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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A story of memories and good times at Dillon Beach, California


By John Ross Hart


Fourth of July from an earlier day.  The view from our car was memorable.  On the beach, the Lawson family had set up a bonfire.There was no fog as the sun set over the endless Pacific.Some people warmed themselves, but most continued doing the usual activities, kids building sand castles, lovers holding hands, families having picnics.A surfer paddled out for one more ride.  Two teens waded in the water.Two dogs were playing "fetch" with their owners.

Now the sun was gone.More people gathered around the bonfire, for heat or for light, but not too close.Some sat on the beach.  We were cozy in the car.  From a bluff, the Lawson's began the show everyone wanted to see, the Fourth of July fireworks.  You could hear the "oohs" and "awes" from continued spectacular displays.  The beach wasn't too crowded.It cost $5.00 to gain access anyway.But everybody was getting their money's worth.  This was a Dillon Beach tradition which, sadly, no longer takes place.

As a born-and-raised Californian, I had the opportunity to visit several of its beaches.Dillon Beach was, and remains a personal favorite, and from here come many stories.

Back in the 1960's, my parents had befriended a couple who worked at UC Davis.  They had a permanent trailer at Dillon Beach.  We were welcome to use it.As a matter-of-fact, we knew a few people who had trailers or had vacation homes at "Dillon's."

This was not a state or public beach.  It  was privately owned by the Lawson's, a notable ranching and business family from Woodland.Most people who came to this beach called Woodland, Davis, or Winters their permanent home.

We stayed at our friend's trailer many times, until they retired and sold.My parents would've loved to buy it, but at that time they were putting their money towards getting me through college.  They eventually got their trailer, and I got a few chances to use it.

My brother and I, notably Rich, would try to catch fish or little crabs from the pier at Lawson's Landing.There seemed to be plenty of these little crabs.

My ex-wife, Paula, and I once tried to dig clams.There was a trick to that and we never got it.

Ducking and playing amongst the sand dunes was fun.Rich and I did.We also did it with his daughter, Nikki.My son, Liam, and I made believe each dune was a ship.I was on one and he was on the other.

Even my Dad got into the dunes.The first year the trailer was parked at the landing, he went atop the one dune overlooking the site as a way for Rich to find the place.For Mom and I, down at the trailer, it was an amusing sight, but Rich found us.

We teased the waves here.We had many picnics here.Extra-Crispy Kentucky Fried Chicken with all the fixins' was a Hart family favorite.We built sandcastles.The waves washed them away.We walked the beach, sometimes alone, sometimes with family.I also ran the beach to stay in shape.I took lots of pictures through the years, both still and video.We enjoyed all the treats of Dillon Beach.

I made love to a woman in a sheltered cove.

I got seasick and lost my breakfast going out to sea.

I spent a fortune on souvenirs at the Lawson's store and always made sure I had the annual tide table.

Our trailer-site was a great place for a barbecue and a glass of Chardonnay.

Sunday mornings reading the Chronicle in the trailer while it was cold and foggy was a definite treat.

But more enjoyable was the opportunity to share Dillon's, initially with my parents and family, more recently with Laury and Liam.Though his parents are now in Arizona, Liam still makes an annual pilgrimmage.

In her later years, my Grandma Hart took such a liking to Dillon Beach that here she wanted her ashes put to sea.  The remains of my parents also went to sea here.

Today, the visits are few.But when we make return visits to family and friends, we try to drive over to Dillon's to walk the beach, put flowers in the water, and recall all those great memories.

There is picture in my scrapbook of a 22-year-old me with Rich on the pier at Lawson's Landing.I am wearing bell-bottoms, a pink pastel shirt, and I've got long hair.It's a favorite memory of good times.



Submitted: June 04, 2020

© Copyright 2021 John Ross Hart. All rights reserved.

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