Huntington Beach Then & Now: Vans By The Sand

Huntington Beach Then & Now: Vans By The Sand

THEN // Circa 1971. Vans and trucks pulled right up to the sand. Oil wells still pumping right along the old service road that once was the Pacific Electric right of way. If some radios are blaring, they're probably playing "Brown Sugar," "Maggie May" and "I Feel the Earth Move"—among other hits of the day. Smack in the deep bronze haze of summer, you can almost smell the cocoa butter and coconut oil from the Coppertone. Downtown, the Golden Bear and Surf Theater are not yet in any danger. This is the HB of many forgotten dreams. This is beach culture, unfiltered, unpolished and real.

NOW // The right of way is a bike trail. The oil is gone, as are the vehicles on the sand, the Bear and the Surf. That wedge of wall at left is still there. But where are the people? What happened to the kid in the red shorts? Or his buddy? Did they leave HB? Do they remember this summer, or did it just bleed into every other balmy, carefree day at the beach? So many ghosts on that trail, sins in the wind and memories tucked away in the tide.

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