A librarian’s Call to Serve in San Diego.

An inspiring exhibit now on display at the San Diego Central Library is titled Call to Serve: Clara E. Breed & The Japanese American Incarceration. It can be viewed through January 2022 in the Art Gallery on the downtown library’s Ninth Floor.

The exhibit recalls how San Diego librarian Clara E. Breed comforted and advocated for those American citizens of Japanese ancestry who were sent away to internment camps during World War II. She particularly helped and encouraged the children, with whom she kept in communication. Part of the exhibit includes many of her letters.

Clara Breed also fought against the censorship of books, and for a library collection that contained more international and multicultural material, that would speak to readers from diverse backgrounds.

I was touched by Clara’s compassion as I read many of the letters. She clearly had a love for the hundreds of children that she tirelessly championed. Anyone reading her words will be moved.

A replica of a barracks that was used to incarcerate Japanese-Americans during World War II can be viewed on the Central Library’s First Floor, near the main entrance. I blogged about it about a month ago here.

“Military necessity” was the justification for the removal of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States…On April 1, 1942, Civilian Exclusion Order No. 4 announced that all persons of Japanese ancestry were to report to Santa Fe Depot…Military guards supervised the transportation fo some 1,150 San Diegans to the Santa Anita Race Track…
“…When the children came to return their books and surrender their cards we gave them stamped postcards. Write to us. We’ll want to know where you are and how you are getting along, and we’ll send you some books to read.” –Clara E. Breed
…I am going to miss you a great deal, as you must know. You have been one of my restorers-of-faith in the human spirit. I know that you will keep your courage and humor in the weeks and days that lie ahead, no matter what they may bring…

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!

Beauty and history on Torrey Pines Park Road.

Explore the south end of Torrey Pines Park Road at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and you’ll discover breathtaking beauty and fascinating history.

Last weekend I walked north along the paved trail, which a century ago was part of the main road from San Diego to Los Angeles. The following photographs begin near Torrey Pines Golf Course and end just short of the Visitor Center at Torrey Pines State Reserve’s old Lodge. The historic road, closed to vehicle traffic, is how hikers access Broken Hill Trail, which winds through a rugged landscape down to the beach.

In my photos you’ll see native coastal sage scrub and chaparral plants, rare Torrey pine trees, the Pacific Ocean in the distance to the west and sandstone cliffs overlooking North Torrey Pines Road to the east. Signs along the way speak of the history of this place.

Come along as I walk down old Torrey Pines Park Road on a sunny November day!

Other walkers and bicyclists were also enjoying a fun adventure.

To the east beyond an information sign and historical marker one can see North Torrey Pines Road, Carmel Valley and Interstate 5.

FROM SAN DIEGO TO LOS ANGELES

The Torrey Pines Park Road was once part of the main highway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A dirt road built in 1910 and paved in 1915 with the concrete surface you see here, its steep grade posed a special challenge to the cars of the era. Because Model Ts used gravity to deliver gasoline to the engine in front of the car, motorists had to climb up the hill in reverse.

As the number of cars and their speed increased, the hairpin curve near the Guy Fleming Trail became the scene of many accidents. Local officials sought a new roadway, proposing to cut into the seaside cliffs across the front of the Reserve. A compromise resulted in the current North Torrey Pines Road, completed in 1933. When the City of San Diego transferred the title of the park to the state in 1959, this end of the road was closed to cars.

The steep hill and its hairpin curves mentioned in the sign are north of the Lodge, beyond this particular walk. Cars entering the park still use it.

If you’d like to see past photos of the Guy Fleming Trail which is also referenced in the sign, click here!

TORREY PINES PARK ROAD

1915

HAS BEEN LISTED IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES BY THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

22 OCTOBER 1998

Hikers explore nature’s beauty.
The North Fork Trailhead leads west to the Broken Hill Trail.
Picturesque sandstone cliffs overlook North Torrey Pines Road (not visible) to the east.
A sign details the history of Camp Callan, which was located here from 1941 to 1945.

THE GUNS OF TORREY PINES

In 1940 the U.S. Army leased 710 acres on Torrey Pines Mesa from the City of San Diego to build a training camp for long range artillery to defend the west coast against a Japanese attack during World War II. Most of the camp was on areas now occupied by UCSD, the Gliderport, and the Golf Course, but it also extended into the area of Broken Hill. Later, Penasquitos Marsh was annexed into the Camp. A variety of firing ranges allowed training with everything from hand guns to large artillery. In 1942, the Camp’s focus shifted from coast defense to anti-aircraft.

CAMP LIFE

The Army took care to keep the 15,000 residents of this instant city busy. In addition to this grand outdoor stage, there were two indoor theaters, sports teams, social clubs, three chapels, a weekly newspaper, a band and a drama club.

The 300-bed hospital was staffed by 30 nurses who practiced evacuating from a sinking ship by leaping off the Del Mar Pier. The original caption on the 1943 photograph reads, “Smiling and realizing that they had again accomplished what the male soldier is required to do, the three nurse lieutenants Mae Despain, Myra Adams, and Johynee Parmley step gaily from the surf after the jump and long swim ashore.”

Camp Callan’s final mission was to train soldiers for massive overseas amphibious assaults. In November 1945, the Camp was declared surplus. The buildings were dismantled and sold to a local utility, and the kitchen appliances sold to a hospital. This end of the mesa returned to nature, with little trace of the once bustling training camp.

A postcard. Greetings from CAMP CALLAN CALIFORNIA.
Torrey pine trees in the distance.
More eroded sandstone to the east.
Approaching a small parking lot at the Beach Trailhead near The Lodge.

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Monument to tallest structures ever built in San Diego.

For over seventy-five years, the tallest structures that have ever been built in San Diego County stood atop a hill in Chollas Heights, four miles east of downtown San Diego. Three enormous towers marked the location of U.S. Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Chollas Heights, which operated the most powerful radio transmitter in North America.

A monument to these historically important towers can be viewed today at Lincoln Military Housing, across the street from the small Chollas Heights Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Museum, near the corner of College Grove Way and Transmitter Road.

The unusual monument is in fact a remnant of the old Navy communication station–an antenna that once was suspended 600 feet above ground.

While many San Diego residents saw three tall radio towers rising just north of Chollas Lake, their historical importance is less widely known. This is where the mainland United States received the first news of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The U.S. Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Chollas Heights was purposely built beside Chollas Lake so that its water might cool the heated transmitter tubes.

Chollas Heights. Home of the world’s first global naval radio transmitting facility. 1917-1991.

A small, very badly faded sign in front of the old antenna provides interesting information. I’ve transcribed the words:

This structure once perched 600 feet above the ground atop Tower 33, which was one of three towers. In the center of the tower array, wires suspended an antenna so high it was almost invisible. Completed in 1917, the Chollas Heights complex accommodated the largest and most powerful radio transmitter in North America. The historic 200 kilowatt poulsen-arc transmitters had an unprecedented 12,000-mile range and broadcast at a frequency of 30.6 kilocycles. The innovations of the arc, or continuous wave, transmitter improved the range and reliability of communications over that of traditional “spark” transmitters. These could not be tuned to a specific frequency, so they encountered much interference. A landmark in the development of radio, the Chollas Heights facility played a vital role in Naval communications during World War I.

Built between 1915 and 1917, materials used in the Naval Radio Transmitting Facility were delivered by mules. The radio towers were visible for over 50 miles in clear weather, a familiar fixture in San Diego’s landscape for over seventy five years. Aircraft warning lights at their tips were used as a reference for pilots on their final approach to Lindbergh Field. To this day the towers were the tallest structures ever erected in San Diego County. The more modern transmitter, supporting three additional high-frequency antenna types, was used until the 1960’s, when it became outdated by advancing technology. It was then decommissioned in 1991 and dismantled in 1995.

“In behalf of the citizens of San Diego I have the honor of extending to you the season’s greetings and their good wishes and congratulate you upon the completion at San Diego of the world’s most powerful radio station. Space has been completely annihilated and the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards are as one.”

San Diego Mayor Edwin Capp’s original message sent to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in Arlington on the transmitter’s official testing day, January 26, 1917.

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Replica WWII incarceration barrack at Central Library.

Just inside the entrance to the Central Library in downtown San Diego stands a life-size model barrack. It accurately replicates barracks that were used to incarcerate Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The model barrack was built by Frank Wada, who was sent to the Poston “Relocation Center” in Arizona, before being released to fight in the war. He was ultimately awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

In 1942 ten prison camps were built in the United States to incarcerate those with Japanese ancestry. About 120,000 people were imprisoned in these camps. The model barrack shows what life was like for those who were forced to live away from their homes, with little comfort or privacy.

An exhibit in the Central Library’s 9th floor Art Gallery, titled Call to Serve: Clara E. Breed and the Japanese American Incarceration, is on view through January 30, 2022. It documents how San Diego city librarian Clara Estelle Breed was an active opponent of Executive Order 9066, the internment policy instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1942.

On Saturday afternoon I rode the elevator up to the library’s rooftop to see the exhibition, but for some reason the Art Gallery was closed. I’ll try again in the future!

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!

Quiet beauty at Maxton Brown Park in Carlsbad.

A small but very beautiful public park can be enjoyed in Carlsbad at the corner of Laguna Drive and State Street.

Maxton Brown Park is a quiet place. One can sit on a bench to read a book or gaze out at Buena Vista Lagoon.

During my recent walk in Carlsbad I rested on one bench that had a view of the lagoon. It was very peaceful.

I then briefly explored the park and found several memorial plaques that honor loved ones.

Here are a few photos…

The above plaque overlooking the lagoon reads:

LT. MAXTON BROWN PARK

515th SQDN

MARCH 5, 1915 – JULY 8, 1943

BUENA VISTA LAGOON CONSERVATOR

AMERICAN LEGION POST 146 MARCH 5, 1976

I did a little searching on the internet and learned that during World War II, on July 8, 1943, 2nd Lieutenant Maxton Brown of Carlsbad was downed over Sicily. He flew with the 515th Bomb Squadron.

The Buena Vista Lagoon is home of the Maxton Brown Bird Sanctuary. According to this page of the Carlsbad Historical Society, prior to the war Maxton “spent many hours at the lagoon sighting and recording over 150 species of birds.”

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!

Celebration of Memorial Day by the USS Midway.

Around noon today there was a unique outdoor celebration of Memorial Day in downtown San Diego. The spectacle could be viewed in San Diego Bay and the sky above the USS Midway Museum!

A small crowd that had gathered by the iconic “Kiss” statue saw a Harbor Police patrol boat water cannon salute and a parade of personal watercraft arriving from across the bay bearing large American flags.

Then, after the patriotic parade had gathered in the water between the USS Midway and The Greatest Generation Walk, four vintage World War II aircraft belonging to Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force flew twice overhead, and departed with the missing man formation.

Much of the event was at a distance from where I stood, but my small camera managed to get a few good photographs…

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!

Cool old cars, planes spotted in El Cajon!

During my walk through El Cajon yesterday, I spotted a some cool old cars and airplanes!

The cars were on a couple of electrical boxes! This fading street art, on Main Street just west of Sunshine Plaza, is filled with all sorts of colorful hot rods and custom cars, racing imagery and even a tribute to Route 66.

I suppose this art was painted to celebrate the Cajon Classic Cruise weekly car show on Main Street at Magnolia, near the El Cajon landmark archway. It might also refer to the Cajon Speedway, a race track that used to exist north of here, near the Gillespie Field airport.

You can see the El Cajon landmark sign a couple blocks to the east…

A couple blocks farther east, at the Prescott Promenade park near El Cajon’s Civic Center, I spotted a couple of banners that celebrate old Cajon Speedway…

Finally, check out what I first heard, then spotted high in the sky as I was walking along Main Street!

Six restored World War II-era planes belonging to Air Group One, which is the San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, were flying in a tight formation!

Air Group One flies out of El Cajon’s Gillespie Field. (I often spot their vintage planes flying over the USS Midway Museum 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!

Bust of a San Diego Air Force hero.

The beautifully sculpted commemorative bust of San Diego resident, retired Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF occupies a place of honor in Balboa Park. The bust can be found in the Veterans Memorial Garden, a short walk from the entrance to the The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

I was on hand to observe the sculpture’s unveiling almost six years ago. The ceremony was held during a Spirit of ’45 event that honored heroes of World War II. To see that inspirational blog post, click here.

I’ve decided to post photographs of the Cardenas bust today because it’s Memorial Day–one of those days when we express our gratitude to all military service members. And because I posted photos of another sculpture by the same artist a couple days ago.

San Diego sculptor Richard Becker also created Liberation, a statue at Miramar National Cemetery. That bronze sculpture remembers and honors Prisoners of War. You can see the emotionally powerful Liberation here.

Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF has a list of achievements and awards a mile long. Please read his Wikipedia page here. You’ll learn that in World War II, after he was shot down during a mission over Germany, he swam across a lake into Switzerland to escape capture, then rejoined the fight. You’ll also learn that years later, from a B-29 Superfortress that he piloted, he dropped the experimental supersonic X-1 aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.

Behind the bust of Robert Cardenas you can see a sculpture of a B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II. It’s the plane that Robert Cardenas flew during the Second World War.

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!

Quarantine dreams and COVID-19 war posters.

Quarantine Dreams mural in La Jolla. When quarantined due to coronavirus, you can't travel, dine, date, surf, play sports, or even play outside with the dog. Hang in there!
Quarantine Dreams mural in La Jolla. When quarantined due to the novel coronavirus, you can’t travel, dine, date, surf, play sports, or even play catch outside with the dog. Hang in there!

The coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter. But I cracked a smile when I discovered a gently humorous mural and amusing “war posters” pertaining to COVID-19 in La Jolla.

I spied the mural, titled Quarantine Dreams, at the entrance to an alley off Pearl Street. The artwork speaks for itself!

The posters, some of which were done in the distinctive World War II style, are on display in the windows of Copy Cove on Pearl Street. The posters offer helpful advice for fighting the invisible enemy, COVID-19. (I believe you can purchase the posters at this shop.)

Enjoy!

Don't hoard rolls! Eat less chili. Flatten the curve! Support our healthcare heroes. Don't be a burden. Don't do stupid sh*t.
Don’t hoard rolls! Eat less chili. Flatten the curve! Support our healthcare heroes. Don’t be a burden. Don’t do stupid sh*t.

Buy takeout. Touch your face, lose the race. The enemy win when you touch your face.
Buy takeout. Touch your face, lose the race. The enemy win when you touch your face.

A dirty phone is a danger zone! Damnit! Wash your hands. Victory at home starts with a good scrub!
A dirty phone is a danger zone! Damnit! Wash your hands. Victory at home starts with a good scrub!

Good fellows use elbows. Keep the nation fighting fit! Stay back, Jack! Use air fist bumps.
Good fellows use elbows. Keep the nation fighting fit! Stay back, Jack! Use air fist bumps.

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!

Street art and a little history in Linda Vista.

I walked through Linda Vista yesterday, up Linda Vista Road from Comstock Street to Genesee Avenue. I discovered great examples of street art and some fascinating local history!

Linda Vista is an old San Diego neighborhood whose origin is tied to World War II. According to Wikipedia: “Many of the homes in Linda Vista were built in 1940-41 as part of a government project to house aircraft workers for the war effort. A construction project that was assisted by Reuben H. Fleet beginning in October 1941 resulted in 3,001 houses built within 200 days.”

One of the first shopping malls ever built in the United States was built in this community. As I walked up Linda Vista Road past the Sieu Thi Thuan Phat Supermarket, I came upon a bronze plaque that describes that history.

Today, as you can see from my photographs, many who live in Linda Vista have an Asian heritage.

The plaque reads:

THIS SITE WAS THE LOCATION OF ONE OF
THE FIRST PLANNED SHOPPING CENTERS
IN THE UNITED STATES

The Linda Vista area was developed as a government
housing project for aircraft and shipyard defense
workers during World War II. The original shopping
center was built to serve the residents and was
dedicated in 1942 by Eleanor Roosevelt. Demolition of
the original shopping center occurred in 1972.

LINDA VISTA COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, 2009

Above is the photo of a beautiful mural by local artist Gloria Muriel, spray painted on the wall of Hot Wash Coin Laundry. Love and Respect.

There’s a tragic phenomenon in the large cities of California that I rarely photograph. In Linda Vista, as in most of San Diego, drugs and homelessness are now encountered everywhere one walks.

A heartbreaking photo.

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