My favorite image of the town I grew up in and lived for 22 years….
Everybody has a hometown.
Technically, I have two…
Riverside, CA, fifty miles east of Los Angeles, where I was born, spent the first nine years of my life, and have idyllic memories of as I lived with loving grandparents in a rural community outside of that city.
The other place I consider my hometown?
Santa Monica, CA, fifteen miles west of downtown Los Angeles, a town famous for its beach and pier.
It’s in Santa Monica where I lived for 22 and a half years, eighteen in one house.
It’s in Santa Monica where I spent my pubescence, adolescence, and young adulthood.
And it’s in Santa Monica where I did the milestone/rites of passage; play little league, get my first (unrequited) crushes on girls, graduate high school, work at my first jobs, things like that.
Though it’s approaching twenty years since I lived there, moving to Culver City at the end of 1998, there are three things about that seaside town that provide fond memories.
I won’t waste any time with listing those three things:
1. THE AFTERNOON SEA BREEZES
Being that it borders the Pacific Ocean (or technically, Santa Monica Bay), Santa Monicans have been blessed with what I call God’s air conditioning, as starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. winds from the ocean cool that city – and neighboring ones like Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Marina Del Rey – and make it very desirable while starting at between five to ten miles inland the temperature significantly rises.
On hot days, that means that while people in Santa Monica and other beach cities are reveling in those cool breezes, folks living inland are suffering.
Why else does the beach in Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and other places get crowded with wall-to-wall people during heat waves?
A VERY nice view of the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Point Dume at sunset. Photo courtesy of shuttlestock.com
2. THE VIEW OF MALIBU AND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ON A CLEAR DAY
On a clear day, particularly after it rains, I always loved looking north and viewing the Santa Monica Mountains and various places like Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Point Dume.
The views of those area is especially spectacular from the Santa Monica Pier, which I took some time to do on Christmas morning in 1998, just a few days before I moved away as I wanted to set my eyes on that incredible view one last time.
I unfortunately haven’t been able to see that sight due to the pier being crowded with tourists and life’s obligations in general, but rest assured that view is something about Santa Monica that I’ve always appreciated.
My all-time favorite place to eat – sorry that the picture is so small! Photo courtesy of camposfamousburritos.com
3. CAMPOS FAMOUS BURRITOS, ON 20TH STREET AND PICO BOULEVARD
There has been no other place where I’ve preferred to eat in my lifetime.
Since age eight, I have been enjoying the tacos, nachos, and burritos from what was originally called Las Palmas until it was renamed Campos around the late 1970s.
Having lived two blocks from Campos for 18 years, I have had a long history with that place…
I remember taking field trips with my junior high school Spanish class to that Mexican eatery for lunch, taking dares to drink the hot green salsa.
Though I was a bit too much of a goody-goody to do so, many of my friends have ditched school to enjoy Campos food.
I can recall taking dates there during my early 20’s.
And my latest enjoyable memory of Campos?
Going there on my 50th birthday to buy avocado burritos, which incredibly enough I had never tried as I always preferred ground beef tacos in my youth and chicken tacos and burritos in later years.
I don’t have to tell you the waves of nostalgia that passed through me that day.
In fact, if someone asked me what my number one memory of living in Santa Monica is, Campos would be it.
I thank God that there’s a branch about a block and a half from where I live in Culver City; their tacos was the first meal I had upon moving there.
I’m quite proud and blessed that I’ve been eating and enjoying Campos food for over forty years, and will continue to.
So there they are – my three fondest memories of my twenty-two and a half years in Santa Monica.
Hopefully these descriptions make anyone from that town who may be reading this smile.
The inside of the Original Campos on 20th & Pico in Santa Monica, which is so successful there are several branches all over Los Angeles’ Westside. Photo courtesy of tripadvasor.com