Carnett: Fairway Drive is all grown up

February 12, 2013|By Jim Carnett

My old Costa Mesa neighborhood looks nothing like it once did.

I spent the bulk of my youth — 1952 though 1964 — living in a tract home on Fairway Drive on Costa Mesa's Eastside. I resided there from age 7 to just a couple of weeks beyond my 19th birthday, whereupon I dropped out of college, bid my family and friends farewell, and joined Uncle Sam's Army.

The Carnett clan remained attached to the house on Fairway until 2007. My father died a year earlier, and my mother –- the last original resident on the block -– moved to smaller digs in Huntington Beach.


An earlier version of this column had the incorrect street name in the headline.

I'm now the only member of my 1952 household of five who continues to live in Costa Mesa. I've been here 61 years.

"Costa Mesa is still my home and always will be," my 89-year-old mother stubbornly avers. "Where I live now, I don't consider home. In my mind, there'll never be another Costa Mesa — particularly the Costa Mesa of the 1950s."

I occasionally cruise down Fairway when I'm on that side of town. It doesn't look to me today as I choose remember it. For one thing, in 1952 I was taller than most of the trees on the block! Many of those trees — planted during the neighborhood's naissance — still stand, and are 50 feet tall and taller.

More than half of the original 40 homes in the one-block neighborhood have either been dramatically remodeled or torn down completely and replaced by new structures. When I drove the street one afternoon last week, a couple of dozen cars lined the curbs on both sides of the road, giving it a narrow, cluttered look.

I remember in '52 living on what seemed like a broad boulevard.

I used to get off the school bus at Santa Ana and Del Mar avenues and walk home. When I'd turn left onto Fairway — a block without sidewalks — I faced what to my adolescent brain resembled a vast landing strip, with wide lawns and spacious homes recessed on either side.

Usually, I'd make my way home by ambling right down the middle of the street. Rarely were my reveries interrupted by traffic.

For years, we played baseball in the street in front of my house.

Home plate was a block of wood in the middle of the street. First base was my parents' mailbox. Second base was a T-shirt lying in the street, and third base was our neighbor's mailbox across the street.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles