A fun peek into Gaslamp shop windows!

Two humorous surfing signs in the window of San Diego Trading Company Gaslamp.
Two humorous surfing signs in window of San Diego Trading Company.

I like to peek into shop windows whenever I walk through the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. Many of the windows are sure to have displays that are amusing or eye-catching.

Enjoy these fun photos from this morning!

A t-shirt proclaims Being Normal is Boring in the window of It's Sugar.
T-shirt proclaims Being Normal is Boring in window of IT’SUGAR Candy Store.
A wine bottle has been converted into a salty sea captain at the Michael J Wolf Fine Arts gallery.
A wine bottle has been converted into a salty sea captain at the Michael J Wolf Fine Arts gallery.
A dish towel at Bubbles Boutique reminds everyone to be nice to your kids--they choose your nursing home.
A dish towel at Bubbles Boutique reminds everyone to be nice to your kids–they choose your nursing home.
Frida Kahlo socks in the window of Find Your Feet.
Frida Kahlo socks in the window of Find Your Feet. Viva La Vida!
Art by prolific local muralist Gloria Muriel in the window of Sparks Gallery.
Art by prolific local muralist Gloria Muriel in the window of Sparks Gallery.

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!

Colorful gifts and history at The Black in OB.

Windows at The Black contain all sorts of sights that fit right in with the laid-back, alternative OB lifestyle.
Windows at The Black contain all sorts of sights that fit right in with the laid-back, unconventional OB lifestyle.

Walk through Ocean Beach, particularly down Newport Avenue, and you’ll pass all sorts of weirdly wonderful shops. Look into some windows and you might think you traveled by time machine back to the 60’s.

I paused for a moment in front of The Black, a store that sells stuff that fits perfectly with OB’s alternative lifestyle. Coming down the sidewalk were surfers, retired hippies, free-spirited youth and sandal-wearing professionals. I looked into one window filled with dragon figurines and small toy robots.

My eye was then caught by a nearby historical sign. It explained that The Black’s rather plain-looking building, dating from 1918, has been home to a variety of more traditional grocery stores and markets selling meat, fruit and fresh produce. But that was decades ago. Long before the counterculture’s rise in the 1960’s.

One fascinating thing about history is that a community can change in ways that seem rather unexpected!

The Black in Ocean Beach occupies a building with a unique history. Greeson Hardware was once here, as were various markets, and the USO.
The Black in Ocean Beach occupies a building with a unique history. Greeson Hardware was once here, as were various markets, and the USO.
Old photo on the building at 5017 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach shows a couple of local markets. The Black's owner won the right to lease in the building after winning a card game across the street.
Historical photo on the building at 5017 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach shows past markets. The Black’s owner won the right to lease in the building after winning a card game across the street.
In the window of The Black I see Gumby, Mr. Bill, some drums, guitar strings and a Grateful Dead baby onesie.
In the window of The Black I see Gumby, Mr. Bill, some drums, guitar strings and a Grateful Dead baby onesie.
All sorts of cool, unconventional stuff can be seen in a store window at The Black.
Smoke shop items and other diverse gifts can be seen in the front windows of The Black in Ocean Beach.
I see some fun, nostalgic robot toys!
I see some fun, nostalgic robot toys!
I also see a Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band tin tote and a Super Mario figure.
I also see a Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band tin tote and a Super Mario figure.

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!

Refugee students learn job skills at city farm!

Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!
Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!

I was walking around North Park yesterday when I stumbled upon a small farm on a dirt lot north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. I crossed 30th Street to see what was going on, and noticed a bunch of youth working the soil, and sitting at a table selling vegetables!

It turns out these super friendly new San Diego residents are refugees attending local high schools. As Youth FarmWorks interns they are learning job skills and gaining confidence in their new country. This urban farming project was created by the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees adjust to life in the United States, where they are safe and free from persecution.

I was given a tour of the small farm by a super cool young man–he’s the guy who gave me a thumbs up in that first photo! He showed me the various vegetables they were growing, including different types of lettuce, beets, squash, cherry tomatoes, and much more. My tour was awesome!

Good luck to everyone!

Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works - Job Training Urban Farm.
Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works – Job Training Urban Farm.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Kids at work on the urban farm.
Students at work on the urban farm.
A very cool smile!
A very cool smile!

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!

Quick peek at the SoCal Etsy Guild Market!

The SoCal Etsy Guild Market took place today in Horton Plaza Park.
The SoCal Etsy Guild Market took place today in Horton Plaza Park.

My walk downtown today took me through Horton Plaza Park, where I came upon a very cool event.

The SoCal Etsy Guild Market had drawn a nice crowd of curious shoppers! Lots of handmade, original goodies were for sale by all sorts of crafts makers and artists…

I took a few photos as I wandered through…

Lots of cool crafts and artwork was for sale!
Lots of cool crafts and artwork was for sale!
Shoppers wore big smiles.
Shoppers wore big smiles.
Izzy's Sounds is on Etsy. He makes one-of-a-kind bluetooth speakers out of vintage radios and other interesting objects.
Izzy’s Sounds is on Etsy. He makes one-of-a-kind bluetooth speakers out of vintage radios and other interesting objects.
An artist advises us to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. Sounds wise to me!
An artist advises us to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air. Sounds wise to me!
It appears a good crowd turned out for SoCal Etsy Guild Market in downtown San Diego!
It appears a good crowd turned out for SoCal Etsy Guild Market in downtown San Diego!

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 walk through history in The Village of La Mesa.

Photo taken from the intersection of La Mesa Boulevard and Spring Street shows a small stretch of The Village.
Photo taken from the intersection of La Mesa Boulevard and Spring Street shows a small stretch of The Village.

On Sunday morning I took a short walk in the heart of La Mesa. The most fascinating stretch was through the historic area of the city known as The Village. I walked up La Mesa Boulevard from Spring Street to Legacy Park, then back down along the opposite sidewalk.

Not only is this stretch full of local history, but it’s home to the La Mesa Walk of Fame, which honors individual contributions to the city by accomplished and generous residents. In my photos I’ve included a few notable plaques.

The Village on a Sunday morning was very quiet, with a smattering of locals eating breakfast or an early lunch in the small eateries that I passed. The Village, with its plain, practical buildings from a bygone era, feels very modest. It doesn’t strike me as a place that attracts hipsters–more a cherished place for families and ordinary folk and people like me who enjoy a slow Sunday stroll.

I took photos. Please read the captions for a few explanations of what I saw.

The City of La Mesa Walk of Fame can be experienced on both sidewalks along La Mesa Boulevard, between Spring Street and 4th Street.
The City of La Mesa Walk of Fame can be experienced on both sidewalks along La Mesa Boulevard, between Spring Street and 4th Street.
Bill Walton graduated from La Mesa's Helix High School. He was inducted into the NBA basketball Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players of all time.
Bill Walton graduated from La Mesa’s Helix High School. He was inducted into the NBA basketball Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players of all time.
Walking through the Village up La Mesa Boulevard. The buildings are modest but retain local history and many memories.
Walking through the Village up La Mesa Boulevard. The buildings are modest but retain local history and many memories.
The La Mesa Craft Corner on a quiet Sunday morning.
The La Mesa Craft Corner on a quiet Sunday morning.
A nice lady with some Fourth of July crafts smiles for my blog about San Diego.
A nice lady with some Fourth of July crafts smiles for my blog about San Diego.
The Lookout is public art project in Legacy Park, the small triangle where La Mesa Boulevard, 4th Street and Allison Avenue meet.
The Lookout is public art project in Legacy Park, the small triangle where La Mesa Boulevard, 4th Street and Allison Avenue meet.
The Lookout was created by a family of artists--Jesus Dominguez, Mary Lynn Dominguez and Amy Dominguez. It depicts the colorful history of La Mesa.
The Lookout was created by a family of artists–Jesus Dominguez, Mary Lynn Dominguez and Amy Dominguez. It depicts the colorful history of La Mesa.
Closer photo of The Lookout at Legacy Park. Eight mosaic panels made of tile show historical events in La Mesa from 1912 to 2012.
Closer photo of The Lookout at Legacy Park. Eight mosaic panels made of tile show historical events in La Mesa from 1912 to 2012.
At the center of The Lookout is the John B. Reed Centennial Time Capsule, to be opened in 2062.
At the center of The Lookout is the John B. Reed Centennial Time Capsule, to be opened in 2062.
Legacy Park also includes a memorial clock and a bronze sculpture of the Helix snail.
Legacy Park also includes a memorial clock and a bronze sculpture of the Helix snail. The 1939 U.S. Post Office Building is seen in the background.
Children are encouraged to ride this fun bronze snail!
Children are encouraged to ride this fun bronze snail!
Felix the Helix. The story goes that Rufus King Porter named Mount Helix after the Helix aspersa, a European garden snail that was discovered locally.
Felix the Helix. The story goes that Rufus King Porter named Mount Helix after the Helix aspersa, a European garden snail that was discovered locally.
Now I'm walking back down La Mesa Boulevard on the other side of the street. A small slice of Americana. The modest shops and buildings recall a simpler time.
Now I’m walking back down La Mesa Boulevard on the other side of the street. A small slice of Americana. The modest shops and buildings recall a simpler time.
La Mesa Historical Society plaque shows a prosperous Lookout Avenue circa 1929. The street was renamed La Mesa Boulevard in 1940.
La Mesa Historical Society plaque shows a prosperous Lookout Avenue circa 1929. The street was renamed La Mesa Boulevard in 1940.
Family and a flag bench in front of Amethyst Moon, a unique gift store in The Village of La Mesa.
Family and a flag bench in front of Amethyst Moon, a specialty gift shop in The Village of La Mesa.
The are many plaques in the City of La Mesa Walk of Fame. This one celebrates James Culbert, inductee into the National Sprint Car Racing Hall of Fame.
The are many plaques in the City of La Mesa Walk of Fame. This one celebrates James Culbert, inductee into the National Sprint Car Racing Hall of Fame.
Another plaque celebrates Dr. Ellen Ochoa, graduate of Grossmont High School and the first Hispanic woman astronaut.
Another plaque celebrates Dr. Ellen Ochoa, graduate of La Mesa’s Grossmont High School and the first Hispanic woman astronaut.
A photo of the Heller Building, now home of an escrow company.
A photo of the Heller Building, now home of an escrow company.
La Mesa Historical Society photo of the Heller Building in the 1940s. It has housed many businesses including Gilbert's five and dime and Culver's drugstore.
La Mesa Historical Society photo of the Heller Building in the 1940s. It has housed many businesses including Gilbert’s five and dime and Culver’s drugstore.
Maxwell's House of Books adds life to The Village.
Maxwell’s House of Books adds life to The Village.
It is a tie between men to have read the same book. Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is a tie between men to have read the same book. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Old photo on ATT building shows telephone company worker in the undeveloped hills of La Mesa many years ago.
Old photo on ATT building shows telephone company worker in the undeveloped hills of La Mesa many years ago.
The Village is a modest few blocks in the city. Full of history and memory, it provides a taste of days when La Mesa was a small American town.
The Village is a modest few blocks in the city. Full of history and memory, it provides a taste of days when La Mesa was a small American town.

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Burgers, Bait and Beer now served at a pier!

Brand new artwork enlivens a favorite place on San Diego's Embarcadero.
Brand new artwork enlivens a familiar place on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

For over a year the small food concession at the foot of the Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier has been vacant. JJ’s Sunset Deli by the Bay shut down at the end of 2014. So I was surprised during my walk today to see another business has finally moved in! And I learned the new eatery with the same cool patio has been open for only four days!

Burgers, Bait and Beer looks like a great, relaxed place to kick back. The guys I met were very friendly. And the light salad I had was really good. I’m told their hamburgers are superb. So I guess I’ll have to try one next weekend!

Burgers, Bait and Beer can be found at the foot of the Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier, behind the convention center!
Burgers, Bait and Beer can be found at the foot of the Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier, behind the San Diego Convention Center!
A pair of standup paddleboarders have passed under the Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier, one of my favorite places to visit on San Diego Bay.
A pair of standup paddleboarders have passed under the Embarcadero Marina Park South Pier, one of my favorite places to visit on San Diego Bay.
This cool artistic heron is part of the decor at the new outdoor cafe, tackle and bait shop.
This cool artistic heron is part of the decor at the new outdoor cafe, tackle and bait shop.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk. Once in a while I happen upon an unexpected discovery!

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Legends on the streets of San Diego’s Little Italy.

Pedestrian passes Little Italy sign on India Street in San Diego.
Pedestrian passes Little Italy sign on India Street in San Diego.

Today, if you were to walk through downtown San Diego’s historic Little Italy neighborhood, you’d probably see a number of very interesting street banners and plaques. These commemorate the Legends of Little Italy.

Early one morning while I walked to a nearby trolley station, I took a few quick photographs along India Street. You might enjoy looking at them. I transcribed much of what appears on the plaques.

Plaque explains the history of the Little Italy Landmark Sign.
Plaque explains the history of the Little Italy Landmark Sign.

The Little Italy Landmark Sign was dedicated and lit at the 7th Annual Little Italy Festa on the evening of October 8, 2000. The landmark sign was constructed as a tribute to this immigrant neighborhood which, until the late 1960s, was the hub of the world’s tuna fishing and canning industry. The nautical theme can be seen in the portholes at the top of the pillars, the blue neon of the lettering and the cable span which holds up the sign. The mosaic tile work on each side of the street tells how this immigrant community is historically tied to the bay, the church and the Italian homeland. This sign is a testament to the preservation of Little Italy’s cultural heritage and to the ongoing revitalization of this dynamic urban ethnic neighborhood in Downtown San Diego.

Mosaic tiles show the community's ties to Italy and traditions.
Mosaic tiles show the community’s ties to Italy and traditions.
Singing and acting legend Frankie Laine lived in San Diego.
Singing and acting legend Frankie Laine lived in San Diego.

On March 30th, 1913, in the Little Italy section of Chicago, Francesco Paolo LoVecchio was born. Mother Cresenzia Concetta Salerno and father Giovanni LoVecchio. Both parents from Monreale, Sicily. Frankie’s first introduction to music came when the Monsignor at Immaculate Conception recruited him for the all-boy church choir. Now, an aspiring singer, Frankie would work many jobs, singing wherever and whenever he could, traveling from town to town, experiencing many hardships. Frankie was in his mid-thirties when he attained his first hit “That’s My Desire”. 21 Gold Records followed, including “The Lucky Old Sun”, “Mule Train”, “Jezebel”, “High Noon”, “I believe”, “Cry of the Wild Goose”, “Moonlight Gambler”, and “Rawhide”. Frankie starred in 7 motion pictures, starred in his own television show, sang the title song for several motion pictures, including “Blazing Saddles”, “3:10 to Yuma” and “Gunfight at OK Corral”. Frankie moved to San Diego in the 60’s. He lived the rest of his life in his Point Loma home. Frankie loved San Diego and especially Little Italy. Frankie Laine passed away February 6th, 2007.

Tony and Rose Bernadino used to live on Date Street.
Tony and Rose Bernadino used to live on Date Street.
Tony Bernardini was an Italian immigrant who settled in San Diego.
Tony Bernardini was an Italian immigrant who settled in San Diego.

Tony Bernardini left his native Bari, Italy to sail to America in 1907. He came with little money, but his heart was full of hope and enthusiasm for the opportunities that awaited him in his New World. Passing through Ellis Island, he quickly made his way to San Diego, where he found a climate and a neighborhood that reminded him of the place he had left. Tony took a job with the San Diego Electric Railway Company, maintaining the tracks for San Diego’s extensive streetcar lines. He worked hard, saved his money, and sent for his future wife, Rosa Monteleone, in 1911.

Tony and Rosa married shortly after her arrival in San Diego. They went on to have seven children; Clara, Fred, Lily, Vito, Matha, Nick, and Angelina. With hard work, Tony was able to bring several other members of their families to America to join them. In the early 1930’s, he got an opportunity to buy the building located on this corner from an acquaintance, who offered to finance the transaction for him. He opened the Civic Center Liquor House. Rosa and all of the children helped him run the business. During the first seven years he ran the business, he was only able to pay the interest on the Property’s note. But with the Declaration of World War II in 1941, San Diego’s economy heated up dramatically. Despite the fact that all three of their sons joined the Army to fight in the War, Tony, Rosa, and their daughters continued to work in the business, and by the end of the War, Tony had managed to pay off the note completely. he had achieved the American dream!

The story of love, hard work, and strong family life.
The story of love, hard work, and strong family life.

To a store in San Diego’s Little Italy, Vincent DePhilippis (1903-1957) and Madeleine Manfredi (1904-1993) brought their version of the American Dream.

Vincent was born in New York and raised in Naples, Italy. Madeleine was born and raised in Nimes, France. They both came to America for a better life where they met and fell in love in 1922 and later married in 1925. Cooking for friends and family together was a passion they shared, everywhere from the Bronx, New York to West Chester, Pennsylvania. Always in the food business, Vincent was a pasta maker, chef and entrepreneur. In 1948, they finally settled in San Diego, California and opened Cash & Carry Italian Foods, a labor of love. Their strong work ethic, values, and generosity helped shape the budding Italian-American community. With the help of seven children and Madeleine’s infectious laugh, the small business grew to Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, the success story we all know today. Their children Roberto, Gina, Mary, Vincent, Alfred, Richard and William followed in their parents footsteps and grew the family business. Today the tradition continues with their grand and great grandchildren.

Banner on street lamp shows Tarantino family.
Banner on street lamp shows Tarantino family.
Past lives become legends in the annals of Little Italy's history.
Past lives become legends in the annals of Little Italy’s history.
Morning coffee and companionship on a Little Italy sidewalk.
Morning coffee and companionship on a Little Italy sidewalk.

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