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Nov 12

New book by Guy Crabb

book-cover-monterey-and-marsh.jpg I first met Guy Crabb when The Tribune did a story on his Morro Elementary 4th grade student’s  history project. One of the children had built an model of the roundhouse that used to be in San Luis Obispo. It had been torn down before the student was born, yet here was a teacher could motivate his class to research and build something that was not in a kit. He was selected at San Luis Coastal’s Teacher of the Year in 2006 and now is at Teach Elementary.

His other job has been publishing. His second book is just published San Luis Obispo – Monterey & Marsh Streets – 100 years of downtown businesses. Guy was kind enough to save me the effort of writing a post by answering a few questions about his new book and send a photo.

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J.P. Andrews building in the later 1890′s, San Luis Obispo at the corner of Monterey and Osos Streets.

You’re an award-winning teacher, where did your interest in history come from?
My first memory of collecting historical items is when I was 13 years old and the year was 1969.  That was the year that I collected the newspapers from the first man on the moon.  I thought that was so cool that I had to collect the newspaper to remember what the world was like on those amazing days in history.  I still have those newspapers and many more with other world events.
I was hooked on the local history of San Luis Obispo after visiting the swap meet at the Sunset Drive-In many years ago.  This man was selling old newspapers from the 1920’s.  I bought several to use in my classroom because I thought the students would love seeing a newspaper that was more than 80 years old.  As I looked in the old newspapers, I noticed several ads included the address of the businesses.  I wondered what business was currently at that address.  That is when I began my wonderful hobby of studying the history of San Luis Obispo.

Which address has the best story? 

It is difficult to select a single address with a great story;  998 Monterey Street is the J.P. Andrews building.  The first cool thing is J.P. Andrews himself.  The “J.P.” in J.P. Andrews stands for “John Pinckney.”  Mr. Andrews originally had a huge hotel at this site until it burned down.  In 1893, he built a beautiful brick building that he was sure would never burn down.  He then continued to build additions down Monterey and Osos Streets.  I have this great picture in my Monterey and Marsh Book that shows J.P. Andrews with his 1894 building addition with nothing else around.  But then again … there is the unique and unassuming SLO Works Machine Shop at 664 Marsh.  A Mr. Klaucke was once the owner of this building and was a true “blacksmith”.  He worked in his shop for over 50 years and had his house next door.  They still have pictures hanging in honor of Mr. Klaucke inside the machine shop.  There still remains many blacksmith artifacts from the days of Mr. Klaucke.  It is simply a great part of the history of SLO.  Then again, there is … I guess I better stop or I will name off many more great historical businesses such as the Call Building at 898 Monterey or Foster’s Freeze at 590 Marsh for over 50 years…OK, OK, I will stop. Next question.

What is gone that you wish you could bring back?

One building that I wish could be brought back is a building that is not gone yet but scheduled to be demolished in the future. That building is the old Quintana Building (Blackstone Hotel) at 840 Monterey and the old Sauer Building at 848-850 Monterey.  If only they could have been brought back to their original look.  They were both once really great looking buildings.  But then again… I would love to see the old Obispo Theater or the old Greyhound Bus Station that was once next to the Fremont Theater come back, or the old Gold Dragon on Monterey Street.  I could name many more buildings that have been forgotten and it makes me realize the streets of San Luis Obispo are forever changing.

What was the biggest surprise in researching the book?
One of the biggest surprises I have had while researching this book are that many of the families that I have come across in my research are still in the community.  Many of these families still own many of the properties in town or run various businesses in town.  It has been wonderful talking to many of these long-time residents.  It was great reminding them of the name of a business that they had forgotten about.  It was great hearing so many incredible stories from these pioneers of our community. I was also surprised about the number of buildings that are scheduled for demolition on both Monterey and Marsh Streets over the next few years.

Are you working on another project?
I have already started working on the final book of my little trilogy.  The last book will focus on the various cross streets in downtown.  I will include Chorro, Morro, Osos, Broad, Nipomo and possibly other streets in downtown.  The more research I do, the more ideas I come up with.  I will also start thinking about a new second edition to the Higuera book.  It is nearly sold out and I would like to improve that book with more pictures and information.
The last thing I would like to say is a thank you to the many people that I have talked to over the last several years while researching my books.  I have talked to painters, building owners, joggers, machine shop workers, real estate people, teachers, retired people, many business owners, cooks, long time residents, architects, barbers, bikers, and many people from all walks of life.  What I have really learned is that I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to live and work in such a great community.  I want to thank all those that I was able to talk to for your wondrous stories and your memories of our city.  I am thrilled to be able to pass on many of these memories to the readers of my books.

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