My family had a vacation home in Capitola Village on the river. We spent many long weekends and Summer's hanging out at the beach building sand castles with my mom, splashing in the lagoon with my brother, my dad teaching me to fish on the pier, the whole family grabbing a fresh waffle cone at Souza's and sitting on the benches at the sea wall watching the sun go down as the lights from the pier sparkled on the water. Attending every Begonia Festival, bringing friends and family along to stay and decking our porch railings out in leftover begonias that I would beg from the float builders. I was always pretending I was decorating my house awaiting my prince to come and sweep me off my feet to marry me. For me, Capitola was a little girl’s paradise to explore and imagine life's possibilities and as I have grown, my dreams have come true in Capitola.
The river property originally belonged to my Great-great-great aunt on my father’s side. Yes that is 3 greats! My great-grandfather’s aunt! She owned the property right next to the train trestle, on the beach side. There were two houses on the property. One was a rental and the one facing the river was her private residence. Her residence was even used as "queens quarters" for the begonia festival. My family still has the purple painted wooden "Queens Quarters" sign that hung from her porch.
My mom's family would visit Seacliff from time to time and wander over to Capitola. My mom swears she saw my dad when they were kids, playing on the beach, long before they met in middle school, 60 miles away in the East Bay. What a small world that these two would find each other. My dad really introduced my mom to Capitola once they were married. That great-aunt passed away shortly after they wed and my grandmother inherited the property and the family continued to stay and play in Capitola. I was the fifth generation of my family to enjoy the home growing up.
In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake brought our family vacation home crashing to the ground. The damage was so intense that the only option was demolition. The house was gone. The porch that I once covered in flowers for my prince to find me was a pile of rubble whisked away in the back of a dump truck. We had plans to rebuild but my grandmother went round with the city one too many times and with my grandfather’s health waning, she gave up. Our plans to rebuild went by the wayside and she sold the property. It was a devastating moment for the whole family. The realization set in that though the city would still be there, "our" Capitola was gone forever.
I didn't return to Capitola until years later, in my college days. I took my boyfriend down for a day trip to share some of my childhood memories with him. He fell in love with the town as well. We returned there on the 7th anniversary of the day we met. He took me to Shadowbrook where we had the most amazing meal of our lives. After dinner we walked on the beach and then at Sunset he proposed to me. My begonia covered porch was long gone but my prince found me in Capitola. I said yes and here we are 12 years, and 2 kids later.
We take our kids to Capitola at least once a year just for the day. It's a luxury to stay. It's always the best time and so relaxing. Our kids have asked to celebrate their birthdays in Capitola this year, so we are combining birthdays and taking a little weekend getaway in October. We have booked a house on the river and I have invited my parents to come along with us. They always took us as kids and now it is my turn to take them. My mom is disabled and going blind. I know that this may be her last chance to see Capitola and I want to make some more dreams come true for her. Capitola is a truly magical place full of wonder and possibility.