Best Years of Our Life: Cal Poly 1975

Bt in 1975

Cal Poly, Fall 1975

I wonder how you’re feeling
There’s ringing in my ears
And no one to relate to ‘cept the sea
Who can I believe in?
I’m kneeling on the floor
There has to be a force
Who do I phone?
The stars are out and shining
But all I really want to know
Oh won’t you show me the way, every day
I want you to show me the way, yeah

Peter Frampton — Show Me the Way, 1975
▲ click to hear the music ▲
In September 1975 I started college at Cal Poly and I was terrified. I only knew two people in San Luis Obispo, both of which I rarely saw the five years I was there; my parents lived in Virginia and my brother in San Diego. I didn’t have a car and I didn’t really know why I was there, except for the waves. For me college was an afterthought, not a planned endeavor, and I went largely because my cousin Greg said it would be fun … and it was. The irony is that I am writing this after spending 15 years in college, getting a PhD, and now nearing my 25th year as a Professor of Marine Biology.
But on that day I was shaking. As I walked into my dorm room in Sierra Madre, Peter Frampton blasting out of almost every room and “Show Me the Way” became the song that always reminds me of that time. It was a wild time and I quickly met people, got rides to the beach with friends and girl friends, and had one of the best years of my life. After a year in the dorm I moved to Shell Beach where I lived until I left in 1982. Central California, and Cal Poly in particular, was a sleepy, quiet place back then: no traffic, lots of places to surf, a friendly crowd, and some outrageous parties.  People would say “Howdy?” and “Where ya from?” and most of my dorm mates from from the valley — Fresno, Visalia, Merced — and came to Cal Poly to learn agriculture; most of the rest were from the Bay area. I quickly confirmed that I had made the right college choice: the number and quality of surf spots was amazing: St. Ann’s, Sewers, Pismo Beach Pier, Hazards, Morro Bay Rock, Point Sal, Jalama, Cayucos Pier, Moonstone Beach, Killers, Pico Creek, Fullers, the list goes on. When it was too big and blown out we would drive down to Santa Barbara; too small, drive up to Big Sur. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the area was “discovered” by southern California, which slowly changed the character of the area. It is still a wonderful place but not the magical town I remember from those days. So here are some photos from this time. Most all of them are black and white because I developed my own film back then; color was a luxury.
1975 Dorm

My dorm room at Cal Poly in Sierre Madre 33R, 1975-76. I had everything I needed!

Image

Shell Beach, 1977.

DSC_0966b

Me at Little Sewers in Shell Beach, 1976. My favorite local spot.

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More Little Sewers, 1976

Tom Shell Beach 1976

My Roommate, Tom Fulks, in front of our house on Boeker St. in Shell Beach, 1976

Image (4)

The Shell Beach Gang on Morro Ave., 1977: Frank Dorenkamp, Neil Unger, my mother, me, my Nana and Tom Fulks.

 

Image (2)

St. Ann’s in Shell Beach, 1977

 

PismoBeach1979d

Me above Pismo with my Minolta 8mm movie camera, 1979. Scenes from this day are shown in my film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh1e5nOy0oQ

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Morro Bay at the Rock, Fall 1975.

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Moonstone Beach, 1975

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Moonstone Beach, 1975

  12 comments for “Best Years of Our Life: Cal Poly 1975

  1. Charlotte
    February 21, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Brian, thanks for this email. You have had a wonderful life…loving mother, loving father, followed your interests, did what you wanted to do. I enjoyed seeing the picture of your mother. She was a good friend. Charlotte mcd

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • February 22, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks Charlotte. I agree!

      • Charlotte mcdaniel
        February 22, 2015 at 7:31 pm

        I remember your mother leaving a navy wives gathering such as a coffee or tea in order to get home because you boys would be coming home from school. She was a loving, caring mother. Very pretty, also. Charlotte mcd. If you have any more pictures with her in them, please post them. I enjoyed seeing her once again. Remembered her with fondness. We navy wives had a strong bond.

  2. Charlotte mcdaniel
    February 22, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I remember your mothers passing. However, I have forgotten why. Was it the kidney problem? She was such a lovely person, very attractive, friendly. Is your daughter as pretty? Resemble Millie?

  3. Charlotte mcdaniel
    February 22, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Your father was a naval officer. I think he still is. What did he think about your long, abundant hair? Charlotte mcd

  4. Charlotte
    March 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks. You had a wonderful mother. She was beautiful, intelligent, a loving mother. She loved you. You were fortunate in your parents. Charlotte McDaniel. You don’t remember me, but it remember you as a young boy. You came to our house several times with your mother. We lived up 395 .

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5. October 12, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Came across your blog. I was in San Luis Obispo visiting a lot and surfing some during that time. I has a few friends going to Cal Poly. My Friend was Brad Chamberlain’s room mate for a bit at Cal Poly. Went surfing a few times with Brad. Small world. I was also in Indonesia around the same time 1980. Grew up in Santa Barbara. Loved the pictures so great, Good times and Yes was a highlight in my life also. Loved all your photo’s. Brought back good memories as I surfed many of the same places during that time. Great blog 🙂 Jamie

    • October 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Jamie for your comments. It is such a small world and we all intersect in ways seen and unseen. Glad you also got to experience those great times. Take care, Brian

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