During the 50’s, Corona del Mar beach was packed with locals, families and high schoolers from Harbor High (Corona del Mar wasn’t there yet), Mater Dei, Santa Ana, and Orange. For a teenager it was a fun time to walk the beach and see clusters of friends.
Every year there was a lobster bake on the parking lot. It was a very low-keyed event with a pet parade. Maybe the most pets would be 20 with their participants and maybe another 20 onlookers. The dogs were judged on the outfits they wore. They were dressed in different garb, one cute poodle being covered with orange crepe paper crinkled to have the dog appear as a lobster.
One year two Breakers Drive dogs were entered in the contest. My brother, Chris Fraser, entered our Cocker Spaniel “Princess” with Wendy O’Keefe’s Collie “Symba”. The morning of the parade Wendy got her dad’s shirt, tie and sport coat and dressed Symba in it. Chris got a wagon and put a pillow in it and placed Princess on it with a veil on her head. To add to the wagon, he strung along some tin cans and made a sign “Just Married”. When Symba was handsomely dressed the wagon was attached to him so as to have him pull the wagon with the “bride”. Both dogs were used to being played with and just followed along with their role. They were a sensation and won first prize.
Crime and break-ins never happened on Breakers Drive. I don’t know why, but at one time there were problems on the beach and the parking lot. Apparently someone or groups of offenders were watching the families load out of their cars. The keys were sometimes put in a secret place such as on a tire or under the fender with a magnet box. And if all went into the water those unsuspecting victims on the sand would carefully conceal their wallets in the duffle bag or under a towel. The crime would happen shortly after the unfortunate victims would leave.
Because of the number of robberies the police had to figure someone with binoculars was watching and directing their cohorts to go to the destinations. Our family knew about this because we were approached to help. For about three weekends, a policeman would show up at our home and go to the corner of the living room and watch for any unusual activity. He was a very polite man but never disclosed any information as to who was caught. We didn’t hear of any problems with the beach after that.
Peggie Parrott grew up on Breakers Drive; today she and her sister live next door to each other. Her memories of Big Corona beach are preserved here. — Ed