The Santa Cruz of the late '70s - the Santa Cruz I remember - bears no resemblance to the Central California community of 2013.
For those of us who went to high school in San Jose, Santa Cruz was the place we went to drink beer, ride the roller coaster and ogle girls in bikinis when the weather got warm in the South Bay.
It was the place our parents dreaded. Highway 17 - with its hairpin curves winding through the majestic redwoods between Los Gatos and Scotts Valley - claimed the lives of more than a few of our peers.
I could fill a good portion of this space with tales of escapades that began or ended in Santa Cruz. I won't.
All of the kids who graduated Bellarmine College Preparatory in 1979 might have similar tales and sweet memories of a time that's long gone and otherwise mostly forgotten.
After yesterday the class of '79 will always pair Santa Cruz with the name of a classmate who gave his life to protect the citizens of Surf City from the creeps, predators and killers who roam its streets today.
Our classmate, Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, was killed Tuesday in Santa Cruz by an armed and cowardly nutcase who had more than a few run-ins with law enforcement, a bad work record as a barrista and history of sexual assaults aimed at female co-workers.
The killer was the sort of lowlife loser California beach cities attract more and more these days.
He's dead now too.
So is Butch's partner Lomita native Detective Elizabeth Butler.
Butch and Liz left behind families and kids. Butch's son recently joined the Santa Cruz P.D. and is a community service officer.
Want to know what kind of guy Butch was? Even the community activists loved him.
Deborah Elston, a co-founder of the advocacy group Santa Cruz Neighbors, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that she relied on Baker for support in a San Lorenzo River clean-up effort.
"It's such an incredible loss of his expertise and just a salt-of-the-earth guy," Elston told the newspaper before adding that Butch was "very personable, thoughtful and very approachable."
That Santa Cruz I so loved as a high schooler has changed. It's become a mean, vicious place where prowling packs of teens prey on the homeless while the hippies who moved there after the Summer of Love have turned their paradise over to corporate pot collectives intent on squeezing every last dime out of medical marijuana addicts.
Butch saw it coming.
"Seems that before even the criminals had a code of ethics, but now some of the young people out there just have a general lack of respect for others," he told a reporter in 2002. "They're in your face."
Say what you will about the Jesuits who taught us, I've heard it all.
But they instilled in us a code of ethics "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" - for the greater glory of God - which they they explained meant we were to be "men for others."
Butch was exactly that.
Frank C. Girardot is the editor of the Pasadena Star-News. Follow him at twitter.com/frankgirardot. His book "Name Dropper: Investigating the Clark Rockefeller Mystery" will be released on March 9. Learn more at www.rockefellermystery.com.