Posted: Jul 1, 2010
Swallows / Sun Island is a tale of two clubs. In northern San Diego County was a retreat known as the Sun Island Club which had leased for several years a eucalyptus and oak forested three hundred acre parcel on the outskirts of Escondido. It was popular with many Southern California nudists who enjoyed the fresh desert air and modest facilities. Then in 1964, the landlords decided not to renew with the nudists in order to develop the property into a country club. Faced with their eventual eviction, Sun Island owners TH and Susan “Big Sue” Latimer began looking for a new site.
The stories about Big Sue are legendary in the nudist community. She is best remembered for ruling S/SI with a tight grip and loud mouth! Many a morning, she would awaken her guest with her ten o’clock PA announcements: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a nudist resort! It’s a sunny day so get those clothes off!” Sue enjoyed two-and-a-half decades of her velvet gloved iron fist management style which won much praise and a little scorn from her members. In 1989, she sold her ownership share of S/SI and quietly past away a few years later.
Another prominent figure and perennial favourite was teenager Cécile Allain, whose parents were active members of S/SI. They enthusiastically raised their only daughter to embrace the same wholesome way of life which, along with her radiant smile and her genuine nature, lead to a semi-professional modeling career. Cécile’s youthful pictures graced the covers and pages of several ASA magazines during the 1960s — once creating an unintentional cause célèbre due to some misidentified photographs. As the club’s sweetheart, she represented S/SI in the various pageants which were staples of the day.
In October 2003, vast acreage throughout the eastern half of San Diego County was destroyed by a raging inferno that indiscriminately swept homes and neighbourhoods, hillsides filled with trees and canyons with dried grass. The fire burned nearly a fortnight before being extinguish. One of the incinerated canyons was Harbison; and, on the cusp of celebrating its fiftieth year, Swallows / Sun Island Resort was nearly wiped from the map. Of the 50 residences, only two mobile homes survived; fortunately, there was no loss of life.
At that point, no one could assure the resort would ever re-open, let alone remain nude. Owners Jim and Ruth Shafer had been trying to sell the park for several years but had thus far been unsuccessful. The fire had not only all but erased the physical property, it obliterated its market value as well. However, thanks to AANR and TNS, people from around the country donated money and material to save this wonderful park. Two years later, S/SI had transformed itself into a modern facility and a buyer, Fernándo Gonzáles — a resident and building contractor — promised to keep the park clothes-free. The new management team decided to drop the Swallows and keep just the Sun Island Resort, to mark its new start.
Gonzáles’ team was long on enthusiasm but short on funds. Membership grew, projects completed, homes available and the new resort was full of energy. However, the finances never shared this fervour and soon the club’s mortgage defaulted back to the Shafers. Once again they searched to find another buyer who wanted to keep it nudist but this time proved unsuccessful in finding another buyer.
The hammer fell on 23rd May 2008 when a new buyer — a textile — closed escrow. Many of the nudists who were living on property moved to other clubs such as ᴅe Ánza Springs. Le Club, a non-landed volleyball club based at Sun Island, went to Glen Eden Sun Club. The Shafers were very gracious in their farewell letter, thanking everyone for the love and support during their tenure. A new Indian casino opened a few miles down the road and Harbison Canyon has new homes; but stop and listen real closely for Big Sue’s voice, still echoing off the hillsides.
Posted: May 18, 2011
Posted: Jun 15, 2011
|The nudist on the skateboard is Mickey Jines.|
Posted: Sep 5, 2011
|During the 1970s, I visited Sun Island Club several times while on business trips to San Diego. Stayed overnight one time in one of the rooms for rent. In the morning it was cold (near El Cajon, away from the coast) and the sun had to warm things up before it was comfortable being nude outside. Big Sue's "wake-up call" around 10 a.m. was well-timed.|
Sorry to read of the demise of the club but had read earlier about the fire - probably in "Bare in Mind," the nudist newspaper published in Perris, Calif.
Posted: Apr 9, 2012
|I recently discovered some interesting background on when the Latimers took over Swallows in 1964 from the Zehners. According to various sources, Milton Luros, the porn magnate who produced and distributed the most popular nudist magazine titles of that era through his Parliament News Corp., actually financed the purchase of Swallows, and installed the Latimers as figure-head owner/operators. How long Luros was involved in the actual ownership is in question.|
In 1963, T. Latimer, who was president of the ASA, negotiated a deal with Luros’ company to distribute Stan Sohler’s “Sun Era” magazine as the “Official Journal of the ASA.” In 1964, this designation was switched to Ed Lange’s “Nudism Today” title. Also in 1964, both Latimer and Luros were coming under fire from the Los Angeles CDL (Citizens for Decent Literature) for the magazines. Luros was also getting heat from various nudist leaders as well for some of the photos and articles appearing in the magazines. Apparently, Luros installed the Latimers at Swallows to insure less hassle for his photographers.
It was only a few years later that, even though Luros, Sohler and Lange were eventually indicted and cleared of obscenity charges, they were making tons of money and pushed the envelope a little too far which lead to the end of the “golden age” of nudist magazines.
Posted: Aug 17, 2012
|We never got to visit Swallows before it burned down or after it was rebuilt and changed names. We had gotten comfortable with social nudity but my wife was only comfortable at our beach, San Onofre and the Terra Cotta Inn.|
When I convinced her to try another place ... the fire had taken Swallows. We started going to resorts and that was what she was comfortable with until we joined Glen Eden about 5 years ago.
From the looks of the pictures ... they sure where having a lot of fun even back in those days!
Posted: Aug 20, 2012
|I was lucky enough to be able to spend four days at Swallows in August 2002. It was the last year before I retired from the Navy so, for my birthday, I decided to load up the RV and spend a long weekend out there. It was only 20 miles or so from where I lived in San Diego. The people I met were very friendly; I had a great time. I accidentally locked my self out of the RV and had to climb through an open window. I drove by there the next year after the fires, it was very sad. Much of east and northern San Diego County was devastated by the fire in 2003.|
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