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

Kate Sessions offered in 1920 to donate land for a pocket park roughly where Jewell Street meets Los Altos Road.
Kate Sessions offered in 1920 to donate two small parcels of land for a pocket park roughly where Jewell Street meets Los Altos Road.
(Courtesy of John Fry)

This Month in History is a feature in the PB Monthly highlighting local happenings from yesteryear. John Fry is a writer, publisher and historian and 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.”

August 1895 — 125 years ago

Lazy days at the beach. Apparently newsworthy was the fact that Frank Woodworth, popular conductor on the Pacific Beach railway, was back on the job after a vacation in Alpine. The San Diego Chamber of Commerce apparently was putting together a display of local produce and acknowledged with gratitude the receipt of a sugar beet from C.E. Frost and corn from R.M. Dick, both of Pacific Beach.

August 1920 — 100 years ago

Kate Sessions offered, on Aug. 2, to donate two small parcels of land for a public park in Pacific Beach as well as a parcel for access. The pocket park would be located roughly where Jewell Street meets Los Altos Road. “Miss Sessions says the tract commands a fine marine view,” said an article in the San Diego Union. “She offers in the near future to plant the park with flowers.” This is not the area we now know as Kate Sessions Park.

Mr. and Mrs. James L. Allaben, “while walking along the highway at Pacific Beach last night,” were struck and badly injured by John Martin, a farmer from Blythe, reported the Aug. 20 San Diego Union. Doctors later downgraded their injuries and expressed hope for a full recovery. Witnesses said Martin was driving without lights. A girl he had “picked up” in Ocean Beach disappeared before the police arrived.

Pacific Telephone and Telegraph announced that dual telephone service would end Sept. 1. The company said it had been replacing manual phones with automatic phones for several months. Said an article in the Aug. 23 San Diego Union, “If you have an automatic telephone and wish to call a party having a San Diego manual telephone, including Main, Hillcrest, Point Loma, El Cajon or Pacific Beach numbers, dial No. 9 and give the operator the number desired.” I guess Pacific Beach still didn’t have the new automatic phones.

August 1945 — 75 years ago

The City Council approved recommendations by the Planning Commission to rezone “Pueblo Lands between Pacific highway and the Santa Fe tracks, and north of Balboa Avenue” from residential to light industry. That would be about where Bee Line has done alignments for many years.

August 1970 — 50 years ago

“High rise fought in Pacific Beach,” trumpeted the headline in the Aug. 4 San Diego Union. The Pacific Beach Town Council was considering calling a public meeting to address the outcry over a proposed 12-story high-rise at 4944 Cass St. A group of neighborhood residents picketed the office of Dr. Luben Walchef, a physician at the head of Walchef Development Corp. On Aug. 30, the city issued a permit for construction of the 118-unit complex, valued at $2,283,000.

In the meantime, Eleanor Marie Griese, 30, was booked into county jail for dancing nude onstage at the Jail, a nightclub at 2710 Garnet Ave. Harrison Allan Rece, 33, manager of the club, also was packed off to the pokey. Wow, they went from Jail to jail.

Food City, next door to the Jail, at 2736 Garnet, was advertising filet mignon for 99 cents a pound. I used to stop there on my way home from teaching at Hale Junior High in Clairemont and grill it on the gas barbecues at the newly opened Plaza Apartments. Years later I was lamenting the demise of Food City and its filet mignon. “You know why they closed,” said a friend. “They were selling horse meat.” Oh, dear.

August 1995 — 25 years ago

From the Night & Day section, San Diego Union-Tribune, Aug. 17:

“Another sign that the dog days of summer are upon us: Moondoggies has multiplied. The sports bar and restaurant, already occupying humble environs on Everts Street in Pacific Beach and perched above tony Prospect Street in La Jolla, is doing business at a third location: the former site of The Improv on PB’s Garnet Avenue. Moondoggies is ‘trying to be a restaurant,’ co-owner and manager Brett Miller said. As at Moondoggies’ La Jolla location, the menu is extensive and diverse: sandwiches, salads and burgers; pasta, pizzas and continental entrees, from ribs to steak and fish. Except for the continental entrees, prices are all under $10 a dish.

“The Brick Wall has come down. The Improv, which once thrived here, is gone. ‘We changed the entire thing,’ Miller said. The inventory: There are glass-blocked windows on the wall facing Garnet that open up to the street, a la the Cass Street Bar & Grill; a skylight; a new kitchen and a new bar. The Improv’s black-and-white motif — down to the tables and chairs — is history.

“This room is bright and airy, befitting the family ambience Miller seeks. You might mistake Moondoggies for an upscale beach bar, but never for a nightclub.”