Black life and civil rights in Southern California.

Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.
Barbershop, Los Angeles, 1956, Harry Adams. Photographer Harry Adams stands with a young woman in front of his barbershop.

A powerful exhibition recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California features photographs of politicians, activists, athletes and entertainers from the African American community during the second half of the 20th century, a period of struggle to advance civil rights.

Photographers Harry Adams, Guy Crowder and Charles Williams, who worked primarily as freelancers for publications like the Los Angeles Sentinel, California Eagle and Los Angeles Times, recorded people and moments in a community that was rarely covered by the American media. Their photography is natural, emotional and absolutely authentic. As you will see, many of their images are iconic.

Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience in Southern California documents important history in the life of our region. The exhibition can be viewed in the San Diego Museum of Art’s free Gallery 14/15, which is located through an unlocked door beside the outdoor sculpture court and Panama 66.

What you see here is just a small fraction of the many photographs on display.

Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Child Holding Book, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Muhammad Ali and Stokely Carmichael, Los Angeles, 1974, Guy Crowder. Carmichael is known for coining the term Black Power in 1966.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Marrie Burnett, Los Angeles, 1982, Guy Crowder.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles, 1958, Harry Adams.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Baldwin School Integration, Los Angeles, 1962, Charles Williams. The NAACP campaigned to promote school integration.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Protest Car, Los Angeles, 1962, Harry Adams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, stars of Carmen Jones, 1954, Charles Williams.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Los Angeles, 1969, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.
Dream Girls Cast, Los Angeles, 1983, Guy Crowder.

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!

Learning one’s letters in Old Town San Diego.

In the one room Mason Street School in Old Town San Diego, younger and older children sat together before the teacher and learned their letters.
In the one room Mason Street School in Old Town San Diego, younger and older children sat together before the teacher and learned their letters.

A cool theme developed during my walk through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park yesterday. First I wandered into the 1868 San Diego Union Building and observed ladies in 19th century dress practicing calligraphy. A short time later, as my eyes scanned the walls of the one room 1865 Mason Street Schoolhouse, I noticed a sheet on the wall titled First Lessons in Penmanship.

Turns out it was a great day to relearn the alphabet!

A super nice gentleman in the old print shop provided all sorts of tidbits of information concerning printing, publishing and life in early San Diego. I learned the original Washington hand press that was used by the San Diego Union newspaper is now in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. And that setting up the tiny type for a single page of the newspaper took a keen-eyed person about 12 hours!

I posted photos of the old print shop and editor’s office four years ago. I also wrote a little about the San Diego Union’s history. You can revisit that blog post by clicking here.

You can see much more inside the old Mason Street School building and learn more about San Diego’s first school teacher, Mary Chase Walker, by clicking here!

Additional information that I learned yesterday is in my photo captions!

A sheet on the schoolhouse wall contains First Lessons in Penmanship. THE ALPHABET.
A sheet on the schoolhouse wall contains First Lessons in Penmanship. THE ALPHABET.
I'm given a small tour of the print shop inside the historic San Diego Union Building.
I’m given a small tour of the print shop inside the historic San Diego Union Building.
Like wet laundry, hundreds of newspaper sheets would be strung up all around the print shop so that the freshly impressed ink would dry!
Like wet laundry, hundreds of newspaper sheets would be strung up all around the print shop so that the freshly impressed ink would dry!
A demonstration of assembled type and the finished impression.
A demonstration of assembled type and a finished impression.
Part of a large plate in the Washington hand press. Today school students often visit the historic print shop to learn about publishing long before the digital age.
Part of a large plate in the massive Washington hand press. Today school students often visit the historic print shop to learn about publishing long before the digital age.
Those students can rearrange these letters to spell words like SUPER.
Those students can rearrange these letters to spell words like SUPER.
To proof newspaper sheets as type was assembled, this huge heavy roll would be used to make a quick impression.
To proof newspaper sheets as type was assembled, this huge heavy roll would be used to make a quick impression.
In the entrance of the San Diego Union Building, ladies sat at a desk practicing their penmanship.
In the entrance of the San Diego Union Building, ladies sat at a desk practicing their penmanship.
A sample of elegant Copperplate Calligraphy.
A sample of elegant Copperplate Calligraphy.
This beautifully penned text is from Lewis Carroll's humorous Lobster Quadrille in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
This beautifully penned text is from Lewis Carroll’s humorous Lobster Quadrille in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Showing how to write fancy letters with a quill and inkwell!
Showing how to write fancy letters with an old-fashioned pen and inkwell.

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!

Do you love to read?

You can find small, thought-provoking works of fiction at my website Short Stories by Richard.

Collecting memories from Marston’s Department Store.

Remembering Marston's Department Store. Please help the Save Our Heritage Organisation gather artifacts and memories to preserve a part of San Diego history.
Please help the Save Our Heritage Organisation gather artifacts and memories to preserve a part of San Diego history. (Click this photo to enlarge the flyer for easy reading.)

I recently tood a photo of a flyer that I spotted in the Senior Lounge in Balboa Park. Please click the above image and read it.

Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) is seeking memorabilia, ephemera, merchandise and memories from Marston’s Department Store, which for nearly a century was the most elegant place to shop in San Diego. The department store was founded by George Marston, who is often referred to as San Diego’s First Citizen. As a civic leader and philanthropist, he was instrumental in creating Balboa Park, Presidio Park and the San Diego Historical Society.

Marston began as a clerk at the Horton House Hotel and eventually built the Marston Company, which ran a department store in San Diego. When earlier locations became outgrown, the large, elegant Marston’s Department Store on C Street, between 5th and 6th Street, built in the Renaissance Revival architectural style, opened in 1912 and became a popular downtown shopping destination. In 1961 it was sold by his family to The Broadway, which has since closed.

Artifacts related to Marston’s Department Store will be used by SOHO in a permanent exhibit inside their Marston House Museum in Balboa Park. Items that you contribute can be sent or delivered to the SOHO offices in Old Town. Recorded memories are also sought. The 2018 exhibit celebrates the 140th anniversary of the store’s founding!

Do you know anyone who shopped at Marston’s Department Store those many years ago? Perhaps they can help the Save Our Heritage Organisation with this very cool project!

George Marston, circa 1907-1908, San Diego businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.
George Marston, circa 1907-1908, San Diego businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of The San Diego Union newspaper from Monday Morning, January 1, 1912. Depicted is the brand new Marston Department Store. The headline reads: Modern Mercantile Emporium One of Best Three on Coast.
Photo of San Diego Union newspaper from Monday morning, January 1, 1912. Depicted is a brand new Marston Department Store. The headline reads: Modern Mercantile Emporium One of Best Three on Coast.

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!

A glimpse of history at Mount Hope Cemetery.

I happened upon a few notable names during a walk through Mount Hope Cemetery. I had over an hour before the Memorial Day ceremony would begin, so I just wandered down winding roads through fields of headstones.

Many early residents of San Diego are buried at Mount Hope. Among the jumble of names engraved in stone, one can find some of the city’s most influential citizens. Like Alonzo Horton, Kate Sessions, George Marston, Thomas Whaley, Ah Quin, E. S. Babcock, and Robert Waterman. (Not to mention the famous author Raymond Chandler!) But I didn’t have a map. So I just meandered through the hilly cemetery and gazed.

Thousands of gravestones.

Every life different. Every life important in its own way.

Some of the dates indicate long lives, others short. But isn’t it true that all of our lives are short?

Someone asked about my visit–if the cemetery felt spooky. No. The best word that comes to mind is bittersweet. A feeling of both joy and sadness.

Every single name has become a part of San Diego history.

(I did a bit of research for this blog post. Hopefully I got the following information right. If not, leave a comment!)

George James Keating
George James Keating

George James Keating was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1840. He and his wife Fannie, owners of a farming company, eventually moved to San Diego in 1886. Keating made large investments in the city’s booming real estate market. After his death, Fannie oversaw the construction of the five-story Keating Building, which I blogged about several years ago here.

Graves of the Marston family.
Graves of the Marston family.
George White Marston
George White Marston

George W. Marston was often referred to as “San Diego’s First Citizen.”

A successful department store owner, he founded the San Diego Historical Society and was a prominent advocate for and planner of Balboa Park. He was a critical force in the establishment of the San Diego Public Library System and Presidio Park.

You can see a sculpture of George Marston on my blog here, and the garden of his beautiful, historic house, which is located in the northwest corner of Balboa Park, here.

George F. Stockton
George F. Stockton

Lt. George F. Stockton’s tragic drowning on August 21, 1921 prompted the creation of the City of Oceanside Lifeguard Service. He was pulled out to sea by a rip current. He had served on the World War I ship USS San Diego.

Edward McGurck
Edward McGurck

Col. Edward McGurck was born in Ireland. He purchased property on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street in 1876 for $50. In 1887 he developed the McGurck Block Building at that location.

Monument to the Kurtz family.
Monument to the Kurtz family.
Daniel Brower Kurtz
Daniel Brower Kurtz

Daniel Brower Kurtz has an important San Diego street named after him. He arrived in San Diego in 1850 and was elected second city mayor in 1851. He also served as a state senator, county judge, and assemblyman.

James Edward Friend
James Edward Friend

James Edward Friend was an enterprising reporter and newspaper publisher in the early days of San Diego.

Seeing his name brought a smile to my face. He was a good friend of Bum, San Diego’s Town Dog, and figured prominently in the wonderful book titled The Dog That Belonged to No One. Any young person living in San Diego should read this short book. It’s quite enjoyable, full of history and good humor.

Captain James Friend was also known as a friend and benefactor to San Diego’s newsboys.

You can read about Bum, San Diego’s lovable Town Dog, and see his sculpture in my 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!

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New mural painted on Union-Tribune building.

A new mural is being painted on the north side of 600 B Street, the new home of the San Diego Union Tribune. It depicts a man sitting on a wall reading a newspaper. Loose windblown pages transform into colorful butterflies.
Mural painted on the north side of 600 B Street, home of the San Diego Union Tribune. It depicts a man sitting on an actual wall reading a newspaper. Loose windblown pages transform into colorful butterflies.

A mural is being painted on the north side of the building at 600 B Street, a high-rise that is the new home of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. The large mural overlooks a fenced park-like space that once was the playground for a downtown child care center.

I saw the colorful new mural behind scaffolding this morning while walking to a nearby trolley station. The artwork cleverly depicts a person reading a newspaper, while “sitting” on a wall that juts from the building. The man doesn’t seem to notice that windblown pages are rising skyward, transforming into butterflies.

The image is quaint, almost nostalgic, as if it were lifted from the pages of a treasured children’s book. I suppose the San Diego Union-Tribune is the inspiration for this mural. It’s a funny choice of images, considering the fact that physical newspapers are slowly vanishing. A few years from now, the hopeful image might provoke a bit of sadness.

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

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

Cool people in San Diego donate to help kids!

Smiling Chargers football players helping to raise money for kids included Sean Lissemore, nose tackle, and Tyreek Burwell, tackle. Everyone was having a great time!
Chargers football players helping to raise money for kids today included Sean Lissemore, nose tackle, and Tyreek Burwell, tackle. Everyone was having a great time!

Today was Union-Tribune Kids’ News Day in San Diego! I can’t believe this is the third year I’ve blogged about the special day. Time flies!

Every October, smiling Chargers football players and cheerleaders, kids and volunteers station themselves at busy intersections around San Diego. Waving at folks in cars, they hold up special edition newspapers, printed just for this day, which motorists eagerly purchase. The proceeds go to help our local Rady Children’s Hospital.

In the morning I happen to walk through one of the key intersections while heading to work, so I had to take a few photos. This year I’d like to say thank you to the San Diego Chargers, Union Tribune and all the volunteers who make this possible. Over many years, millions of dollars have been raised by Kids’ News Day for Rady Children’s Hospital, helping to save thousands of young lives.

Do you want to donate? There’s no better cause. I urge you to click here!

A generous motorist at a Mission Valley intersection donates money for a special edition newspaper containing articles about kids, written by kids!
A generous motorist at a Mission Valley intersection donates money for a special edition newspaper containing articles about kids, written by kids!
Two cool volunteers raise money for Rady Children's Hospital by selling special newspapers during Union-Tribune Kids' News Day in San Diego.
Two cool volunteers raise money for Rady Children’s Hospital by selling special newspapers during Union-Tribune Kids’ News Day in San Diego.

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History inside Old Town’s San Diego Union Building.

Plaque marks the birthplace of the San Diego Union newspaper in 1868.
Plaque marks the birthplace of the San Diego Union newspaper in 1868.

There are many interesting houses and buildings within Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. One of the most fascinating is the San Diego Union Building. Take a step inside and you’ll see the carefully restored birthplace of a present-day major newspaper: the San Diego Union Tribune.

The framework of the building, erected around 1851, is believed to have been originally fabricated in Maine, then shipped to San Diego around Cape Horn. The San Diego Union was first published on October 10, 1868. The newspaper’s editor at that time was Edward “Ned” Wilkerson Bushyhead, a Cherokee Indian with a Scottish ancestor.

The newspaper began as a modest four page weekly, and was produced on a massive wrought iron Washington hand press. In the museum one can also see an authentic 1860’s recreation of the editor’s room, which contains a desk once owned by the son of Ulysses S. Grant!

The San Diego Union Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park contains a print shop and editor's office.
The San Diego Union Building in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park contains a print shop and editor’s office.
The prefabricated wood-frame building was erected in 1851.
The prefabricated wood-frame building was erected circa 1851. In 1967 the building was restored by James S. Copley, who at the time was owner of the San Diego Union Tribune.
Old wood stove just inside the front entrance to accurately restored newspaper office.
Old wood stove just inside the front entrance of accurately restored newspaper office.
Drawers hold hand-set type that used to be used in old newspaper printing presses.
Drawers hold hand-set type that used to be assembled in a press for newspaper printing.
Massive Washington hand press can be glimpsed to the right in small printing shop.
A massive Washington hand press can be glimpsed to the right in the small printing shop.
The small editor's office contains a desk once owned by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. built a grand hotel in San Diego's New Town.
The small editor’s office contains a desk once owned by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. In 1910 Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. built a grand hotel in San Diego’s New Town. (I took this photo in August 2017.)
The Newspaper Museum is open daily from 10 to 5.
The Newspaper Museum is open daily from 10 to 5.

UPDATE!

In August 2017, during Stagecoach Days in Old Town, I was able to actually enter the print shop and take better photos of the presses and other objects inside. (Usually visitors must peer or take photographs from a greater distance.)

Washington hand presses were common on the frontier because of their relative light weight. They required two people for efficient operation.
Washington hand presses were common on the frontier because of their relative light weight. They required two people for efficient operation.
Fresh paper was laid on inked type. Setting the type for new articles on just one page could take hours. Fortunately, many advertisements on a page remained the same.
Fresh paper was laid on inked type and an impression made. Setting the type for new articles on just one page could take hours. Fortunately, many advertisements on a page didn’t change.
This jobber printing press would have been used for small jobs such as stationery and handbills.
A jobber printing press like this would have been used for small jobs such as stationery and handbills.
This safe is the one original object displayed inside the reconstructed San Diego Union Building in Old Town.
This safe is the only original object displayed inside the restored San Diego Union Building in Old Town.
A type case full of large cast metal sorts. Individual letters were combined into words, sentences and paragraphs.
A type case full of large cast metal sorts. Individual letters were combined into words, sentences and paragraphs.
Manual typesetting for old presses, as one might imagine, took patience and a good eye.
Manual typesetting for old presses, as one might imagine, took lots of patience and a good eye.
Gazing from the print shop toward the building's entrance area.
Gazing from the print shop toward the small building’s entrance area.
According to one sign, the San Diego Union Building was erected around 1850 by Miguel Pedrorena. The Washington Press, type and printing supplies arrived by steamship from Northern California.
According to one sign, the San Diego Union Building was erected around 1850 by Miguel Pedrorena. The Washington Press, type and printing supplies arrived by steamship from Northern California.
A docent explains how the San Diego Union newspaper was composed and printed many years ago.
A knowledgeable lady in period attire explains how the San Diego Union newspaper was composed and printed a century and a half ago, long before the digital age.

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