Crystal Cove

North of Laguna Beach in Southern California, a popular camping site evolved in the 1920’s into a tent community and then a cluster of cottages on the slope above the beach.  The land was owned by the Irvine Company and the cottage owners paid monthly rent for the land.  Because the ownership was tenuous, the cottages always retained their casual look.  Plumbing was especially iffy.  Winter waves breaking on the beach shook the walls of the flimsy shacks.

My uncle owned one cottage and was involved with three others.  I lived there for three years and my family visited for thirty years before the Irvine Company traded Crystal Cove to the State of California for development rights on the rest of the Irvine Ranch.  My uncle was a general contractor and hired several men who lived at Crystal Cove.  We worked together during the week and drank, played cards and volleyball together on the weekend.

Enjoying a drink on a cottage porch at sunset was a long tradition in Crystal Cove.  There are historic photos in what is now the visitor center of raising the martini flag in the 1940’s.  I have visions of my uncle’s cottage turned into a wax museum and I am one of the figures seated at the card table.