By Herman Sillas
In the late 1980s, Cora and I were introduced to San Clemente by our Glendale neighbors. They suggested we jointly purchase a San Clemente condo for weekend use. We liked the idea and bought a one-bedroom condo in the Pier Bowl with our partners. That’s when the Pier and I first met.
One New Year’s Eve in the early 90s, Cora and I hosted two close friends for dinner at our condo. Later in the evening we walked Avenida Del Mar up to El Camino Real and back. Every place was closed. The four of us were the only moving things on Del Mar. How time has changed in 25 years.
Eventually, Cora and I became the sole owners of our condo. Our children were on their own and we were living in our inland two-story, four-bedroom home. We spent half our time searching for each other in the house. I suggested we spend a week at San Clemente and I would take the Metrolink into my Los Angeles office. After my first roundtrip, I excitedly told Cora, “I could do this every work day!” And I did.
We sold our large home and moved into our San Clemente condo as a permanent residence. As a daily commuter on the train to Los Angeles, I met many interesting folks and some became my friends. Eventually, Cora and I acquired a two-bedroom condo in our condo complex. Our ocean view was spectacular from our new residence. We watched as San Clemente grew from being a “Spanish Village by the sea” to a metropolis as more folks came. But for us, the numerous stairs to our condo became an issue for our aging legs. It was time for us to move. My good fishing buddy, Steve Carrico found us a home in a 55-and-older residential community. Our new place has no stairs.
However, moving from the hustling, vibrant, busy and noisy Pier Bowl area to this quiet senior community was quite a change. Silence prevailed in our new community. We experienced a cultural shock. One morning, after three days at our new residence, I looked out our living room window and called out to Cora in our kitchen, “Cora, come here and look.”
“What?” She answered.
“Come to the window. Look.”
“Look. A person,” I jokingly answered as I pointed to a man walking. He was the first human I had seen after our move. Now, four months later, I have learned to love the silence and peace of our new residence.
As owners, Cora and I belong to the Home Owners Association, which has monthly evening meetings. The business and concerns of our small community are discussed. After our last monthly meeting, for the first time, refreshments, including wine and beer were provided along with good food. One of our members, Tim Daum, is a musician. He and his trio “The Dauminators” set up and provided us with great live music. It wasn’t long before we were accompanying the band with our voices and dancing to the up-beat sounds. Cora, seeing me dance, said to a neighbor, “I hope Herman brought his nitro.”
The neighbor said, “Don’t worry. I brought mine.”
I have heard 55-and-older communities cruelly referred to as “God’s Waiting Pens.” Folks, we are all waiting at some place here on Earth to be taken by our Maker. Many are taken before ever reaching 55 years of age. All in our new community have lived to be 55 and older. They have learned much in those years. I can say without fear of contradiction that one thing they learned to do was … party! We are glad we were able to join them. That’s the view from the pier.
Herman Sillas is a local attorney and fishes at the San Clemente Pier most Saturday mornings. He is also the author of the award-winning book, “View from the Pier-Stories from San Clemente.” He may be reached at email@example.com