Minding your p’s and q’s in the Old Town print shop!

Upper case and lower case.

Mind your p’s and q’s.

The wrong sort.

Out of sorts.

I learned yesterday during a visit to the San Diego Union Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that these expressions are believed to come from days long past.

There was a period in history when printing was a tedious operation requiring a hand operated press. To print pages, small cast metal blocks that imprint individual characters were manually assembled into words and sentences. These physical types were set into printable forms by the skilled, quick fingers of print shop compositors.

See all those drawers in the above photo? Each drawer is a type case containing sorts, the particular letters and other characters that are “sorted” into the forms.

Somewhere along the line, capital letters were arranged in an upper drawer: the upper case. Compositors rushing to print a newspaper would sometimes confuse the similar appearing p’s and q’s. Or accidentally choose the wrong sort. Or become disconcerted when they ran out of sorts.

And that how these peculiar expressions are said to have originated!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Students reveal genealogy, humanity at History Center.

An exhibition at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park assembles the genealogical research of students at High Tech High.

The High Tech High “Rubber Duckies” have discovered the fascinating stories of their ancestors, and have shared them online. The stories contain joys, struggles, successes and failures–they are memories of complex lives filled with humanity whose echoes still touch the living.

At the museum, visitors can scan QR codes to read the stories. Or you can read them now by clicking Pre 1900, 1901-1950, or 1951-Present. Then click Family History at the top of each story summary to read the student report.

Many of the students have immigrant ancestors with stories that will break or lift your heart. Some distant ancestors are quite surprising, such as William the Conqueror.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

America’s most haunted house is improved!

The Whaley House in San Diego’s historic Old Town is widely considered to be America’s most haunted house.

I found out today that even a world-famous haunted house can be greatly improved!

As I walked around The Whaley House Museum, I noticed workers constructing new outdoor pathways. When I asked, I was told the improved paths will now be ADA compliant. I also learned the historic structure has a new coat of paint and that several of the exhibits inside, including the kitchen, have been recently altered and made even more intriguing! And, yes, that sign in the above photo is new, too!

Sounds like another visit is required!

Over four years ago I took a tour of the Whaley House, whose rich history might actually be more interesting than all the supposed ghost sightings. If you’d like to see inside photos and learn more about the Whaley House, including why it is so famous, check out that old blog post here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Collecting San Diego at the History Center.

A new exhibition recently opened in a gallery at the San Diego History Center. It’s titled Collecting San Diego, Selections from the Dijkstra Fine Art Collection.

Collecting San Diego is a special initiative by the History Center that shines a spotlight on fine art collections containing works by regional artists.

I noticed that many of the pieces on display depict places in and around San Diego, and paint aspects of our region’s history using color and brush.

These particular pieces in the ongoing Collecting San Diego series were discovered by North County art collectors Sandra and Bram Dijkstra. Over many years they have acquired art that moves them, whomever the artist might be. Consequently, you too might be moved by the unique qualities of these pieces. I personally enjoyed all of them. (But I’m very easy to please!)

Anyone reading this who loves art should consider a visit to Balboa Park and the San Diego History Center. You’ll feast your eyes on dozens of fine paintings. In addition to this new Collecting San Diego exhibition, you’ll discover a second large gallery full of art. That exhibit, titled Be Here Now, also displays the work of regional artists, many of whom have achieved national prominence.

These are just a few examples from Collecting San Diego, Selections from the Dijkstra Fine Art Collection

Guaymas, Tom Craig, circa 1937. Oil on canvas.
Imperial Valley Housing, Carol Lindemulder, 2002. Oil on linen.
Five O’clock Shadow, Brad Maxey, 2013. Oil on canvas.
Hair #9 (Hippies and Bikers in the Borrego Desert), Harry Sternberg, circa 1970. Oil on board.
Sun Goddess of the Computer Age, Armando Nuñez, 1997. Mixed media and acrylic on wood panel. (Armando Nuñez helped paint the first mural in Chicano Park, The Historical Wall, in 1973. He was co-founder of Centro Cultural de la Raza and designed the Barrio Logan gateway sign.)

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Jack in the Box clown head at History Center!

These photos might stir up some nostalgic San Diego memories.

How many of you used to pull through Jack in the Box half a century ago, when happy clown heads decorated the fast food restaurant’s roofs and served as the drive-thru speaker box? I remember it from my own childhood.

Last weekend, when I saw this Jack in the Box Clown Head (circa 1950’s to 1970’s) in a display case at the San Diego History Center, I had to smile.

What memories do you have?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Lemon Grove history at the Parsonage Museum.

One of the most fascinating museums in San Diego County is located in the city of Lemon Grove.

The Parsonage Museum, operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society, occupies a beautifully restored Victorian building at Treganza Heritage Park. The building began as Lemon Grove’s first church, the 1897 Atherton Chapel.

The old church was eventually moved from its original location, served as a community meeting hall, then became a private residence. Today it houses a museum whose exhibits recall a time when Lemon Grove was a small agricultural town with citrus orchards and packing houses, a general store, and a boast of the Best Climate on Earth!

I walked about Treganza Heritage Park and visited the Parsonage Museum last weekend. I also took a quick look at the 1928 H. Lee House, a Tudor Revival structure that stands nearby in the park and serves as a cultural center.

I urge anyone interested in the history of San Diego and Lemon Grove to head to the Parsonage Museum on a day when they are open. See their website for more information here!

To get an idea of what you’ll discover, please read my photo captions!

Treganza Heritage Park in Lemon Grove was first called Civic Center Park. It’s name was changed in 2020. The Treganza family was an influential pioneer family in Lemon Grove.
A view of the H. Lee House. It was moved to this location to make way for the extension of State Route 125.
The H. Lee House was built in 1928. It was designed by British architect Frederick C. Clemesha. Today it serves as a cultural center, where events such as History Alive lectures can be enjoyed.
One more photo of the handsome H. Lee House.
Lemon trees stand in a plaza between the H. Lee House and the Parsonage Museum.
The small plaza welcomes visitors to Treganza Heritage Park.
A 2002 dedication plaque from back when it was called Civic Center Park.
Now turning to look at the Parsonage Museum. The restored Folk Victorian building, the 1897 Atherton Chapel, served as the only Lemon Grove church until 1912.
Recovered grave marker of Anton Sonka just outside the museum entrance.

Anton Sonka was the patriarch of the Sonka family that led the growth of Lemon Grove between 1908 and the 1950s. His headstone, along with many others, was removed from Calvary Cemetery in 1970 by the City of San Diego and dumped at Mt. Hope Cemetery for mass burial. In 1985 Lemon Grove Historical Society members rescued and stored the headstone. It was brought to The Parsonage Museum in 2000 and unveiled on this permanent site in 2004.

(If you’d like to learn more about this callous dumping of gravestones, which were discovered in a gully at Mt. Hope Cemetery, I posted a blog concerning it here.)

When I visited in November 2021, the Parsonage Museum was featuring several historical exhibits concerning Lemon Grove.
The museum building was “Built in 1897 as First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove.”
Stepping into the museum, greeted by a lemony, welcoming doormat!
Look at what’s in the museum! A recreation of the Sonka Brothers General Store.
Items on display recall Lemon Grove’s rural history, which includes general stores where the community would gather.

The Sonka Brothers General Store stood near the center of town for decades. You can see photos of the Lemon Grove History Mural that’s painted on the south side of the historic Sonka Brothers General Store building here!

Photo from October 3, 1957 of The Big Lemon during a flag-raising. Civic leader Tony Sonka stands at the center.

If you like to see The Big Lemon today, which still stands on Broadway, check out these photos!

Old drum from the Lemon Grove Junior High School band.
1891 photograph of the first general store in Lemon Grove, built by A. E. Christianson at Main and Pacific Streets.
The many displays at the Parsonage Museum include these Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association packing crates.
Lemon sizers, circa 1930’s. Packers would separate lemons by size.
Woman holding lemon sizer, with stacked ready-to-assemble crates nearby.
A room on the ground floor of the Parsonage Museum recreates the Parson’s Study. Reverend Isaac Atherton established the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove in 1894. The building was constructed in 1897.
Several rooms can be viewed on the second floor of the Parsonage Museum, including this Parents’ Room, or bedroom.
The Sewing Room.
The Children’s Room.
Back on the museum’s ground floor, in a corner gallery, the current exhibit is titled Miller Dairy Remembered. This local dairy sold its first milk in 1926. Houses were finally built on the ranch site in the 1980’s. An important chapter of Lemon Grove’s agrarian past is recalled.
Lemon Grove’s old Miller Dairy and their 300 freely roaming Holstein cows are fondly remembered at the Parsonage Museum.
Historical photos show the Miller Dairy in Lemon Grove, from 1940-1980.
One last look at the lemon yellow Parsonage Museum!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A look inside the historic Warner-Carrillo Ranch House.

One of San Diego County’s most important historical sites can be visited in Warner Springs. The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House, built in 1857, is a National Historic Landmark maintained by SOHO, the San Diego-based Save Our Heritage Organisation.

The “Ranch House at Warner’s” preserves centuries of history. You can read a bit about the site and see some old photographs at this SOHO web page.

The adobe ranch house “represents Mexican and American culture contact during the Mexican Republic; the Frontier period of the westward migration; and the Gold Rush and the cattle ranching industry from 19th century Californio to 20th century to today.” Built beside the emigrant trail, many early settlers wrote about their experiences here.

Last weekend I visited the restored adobe. I went for a special reason. One day every year at Warner’s Ranch, visitors can ride an authentic Concord stagecoach down a short stretch of the old Overland Trail. For several years, from 1858 to 1861, the ranch house served as a Butterfield Overland Stage Station. Thousands of passengers stopped for a few minutes at this swing station as they travelled through the region. If you’d like to see photos from my fun stagecoach ride, click here!

The present structure, maintained today as a museum, was built by Doña Vicenta Sepúlveda de Carrillo, an early Californio woman rancher. It consists of two main rooms and several adjacent smaller rooms that were added in later years. One of the main rooms was the sala, or living room. The other served as a trading post–a small store where travelers could purchase necessities during their brief stopover.

Some of the smaller rooms include bedrooms and a kitchen, which featured a family bathtub, as you’ll see in my photos! The adobe walls are 18 inches thick, providing a cool inside temperature on a hot day. There’s also a pleasant veranda, where musicians were playing the day I visited. The veranda was built at the front of the ranch house, which faced the old stage route. As I understand it, the nearby barn, which SOHO also plans to restore, was for ranch horses and carriages.

Please enjoy these photos. I took few notes, and I’m no expert, so please don’t rely on anything I’ve written here as absolute fact. Do your own research. The history of the ranch is complex. Over the years it had many different owners.

One more interesting thing. The original Warner’s Ranch was established on a Mexican land grant given to Johnathan Trumbull Warner, an American-Mexican citizen and former California State Senator who changed his name to Juan José Warner. His ranch, a camping stop on the Gila Overland Trail to California, was attacked during the Garra Uprising of 1851. I photographed the burial site of Antonio Garra in Old Town San Diego and provided a brief description of the Native American Cupeño revolt due to unfair taxation here.

The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House is open year-round on Saturday and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. If you’re ever in the area, make sure to stop by. Not only will you learn much, but you’ll feel the rich history!

Approaching the restored Warner-Carrillo Ranch House. (Interesting note: that brown modern structure to the left of the old ranch house contains visitor restrooms. I learned from Christopher Pro of SOHO that the restroom building design was copied from the historic Stein Family Farm in National City!)

The historical plaque near the museum entrance reads:




A major restoration of the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House was completed in 2011. The ranch stands on land owned by the Vista Irrigation District.

The Vista Irrigation District has a really good web page concerning the ranch house and its history here.

Inside the sala, or living room, with its dining table. Some of the elegant furniture was obtained from William Heath Davis, who helped to establish “New Town” (present day downtown) San Diego.
A quilt being made in one corner of the sala.
The sala in later years became a ranch bunkhouse, which explains why the wood floor is branded!
A work room between the sala and veranda.
A bedroom.
A look inside the kitchen.
How’d you like to take a bath here?!
A look inside the children’s bedroom.
The trading post offered goods to stagecoach travelers, who’d enter from a side door, which is located opposite the old barn.
Soap, a bonnet, and other useful items.
One small room contains information displays and archaeological artifacts from the ranch.
A look at the old barn, which is presently in a state of arrested decay.
On this special once-a-year stagecoach riding day, musicians were out on the veranda playing popular tunes from the Old West. The group is called Jugless Jug Band.
Some visitors enjoying a short ride on the authentic Concord stage.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Mathematical nonsense and truth at the Bonita Museum.

If you are intrigued by human creativity, science or philosophy, you might enjoy the artwork now on display at the The Bonita Museum and Cultural Center. The title of the exhibition is Rule 42, Stretched Language.

Why Rule 42? According to one popular work of fiction, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Go ahead, smile!

Why Stretched Language? Perhaps because human language can be stretched in endless ways. Words assembled in infinite combinations can represent one’s personal experience or shine light into dark places. Be made into poetry.

Words are symbolic. Numbers, variables and equations are also symbolic. They, too, can be used in poetic expression. Indeed, the exhibition’s subtitle is “Explorations into visual, concrete and mathematical poetry.”

Supposedly, the works in this exhibition each have something to do with mathematics. It seemed to me, however, that they all celebrate something larger: the unique capacity of diverse human minds to imagine, rationalize and create. And even embrace pure nonsense.

Psychronometrics. Sounds scientific. Sounds profound. The equation and description are impressive. But the assertion is that our psychological experience of time, and how time seems to accelerate as we become older, is related to Einstein’s theory of relativity.

To compare the two is utterly absurd. That equation in the photograph above includes velocity. Neither the young or the old have managed (yet) to approach the speed of light!

But you know what? The plasticity of the human mind, which can imagine and rationalize absolutely anything and everything, is what is on display. These are the metaphorical works of visionary artists, not “serious” scientists. Infinite artistic truths cannot be defined with a few equations.

More rational visitors to the exhibit might laugh at some of the jumbled assertions and associations. Rule 42, Stretched Language can be a stretch.

My advise? Don’t be too critical. Step outside your own idea of Truth and enjoy!

This rather unusual exhibition ends on December 3, 2021.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Uncle Sam wants your Grandpa!

I spotted these attention-grabbing recruitment ads pasted to a wall while walking in downtown San Diego. It appears that Uncle Sam Wants Your Grandpa!

I then read the fine print. Actually, the USS Midway Museum is looking for volunteers. And I don’t think you even need to be a grandpa, or a veteran!

Want to make the past come alive on a historic aircraft carrier? Want to be part of a team that includes tutors, docents, storytellers and ambassadors?

Funny that I spotted these during San Diego Fleet Week.

Check out the details here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Presidio Hill sculptures moved to History Center.

Two remarkable and historically important sculptures were moved recently from Presidio Hill to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

When I visited the History Center today I was surprised to see the two large Arthur Putnam works, because I’d observed them several times in the past during walks through Presidio Park.

An explanation on the gallery wall explains that The Indian (1904) and The Padre (1908) were moved to protect them from the outdoor elements and vandalism. I learned they will be gallery centerpieces as this section of the San Diego History Center receives additional material. Critical context will be provided for these bronze statues.

If you’d like to see photos of the two sculptures when they stood on Presidio Hill, check out past blog posts here and here.

The first link will take you on a walk from Old Town up to the Serra Museum–a walk I made years ago when Cool San Diego Sights was just getting started.

The second link concerns an Arthur Putnam exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art. You’ll learn that he was internationally renowned, particularly for his sculptures depicting animals. And he also had an interesting San Diego connection!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!