La Jolla Shores 1950s

I’m working on a new historical crime novel that takes place in La Jolla, CA in the mid-1950s. As part of my research, I’ve been going through some old family documents and photographs. I’ve always been fascinated by one photograph, in particular, that I’d found in my father’s collection. It’s the house my father lived in after he moved here from Kansas with his first wife, Ruth.

Looking back toward Shores Beach from the Coast Walk Trail circa 1955. The house in the foreground was owned by my father and his first wife, Ruth. Before my time.

This first book takes place in the mid-1950s. I’m planning two subsequent novels that will take place in the 1960s and 1970s respectively, following different members of one fictional family and their interactions with a number of real-life characters who either lived in or passed through La Jolla during that time. It is not autobiographical but some echoes of my family’s experiences will no doubt come through.

I was born in 1958 so by the time I was a kid riding my bicycle in and around the Shores Beach area, it had changed substantially. As you’ll see from the picture below, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in the foreground and Scripps Institute and Pier were the only buildings there in the mid-fifties, though a few scattered houses had started to creep in.

Shores Beach from somewhere on Mount Soledad. Circa 1955

The two biggest changes that led to real estate development in the Shores neighborhood were the establishment of UCSD on the mesa above Scripps Institute and completion of the La Jolla Parkway (originally Ardath Road) cutover from Interstate 5, which allowed easy automobile access to town. But in the early 1950s, there was still plenty of room to park your boat on the beach.

Taken from Shores Beach, looking north toward Scripps pier and La Jolla Farms where UCSD would be built

Needless to say, it was a different world then. There were also stables nearby and folks could ride horses down to the beach. I’m trying to capture some of that atmosphere in the first book. More to come in future posts.