Goin’ Back to Cali: Balboa Island

The seawalk on Balboa Island. A pleasant stroll at any time of day, at any time of year. I spent many summers here growing up, and my last year of college living here.

Boats in Balboa Bay. The bay (technically an estuary, coming down from the brackish San Joaquin Marsh further up by Irvine) is a broad, well-protected harbor, with many mudflats in it that over the years have been turned into low islands crowded with houses.

The sheltering arm of the Balboa Peninsula, itself not much higher than a sandbar, keeps ocean waves from the harbor, leaving room for thousands of boats to anchor safely.

This picture looks across the tip of Little Balboa Island toward the harbor entrance.

The only picture I have of Kim, a boat I’ve been working on. She lies at anchor off the Big Island. I’ve cleaned her up considerably since this picture was taken.

The Grand Canal Bridge, which connects Big Balboa Island to Little Balboa Island. The islands, collectively referred to as Balboa Island, are the first ones you pass as you sail into Newport Harbor. In the background you see the bluffs that overlook the bay.

Nine miles north of Laguna is another summer colony whose thought vibrations do not disturb anybody. Balboa has always been the beach of the flappers. It has one of the few stillwater bays on the coast of California. Summer houses on a long, thin peninsula of sand; summer houses on a small island in the middle of the bay . . . sail-boats dotting the blue water. There is a second and third island in the bay. Lido was started as a high-hat movie colony with telescope-high prices; but languished and was opened to the hoi polloi when caught by the depression. The third island is named for Madam Modjeska, the great Polish actress who died there; and is owned by a stock company . . . summer cottages coming down to the edge of the quiet water, with motor-boat barns for cellars. Every one sails . . . some of the young girls in Star boats with great skill. In summer they vary bridge parties by studying navigation under ex-navy officers. I don’t know the sea-going name for puppy love but here is where it flourishes. It is moulded by athletics. To live at Balboa and not be able to swim would be like a cowboy who had never been on a horse. Ethnologists and Theosophists agree that a new fifth race is being born in California and that these young California girl giants will be the mothers thereof. They have big feet and big hands and top their mothers by a head and shoulders.

Five or six miles up the coast is Huntington Beach . . .

From Los Angeles: City of Dreams, by Harry Carr, Copyright 1935 (pp. 303-4)

Highway 127 . . . Desert . . . Town . . . Football
Balboa Island . . . Ferries and Pavilion . . . Beaches . . . Kim
New Year's . . . Bluesmobile . . . Whaling . . . The Prayer Wheel
Tall Ships . . . Santa Barbara Island Hop . . . Minding the Train

Cali Index

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