Diving into the Past without Drowning: Day Trip to Laguna Beach (1973)

I just spent the last hour watching an 8mm film that I and several others shot in the early 1970s. The film is a collection of footage that I’d gotten from Creagan’s family, the western we’d done in junior high and several other reels that I had lying around and converted to VHS when I did the 1994 “Looking for Creagan McConnell” documentary. I recently had the 8mm film converted again, this time to DVD/digital format. I’d remembered the stuff from Creagan’s childhood and our “Come Against the Rain” footage, but I’d forgotten about all the rest of the stuff.

The forgotten part consisted of footage I’d taken in 1973 during a rare family vacation to Olympia, WA with water-skiing clips, a day trip to Laguna Beach with my girlfriend, Lynn Tschirgi and her little white powder-puff puppy (see the embedded video below), and ended with life-on-campus footage my older sister, Michaela, took at Mission Viejo High School.

The cars, the hair, the clothing, dudes on choppers, hippies with fishing poles walking on the rocks; It only seemed fitting that, particularly the Laguna Beach scenes, were slightly out of focus and blown out. These are moving images that come from an era over 40-years ago. Oh my god, we were so young and that was such another time. But after watching the whole thing, in silence, I feel very lucky to have these reminders of the journey I’ve been on.

With all of scanning of photos and papers that I’ve been doing these past months, I’ve been warned more than a few times that one can overdose on too much nostalgia. That’s obviously true and if I were looking at these things wishing I was back there, that’d be a problem. And this isn’t something limited to the regretful memories of us old folks. Hell, I’ve known a few in their thirties who talked about the “good ol’ days” before they were married, like it’s already all downhill for them. But, for me, this is not the case. I’ve been forced into a transitional mode where I have no idea what lies ahead for me. I simply can’t say that the past was any better than what might follow. In fact, I consider myself fortunate to have so much access to so much of the journey I’ve been on.

The day-to-day grind that I’ve been on, especially the level of concentration and effort for much of my teaching career, tends to afford one very little connection with past accomplishments in the rush to get all the stuff on ones priority list done. And over the past six-months of looking and not finding the next job, one can easily allow ones sense of accomplishment diminish. I mean, if no one seems interested in ones services, after a while one can begin to believe that there’s nothing there of value. That transition can happen really quickly. But I’ve been lucky enough to find scores of articles, recordings and projects that I did as a writer, as a journalist, as a researcher and as an educator, enough to remind me that there’s more here than the need for a wage. Add to all of this, I’ve been fortunate enough to have shared this journey with some amazing family, friends and lovers. I may have no idea where I’ll be in another year, but I’m really glad that I left digital breadcrumbs of the paths I’ve taken along the way.

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