Sisters Peggie and Bonnie grew up on Breakers Drive in Corona del Mar. They own homes next to each other. Recently they’ve both torn down the old homes to build beautiful beach homes. Peg’s home is for sale and before she leaves the neighborhood I asked her to share some of her stories of growing up at Big Corona beach. — Ed
Mr. Tate ran the beach when we first moved to Breakers Dr. He lived in a one-story home at the end of the block on the sand side. He was a burly man and a little gruff. Every morning he would clean the beach with a contraption on his vehicle that would sift through the sand so that he could check for valuables. One day my brother (maybe 8 years old) had a sifter and proceeded to work the beach — Whamo! Mr. Tate was after him and let him know the beach was his!
He ran a tight ship hiring good workers, mostly young guys who loved the beach. These workers did the landscape maintenance, parking collection and beach rentals. The concession stands were separate. I don’t remember when the city took over but the parking lot in front of our house was black-topped and became a permanent lot, and Tate just vanished along with his house. The city now had control of the beach.
The concession stands were a motley group, but ah the food was terrific. Of about 10 stands, Kirkwood’s was on the edge so did the most business, decent hamburgers, shakes and malteds. Next was the taco stand, delicious! A couple more stands down had fresh-squeezed orange juice and fat hamburgers — the best! Bonnie and I worked at Kirkwood’s and Mr. Kirkwood went to work at the Ace Hardware store when the city tore down the seasonal stands. A couple of more contemporary stands were built.
One of Tate’s workers applied to the city to continue to care for the beach. I can’t remember his name, it will come to me in the middle of the night! He won the contract for the concessions. Even though he was a good guy, the food was mediocre and it was never the same. He had lots of competition for the contract every year and once he went to the Breakers neighbors to ask for letters of recommendation. He won the contract and Bob McAllister got some cookies for the nice recommendation! Don’t know when the city had big plans for construction for the new eatery and 2-story life-guard stand but all was torn down and new buildings constructed.
Next will be the “Neighbors on the block” or if you have any questions about those early days I will try to answer.