Friday, May 3, 2013

There is no life east of Pacific Coast Highway

A few posts ago, I described meeting an old high school friend at his mountain retreat in the Sierras.

When we were freshmen and sophomores, we rode bikes to the beach towing our surfboards behind us using jerry-rigged trailers we had cobbled together out of two-by-fours, carpet pieces, and old wagon wheels. It was a great time of life. The good news is that we knew it. We had lots of fun and many friends. We really did believe that no life existed east of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

Best of the batch of yours truly
On rare occasions, my friend would bring a twin-reflex camera to the beach and try to capture moments of surfing prowess. He had a darkroom in his garage and I can remember spending hours trying to finesse a recognizable image. No such luck. Without a telephoto, we only got  grainy pictures of neophyte surfers riding tiny waves. In other words, nothing we could pass around the school cafeteria to secure a date or a couple moments of fame.

On my visit last month, my friend gave me an envelope of black and white negatives. His idea was that in the big city, I might find a lab that could still process two-inch, fifty year old negatives. With a few phone calls, I succeeded. However, modern technology still can’t out-perform an enlarger in a garage. In fact, back in those days, we may have had the edge in technology for this ancient medium. Despite not finding Surfer Magazine-worthy material, we did have fun seeing these photographs once again. They brought back pleasant memories of long-ago summers. Unfortunately, they also reminded us how much time had gone by. Darn. Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.

Me and an impolite friend

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