So long Cayucos Dog Patch

August 21, 2023

Dell Franklin

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.


Around 18 years ago, when Stacey Warde and I were publishing a monthly literary journal, the Rogue Voice, I wrote an article entitled “Long Live Dog Patch.” It was kind of an ode to one of the remaining overgrown weedy lots left in town, and it just so happened I was living next door to it in a garret-sized  apartment; and roosted in the lot just about every day among knee-high weeds in an easy chair with a footrest while reading newspapers, magazines, books, and editing articles, and occasionally tossing a tennis ball for my black Lab, Marley, to retrieve and return.

Ahhh, those were the days! Tag Morely lived across the lot, and the Pirate usually came by to toss biscuits to Marley. And across the street lived Cindy and Cloyce, with whom I often shared beers after he returned from construction work while I tossed the tennis ball into the lot for Marley and Woody, Cloyce’s 120-pound Weimaraner.

Tourists or new Cayucans driving by often slowed down to eye me and the two nonoperational cars—a ’76 Olds Cutless Salon and an ’81 bumperless Chrysler Cordoba with Corinthian leather bucket seats collecting dust in the lot beside my aged Toyota Tercel wagon—before driving on, not realizing that Dog Patch was making a last ditch statement for survival.

Cayucos was a different place not so long ago, when the Tavern was still open and booming, and if I happened to pass out on my way home in the field where the Pier View Suites and shops now sit, and lost my keys in the process, I could at least sleep in one of my heaps and walk down a block or two come morning and find the local locksmith, Ed Frawley, to let me in the apartment, for I didn’t find my keys in a gutter nearby until a week later.

At this time, an extremely attractive, terribly sexy but reptilian-eyed woman moved into the apartment in front, and when she couldn’t lure me to bed for future blackmailing (I was with a lady who visited often and helped with the RV), she decided I should be dealt with.

Since I had three cats besides the dog, she complained about all four and threatened them physical harm because they supposedly urinated on her BMW. She had a couple slimy and dangerous looking characters come by to size me up as I roosted, and I always stood and swung my 35-inch 35-pound Louisville Slugger baseball bat and they dispersed.

Her strapping son came by, but he was too young to be a threat.

And then came a giant of a brute who walked over and stared at me while I roosted and the she-devil looked on from the back porch.

I asked him how he was doing. He kept staring at me while Marley smiled at him, and then he noticed the bat.

“That yours?” he asked.

“It is.”

“Mind if I look at it?”

“Be my guest.”

He picked up the bat, and took some graceful left-handed swings.

“Man,” he said. “This is a big motherfucker, bigger than I ever used. You hit with this?”

“I choked up a couple inches. Those are my dad’s model bats. He played for Detroit.”

“No shit?”

“He ordered me six straight from Louisville and I used them my senior year in high school and in college. Major league grain.”

“You play any pro ball?”

“Nah, I could have, but chose not to.”

“I played four years in the Dodger organization. Played for the Reno Silver Sox in the California league, led the league in home runs.” He swung the bat. “This is a fuckin’ beauty, man, a fucking log.”

“It’s my last one. The others got broken when I let teammates hit with them.”

Meanwhile, the she-devil slammed the back door and disappeared into the apartment.

“Man, I could use a beer,” the giant said.

“Let me get a couple,” I quickly said.

Seconds later we tipped long necks. His name was Joe. We both had hilarious baseball stories. I found him a lazing chair and brought out two more beers, and then the chilled bottle of Stoli while through the side window of the front apartment I could see the she-devil, jaw set, pacing.

Finally, when we were both drunk and rollicking and laughing so hard we were keeled over, and Joe admitted his ex-wife had called him in Bakersfield and asked him to kick my ass and hurt me bad, and that far as he was concerned I was a good old boy and a baseball brother, and that he had married her when she was 17 and drop-dead gorgeous, and she had taken him for everything he had and destroyed his baseball career, the she devil was before us lashing out at poor Joe, ordering his “lazy drunken ass” to pull some goddam weeds in her overgrown front yard!

But soon Cloyce joined us with a six pack, along with Woody. And Dennis the landscaper down the street came by for one with his black Lab mix, and then the she devil’s son, Joe Jr. dropped by, and then Stacey came by to check on a story I was writing and decided to have one, and then Miranda—my girl and indispensable proof reader—drove up, paused, and quickly left, not happy.

Ahhh, those were the days when Dog Patch fought valiantly to survive. But sadly, my old neighboring lot recently was leveled and a majestic double decker went up, and Cloyce and Cindy just moved to central Florida because they can no longer afford to live in Cayucos or the Central Coast, the she-devil and Joe are long gone, and I am up the street hanging on for dear life.

So long, Dog Patch.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’m still blaming Oprah for the CCC = Cayucos Cataclysmic Change! She had to tell Everyone the Brown Butter Cookie Company made Great cookies. And the great advertising from the Chamber! “The Last of the California Beach Towns..or something catchy like that? Advertising all over L.A., S.F. and Bakersfield!! It’s all been downhill from there. Not the same small town it was when I first came over 20 years ago. IT’s been a hard thing to watch!

Great story though! So glad you survived that Devil Woman’s attempt to your demise!

Paving over a small town, for no other reason than to make it look like a big town, is the current definition of “progress”.

On the sad day Carly Simon is buried, she will roll over in her grave.

A little bit of Steinbeck country in Cayucos. Ladies and Gentlemen , let’s put our hands together for Dell Franklin!

And the people in the Valley thought THEY had it tough.

Another great one. Thanks, Dell

Good read, It’s sad but you can never go back.