La Jolla Beaches – Sea Lane and Marine St

Jack shows it how it  get done playing Volleyball at Marine St.

Jack shows how it gets it done playing Volleyball at Marine St. Photo by Dave Osborn and taken in the late 1960s

In La Jolla, there are a number of beaches one could go to. First was the fine and dirty sand of the tourist attractions of the Shores, the Casa Pool (which is a fricken seal preserve now) and the calendar settings of the Cove. All three were relative calm and good places to take the family and very tourististy.

And now you have WindanSea, Marine Street and Sea Lane Beaches, which are probably the whitest beaches in all of San Diego. Since day one they were dominated by Meda locals. WindanSea’s “Tourist Go Home” was a common tagging on the Pumphouse in the 60 and 70s.

Beside the taggings, these beaches were and will never be swimmer friendly, because of their steep shore line and sharper drop just a few feet out into the water. And it was not until the mid 80s was there any type of lifeguard service. You swam and dived at your own risk … making just about anyone an excellent swimmer.

Dean Burriston and Ottis Benton wheel barrow a keg down Sea Lane.

Dean Burriston and Ottis Benton show how to wheel barrow a keg down Sea Lane.

Sea Lane and Marine St were the spots.  There were no cops and massive drinking on the beach was allowed. Beside the numerous 4th of July Mac Meda Conventions that were held there, horseshoe tournaments and volleyball was common. Jack MacPherson, Nick Wyre and many more would head down there with had their own nets and balls. About one out of 10 people had a set of horse shoes in their vehicles.

Body whomping, sunburns, and hangovers were the major causes of injuries.

About 2-3 times a week during summer someone would have a keg party. A collection of $20 and you had the beginnings of  injury number three.

The stretch of beach known as Marine Street and Sea Lane was only half mile long it was bordered by  Horseshoe at the North  and Little Point  at the South, and the grassy area in front of actor Cliff Roberson’s house before a sea wall was built.  The Quints house at the bottom of Sea Lane had a hose bib shower that was used by everyone to wash the salt off.  Groups staked their own territory, but everyone pretty much came together when a keg was wheelbarrowed down. Everyone knew each other. If there was any confrontation (fight) it was settled with just an old fashion fist fight, which usually ended up with the two becoming friends, over a cold one.

It was common to see coolers filled with beer,  Boone’s Farm (Apple) and Red Mountain wine just about any day of the week. A comment from a city trash collector once said, “Monday’s always looked liked like  Coors had dropped a truck and trailer of beer off ” …  never had he seen so many empties. The trash cans looked like an erupted volcano with a massive overflow of beer can lava.

People like Keith Liberty,  Ross Luhman, and Little John (RIP) would fish the shoreline.  All it took was a set of fins, a mask, snorkel and a hand spear and/or ab iron*, and about 30 minutes … your night’s meal could be BBQ bass, halibut, Abalone and/or Lobster.

*The best Ab Irons (used to pry abalone off rocks) were made with the lead springs off a car, most were made in Metal Shop at La Jolla High School.


  1. Dave Osborn says:

    One day in the early 60’s Jack (Macpherson) had planed an afternoon wine party at Marine Street (La Jolla, CA). Drinking beer in the sun was always a semi knock out, but wine was sure to get everyone wasted. I showed up at the same time as Jack and helped him get the set up kit out of his car. Jack had a 16-gallon stainless steel type beer keg with the top cut out and a spigot on side. We tossed in a 50 lbs block of ice, and at that time I remembered I had a unopened half gallon of grain alcohol (190o + proof) in my car that I had bought in TJ and said “hey why don’t we toss this in” the keg.

    I figured the booze added the equitant of about 5 quarts of 80o proof. We carried the keg and 2 cases of Red Mountain Wine down to the beach and loaded the wine and a couple of quarts of soda into the mix…. not mentioning anything about the booze that we had added up on the street. Jack collected a buck a head for unlimited access to keg.

    My last memory of the that day was the beach looked like a battle field covered with dead and injured… face down in the sand…


  2. BeachBall says:

    Pinky, here are some of the locals who partied the summer away at Sea Lane…what a pristine beach…we even played OTL there, since there were so few people at the beach..this was back in the sixties….some of the guys and gals were John Ransom,Little John,Mike Whitney(load),Manns,Bill Canning,Billy Humes, John Kuczwara,Ross Luhman,Leonard Janis,Burriston,Jeff Junkins,Scoops Goron, John Light, Moranville,Alanna Liebhardt,Denny Drew, Denny Willette, Mike Martin, Hugh Duckworth,Skip Sinclair, Whale, shore break Willie,Robin Converse,All the Wood brothers,Tommy Doyle, Rod Sulpizio,McPherson,Steve,Nick and Chris Wyer…more will come to mind, but this is a start…see ya…bb

  3. I remember one Summer day with a whole group of locals soaking rays up against the wall just south of Sea Lane, Robin Converse came marching up the beach with a 18lb Halibut he had speared tied to his weight belt. He had forgotten the cardinal rule about Halibut. You need to cinch the fish up tight to the weight belt or they can bite you. Sure enough right in front of the crowd the fish clamped down on Robin’s inner thigh and would not let go! Robin was screaming bloody murder so Keith Liberty grabbed the fish by the jaws and pried as hard as he could to make the fish let go. I think Robin had to go to the Emergency Room!

    P.S. Jack was a very good Halibut diver and photos will be posted of some of the bigger fish he speared at Summer Camp.

  4. I once asked Jack, “What’s your favorite sport?”. “Volleyball…”.

    “What sport are you the best at?”. He thought about it and said, “Skiing,”.

Speak Your Mind