Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Here's a real-photo postcard of Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is what Carmel looked like in the 1940s. It's also what Carmel looked like in the 30s and what Carmel looks like now, although I think the parking is now parallel instead of angled. The City of Carmel has been intent on retaining the village look, even going so far as to reject home delivery of mail.

Delivering mail would require actual addresses, and in Carmel people would rather refer to their houses with names such as Tinkerbell's Cottage, Sea Urchin, or Ocean Mist. So, the houses remain unnumbered and all four thousand plus residents must go to the post office to pick up their mail. This can cause a bit of congestion, but it is also a well-loved social occasion. UPS does not love this though, because they only deliver to houses. Somehow they manage. There are also no streetlights or sidewalks outside of the downtown.

It's been difficult to maintain the village ambiance as property values have risen. In the early 1900s, the town was full of artists and bohemians living in shacks and small houses, often on small lots. Although it's precisely that ambiance that draws wealthy people to Carmel, when they move there they generally don't want to live in a little house. Carmel's planning regulations keep it from getting out of control.

Carmel is not your average small town. Some of you may recall that Clint Eastwood was once mayor of this small town. I lived in Carmel at the time, and I remember that one of the first things he did was to overturn the ban on selling ice cream cones. Why, you may ask, were ice cream cones illegal in Carmel to begin with? Well, silly, ice cream could drip off the cone and then the next thing you know, somebody steps in it and tracks it into Tinkerbell's Cottage. There is also (really!) a law against wearing high heels in Carmel. You can get a permit at City Hall to wear them. This is generally regarded as a relic or a joke, but if you're walking in high heels in Carmel and trip on uneven ground on an unlit street with no sidewalks, don't try to sue the city.

31 comments:

  1. Lovely look at a lovely place! Always enjoyed my visits to Carmel! Great post for the day! Hope you have a lovely evening!

    Sylvia

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  2. I do remember that Clint, who I used to watch on TV in Rawhide (which dates me) was Carmel mayor.

    I imagine the fire & police depts can't be thrilled with no numbered houses either.

    On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!

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  3. I first drew breath in Monterey and for a short while lived in Carmel Valley. I was supposed to be born in Carmel, but alas there was no room at the inn that day.

    Unfortunately Carmel is not what it once was. I was stunned on my last visit at how tacky it has become. The buildings are mostly the same, but the contents are sorely lacking. It all felt very sad. I'd prefer to remember as it once was and never go back. You really can't go home again.

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  4. What an interesting post. Thanks for the info and the postcard.
    Thanks too for stopping by!

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  5. It's been years since I've been there - I would guess that it's changed a great deal. That's a place of dreams, for sure!

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  6. Tattered and Lost,
    You're right. Your best bet is to go during the winter, but even then...

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  7. I can remember Carmel looking just like that! I just discovered your blog and enjoy it very much. Thanks for visiting mine and commenting!

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  8. Well, that is quite a story, it's nice to know that inspite of the hassle and dassle in CA,especially bec of Hollywood, there's this small town still alive there,and yeah,I remember and know Clint Eastwood because of his famous dailogue, "Over my dead bodY!":)

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  9. Off Topic comment:
    I love your blog.I love seeing and (trying to) read all the postcards. it feels like taking back in time,although I'm not that old yet but I just love vintage specially like your postcard and i absolutely love your header. :)

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  10. I like this black and white photo, classic. thanks for the visit

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  11. It's a lovely place, we had an extremely brief ('drive-by-type') visit there in 2008 and this is pretty much how I remember it. All small communities need restrictive rules in order to retain their charm but I see from your post that Carmel has taken it one step further! Fascinating information there - thank you. :)

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  12. What an interesting post! So everybody has to pick up their mail?! My Australian daughter lives outside Cooktown and has to fetch hers at the postoffice as well. Her house has no number either. Thank you for your visit! Have a great day!

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  13. It looks very nice and your shot are great:-)

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  14. hahahaaa! i really enjoyed this post! i love ABC. i learn a lot every time :)

    mine is here http://kcelebration.blogspot.com/2010/02/corvette-stingray.html

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  15. Wenn Carmel noch so wie auf der Postkarte aussieht, dann muss das ein schöner Ort sein.
    Und dann auch noch am Meer.
    Eines Tages möchte ich mal in die USA kommen und eine Reise durch das Land machen.

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  16. Fascinating to see that such charming communities still exist - reminds me a bit of Frinton-on-Sea where they don't allow any pubs, betting shops or fish-an-chip shops but here the Post Office has no problems whatever delivering to streets with house names and no numbers.

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  17. I loved Carmel! Of course, I didn't know it before it became trendy, and we did notice the contents of many of the buildings were geared toward the tourist trade. It's always a pity when that happens. It's still a wonderful, memorable little town though!

    I bought myself a sweet little folding knife there in a specialist shop. And I use it to open my packages with. The ones that get delivered right to my door!

    The thing about the post delivery in Carmel is funny .. I wonder how much is due to the fact that if they allowed it, people would put up mailboxes?

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  18. I like living in a house without an address and only a name. Although it can also be quite confusing! I once had to call the AA (Automobile Association in the UK) for some problems with my car and the hotel only had the hotel's name and no street address. It took me about half an hour to explain this to the person on the phone! They did arrive in the end though and fixed my car.

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  19. I have always thought, that Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove were the most beautiful places on earth. I enjoy visiting any chance I get.

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  20. Fascinating post and fantastic blog. I wish I'd come across it before.

    Esther

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  21. I have linked your blog in mine: http://shaunnaf.blogspot.com/2010/02/postcard-links.html
    Have a great day!

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  22. Nice post. I collect certain postcards too.

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  23. I've only visited Carmel once, but your postcard is amazingly familiar. How lucky you are to have lived in such a lovely town and how civilized to have a house name rather than a number!

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  24. Now I'm torn between wanting to move to Carmel or not! This sounds like a most intriguing place to live.
    It certainly is beautiful.

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  25. Thank you for your comment on my C words. Carmel sounds like an absolutely Charming town! What a wonderful "daily postcard" you found!

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  26. What a great way to learn about another place!

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  27. Your posts are always intersting, passing on to all us devoted readers some small unknown fact or other tidbit, but this one was even more interesting than usual... was it the charming photo? the peek into small town life? the Clint Eastwood reference? your personal Carmel experience? or maybe just the vision of 2,000 women in sensible shoes, except for that one lovely lady in the mysterious hat and 4" spike red patent leather heels, playing anarchist for the day? As for the post office experience, I will attest in my small Colorado mountain town that getting your mail is a daily social event (you'll see someone different every day that you need to catch up with), and for those neighborhoods with cluster-type post boxes, well, they're very cold and impersonal. Gray metal boxes poking their clustered heads above the pristine snow, cars pulling up for a moment, then driving on. There are no warm greetings. There are no conversations. There are rarely even two people there at one time. As for me, I gave up my postal-given right to have a free mailbox in the cluster box not 300 feet from my house, so that I might pay an annual fee to drive 3 miles and keep my finger on the pulse of my community. (OK, I also happen to work near the post office). Thanks, Christine, for all your lovely posts --- Karin

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  28. Thanks so much Karin,
    How sweet of you!
    I carry a little of Carmel with me. I wear sensible shoes. I hang out at the post office, and I've been thinking about naming my house. Let me know if you have any good names for Portland houses...Moss Ranch? Fern Grotto?

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  29. Wonderful story and postcard! Makes me want to live there...

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