Nearly forty years ago when timeshares were a fairly new concept, my parents bought one-week’s worth at a place across from Heisler Park steps away from the beach in Laguna. For almost every single one of those forty years, our family has booked our week side-by-side with the Muronaka-Oi family and usually the week of the Fourth of July.
During the week, my parents’ friends met them for my mother’s alfresco cooking or to try out the various restaurants which have come and gone in Laguna and nearby Newport Beach. On the weekends, my brothers and I, along with lots of friends, converged with various Muronakas for beach activities in our practically-private North Laguna cove and endless “Marco Polo” in the pool. Even though we knew we would stuff ourselves come dinnertime, we always stopped for 4 p.m. popcorn at the clubhouse and often justified an ice cream cone run to Chantilly’s or Häagen Dazs. My dad barbequed vast quantities of teriyaki chicken and spareribs, my mother produced countless rolls of sushi, and Evelyn made her signature Hawaiian cabbage salad and macaroni salad. Somehow corn, homemade tsukemono, and watermelon made it on to the small table. Dessert was a cake for the late June-early July birthdays.
Other traditions evolved: walking through the shops on PCH, Dad’s cocktail hour gin-and-tonics, breakfasts at The Cottage, the complex shuffle of cars to save parking spaces. Our friends gave way to spouses, and then grandbabies became children for everyone to watch in the pool and Jacuzzi.
This Fourth of July, the only grandchildren around were the younger set, those in high school or nearly so. My mom and Evelyn need to take it easy now; the birthday dinner was great but it was out at Splashes, not BBQ and sushi. Even Fong’s Imports was closed for the holiday. Some things change, inevitably so, but gathering in Laguna remains an important part of each summer.