Dusk at Pomponio Beach

Posted on 06. Jan, 2011 by in Featured, Updates

This was a journal entry from Sept. 8, 2007:

Pomponio Beach, Calif.

Dusk at Pomponio Beach, California: By John Wilson — Soary cliffs, magical light and an ocean ... what more can one ask for? (Well, I would add . . . a secret tunnel from WWII—MR)

I had a lot of thoughts last night. Wish I could remember. One was to write this down:

It wasn’t “Going After Cacciato” that changed my life, although it was a wonderful book. It was living through the war itself.

That said, when I read “The Things They Carried,” the short story, all I could think was: Don’t let that soldier go down into that tunnel! What are you thinking? Toss a grenade down there first! So, I wasn’t taken in by Jimmy Cross’ apparent sudden decision to become a better leader, one who relies on SOPs. He has a long way to go . . .

When I was a young teen, which happened to be during the Vietnam War, I crawled into a war tunnel. It was on the beach at Pomponio in California. During WW II, the U.S. Coast Guard had dug tons of tunnels along the coastline to protect us from the Japanese — or so the story goes. This was one of them. A dangerous relic from a fearful time. I might have gone with Nick and Vince, it seems. I can’t recollect everything. Nick was older, Vince was my age. They were classmates from my alternative high school. We did things like take the school bus and go the beach. No supervision at all. I was probably about 14. Pomponio was made famous, if you knew what you were looking for, in the classic cult film, Harold and Maude. Harold stages one of his fake suicide attempts as a motorcycle leap off a cliff at Pomponio.

There was a long, winding trail down to the beach itself. You cross the beach and head up the backside of the far cliff. Somewhere there is an opening. It might have had boards around it. We go in. There is no light. We must crawl as the tunnel is not high, maybe three or four feet at the most. One of the boys is in front of me, the other behind. I have no choice but to keep going. We enter a pool of water, but must slither on. I am not afraid. Perhaps I should have been. Some 20 or 30 yards on, the ceiling rises and the tunnel breaks into the light. We find ourselves about 30 feet up a cliff looking out over the Pacific Ocean. We are protected and safe from harm, unless we fall off. But the opening onto the sea is wide enough and concave enough that there isn’t much to fear. It’s a spectacular moment. I’ve never been back through that tunnel. It may not even exist today, or they might have boarded it up.

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3 Responses to “Dusk at Pomponio Beach”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melanie Robbins, Pacific High School. Pacific High School said: PHS: Dusk an Pomponio Beach: This was a journal entry from Sept. 8, 2007: Dusk at Pomponio Beach, California: By… http://bit.ly/hIl5f5 […]

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  2. Sherry

    21. Nov, 2011

    Looking for updates on PHS people…a couple are here in Portland,OR I think. I was the music teacher for a short while during Martin’s time away. Michael Korns & I….
    I want to know what hwy 9/35area looks like now…any domes left? Can one access the property?

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  3. Kurt

    11. Aug, 2012

    Hi all!! Far out site.

    Fare thee well…

    Love to you


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