Bob Prahl was my father Jack Robinson's nephew. My father's mother, Mae Harrington Robinson, was Peggy Prahl's oldest sister. Mae located at 145-3rd Street in foggy, desertlike and beachy Encinitas in the . . . thirties? Another sister, or relative, Nelle, was, I think, the first to locate in Encinitas, later living on Orpheus Avenue with her husband, pharmacist, Doc Claydon. Of course, Mae's younger brother Jack Harrington and family were there too. But sister Peggy and her husband Carl Prahl and Bob and his sister Pam also lived in Encinitas. My father, likewise, graduated from San Dieguito in about 1937 a few years before Bob was born.
My grandmother, Mae's 3rd Street cottage was separated by a few doors from the Prahl's gorgeous green one on 2nd street by a small alley and surrounded by seas of ice plant on all sides, and a few massive, flowering trees.
When in 1952, or '53, at 18 months or so, I moved with my parents to Larkspur, California. Encinitas was my introduction to Southern California and the place I came to love most.
I still can remember visiting La Jolla in the fifties, as a small boy and loving the town. The great American mystery writer, Raymond Chandler, was still alive and living there. I was a child. But I can remember the structure and appearance of the towns, streets, the shops, the people and their clothing, and the hotels he writes about because they all existed and I saw and remembered, vividly, the things he described.
It really was all too beautiful, as the Small Faces sang. The beach communities north of San Diego, truly, were a strand of pearls.
Though a relative, I spent little time with Bob during his teen maturity. (Later in our lives, over a couple of decades, Bob took me to various beaches and tried to teach me body surfing; once I think I tried unsuccessfully for the better part of an afternoon to get on a board, under his tutelage.) This was during the heydays of Bob's sky-blue Mercedes.
Bob, like Pam, was so beloved. He always seemed willing to do anything for, and with, his family and relatives. Often at the drop of a hat.
In my memory castle, the Prahl families have many rooms, and a wealth of Californian and Mexican neighborhoods and places from Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, to Bob's Grand View Drive home in La Mesa to Pam Prahl and Baldwin Burch's enchanted first home on Norma Drive in San Diego. From Tony's Jacal in Del Mar (the Home of Turkey Tacos) after a day at the races, to Carnitas Uruapanense in Tijuana, BC, where the pork roasts marinating in copper troughs abutting the parking lot can be viewed before being converted into kilogram-sized platters of Carnitas inside the restaurant.
It might shock him, but Bob demonstrated to me something so many Americans never know, or come to realize: namely, that America is part of Las Americas.
San Diego has been fortunate to have families like the Prahls who see the need for communities to be built along the same lines as families.