This Month in History: Glimpses into Pacific Beach’s past

The Potts by Patt florist shop in Pacific Beach on Nov. 5, 1979.
The Potts by Patt florist shop in Pacific Beach on Nov. 5, 1979. The building at 1560 Garnet Ave. was a headquarters for the George McGovern presidential campaign in 1972.
(Photo by John Fry, courtesy of Pacific Beach Historical Society)

This Month in History is a feature in PB Monthly highlighting local happenings from yesteryear. John Fry is a writer, publisher, historian plus co-founder and president of the Pacific Beach Historical Society. He also is the author of “Images of America: Pacific Beach” and “Pacific Beach Through Time.” He can be reached at

125 years ago

September 1897

San Diego City Schools, which opened Aug. 30, reported a “substantial” increase in attendance. The most crowded were Russ High School (today’s San Diego High) and Middletown Elementary, which had 70 first graders “where but fifty can be comfortably accommodated.” Pacific Beach School enrolled 20 total students, while — to the north — La Jolla had 13.

100 years ago

September 1922

A “band of roving gypsies” made off with $160 from the Southern Trust & Commerce Bank in La Jolla after offering to tell the fortune of teller Kathleen McCamy for a penny.

Sgt. George Churchman was alerted at his home on Diamond Street. He stopped five cars of offenders and, accompanied by Motorcycle Patrolman Hill, escorted them downtown to police headquarters. The $160 was handed over to Police Chief Patrick, who then gave the gypsies one hour to leave town.

75 years ago

September 1947

More than 2,000 elementary and junior high students crowded into area schools on the first day of school, Sept. 14, 1947. Pacific Beach Elementary alone had 1,250 students, many of whom were slated to attend the still-unopened Crown Point Elementary.

Half-day sessions were held under Pacific Beach Elementary Principal Joe Robinson and Crown Point Principal William Hawks, who hoped to move his charges into the new school within 60 to 90 days.

50 years ago

September 1972

The Pacific Beach headquarters for the George McGovern presidential campaign opened at 1560 Garnet Ave. It was one of 16 district headquarters for the Democratic presidential campaign.

Potts by Patt florist shop did business at the site for many years afterward.

25 years ago

September 1997

“The usually mellow waters at Tourmaline Surfing Park became a watery wrestling rink in the increasingly congested world of surfing,” wrote UT reporter Terry Rodgers.

Police arrested a man after he held the head of Robert Savarese under water. Savarese had come to the aid of a friend, who alleged that the arrested man intentionally ran into him as he was paddling out.