“When you are through changing, you are through.” – Bruce Barton


Fifty years ago, I finished college and moved out of Isla Vista to a small abode one house away from the beach in Carpinteria. As I’m still here (although in a different house), one would think life is fairly predictable, with few emergencies and/or extreme changes. But – and there always is a but – life has a way of gifting us with surprise treasures, tragic gut punches, or some of both.

This week, I am headed to Bend, Oregon, to catch up with some of my oldest friends, the ones that, even though I don’t see them often, I know we can sit down to dinner with a glass of wine and pick up our conversations as if we see each other every day. Don’t worry too much. We are vaccinated, have a good supply of masks and are prepared to spend most of our time together outside. I look forward to this “girls only” weekend as I know it will be fun, but several of our friends died this year, and one spent months battling breast cancer. Our group is getting smaller. 

As I prepare for my trip, I am becoming quite nostalgic about the twists and turns life hands out, and I certainly feel that each year goes by faster and faster, especially when I look in the mirror. I taught school forever, and then I retired. My sons are now over 30, and my grandsons are all in school. I should have plenty of free time, especially during the months of Covid, but still, my days seem full of too many things to do – or maybe I just do everything slower. That certainly could be the issue.

I know I am rambling a bit so let me spit this out. Change happens whether we want it to or whether we plan it or whether we try to ignore it. When I first came to Carpinteria there was a Santa sitting on top of the toy store at Santa Claus Lane, right next door to the Reindeer Room, a miniature train and a giant snowman. The Herald was the local paper and Mills Drug Store was a busy, downtown business. There were also two hardware stores, a shoe store and a barber. All of those are now gone along with the ancient Carpinteria Airport and the Thunderbowl. So… what has Carpinteria done? It has welcomed new establishments and restaurants to become part of the city center and help Carpinteria remain a vibrant “small town.”

Carpinteria residents have made several amazing changes – my favorite is saving the Bluffs. This is a gift for all who come here to enjoy, and we have insured that the Bluffs will be here long after the current citizens of Carpinteria are gone. Another change was in 1987 when the Avocado Festival was born – a celebration that requires many hours of work for local volunteers. Yes, we have lost Sly’s and Fosters Freeze and Crush Cakes, but The Spot and Clementine’s and Zookers are still here. We also have many new and vibrant restaurants and breweries that are becoming popular hotspots, plus so many long-standing enterprises that are too many to name but certainly appreciated. 

Over my years in Carpinteria, I have repeatedly heard how this person wants Carpinteria to stay a sleepy beach town, or how that person doesn’t want new housing, or how someone else wants to control growth of any kind. Certainly, no major changes should occur without careful thought and discussion. But some change is inevitable. You must know that. Our job is to do the best we can to make sure whatever change is coming at us, we can live with. We need to be good stewards of our community – and this means looking out for what is best for all, not just what we want. Sometimes change is clear-cut with a positive outcome. Sometimes change means compromise. And sometimes change just needs to be stopped or at least postponed. The conundrum is sorting out the right answers and being able to live with the results – and your neighbors.

Thoughts on change:

Those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. – Unknown

Any plan is bad that cannot be changed. – Unknown 

The only people who like change are wet babies. – Unknown 





Melinda Wittwer first moved to Carpinteria in 1972 and taught mostly junior high students in Oxnard during her 25-year career. Now retired, she enjoys pottery, writing, books and travel.

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