does a Snowbird cost?" you ask.
$1,100," someone says, and you remember the $150 check you so proudly took
to the boatyard to buy your first one.
visited Lido Isle yet?" comes the question. "If you want to see what's
really happened to this place you'd better go there." The last time you
were here it was just another sandbar in the middle of Newport, the Upper
one of the many Hollywood celebrities who have found a summertime haven in
Newport Beach, welcomes you to his house on Lido Isle. Bergen, along with his
friends Walt Disney and David Rose and several others, is a steam engine buff,
and he has put one in the S. S. Poopalong, a little Monterey fishing boat he
bought several years ago. You chug quietly up the bay while Bergen stokes the
furnace with a special smokeless coal imported from Wales. Everywhere you look,
the bay front is a solid wall of houses, each with its dock jutting into the
water and each dock with its yacht or two moored alongside.
Bergen shows you
the "character boats," as they call them in Newport—a Chinese junk, a
perfect miniature replica of an old Mississippi sidewheeler, a Norwegian
fishing vessel. This week, before Labor Day, some 50 of them will compete in
the character-boat parade, when Bergen will con the Poopalong in his vintage
Back on the
front porch of his house, Bergen tells you a little of what life is like on
Lido Isle. "It's something like Venice," he says. "All your friends
go by in their boats, and you can wave to them in different ways. Just a
friendly wave means hello, nice to see you. If you beckon, it means come in and
have a drink. Then they tie up to your dock and come into the house. If they
don't know you too well, they bring their own drinks from their boats."
astounding what's going on here," Bergen added. "I read not so long ago
that they sold almost as many boats as automobiles in southern California last
Isle," said a real estate man the next day. "You wouldn't believe
what's going on there. I remember back before the war I had a waterfront lot on
Lido Isle to sell—60 front feet on the water—and I had a hell of a time getting
rid of it for $4,500. Now they're getting $2,000 a front foot, and there aren't
more than half a dozen bay-front lots left there, and they aren't for sale.
place is changing from when you knew it," he went on. "After Labor Day
there weren't more than a few people left in the whole area, and the whole
summer population wasn't more than 5,000. Now we have a year-round population
of 30,000 and only about 10,000 or 12,000 more who come just for the summer.
Some weekends, though, we'll have maybe 100,000 people here. You can commute to
downtown Los Angeles in an hour, and we've got a lot of new electronics plants
going up in the area.
fabulous, it's really fabulous," the real estate man continued. "Just
look at these figures here. Ten years ago the assessed valuation for Newport
Beach was less than $40 million. Today it's more than $140 million. At 25� on
the dollar that means the property values here come close to $600 million.