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

Pacific Beach's Roxy Theater is pictured in 1947.
(Photo by Guy Sensor, courtesy of San Diego History Center)

This Month in History is a feature in 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.”

1895 — 125 years ago

The last few days of the month were quite busy, according to the PB Notes column in the San Diego Union of Nov. 29. The Village Improvement Society met at the home of E.C. Thorpe and arranged for work on local improvements. Thorpe was a well-respected carpenter whose wife, Rose Hartwick Thorpe, gained international fame as a teenager for the poem “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight.” She also was credited with changing the name of False Bay to Mission Bay, again thanks to a poem.

The Thanksgiving festival at Stough Hall, under the auspices of the Ladies’ Aid Society, was a decided success, both socially and financially. A number of young people spent an enjoyable evening at the home of Franklin Barnes. The Barnes family would leave the beach in 1906 and eventually own and operate the Manzanita Ranch store in Julian.

1920 — 100 years ago

On Nov. 4, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Aizo Sogo of 2423 Grand Ave. On Nov. 11, Mr. and Mrs. Otojiro Yanase announced the birth of a son. On Nov. 21, the formation of a Japanese Parent-Teacher Association was publicized. It met twice a week “for the study of English and sewing.”

County traffic officers Bill Landis and V. Barnhill cited 48 motorists for speeding, and “the county treasury was enriched by $425,” according to the San Diego Union. K. Linhoff, a driver for McClintock Sign Co., was found guilty of exceeding 40 mph in Pacific Beach. The youth said he could not pay the fine and was sentenced to 25 days in jail. Justice Jennings allowed him to avoid jail by paying the fine in two installments.

1945 — 75 years ago

The Roxy Theater box office opened at 8:30 a.m. for kiddies who wanted to sit in the dark and watch 15 Walt Disney cartoons — or
“two hours of solid fun,” as the advertisement put it. Tickets for children were 25 cents. Adult admission was 50 cents. I assume they had to do a thorough cleaning before opening the doors that evening for “The Lady in the Morgue” and “Man with Two Lives.”

On Nov. 3, the Navy gave the “cease fire” order to the Pacific Beach Anti-Aircraft Training Center, where more than 20 million rounds of ammunition had been fired during World War II, beginning Sept. 2, 1942. South Calumet Street in Bird Rock is roughly where the school was located.

1970 — 50 years ago

The month started badly when a man used a pistol Nov. 2 to rob Claire’s Children’s Dress Shop at 701 Turquoise St. and leave with $138 in cash and $75 in checks. The clerk, Mary Schmitz, said the gunman demanded that she put the money from the cash drawer into a black zippered bank bag.

On Nov. 7, a fire of undetermined origin burned the Ace Body and Paint Shop at 1118 Garnet Ave., sending flames into the air that were visible over a wide area. Three engine companies kept the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.

After two weekends without surf, the San Diego Winter Invitational Surfing Meet concluded Nov. 17. Tony Staples of San Diego and Paul Newman of La Jolla were named winners of the junior and senior divisions. The competition was sponsored by the city Recreational Department and held at Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Sunset Cliffs.

1995 — 25 years ago

The Nov. 14, 1995, issue of the San Diego Union noted the opening of the Pacific Beach Employment Center at the corner of Damon Avenue and Mission Bay Drive the previous day. Forty men signed up for work, and eight of them found employment. Previously, the men had congregated near the intersection of Noyes Street and Balboa Avenue. Jim Lundgren, director of the new center, was incredulous at the transformation. Some mornings, up to 50 men gathered in hopes of finding work. “I’m overwhelmed. I could not believe it,” Lundgren said.