One sunny day in 1970 or ’71 a boy named Bill invited me to the beach, where we were rousted by the Marines.
My best friend had convinced me Bill was a good guy and he liked me. She said we should go to the beach for a day to get to know each other. So the three of us, and another boy who had a car, headed out for a day of sun and fun.
We drove to San Clemente to an area known as The Trestles. This was a popular destination for surfers and had cliffs; plenty of distraction if the conversation went south.
After staking out our turf with blankets and an umbrella, Bill and I decided to go for a walk leaving the others behind to guard our stuff. The two of us set out in our bathing suits. It was a slow stroll because Bill had a knee-length walking cast on one leg.
We hit it off, finding plenty to talk about. After walking for quite some time we turned around and realized we could no longer see our umbrella. So, we decided to poke around in some tide pools with Bill’s crutch and then head back to our friends.
At that moment the roar of engines announced two sand-spewing Jeeps filled with Marines. One Jeep each blocked our forward advance and our retreat. Four Marines spilled out, each armed with either a drawn weapon or a snarling dog.
They demanded our identification. Since I only had my lime-green swimsuit (trimmed with lace), and Bill his swim trunks, walking cast, and crutch, we were unable to comply. After a long series of bewildering and intrusive questions we were able to convince them we were just two kids walking on the beach.
When the Marines told us why we were stopped, we looked up the nearby cliff to see a white stucco wall and some red roof tiles. We had wandered onto the restricted beach below La Casa Pacifica, also known as the Western White House. Unfortunately for us, President and Mrs. Richard Nixon were in residence that day, and our Marine friends were especially diligent.
Once it was determined we were no national security risk the Marines said
You are free to leave, and don’t come back.
On the drive home we decided we’d better tell our parents before the Feds called.
My dad, slightly green around the gills, asked if the Marines actually had their guns drawn. My mom said
What’s wrong with that hooligan, getting you into this kind of a pickle?
From that day forward, my dad called Bill “Hooligan”.