Cabo San Lucas 1970

The Story Behind the Photographs

BY KEITH ROSS

In the summer of 2018, a Facebook group surprised us with photographs taken in 1970 of Cabo San Lucas and its inhabitants. The images were so clear that it was hard to imagine they had been taken so long ago. Beverly Parsons, the group’s administrator, said the photos were taken by her and her father. The faces of the people could be seen clearly, the houses that no longer exist, and a way of life that remained only in the memory of those who lived it. But where did the photographs come from, who took them, why were they shared so many years later?

The love story

In the summer of 1969, Canadian Beverly Parsons still did not know that she would live the last months of the year in a house in Cabo San Lucas, that she would arrive on a yacht she had never boarded and that she would marry a man she had never seen before.

She worked in the Social Sciences Library at the University of British Columbia in Canada and was engaged to her boyfriend of three years. But in that summer, she followed her parents’ advice to travel to Mexico and into the warm waters of the Pacific. She arrived in Mazatlan with one of her friends to stay at Hotel Playa.

Life suddenly changed when she entered a store in Mazatlan to buy earrings. That's when she met him, Bob, an American who was traveling through Mexico as a yacht captain. Strange how love sometimes feeds on coincidences in order to hit harder. She saw him get out of a taxi while trying to pick out the best earrings. Later in the evening, they started talking, and they didn’t stop until she left Mazatlan one week later. When she returned to Canada, her three-year relationship ended with the confession of having met someone in Mexico.

Beverly met Bob again for a weekend in July in the United States. She returned to Canada to resign from her job. As soon as they found her replacement in the library, she took a flight to Mazatlan to meet Bob. A week later, with the precipitation with which great stories and great failures are born, Bob asked her to marry him.

A month later they married in Canada, at a wedding organized by her family, specifically her mother who wanted to put a church in the middle of her daughter’s love story. Two weeks later they returned to Mazatlan where Bob was to continue his work at The Shady Lady, the yacht where he worked.

The Shady Lady

In November of the same year, the yacht where Bob worked, The Shady Lady entered Cabo San Lucas Bay with one more crew member. Beverly, who had embraced her father’s love of photography, found in the tranquility of that town a treasure that love made shine brighter.

Since they could not live on the yacht, they rented a house on the shore of the beach from Rafael Sandoval. She was in love, and she loved Cabo San Lucas.

It didn’t take long for her to get to know her neighbors, despite her little knowledge of Spanish. She felt a little lonely because she didn’t speak Spanish, but over time she got to know almost everyone around her.

Also, it didn’t take long for her to start photographing them with her camera. The faces of 1970s Cabo San Lucas came to Facebook with the clarity of today’s technology: Sebastián Romo, Alfonso Ortiz, Mela Cota, Lupita Chong, Norma Sández, among other inhabitants of 1970 Cabo San Lucas.

To get to North Vancouver you have to cross a bridge that separates the big city with the people who dared to live in the woods. The long canyons that watch the river go by, bears lurking for salmon, an icy sea, the rain that maintains the long green mantle that covers the landscape of southwestern Canada contrast with the arid desert, the temperate waters of the Pacific, the brown landscape that greens with each rain, and a population of a thousand people who live from the sea.

It was 1949 when Marjorie and Edward, Beverly’s parents, opened a store in North Vancouver. Edward alternated his dedication to the family business with his passion for photography. Although he was not a professional photographer, his passion for this artistic activity kept him learning every technique and technological advance within his reach.

In 1970 they traveled to Cabo San Lucas to see the place where their daughter and their new son-in-law had been living for a few months. Edward found what every photographer is looking for: a new lens to see with fresh eyes. Edward photographed the life he saw in Cabo San Lucas: the beach surrounded by seagulls, the boats anchored in the bay, the houses, the trades, the families, everything that the small population allowed him to portray.

When he returned to Vancouver, he organized a presentation with his friends and neighbors to show them where his eldest daughter spent her days. After the presentation, he kept the photographs with the care of someone who hides a treasure.

Seven years after showing his photographs of Cabo San Lucas to the north of Vancouver, in one of those days that are forever etched, a stroke took his life. Beverly found the photographs only after his death. Her dad protected the pictures with plastic sheeting like someone who knows that life changes so much that those 1970 photographs will be, at some point, a valuable discovery.

It seems that the sea chooses its own. Beverly quit her job at a library in Canada to spend the rest of her life on yachts. She is still working in the yacht industry in San Diego, California.

She wanted to publish her father’s photographs in a magazine because she knew the value of each of the images. Since she got no response from any publication, she preferred to open a Facebook group and share the photos.

I was surprised one afternoon when my sister shared a photo of my father and my uncles, barefoot and smiling with the strength that children have to be happy. There were my grandparents and a huge bay that looks empty in comparison to now.

 “No one went into the sea to swim, and if they did, it was like normal clothes and at Easter” Beverly confessed to me when I interviewed her for this article. I smiled because I remembered how the coasts are still filled with tends at that time of year.

Beverly and her father didn’t stay in Cabo San Lucas. But the photographs are still here, showing us a town that many of us didn’t know, helping the memory to remember that town that used to dry shark meat in the sun to make a living. 

About the author: Keith Ross is from Cabo San Lucas. Writer and editor. He is author of the books “Callejón sin salida” and “Los piratas vienen de lejos”.