On August 29, Dana Point Harbor will celebrate the half-century mark by revealing the contents of a 50-year-old time capsule. With its theme of “Coastal Life 1966,” one might expect the capsule to include plenty of free parking, plastic- and trash-free sand and seas, and the lost surf break known as Killer Dana. But the laws of time and physics prevent those from fitting inside the slender stainless-steel container. Instead, various ephemera, documents and photos were contributed by 50 local groups, each received by a beauty queen from its donor at the 1966 rock-placing ceremony. By the way, if you still possess your $2.75 ticket stub from the 1966 BBQ, you will get in free to the 2016 BBQ ($11 presale online; $15 at the event).
No actual ground was broken that mid-century August day; instead, a crane dropped a giant boulder to begin the formation of 1.5 miles of harbor-making breakwater, which eventually took 27,000 truckloads totaling 1.5 million tons of rock to complete. One special boulder was reserved to house the time capsule. That 8-ton rock is currently getting spruced up with a steam bath. Under strict secrecy, archivists at the John D. Cooper Center for Archaeology and Paleontology are cataloging the capsule's mementos and preparing them to be exhibited at the upcoming reveal.
The 1966 extravaganza included many sights that will probably not be seen at this year's festivities: the aforementioned beauty queens and a historical pageant with actors from San Clemente Community Theatre portraying “Mission Indians” from the San Juan Mission in the act of handing off hides to Boston sailors played by San Clemente lifeguards, who arrived on the scene in a dory. (For those of you who don't know their Dana Point history, that's what used to happen on a regular basis in the olden days at the natural harbor there.) As at the celebration in the 20th century, there will be speeches by politicians, and hopefully live music along with the BBQ. In '66, Jim and Mary Jenkins' folk group played, looking cool in their Ray-Bans. The Jenkins had a music store and venue in San Clemente called The Four Muses, which was a happening scene at the time and where Jackson Browne and Country Joe played. Their son Jonathan has contributed lots of his parents' memorabilia, which will be on exhibit at the big reveal on the 29th.
The Time Capsule 50-Year Celebration is free and will take place at Baby Beach, where Boy Scouts, local high-school sailing teams, nonprofits, tourists and OC residents have enjoyed free or low-cost access to the harbor waters for five decades. So it's more than fitting that the 16,000-pound rock that harbored the time capsule all those years will be permanently set at Baby Beach, adorned with a plaque. But that water access had been placed in jeopardy in recent years when moves toward privatizing the buildings for commercial use were made, prompting grassroots action: Save Harbor Park was formed last year via Facebook, and a petition on change.org garnered more than 3,000 signatures to halt the proposal.
However, an audit last May by the Auditor-Controller revealed OC taxpayers lost upwards of $62,000 in revenue due to inappropriate discounts at the public-owned Marina Inn, which is not far from Baby Beach. The day after the audit went public, nine-year director of the harbor Brad Gross's resignation went into effect, and with that resignation the push for privatization of the buildings at Baby Beach vanished. Not long after, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to return control of the Harbor to OC Parks, so it's looking pretty good for Coastal Life 2066. May the Scouts do their thing and the public kayak, paddle board, swim and sail for as long as that giant rock sits at Baby Beach.
Time Capsule 50-Year Celebration takes place August 29, 4 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets to the BBQ, visit www.danapointhistorical.org.
Lisa Black proofreads the dead-tree edition of the Weekly, and writes culture stories for her column Paint It Black.