Nov 29, 2013 8:00 AM by Jeanette Trompeter
For as long as I can remember when I was looking for information on the history of Pismo Beach, I was sent to Effie McDermott. She is a treasure trove of local lore about a community that comes with a very colorful past. "What's unique to Pismo is we cherish our stories." says Effie. "In fact some of them are exaggerated." she laughs.
Effie has been collecting pictures and stories about Pismo Beach for more than 20 years and aims to separate fact from fiction in her new book. "I spent many hours at the courthouse for instance, looking at deeds to confirm who actually owned what and who sold what to whom and when. And sometimes I would have a picture and in the picture I would see something and then I would run that down too."
Her book chronicals the history of this charasmatic beach town from its Chumash roots to the Price family, to now. And she examines local lore passed down over the years. Did Maddie really run a brothel up on the bluff? "Very possibly...." she says. "But again it's undocumentable."
Are there secret smuggling passages below Shell Beach? "These tunnels have grown and grown and grown over the years until they're miles long." Effie laughs. "There may have been holes from basements or something but a tunnel? One of them I heard from Dinasour Caves Beach going up and under the freeway....No. There was supposedly a tunnel from Alex's barbecue to a house on Windward. There was no tunnel."
Shell Beach is actually a part of Pismo, but there wasn't much here until about the 20's. And it all started with a guy on one of those streets, Boeker Avenue, that ends at Alex's barbecue. Boeker became the first street in Shell Beach when a property owner decided to subdivide his spread and sell. "And the tradition of barbecues at Alex's came from from Mr. Boeker. He would have barbecues and invite people to come and look at his lots and buy them." explains Effie.
If you want to know more about how the Sunset Palisades neighborhood was once an oil field, how Al Capone once laid low in a Pismo pool haul. Effie McDermott's book is now a good place to start.
If you'd like to know more about Effie's book, visit KSBY and click on the links section.
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