Tourists liked the place and old man Malloy had certainly been the beneficiary of the Luck of the Irish the day the State of California laid out the Pacific Coast Highway and ran it directly past the front door of his little diner. I landed there for the same reason the truck drivers and tourists did- late at night, tired from driving and wrung out from the events of the last month I had seen the brightly lit Diner and decided to stop to stretch and have a bite to eat.

The last three years of my life had culminated in a funeral I had had no wish to see. I owed those people nothing now, any possible obligation laid to rest with the man now planted in the earth for eternity. Three years of my life were no great sacrifice, and I made it willingly, if only for the son, whose grief had been more than I ever wished to experience. It was good that it was now done.

I was tired and unkempt. I must have had the look of the pathetic upon me when I walked in for Angus Malloy had come to me and asked what a young lady was doing all alone at two in the morning on a deserted highway. It was kindness and concern, and touching in its simple way and I had found no desire to rebuff him. One year later I was still there, wearing a ridiculous little pink dress with an apron and taking orders from drivers who stopped by on their voyages up and down the west coast. It satisfied an urge towards the bizarre for me to speculate what one person or another would think had they known the pretty little waitress serving their burgers and fries with cherry colas was a creature both ancient and grim.

As metaphor it presented a rather apt model of my life: all those travelers flowing past me, some I would touch oh so briefly before they were gone, never to be seen again. Others would linger for a while, returning again, but still so far outside my life, removed from who and what I was. There was a certain philosophical calm to be found in it and as such it suited my mood.

There were other attractions as well. I was given ample opportunity to indulge my assorted appetites, what with the nearby beaches, clubs to patronize, and of course, men. I took to the local surf culture fairly readily, even going so far as to learn though I did not care for it: it seemed pointless and I preferred to remain on the beach.

And there was Will Travis. Twenty-one years old, tall, blonde, blue-eyed and in love with the beach and drag racing. He stopped by one afternoon on his way to a race and I flirted with him just a bit. After that he stopped by nearly every day I was on. I did not dissuade him even though I was not particularly interested in any kind of relationship that might last longer than a week. He had the soul of a poet, and even though he spent his time indulging himself, he was possessed of a certain firm core of determination that marked him as a man to be reckoned with. Conversations with him were never inane, even when he was simply trying to coax me out on a date.

His madness in climbing in to these incredibly powerful machines to tear down a straight track dovetailed quite nicely with my own need for a taste of wild abandon. The ?Sexual Revolution’ had yet to fully break upon this generation, making my carnal proclivities something of a shock even to his rebellious soul. We formed an unusual pair for most of that year before I was forced to bring it to an end, mostly for his good. Time with me was time wasted for a man who wanted a family.

In the end 1959 was a year spent drawing a fine, bright line between one chapter of my life and the next.

2 Responses to “1959”

  1. Southern California in the late 1950s and early 1960s. What a wonderful time and place to be a part of. I myself have spent more than a few very late nights in places such as Mallory’s diner. The waitress probably thought I was “ancient and grim”. I spent 4 hours the other night sifting through everything on this web site. I am not sure what to make of it really. However, I am intrigued.

  2. In 1959, my mother had just come home from Europe to tie up some loose ends in Cambria. For a short time, she too worked at a diner out on the Pacific Coast Highway in a spit of a town called Gorda. Her attention was caught less than a year later by a dashing sailor, my father. It was fun calling mom after reading this and listening to her stories of the past. Considering the fact that I haven’t celebrated Father’s Day since my dad passed away in 1994, this was a lovely way to think of him. Thank you.