By Fred Swegles
Greetings, readers. I hope you will welcome a new kid onto these pages.
This is the first in a series of San Clemente Times columns I’m calling CoastLines, snippets about San Clemente. I hope to share a few perspectives gained from seven decades of San Clemente life (1950s through now) and five decades chronicling the town for the Sun Post News.
May the Sun Post, my former life’s work, rest in peace. The Sun Post newspaper era (1937-2018) ended in March, a victim of the OC Register’s unfortunate downsizing.
I plan to tell stories about people and places, maybe a few oddities, a bit of humor, some photos. I may contribute occasional photos and words on other SC Times pages.
For readers who don’t know me, I grew up here, attending San Clemente Grammar School (now Las Palmas), Concordia Elementary, Capistrano Union High and, from the day it opened in 1964, San Clemente High School.
I was the first sports editor of the school paper, The Triton. The Sun Post hired me to write up the football games. I also worked shifts at Denny’s (even double shifts), also elsewhere around town. Anyone remember Cobb’s on Pico?
I was blessed to score a journalism scholarship to USC. I was home most weekends, surfing T-Street. I was sports editor of the Daily Trojan for two years, during the O.J. Simpson era.
Graduating in 1970, I returned home, intent on saving money and traveling for a couple of years before settling down to a serious career. With Sun Post publisher Stan Manning’s blessing, I managed a fair bit of world travel, via extended sabbaticals.
As addicted to travel as I was, San Clemente was a fabulous place to come home to. I enjoyed covering my hometown.
The wanderlust turned to surf photography. I shot photos for surf magazines, publishing select ones in the Sun Post. My boss was cool with it, a win/win, visiting far reaches of the world photographing our local surf heroes.
In 1993, the OC Register acquired the Sun Post. Ten years later, I halted commercial surf photography. Times had changed in the news industry, and so did my focus. As newspapers dwindled nationwide, I survived repeated rounds of layoffs.
The March 1 elimination of my position saddened me greatly, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to cover my hometown for so many years.
Post-layoff, I’ve traveled, relaxed and relished getting my life back, freed from an endless treadmill of overwork that I had imposed on myself.
Norb Garrett, owner and publisher of Picket Fence Media, has invited me to continue contributing to the conversation in San Clemente. He also had an opening covering San Juan Capistrano and offered it, too. I declined.
I covered San Juan the last two years for OC Register, along with San Clemente. I met some really nice people there. It was tempting. But I’m not inclined to return to the days/nights/weekends treadmill. Thanks for the offer. That chapter is, in my mind, over.
The weight of local politics no longer burdens me. I’ve learned to appreciate that the last four months. Life is too short. Time to kick back and focus on topics that I’ll handpick, apt to enjoy.
Norb asked what I want to title myself in the staff box. I said, “How about Old Guy?” He laughed and wondered if that might offend some readers. So, I will accept his compromise: Resident Old-Timer. I actually like Old Guy better, but that’ll do.
Thanks, SC Times, for the opportunity. I hope we can share some good times here. Aloha.
Fred Swegles is a San Clemente native with more than 46 years of journalism experience in the city.