Monday, March 31, 2008


While I was home for spring break, I took a drive out to Loleta, a pastoral place that ultimately overlooks the ocean. Back in the very early 1970s, there was a hippie commune set up at a former lighthouse/coastguard station. It was called the Lighthouse Ranch, and I lived there for a while.

I recently wrote a short memoir piece about life at the Ranch, and it was strange to trek over those old times. It seems a little like a dream, how earnestly we pursued our desire to love God and love each other. The photo above is on the side of the old 'brothers' dorm.' So much of what was there is either gone, locked up, or melting back into the ground. It's a perfect metaphor.

This is the main building. There was a big dining hall and giant kitchen on the ground floor; I spent quite a bit of time working there. It looks grim, but back in the day, I was in love with the place and the hundred-or-so people who lived there. Below is a little excerpt from the memoir.
Trying to explain how it was is like trying to explain how you would know the sound of your lover’s breathing, even in a dark room full of breathing strangers. We were all very young. There was a war, and we were tired. We were tired of the war and tired of the passions war inflamed. We wanted to love each other, so we called each other brother and sister. We had decided that we were on the bus with Jesus. Not only did he look like one of us, he was offering paradise. We got on the bus with Jesus and it was a new trip.

The thing that you don’t know about living with a hundred people is that the most important thing is jam. It is very important that everyone get the same amount of yogurt at breakfast, and that no one eats all the jam. You might think the elder’s job is to drag you out of your little bunk, sisters’ dorm, brothers’ dorm, married couples too, everyone huddled in a stupor at 6 a.m. to hear a recording of the Apostle’s purpose and vision. But it is actually his job to make sure about the jam. Jesus may have increased the loaves and fishes, but he hasn’t made any moves toward increasing the jam.
It was always something with the food. The girl who shopped for groceries wept every week in the co-op, standing by the bulk bins. No matter what she planned, there was never enough money. There were sandwiches made of fava beans. ~Baku 2008
Drop me a comment if you'd like to read more.


Carson Park Ranger said...

This is the only first-hand information I've ever seen about the Lighthouse Ranch.


Joel said...

To the previous commenter: read D'arcy Fallon's memoir "Too Late, Too Soon." You can get a copy at the Eureka library.

Carla: I have been doing a lot of reading (what little there is online) about the Lighthouse Ranch, and I'm getting ready to do some writing about some of the music that was made there. I would loove to read your whole piece. You can find my email address on my blog,

PS: We are both former times-standard freelancers!

flying eagle woman said...

oh wow...that picture stirred SO many memories...that first picture. I was a short-timer there, brought in 1977 by my faithful friend who had seen the special on tv and who had ministered and prayed for me for 7 long years...there I was a broken teenager (almost 20) but I MADE A LOT OF YOGURT!!!!!! I draw on my cooking experiences still - now I'm a cook in the longhouse at my tribe...somehow it feels the same:-) THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS BLOG

flying eagle woman said...

PS - please! I'd love to

Lesa said...

People should read this.

artist_jane said...

I enjoyed your blog and the photos. I recently read "Too Late, Too Soon' and it entertained me greatly rather than brought back memories. I've never forgotten the time I spent there in the late 70's, and even have some pen and ink drawings somewhere that I did of the Ranch at that time. It was a beautiful place, but brutal to one as young as I was.