Using the philosophy that history is someone else's point of view, this book is a compilation of stories about the people who discovered and helped develop the little seaside town with a funny name: La Jolla, California.
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La Jolla is more than a town, more than a pretty seaside place in the sun. There is a spirit about this place. Its essence comes not only from the sea, the surf, the sun, the cliffs, and the caves, but also from its unique history which includes some special citizens, people who contributed to and were responsible for its evolution. La Jolla is called home by Nobel Laureates, politicians, gurus of the Internet, as well as actors, authors, and artists of every genre.
What is it about this place? To find out, at the behest of Anne Terhune, editor of 'La Jolla Village News', we compiled a two year series of weekly articles exploring La Jolla's rich past. We read letters, explored libraries, serached through old books and manuscripts, listened to stories, walked around and through historic sites and discovered, by exploring the past, the many facets that make this little town so special. This book is the result of that quest.
Also contributing are articles written by Cliff Robertson, Gary Fogel, Steele Lipe, Susanna Lipe, George Silvani, Mary ellen Stratthaus, Robert Thiele, Wilma Harle Garth, and Joan Ogelsby.
"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. " (Edmund Burke)
“They all came back to La Jolla, Sunset Land.”
“They find that ‘peace, perfect peace’, which is seldom found in this hurrying, troubled world.”
These words were written in the early twenties about visitors to La Jolla. Imagine what the writer would have thought about La Jolla now, at the end of this millennium! Traffic, noise, crowds. However, take a walk along the coast at sunset or rise early and stroll across the rocks and tide pools along the shore from Windansea Beach to the Cove. The peace is still there.
The following article is another remembrance of things past. It comes from an interview with Ellen Revelle in 1981.
Memoirs of Early Days in La Jolla
Ellen Clark Revelle
My family moved to California from Michigan before I was born and lived first on a Julian ranch, then in San Diego, and, finally, in 1916, Pasadena. But summers were always spent in La Jolla which explains why I, with a July birthday, was born here. Since I did not actually live in La Jolla until after my marriage, my earliest La Jolla memories are all summer ones. The trek down from Pasadena in those olden times was a four hour expedition—one hour to Santa Ana, the next to a certain old sycamore tree by the dry river bed at San Juan Capistrano, where we always had a picnic lunch and a chance to stretch our legs, then another hour to Oceanside and, finally, the arrival at our destination, whatever little cottage had been rented for that summer.
One of the cottages that I remember was the “Sea Dahlia” at the corner of Kline and Eads. Another one, on Prospect Street, has disappeared, replaced by IHOP Restaurant. That house belonged to a long-time La Jolla family, the Dearborns. It served as medical offices during the ‘40s and ‘50s for Dr. J T Lipe and Dr. Everett Rogers, and, during that period, as I sat in the waiting room with one or another of my four children, I could easily recall taking reluctant naps in the little recess off the main room that served as the receptionist’s office, or suffering through the removal from a badly sunburned, gooey shoulder of an undershirt that had gotten stuck. One summer, we were in a house on Draper, just beyond the tennis courts. It was handy to be so close to the playground. At the very end of the summer, after the trunks had already been picked up to go back to Pasadena, my brother Bill managed to fall into a nearby fishpond. He returned to the cottage, drippy and more than a little messy for the long drive home.
My family owned, for a while, the two-story redwood house at the north end of Virginia Way called, appropriately, “Edgehill”. (Houses used to be identified, not by street numbers, but by names.) Mother used to tell of calling the fire department once when “Edgehill” seemed threatened by a fire in the canyon just east of the house, and of getting the response: “Well, the boys are out to lunch right now, but I’ll sure tell ‘em as soon as they get back.” Thanks to womanpower (and I dimly remember that Virginia Scripps was somehow involved with the episode), the fire was safely out by the time lunch was over!
In the summer of 1920, mother arranged to rent a house from another Pasadenian, the mother of Thaddeus Jones. This house, on the bluff approximately where the north building of White Sands is located, had the name, “Red Raven” (not to be confused with “Red Rest” by the Cove). This was named for a medicinal concoction, rather similar to Pluto Water. Every tray in the house carried advertisements such as, “Drink Red Raven Splits”, and there were several large papier-mâché ravens tucked here and there among the antique furniture. There was a wide, unobstructed view north and south and stone steps meandering down to the section of the beach that was called, of course, Jones Beach. Our whole family had always loved that particular beach, which had the name, “Whispering Sands” because of the strange sound made by walking on the dry sand. It was a fine place for picnics, shell collecting, walking, and for playing in the protected coves at the end.
We were allowed to rent the same house the next summer. Probably those two summers in the “red Raven” convinced my mother that she wanted her own house on that same beach, so she built one that we moved into in mid-summer of 1922. This house, which I have owned since 1940 and enjoy living in, is in a location that was, at the time of its construction, considered by Cousin Floy Kellogg to be “dangerously far out from town”. It was rather remote, with few homes very near. There was just empty, sandy land and sand dunes south of us and rough, bare bluffs to the north.
The “Badlands”, as we children called the rugged area between us and the “Red Raven”, was a fascinating playground. There were canyons, some with quite steep slopes, and caves, some of them natural; others dug out by energetic boys. There were trap-door spiders to watch, and the occasional thrill and excitement of finding wicked looking tarantulas. The more serene sand dunes, to the south, were much less exciting, but still fun to play in.
Because of the remote location of the house, my mother, in order to have a telephone and electric service, had to buy her own telephone pole! And, I believe, there is an ancient, unused septic tank lurking somewhere in our garden.
The beach was still a place where men could appear without tops to their bathing suits, which was not allowed at the Cove. However, even when we had a house right above the beach, our daily swims continued to be at the Cove, which was the center of summer life. There was a tradition in the ‘20s and ‘30s of family umbrellas being set up at the west end of the cove beach. One feature of the Cove in those days was the raft that was installed every summer, about 100 yards from shore, just a little beyond the reef, with a line out to it from shore, held up in the water by floats. Perhaps it was because of that line across the beach, which divided off the east end, as much as the large sign painted on the cliff at the east side, “Danger! Keep 100 feet back of this rock!”, that we never considered going over to sit on that end of the beach. That was for tourists, not regulars like us.
Another activity of the Cove was aquaplaning and later freeboarding back of a motor boat. My mother was persuaded to learn to ride, too, and even convinced to do so minus the bulky, short dress affair that moderately covered up her “Annette Kellerman” (sort of a body stocking), for fear of becoming entangled.
During all those happy summers in La Jolla, it had never occurred to me that I would become a year-round resident. (Ellen Revelle remained in La Jolla, with the exception of years spent away on business trips, since her marriage to Roger Revelle in 1931. Sadly, Ellen died in 2009 at the age of 98.)