How places connect (and reconnect) us.

Geralyn Broder Murray
5 min readMay 28, 2021

After a particularly contentious custody battle in the 1970s, my mother reluctantly loaded me onto an Amtrak train bound for Monterey — and my father. When I arrived — a mere 350 miles north of our home in Los Angeles — it was as though my eight-year old self had stepped onto another planet. My father was clearly participating in every activity that might come to mind from the time period, none of which particularly lended itself to hands-on parenting. Therefore, I was mostly free to come and go as I pleased. And while I’d lived a typical free-range 70’s childhood prior, my time in Monterey took it to a new level.

Soon after we’d arrived at his house in Pacific Grove, Dad pointed out the change jar on his dresser; I was welcome to help myself to it as needed. This jar was an enormous vessel, filled to the brim with quarters and possibility — a glass tower that would ultimately bankroll one of the most unique summers of my life. As a successful road manager for musical groups like Tony Orlando and Dawn and the Fifth Dimension, Dad was often working, so I’d wake up whenever, grab a bowl of granola and hit the change jar, furiously stuffing my Jordache jean pockets with as many coins as I could. Then I’d head out into the brisk, foggy morning air and onto one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world. A purple magic carpet of ice plant unfurled itself from Dad’s front door all the way down to the beach. I learrned quickly that Northern California beaches are not like the ones in Southern California: you are not promised a day of sunbathing and bikini wearing, even in the summer. In Northern California, beachgoers must don layers for the chill of the morning and sport good shoes for tidepooling and exploring the rocky landscape that delineates one stretch of sand from the next. By day two, I was an expert at grabbing my Esprit sweatshirt in the mornings, frequenting the ice cream stand in the afternoons and riding the glass-bottom boats as much as possible in between.

The glass-bottom boats that ran out of Lovers Point in Pacific Grove from the late 1890’s ceased operations sometime in the 1970’s. Fortunately, sometime before they did, I got the chance to step onboard, bend down into the dark cavern of the boat, inhale the woodiness and perch along the sides of the full-length glass bottom — a front row seat to the most exciting…