Give Me a Belt
A visitor walks into a Laguna bar. He says to the bartender, “Give me a belt.” The bartender turns out the lights. “Here’s not looking at you. Have a Laguna night-light belt.” Visitor whispers out of the darkness, “If you’re still here, bartender give me another.” Bartender hits the visitor in the face with a water back. Visitor gasps, “What was that?” “Blue Belt.” Bartender says, “You’ve had enough,” and then proceeds to take the visitor’s green filled belt.
And a hearty belt of appreciation goes out to the Laguna Beach Belt, Inc. on their 50th anniversary. Today, there exists 22,000 acres of unspoiled landscape from here to Irvine. As a seven-year newbie to Laguna, I’ve come to marvel at this accomplishment. The late and great Jim Dilley began it all. So I say, in lieu of a candle-less cake in the area to celebrate, this Bud’s for you. Dilley. Dilley.
Since my arrival, I’ve heard spirited stories about the beginnings of these preservation efforts. Some true. Most not. But one story gets told more often than the others. It is the legend of Crooked Creek. On one fine spring day, Dilley takes to the trails above Laguna Beach. He walks for miles appreciating the springtime spectacle. With canvass and brushes in hand he stops on a spot on Crooked Creek that calls to him to paint. As he sets to the task, he overhears two surveyors. “A little to the left. A little more. Okay. Stop.” Dilley curious to the goings-on saunters over, “What are you boys up to?” The taller of the two surveyors answers looking down, “We’re surveying the land for a great development of 10,000 condominiums, five golf courses and 120 retail spaces. This crooked creek is in the way. We’re here to straighten things out.” Dilley sighs. “And how are you going about it?” The shorter surveyor talking big answers, “The building plans call for straightening out the creek into straight canals that will run parallel and perpendicular to one another. Then we can put the condos, super malls and golf courses in between.” Dilley quivers at the thought. “You know this spot is no good. It’s haunted by the Crooked Creek fairies.” Surveyors huff together, “We’re not afraid of any fairies.” Dilley laughs. “You should be. The last two surveyors were cursed.” The tall surveyor asks, “What happened to them?” Dilley says, “One went cross-eyed. And the other went a plum off center in the head. Both never worked again.” The surveyors take a moment to consider things. “What do you suggest?” Dilley takes out a building plan and permit from his satchel and advises, “Here take this building plan and similar acreage North of here. There you can build free of the curse.” The surveyors packed up, went north and built the town of Venice, Calif., an area known for straight and true canals.
Is this fact or fiction? Who knows? What’s important is that the story has grown into a powerful legend that comes with a warning. “If you build it, they will come. And they are the Crooked Creek fairies. Beware developers.”
So, rest easy Laguna Beach. Happy Trails. Dilley. Dilley.
Crantz tells the Indy that he likes to hike the trails. He stays to the un-straight and un-narrow.