By Beacon Staff

The other evening I was sitting on our waterfront terrace with my wife and it was as close to a perfect setting as nature or even Hollywood could create or provide. The sky had a blue to it that you never see in a city because of air pollution. The closest big city to us is Seattle almost 90 miles away. The channel we live on was as smooth as glass and the wind was just an occasional, light whisper in the trees that frame our view.

An International One Design class sailboat with its graceful bow and stern overhangs slid by headed for Deer Harbor a couple of miles away. It barely had enough speed for steerageway. No one around here was in a hurry to be anywhere, when from the east we heard a low rumble. It was the throaty sound of a high-powered boat. When you live on a waterway long enough you can tell what kind of boat is approaching by its sound long before you can see it. In this case, it was a 65-mile-an-hour cigarette boat. It is designed for only one thing; getting from one place to another as fast as your money can buy fuel and your spare time will allow.

I know of nothing anyone can buy that divides people into different strokes for different folks more than their choice of boats and the noise pollution they make.

It is sometimes so quiet on our terrace that you can hear a jet airplane as it is starting to let down for Seattle. When I make the occasional trip to a big city I don’t know whether it is the traffic the smog or the noise that makes me realize why I escaped to a pair of skis as soon as I got out of the Navy in 1946.

And then I would escape to my surfboard when the snow disappeared. I really did enjoy the noise of a breaking wave and fortunately I never had to listen to the roar of an avalanche up close and personal.

I did spend a lot of time being the noise polluter when I was doing my filming in a helicopter. On Mount Cook in New Zealand we could hear the helicopter whenever it got within 6 miles of us it was so quiet and the air was so thin and clear.

Thirty years or more ago I read a report that if you lived in Pasadena, Calif. and inhaled the smog every day it was the equivalent of smoking three cigarettes a day. When I told a friend of mine about that report he moved his printing company to Northern California because he said, “I have no right to make my two young children smoke three cigarettes a day.”

I was lucky when I lived in Southern California because I spent over half of my time at or near the beach until the smog started arriving after World War II. I was at the beach unless I was away filming skiing. I only had to breathe the smog when I had business in Hollywood. Sometimes it would be a week or two between visits and when my company grew I hired a young student to make the two hour round trip from Hermosa Beach to Hollywood and back for me. I’m not dumb … took me a while but I finally figured that one out.

My wife and I are very lucky people because we get to live here during the summer but it is true that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and with the right attitude beauty can be found everywhere.

It is easier to find it now, in the city, with all the efforts to clean up the air, it is so much better now … so lucky for many of you who ride elevators to work.

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