Memories of Newport Harbor

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In the mid-1950s I was able to sail and putt-putt around Newport Harbor with my older brother. That was a bygone era where kids were playing with their friends until dark and no one even thought twice about not locking their front doors.

The “Leave It To Beaver” TV show was a good example of most young ones lives. Barbara Billingsley, a.k.a. June Cleaver, not only was the Beaves TV mom but in reality was classmate Kit’s real life mom, and they lived in a modest home in Bayshores.

Small wooden and fiberglass skiffs with 3 and 5 ½ horsepower outboard motors were used more hours a day in the summertime than our bikes. Spearing stingrays and catching bass and halibut by rod and reel were a few of our many activities as the bay was our playground.

Those in summer youth yacht club programs, as continued to this day, learn racing in 8-foot sabot prams. Those that excel will obtain “full boat” college scholarships and sail for their schools and continue racing here and all over the world.

While local Bill Ficker skippered to an America’s Cup championship, 20-something Charlie Buckingham could someday do the same.

This summer the Balboa Angling Club, east of the historic Pavilion and Hill’s Boat Service fuel dock, has a Junior Tournament throughout the summer for $10 open to all youth 5 to 15 years old.

See their website at for details.

Their YSH Tournament held earlier was a big success. Noteworthy first place trophies went to Bob Hoose (45.61 pound yellowtail, a pending World Record), Charlie Albright (54 pound white sea bass) and Greg Taite (30.6 pound halibut).

Also in my much younger days was my acquaintance with Helen Smith at the Angling Club. She was secretary for them for many, many years and an avid fishing record holder herself, if I recall correctly. They named a tournament after her, which will be held August 23. This Newport Harbor tournament features bass only, with live and dead bait dis-allowed. Three fish maximum. I find it pleasing that our harbor continues a healthy population.

Whether it be 1956 or the present, exploring our harbor and its other programs and pastimes are a great way for our youth to spend their summer days.

The four story office building east of Lido Village, (which has been under restoration for many years,) used to be known as the Balboa Savings and Loan building operated by long-time businessman and historic figure P.A. “Pappy” Palmer.

For many, many years a very large schooner lay anchored out front that most young ones putted around on their exploration trips. I have included a photo of this gallant lady that, when a change of ownership occurred, was restored and sailed to the Caribbean and was available for charter. We often wondered of its glorious past and were delighted to find out she was re-christened for what she was built to do.

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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