Sunday, March 17, 2013


Well, I don’t want to be overly dramatic about losing all the fire pits along the beachfronts in our part of Southern California, but it looks like they are shortly going to go the way of the old backyard incinerators.

For you young’uns, everyone used to have an incinerator at the far corner of their back yard.  They disappeared from my life around the time I was five or thereabouts, and I just have a vague recollection of my dad shoveling out the ashes from the bottom of the contraption (what did he do with them, I wonder?) and then building a new fire inside where he could dispose of all the flammable stuff that we generated from our little apartment.  As to rules and regulations of trash-burning I have no idea.  I do know the trash truck still came around and gathered the non-burnable trash. 
Now at some point there became a good reason to not continue to use the incinerator method of disposal.  There also came a time when we could no longer burn leaves in the gutters.  I’m sure as our cities grew in population it became imperative not to have all that smoke lingering around our noses.  And soon a generation arose that had no idea that we used to do so much on-site burning of our trash. 

But all through these interim years, many of our beaches were known for all the fire rings that were made available to people who wanted to use them.  For the most part they didn’t get used in the cold months, but as soon as the warmer spring weather arrived, you could see the diehard cooks setting up for breakfast at the beach, building a fire and letting it get just the right temperature to provide bacon, eggs, biscuits, coffee and hot chocolate.  On the weekends someone would go down early and stake out just the right ring and soon either a big family, or a Girl or Boy Scout troop, or a church group would arrive and the breakfasting would begin in earnest.  We all did it!  It was a part of life for those of us lucky enough to live within driving distance of the beach.
But it was the night time “wienie roasts” that were the best.  As far back as I can remember, this was the event of choice on a warm summer evening, especially when we were teenagers.  As far as we were concerned, wienie roasts were what wire coat hangers were made for!  Someone brought the wienies, someone else the buns, and the condiments were brought by yet others.  And of course the culmination of that delicious dinner were the “S’Mores” – a hot toasted marshmallow slapped between two graham crackers with a square of Hershey’s chocolate melted by the marshmallow. 

But this wasn’t only a kiddie thing, either.  Here’s a picture taken in the 1980s of a wonderful evening Jerry and I, along with some friends, spent at the beach, eating a more “gourmet” version of the wienie roast but enjoying it every bit as much.
Fire pits aren’t only for kids.  Adults who have grown up with them will use them forever.
Unless the complainers have their way. 
Bad smoke.  Bad noise.  Bad people.  Whatever the complainers can think of to complain about, they will.  I must say that lots of housing has been built closer to the fire pits and I suspect some of the residents aren’t crazy about the smoke and the kind of noise made when happy people are having a wienie roast and eating S’mores. 
I don’t live by the beach anymore, so I don’t have a say-so in what has to go or what can stay.   But I do hate to think that the fire pits will be declared a nuisance and will have to go the way of the incinerators. 


1 comment:

BooneBoy said...

This sure brings back some memories. We burned leaves and all of our trash in the small town of Boone, Iowa into the 50’s. I loved the smell of burning leaves every autumn. We also had a coal furnace and had to remove the ash. We would spread the ash on the dirt alley to make the alley more drivable in the wet weather. Hope everything is going well with you and Jerry. I have expanded my High School Year Book website since I last communicated with you.
Jerry Manriquez