Taking a trip back into Cambria's past

Old newspapers take us on a magic carpet ride to another time

Special to The CambrianNovember 15, 2012 

It was like riding a time machine, dialed to Cambria, 1980. Thanks to Art Edis and Jim McCoy who had held on to spring and summer 1980 issues of The Cambrian, I was able to immerse in that time and social fabric.

Some things don’t change. The Letters to Editor back then reflected the same spirit, vibrancy, cantankerousness and independent thinking this generation of Cambrians know.  There were articles too about building a library, buzz on the issue of street lights, land use feasibility studies and discussion about advisory commissions and boards, especially the California Coastal Commission.
A hot topic that spring and summer was the “federalizing of land around Big Sur.”  The plans of Senator Alan Cranston and Congressman Leon Panetta got a lot of ink and attitude.  North Coast writers then also knew how to crank out words with feeling.

A big story was the end of the building moratorium on Lodge Hill. So too was the story of Chumash and Salinan archeological sites.  Do you know about the San Simeon 16? They were part of a marijuana smuggling ring up there, but there was no mention of panga boats. A man and his sailboat that ended up on the rocks, and a rancher who overturned his tractor were front-page items.

There was plenty of nostalgia on those yellowed pages. A photo piece on the Community Presbyterian Thrift sale was tucked into advertisements for places now long gone; the Beef Eater Inn, Café Portavia, charburgers at Round the Corner, the Upper Crust Bakery, Village Upholstery, the Cambria Appliance Center, Old Camozzi’s, The Golden Lion Pub, Falcon Cable, the Art Tower Gallery, the Cambria News and Deli, and others. I wish I could have patronized some of those businesses.
In that summer of 1980 there was a lot of talk about what do with the “brick bank building.” Today we know how that story turned out, as we wonder about another bank building. Then as now there were column inches given over to the venerable Pewter Plough Playhouse. Some of those pieces seemed almost poetic.

Our predecessors 32 years ago seem aligned with our, shall we say, individualistic and even eccentric rhythms. There were pieces about a metaphysical healer, whale watching, birding, concern over water, land use and comments about a “mysterious observer.” The most curious of that spring and summer was an article about Gorda, having been purchased by a company called Kidco, where the owners were all children. There were details about the parents’ off-shore banking practices and suspicions about that. But the gist of the article was that Gorda had become “a company town. ”There was a comment about how people used to sit at the gas station, drink beer and yell at passing tourists, but all that had changed because Gorda had become a “company town.”

I can’t imagine what some Cambrians of 32 years ago would think of their town today, but I sure enjoyed the trip back, courtesy of The Cambrian.

Tom Cochrun is an Emmy-winning journalist who hails from Indianapolis. Read his blog at www.tomcochrun.com. Email your “Your Turn” musings about Cambria — what it is, how it affects us; what we like about it and, for that matter, what could be better — to cambrian@thetribunenews.com.

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