When I was 19 years old, I worked at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California just south of San Francisco. The Boardwalk is a big amusement park on the beach where people come from all over the world. I worked at a gift shop there. I had led a very sheltered life even though my parents had traveled the world with me. My parents had been so strict that my curfew in high school was 10:00 even on weekends. I had never had a drink of alcohol, never smoked, never taken drugs, never cussed, and had only had one boyfriend, and I never slept with boyfriends. I was very innocent. I had come to California from Oklahoma with my grandmother to my aunt’s house. I had become a Christian in high school in Oklahoma, and I went one semester to Oklahoma Christian College, and then had had to drop out because of lack of money. I had taken Driver’s Education in high school, but I needed my mother to take me into Oklahoma City to get my driver’s license, but she refused. My grandmother called up just before my 19th birthday after I had had to drop out of college and asked my mother to let me go to California with her as my birthday present. My birthday present way paying for my own bus ticket to California. I wanted to go back to Oklahoma to that Christian college. I was trying to figure out any way I could to get a driver’s license, but was stranded. When I worked at the Boardwalk, I had no driver’s license, so my aunt would take me there and pick me up.
The Boardwalk was quite a place! I worked with and served a lot of different kinds of people. There were always big groups of people walking down the boardwalk in front of the store. Sometimes it was a group of Italians. Sometimes, a group of Orientals. I still remember seeing a group of people with all the women dressed in moo-moos from Hawaii and the men in Hawaiian shirts. Some of the others who worked at the gift shop were older ladies. Some were hippies who hardly wore clothes. One girl seemed really nice when you talked to her, but she was living with her boyfriend without marriage. Sometimes, we had drunk customers. A woman came in drunk one evening, and one of the older women called the police on her.
I heard stories about the street behind the shop. The shop faced the beach, and there was a wooden walk way all in front of the store connecting it to the rest of the amusement park. If you have heard about the famous motor cycle gang, the Hell’s Angels, they said recently, the Hell’s Angels had had a rumble (a big fight including knives) with another motorcycle gang there. I had actually met and gotten to know one of the members of the Hell’s Angels through my aunt, and he drove me crazy always wanting to visit with me. I couldn’t figure out what his fixation was about wanting to talk to me because he bothered me.
On the 4th of July, I had gotten off work early and gone home about 7:00. The next day when I went to work, there was blood on the sidewalks all around the store. When I was walking in the front door, my boss was complaining about the blood on the sidewalk in front of the store telling someone they needed to clean the blood up because it was bad for the image of the store. Evidently, on the 4th of July, the evening before, someone had turned off all the electricity at the Boardwalk, and all lights had gone out. When they did that, the Boardwalk went crazy! I knew a nice Baptist boy who worked in one of the booths on the Boardwalk. He told me that some men were coming over the counter after the girl in the booth next to him, and he had to beat them off with a big wooden paddle. If he hadn’t, they had had intentions of raping her. He saved the girl. Around the store where I worked, there had been five stabbings that night. The women working in the store had been scared to death! They locked the front door, but were still scared because of the big picture windows in front of the store. They went in the back of the store and locked themselves in behind a big metal door where no one could get to them. Needless to say, the Boardwalk was a shocking place for me to find myself, but I had to have a job.
The Satanist church had begun in Santa Cruz, and in the mountains over Santa Cruz, I had heard about big witch meetings. Many of the young people in the town were smoking marijuana. Down the beach from the Boardwalk, I had heard there was a nudist colony on the beach down there. It was the 1970’s, and hippies were everywhere. My personality just didn’t match this place at all, and I was very young and innocent. I didn’t want to be there, but I had no choice.
I had applied for financial aid to the government to go back to school, but I hadn’t heard anything yet. I really belonged back in Oklahoma at that Christian college. I had really enjoyed going to chapel everyday. I had really enjoyed getting to know other Christian young people. I always went to every spontaneous devotional they had on campus. I felt like I was in Heaven there. I was very disappointed when I had had to drop out.
As I said, my aunt had to pick me up after work. She usually had me come to the street behind the store, the street where I had heard the Hell’s Angels had fought, and she would meet me there. One evening, I was waiting for her, but she was late. There was a policeman walking back and forth on the street, so I was sure everything was okay. Two guys came walking down the street and stopped. They were looking at me, and I could tell they were talking about me. Pretty soon, one of them came up and stood beside me and began talking to me. He was asking me lots of questions, and I was trying to be polite, but I was also cautious. He learned that I had come there from Oklahoma and that I had attended a Christian college, and that my aunt was coming to pick me up any minute. Finally, he said, “You are a nice nice girl!” After that he walked away and talked to his friend again. Next, his friend decided to come and talk to me. I figured out that they were both trying to get me to go home with them. There was a competition to see who could get me to go home with them, and they were both losing. The second one didn’t believe the first one when he told him I was a nice girl, and he was convinced he could get me to go home with him. I couldn’t wait until my aunt got there! My aunt was unable to come that evening, but she sent my cousin. When the car pulled up, and I went to get into the car, the one who thought I had been lying and wasn’t a nice girl, and that he could get me to go with him walked up to the curb and gave me a salute. He had figured out that I wasn’t lying!
I was so glad when my financial aid packet came from the government that summer and I ended up being able to go back to Oklahoma and go to that Christian college!