time in the saddle for a little work around the stables.

Back in ’77, after his last odd job with PSA up at Los Angeles International Airport, Alvens was bunked at the Cecil and despising downtown. “It’s harder than hell to make friends downtown,” he says. One day he was on a bus headed for the V.A. hospital when he impulsively decided to get off at the beach. He’s been catching the noon bus to Mission Beach from the corner of Sixth and Broadway almost every day since. “It was like it was intended for me,” he says from beneath a big denim cowboy hat with a pair of silver longhorns on the prow. “I’m strictly out here to make friends. You can never have too many of those. It’s a place to get away, a place to belong. The sun, the water, the people, the sunsets. I’m just a good guy who doesn’t cause no trouble and doesn’t get into no deals.”

Alvens, whom all the people know as Wes, eats more cheaply at the beach than he could downtown. His most expensive meal of the day is usually the one he has every morning at Albie’s, across from the hotel. He pays two dollars and twelve cents for scrambled eggs, two potato cakes, a sausage patty, English muffins, and coffee. After spending the afternoon at his spot on the boardwalk, he eats the ninety-nine cent Monday night special of fish and chips at the 756 Club on Ventura. On Tuesday he eats something at the Apartment Bar next door and watches one of the movies shown there on videotape. Wednesdays he’ll grab a sandwich from one of the stands along Ventura. Thursdays he’ll eat the one-dollar spaghetti dinner at the Surf Club, and Fridays he order up the half-pound hamburger and draught for $1.50 at the 756 Club. After dinner he moseys out back to his spot to watch the sun go down and swap stories with his friends.

As you might expect, and as the police obviously do, Alvens sees and hears much of what transpires along the boardwalk. He witnesses a lot of the dope dealing and trouble making, but he says he has a code of ethics: “I see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. I don’t tell nobody nothin’. I want to live a few more years, and the way to do it is to keep my mouth shut.” Hence, when the cops rested their suspicions that he was dealing himself, and in a roundabout way asked him if he would be willing to supply them with information, he flatly turned them down. The code of the West. Besides, one of his main ambitions is to see if there will ever be two Mission Beach sunsets that look the same.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

San Diego Lotharios rejoice at news of mandatory 10 pm nightlife shutdown

Closed Doors = Closed Deals

Wes Alvens was decked out like a cowboy long before you ever slid your tender feet into a pair of citified cowboy boots, and he’ll likely be tucking his riding gloves under his broad leather belt long after you’ve left those boots to rot in the closet beside your fancy cowboy hat. And Alvens has probably spent more time on the boardwalk at Mission Beach in the last five years than you ever will, though he isn’t out there to be cool; he’s out there to be what he is: a duded-up cowboy eager to befriend beach folk and content to savor sunsets.

Anyway, how could he be cool dressed in a suit and tie, with a shirt buttoned tight at his crinkled throat, wearing jodhpur riding boots and a heavy cowboy hat? “What’s hot to people here is cool to me,” explains the sixty-three-year-old Alvens, sitting on a piece of cardboard atop the concrete boardwalk wall at the end of Ventura Place. This Alvens’ spot, contested by no one, beside an old lamp post with new signs nixing dogs and bottles on the beach, windward of the withering Belmont Park roller coaster. Practically every day since the summer of 1977 Alvens has sat here at the vortex of San Diego Beach Life, while the nearly naked throngs have shifted to and fro before him on bare feet, polyethylene skate wheels, and balloon bicycle tires. And not once has entered the water, or shown up to claim his perch in a pair of shorts. “The heat doesn’t bother me,” he says in a not-so-faint New York accent. “When you’ve been around Texas and Oklahoma … and North Africa was hot, too.”

These days Alvens beds down in the Cecil Hotel at Sixth and C downtown. He pays $135 a month for a small room, forty dollars more than he paid when he moved in back in ’77. He survives on a veteran’s disability pension of $413 a month, the result of a bum left leg he says he’s had ever since shrapnel tore into it during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Alvens was in the Army then; he’d enlisted in New York City in 1938. He says his acquaintance with horses and riding began when he was assigned to the 7th Cavalry Regiment, which still rode horses then and was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Alvens was apparently a busy soldier. From the 7th Cavalry he went into the 36th Infantry Division and he says he eventually saw action in North Africa under General Patton as a machine gunner and radioman. While in Europe he says he was appointed to General Eisenhower’s staff as a combat photographer and communications officer. (He says he got a wartime commission.) He recalls being on the general’s flagship on D-Day, when Eisenhower directed the invasion of Normandy. He still wears the general’s eagle staff pin on the lapel of his cowboy suit.

In 1950 Alvens settled here and went to work as the track photographer at the Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana. He held that job for nearly twenty years, until John Alessio sold the track in the late 1960s. He took up with a Mexican girlfriend and lived in Rosarito Beach during that period. He’s worn cowboy garb ever since, and has tried to ride horses at Rosarito or La Jolla farms every chance he gets. He usually trades time in the saddle for a little work around the stables.

Back in ’77, after his last odd job with PSA up at Los Angeles International Airport, Alvens was bunked at the Cecil and despising downtown. “It’s harder than hell to make friends downtown,” he says. One day he was on a bus headed for the V.A. hospital when he impulsively decided to get off at the beach. He’s been catching the noon bus to Mission Beach from the corner of Sixth and Broadway almost every day since. “It was like it was intended for me,” he says from beneath a big denim cowboy hat with a pair of silver longhorns on the prow. “I’m strictly out here to make friends. You can never have too many of those. It’s a place to get away, a place to belong. The sun, the water, the people, the sunsets. I’m just a good guy who doesn’t cause no trouble and doesn’t get into no deals.”

Alvens, whom all the people know as Wes, eats more cheaply at the beach than he could downtown. His most expensive meal of the day is usually the one he has every morning at Albie’s, across from the hotel. He pays two dollars and twelve cents for scrambled eggs, two potato cakes, a sausage patty, English muffins, and coffee. After spending the afternoon at his spot on the boardwalk, he eats the ninety-nine cent Monday night special of fish and chips at the 756 Club on Ventura. On Tuesday he eats something at the Apartment Bar next door and watches one of the movies shown there on videotape. Wednesdays he’ll grab a sandwich from one of the stands along Ventura. Thursdays he’ll eat the one-dollar spaghetti dinner at the Surf Club, and Fridays he order up the half-pound hamburger and draught for $1.50 at the 756 Club. After dinner he moseys out back to his spot to watch the sun go down and swap stories with his friends.

As you might expect, and as the police obviously do, Alvens sees and hears much of what transpires along the boardwalk. He witnesses a lot of the dope dealing and trouble making, but he says he has a code of ethics: “I see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. I don’t tell nobody nothin’. I want to live a few more years, and the way to do it is to keep my mouth shut.” Hence, when the cops rested their suspicions that he was dealing himself, and in a roundabout way asked him if he would be willing to supply them with information, he flatly turned them down. The code of the West. Besides, one of his main ambitions is to see if there will ever be two Mission Beach sunsets that look the same.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego Lotharios rejoice at news of mandatory 10 pm nightlife shutdown

Closed Doors = Closed Deals
Next Article

San Diego Lotharios rejoice at news of mandatory 10 pm nightlife shutdown

Closed Doors = Closed Deals
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close