Just like the rainy weather, stories are pouring in for “Life in Pacific Grove,” the collection of tales by and for residents and visitors of PG that we’re publishing to benefit the Friends of the Pacific Grove Public Library. The idea behind this project is to create and preserve a true-life snapshot of what it’s like to live in Pacific Grove today. Though memories of PG “way back when” are also welcome, the emphasis is on this current moment in time.This article first appeared in the Feb. 10, 2017 issue of the Cedar Street Times.
Today’s guest columnist, Howard Rowland, shows how it’s done with this description of his morning walks on Lighthouse Avenue.
The Place Where He Feels Most at Home
Due to a long-standing pelvic tendon injury of mine, one of my doctors has prescribed that I undertake a daily, non-stop, one-mile walk in a flat area with no steep inclines—and do this the rest of my life, if possible. And I have been doing just this at various locations in New Monterey and Pacific Grove for the last six months or so.
My favorite walk by far has turned out to be on PG’s Lighthouse Avenue from Forest Avenue to the intersection with Alder Street and back—exactly one mile. Even though I am a long-time resident of New Monterey, I have always shopped in the upper area of PG’s Forest Avenue and consider the downtown area of Pacific Grove to be the center of my commercial life, the place where I feel most at home.
In fact, the label of Pacific Grove as being “America’s Last Hometown” may be a sort of trite or hackneyed phrase by now, but as an outsider who was born in Oklahoma but then grew up mainly in New Orleans, I can attest to the fact—and to my personal feeling—that there is a great deal of truth to this.
People are almost all quite friendly, or at least civil, to me as I trudge along the residential area from Congress to Alder and back and greet other walkers, and almost invariably I run across someone between Congress and Forest with whom I can have an amusing long or brief conversation.
Kernels of Truth from Offhand Remarks
Although my body is full of stiff Anglo-Saxon blood and I could perhaps have acquired or been taught better social skills as a young man, I find that the people who live and work in downtown PG are amazingly easy to communicate with, and sometimes I have learned incredibly accurate kernels of wisdom from them in their offhand remarks.
A few months ago, right after the presidential election and during my daily walk, I poked my head through the open top half of the door to Phill’s Barber Shop. As I looked at the men sitting along the wall waiting for their haircuts, as well as at the three barbers and their customers being worked on, I could tell that there was a fairly glum atmosphere that prevailed due to the election results. However, I decided to take the bull by the horns, so I shouted: “Well, I hope everyone’s survived this election OK!!”
There was no response from the group there. There was no joking to be expressed concerning this election. But Phill, a young man who owns the shop and is fairly obviously far wiser than most of his elders anywhere, looked at me, smiled slightly, and said: “No sweat, man. Tomorrow the sun is going to rise again.”
“Wow!” I thought to myself as I said good-bye to him and then walked away. “He’s exactly right! America will survive! America always survives, no matter who wins an election!”
Watch for more of Howard Rowland’s description of walking on Lighthouse Avenue in next week’s “Keepers of Our Culture.”
The Easy Way to Write Your Story
We want to include your story in “Life in Pacific Grove.” Won’t you contribute a few words to this worthwhile community project? Just go to our new website, lifeinpacificgrove.com, and follow the easy directions. And if you don’t think you’re a writer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is by attending the next free writing class, this coming Thursday, February 16, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Little House in Jewell Park. We promise you will leave the session with a story for your family and for this historic PG book.
GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS: Patricia Hamilton will be speaking to the Pacific Grove Rotary on February 21 and at Canterbury Woods on March 7 about “Life in Pacific Grove.” She is available to give a presentation about contributing to “Life in Pacific Grove” to your group, book club, service organization, friends and family, and also to lead a writing session to gather stories. Contact her at email@example.com to set up a date and time.