Guest commentary: Memories of La Jolla High still shine 60 years later

Alan Segal is pictured at left in his Harry's Coffee Shop hat and at right in his senior yearbook from 1962.
La Jolla High School alumnus Alan Segal is pictured at left in his Harry’s Coffee Shop hat and at right in his senior yearbook from 1962.
(Photos courtesy of Alan Segal)

In September, La Jolla High School’s class of 1962 will have its 60th reunion.

In 1959, we lived in south Mission Beach. I was in ninth grade at Pacific Beach Junior High and had to decide whether I should go to Mission Bay or La Jolla high school. In those days, if you lived in south Mission, you got your choice.

I made the right choice, as did most of my friends living in south Mission, including Dan Berry, Randy Strada and Billy McGuire. All three passed away prematurely but certainly left an imprint on LJHS — Dan and Randy in football and Billy in wrestling and partying.

My father had just suffered bankruptcy from his three furniture and appliance stores, and I was by far the poorest kid to enroll in LJHS at that time. However, part of my motivation for choosing La Jolla was an article I read at the time that said the community of La Jolla had the most residents who were millionaires — 128. Since I didn’t have any money, I thought I should follow the money.

I did well at La Jolla High. I made a lot of new friends, enjoyed my existing friends from the beach and some who were in the grades ahead of me when I got there. I went out for the track team in my first year and earned a varsity letter, which was kind of a big deal, even though I couldn’t afford to buy a school jacket to put the letter on.

I continued to get letters in my junior and senior years in track, and football in my senior year. I did get a jacket in my senior year when a friend of mine, Bobby Mico, gave me his old one to wear.

I loved journalism and got to write a sports column for the school paper. But most of my high school life besides going to class was spent surfing and playing two-man beach volleyball in south Mission and, of course, dreaming about the abundance of good-looking female classmates.

I really didn’t care that my parents were broke at the time, because I had a group of fellow beach bums to hang out with at south Mission and I didn’t need money to surf and play volleyball. However, one memory of being poor shadowed me until I retired at age 62 from my business career in San Francisco and moved back to south Mission.

In my senior year, several of my classmates would meet for breakfast at Harry’s Coffee Shop, and they always invited me to meet them there. Well, I always came up with a lame excuse for not being able to join them, even though I wanted to. The real reason was I couldn’t afford it.

So, my first year of moving back in retirement, I certainly could afford it and went to Harry’s and sat at the counter, and have had breakfast there many times since. I even told this story to one of the sons running the place one morning and he loved hearing it. So I bought a Harry’s baseball cap and still wear it with a satisfied smile.

Alan Segal is a member of La Jolla High School’s class of 1962.