Opinion: Skipping Down the Sidewalks of 70s Laguna

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By Jon Flick

Jon Flick. Submitted photo.

My father drove a flower-powered van for his shop, Accent on Furniture, located a stone’s throw from Timothy Leary and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love compound on Laguna Canyon Road in the sixties.

Pops would leap out in Leisure World like Jumpin’ Jack Flash, his long mane cascading below the butterfly belt buckle that held up his bell bottoms. My hippie father refinished antique furniture and it was comical to me when he dropped off a roll top desk to some senior who served under Black Jack John Pershing in the shelling of the Argonne Forest in WWI.

My dad Corb was shacked up with a chick named Spot, who designed his buckle in her booth at the Sawdust Festival. He met her when her VW Bug broke down in front of his business. Love by karma. Hey, it was in the air in that era. He gave Marcia her nickname to herald the freckles that were enveloped by her red hair.

It was heaven sent to escape the Dominican nuns that schooled me at Sacred Heart in Redlands with different instruments of torture wrapped in their rosary beads and ride shotgun with my divorced Dad delivering furniture. Jagger, warbling out of the eight-track player, said, “Yesterday, don’t matter if it’s gone.” The Greeter on the corner would give us a wave as we drove by the Laguna Hotel. Dad took me to the theatre across the street to see The Endless Summer. Up the road on the right was Fahrenheit 451, where I bought my first Bukowski book and discovered the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Sometimes, we’d score a burger at Husky Burger on the way to his South Laguna abode.

Dad also raced a Sunbeam at Riverside and other Sports Car Club of America courses. With no factory backing, he often had his hippie helpers at the shop work deep into the night to get the ride ready for a race at Willow Springs. They were a motley crew. Moe looked a lot like Fat Freddy, paint-splotched pants and frizzy fro famed by muttonchops. He would dip the furniture in the vat of stripper to take off the old finish, my dad following by accenting the pieces with a practiced brush. They would relax at the dart board with a Lucky Lager in their non-throwing hand. Dad worked his way up from the bottom after chucking his architect job and trading his brush cut for a ponytail when he and mom parted in Redlands. She had gotten pregnant while a high school student at St. Bernadine’s and he had been a hot rodder, “In the still of the night.” They married out of necessity as they did in those days when I made my appearance. After a couple of years of struggle, Dad boogied to the beach and went through his metamorphosis like the butterfly on the buckle.

Dad was playful as a puppy when that funny smell emerged from underneath the bedroom door. He and Spot would gather me and we would line up on the porch of his tiny house. Accompanied with rubber-tipped darts, we would enter one by one. It was open season when the last one entered, often opening the refrigerator door to cast light on the cramped living room and spy the hidden twosome for the last person standing not hit with a dart wins.   

When he sold the shop and bought a couple cabins in a valley of rolling hills of pine he christened Shady Acres in the late seventies, the beach still called me. I’ve been staying at the Laguna Riviera since then, its rustic exterior reminding me of a hotel off the Italian coastline. I would listen to Rastafarian music at the White House. Before it closed, I’d have a bucket of clams at the Beach House or tacos from the stand across the street owned by the cool cat with the dreads, which, on my last visit, I discovered was closed.    

Yes, Pops turned me on to Laguna. A buzz that never ends.

Jon Flick wrote a book called “The Bogus Buzz” under the pen name of Glen Keough. It features the exploits of five boys who escape the nuns and partake of the forbidden fruit of the 70s.  

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