Those who give us Cayucos geezers hope

April 15, 2021

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


The other evening while walking my dog, I ran into a strapping lad of 46 who lost his job some time ago and is stressed living here in town because he fears at some point he won’t be able to cover rent for a small cottage where he lives with his two grammar school age boys. The possibility of moving is dire to him since he was born and raised here, played junior high basketball here, starred as a high school basketball player in the county, is the son of a coach and has coached Little League baseball as well as basketball, and deserves to live here and be an asset to the community.

He is one of the good guys, and when he ran into me and a lady down the street who raised a family but still has a good job and worked her way through college as a waitress here in town, he told us that every time he applies for a job he’s informed they want somebody younger, or else there’s a slew of people waiting in line with resumes, and the few jobs available are for barely over the minimum wage.

Still, he is never mopey or negative, always cheerful and positive. But listening to him, one can hear the stress in his voice, and he nods with resignation when the lady shakes her head and maintains that the economy these days is brutal, and that we are in a depression rivaling the Great Depression of the 1930s, written about by John Steinbeck in “The Grapes Of Wrath.”

The lady told him, “You need to work in town, because people here know you and know your worth as a hard worker and a good guy and a great father.”

“You’ve also got a winning personality,” I told him. “People like you.”

Little consolation. I told him how at 47, I was also unemployed and living here and desperate and–unlike him under-skilled–and rejected time after time until I got hired as a bartender at a very busy bar where I made good money for almost a decade and had no problem making rent and even saved money, because in those days my rent was low enough in Cayucos that I could cover it in a little over a week out of a month.

These days I’d never make it, unless I had food stamps. And I didn’t have two kids to raise alone. And I was living with my girlfriend who had a job. I was so desperate I delivered newspapers before the sun came up in a broken down 1976 Oldsmobile, a gas guzzling barge.

Every day’s a fretful, demoralizing, miserable day in this situation, and it didn’t hit home to me how bad things are in this country until I ran into this young guy I once played hoops with and against. After a while you feel like you’re never going to get hired again, and where does that lead you?


It’s good to see young people look different, and rock the boat, especially in Cayucos, where we need more local color to outrage the stern and stodgy migrating here like lemmings. Kind of like the old hippie days when outrageous attire was a competition in calculated eccentricity among those bent to outrage the stern and stodgy and especially the intolerant; though many of those Hippies are currently of the spoiled yet affluent boomer generation full of stern stuff now that, like reformed hookers, their cherries have grown back in and they’ve decided to forget their outrageous days of rebellion against a system they castigated as too up-tight, mercenary and imperialistic.

And how much fun it was rocking to the new music, getting high and getting laid.

Anyway, this 24-year-old kid with the blond bangs surfer mop under a beanie, wears polka dot socks and white rimmed shades over his regular glasses, and drives a 60 year old van of the sort people live in. And he did live in this van for three years until he finally managed to find a small apartment in Morro Bay.

He is not a mooch or commie or enemy of the Ayn Rand defenders against “looters,” no, he has a degree in interior design from Cal Poly, studied architecture in Florence, Italy for a year, fits in with and appreciates the old geezers monopolizing the seawall mornings, along with several ne’er-do-wells, and works here and there building furniture, though I’m sure his appearance and youthful flamboyance does not help him garner jobs in town.

But fortunately, he’s not interested in getting rich. He is obviously an artist, and by all appearances, an overwhelmingly happy person in his funny pants and sweaters, a well-established persona preceding him on all accounts.

We started talking one day, and when I mentioned some of the new houses going up, he said, “Not much imagination there. They all look the same, and they’re all too big.”

“Sterile looking barns and barracks with decks to view the ocean,” I said.

“Lame architecture, to be sure.”

This kid doesn’t just pet my old needy brown Lab, he gets down on his knees and goes through a series of hugging.

The other day he told a few of us, “I’m giving away my old Econoline to my dad and getting a newer van. I lived in that van for years and didn’t realize how attached I was to it. My girlfriend and I, we cried the other day, almost like that van is a person. I’m gonna miss it, but at least my dad has it and he’ll love it and take care of it.”

Honesty, fearlessness, soul.

The kid doesn’t seem worried by the pandemic or the economy, or too in a hurry to make a whole lot of money. My guess is he might just make a great interior decorator for somebody in town who isn’t interested in building barracks or barn with a view deck where they can sip over-priced wines from the hundred or so vineyards in the area, and feel safe and secure and barricaded from those naughty eccentrics clinging to Cayucos like crusty barnacles.

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Where do I go to complain that I didn’t work hard enough and now I’m mad at the haves because I have not.

Isn’t that the truth………..

It depends. How hard did you work?