Growing up in Del Mar in 1927 and 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lauren Grove has received two awards for her essay on the history of Del Mar — first place in the Wendy Haskett Memorial Essay Writing Contest and a humanities award in the Del Mar/Solana Beach Optimist Club’s Vic Kops Children’s Challenge. We were so impressed with Lauren’s narrative, comparing the Del Mar Village of 1927 to the Village of today, we decided to share the essay here.

By Lauren Grove

Special to Del Mar Times

My name is Lauren Grove, and I am 9 years old and in third grade. I was born in 2000 and I live in the Village of Del Mar. I never knew I had something in common with an 83-year-old woman named Tensia Trejo until I went to the Del Mar Library. I read an oral history about Tensia and learned that she was born on Sept. 8, 1927, in Del Mar. That was a long time ago! Tensia and I were both raised in the Village of Del Mar, where the surf meets the turf.

I learned from Tensia’s oral history that Del Mar used to be a landscape of flowers. It is hard to imagine, but there used to be no houses, shops or restaurants. Del Mar is still beautiful and has flowers, though it has changed a lot since Tensia was a little girl. All the girls in Del Mar used to pick flowers, listen to music, and read books. Tensia loved reading. (Just like me!) People in Del Mar still read, although now most people also watch TV, work on computers, talk on cell phones and listen to iPods. Back then, they didn’t have all of these electronics. Think about that — no video games, TV shows or iPods!

From reading Tensia’s oral history, I learned that before iPods, they had something called a phonograph. A phonograph uses big records the size of platters. To work them, you crank a handle on the side, then it starts playing music. I’ve never seen a phonograph, and I wonder what it would be like to play records. I also wonder if the music sounded different than it does on an iPod.

Everybody likes the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack. I like to go on the rides and watch the horse races in the summer. Before it was the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the land was used for a Navy blimp station. The Del Mar Fairgrounds was built in 1936. A year after the fairgrounds were built, there was a terrible rainfall. It was so bad it flooded the racetrack and fairgrounds. The racetrack was totally under water! Tensia and her friends would go in little wood wash bins and slide and float down the track. That would be fun!

For transport, now we have cars, bikes, scooters, airplanes and many others. Back when Tensia was little, they mainly had trains. Del Mar had a train station. There were a lot of people who traveled on the train, and Del Mar was one of the main stops. Tensia used to like to watch people get off the train. There used to be an old, rickety trolley that made a lot of noise, and it took people to the racetrack from the train station. This trolley was called the Sucker Special. We still have trains that go down past Del Mar Beach, but the trains do not stop in Del Mar anymore. I wish that the trains still stopped in Del Mar.

Whenever someone bought bread in Del Mar, it was always fresh baked. Think of someone bringing a loaf out of the oven just as you get there and crunching your teeth into the warm, crunchy, delectable roll. Delicious! I would love that! When Tensia grew up, it wasn’t a big deal to have fresh bread every day. In Del Mar, it’s now hard to find a fresh roll because we don’t have a bakery. We do now have a place called the Three Dog Bakery, but it’s for the dogs!

In the 1930s, when Tensia went to school, schools were very different. Tensia’s sister graduated high school at age 14. People started preschool when they were 5. In the schools, they had only a few people, like eight or nine. Now, if there were only eight or nine people, the teacher would say, “The flu must be going around.” In school now we have 20 or 25 and some classes even have 30 students.

Tensia’s children went to a school one block from my house. This school was called St. James, and it was located where the Del Mar City Hall is now. St. James had kids from first to eighth grade. It would be so cool to walk one block to school. Now my school is over 2 miles from my home, and my seventh-grade sister goes all the way to Solana Beach to a junior high school.

I wish we still had the Del Mar Drug Store. When Tensia was little, she would go to the drug store to get ice creams for treats. She would get the ice cream on Sundays because she always went to church on Sundays and the man that worked at the Del Mar Drug Store would give Tensia money for ice cream. She called it a Sunday Treat. Now I go to Seaside Yogurt with my family for treats.

Reading about history is very interesting. I learned a lot about Del Mar from the oral history of Tensia Trejo. Although I like how Del Mar Village is today, I still would like to pick flowers and float in washtubs like Tensia did so many years ago.