Sometimes the clipping is not with the photo in the files. Pity. This man has a story to tell.
Standing barefoot in the sand a bearded man squints at the photographer. A shack with a roof of tule reeds and sides of thatched tules and canvas tent. Heat is provided by a tin stove that looks to be made of recycled material. A shovel and broom at the ready to push back the drifting sand.
In pencil on the back of the print is a numeric code and “John Bell—Old hermit of Pismo Beach 1901″
The photo ran 4 columns wide x 8 1/2 inches tall on page 8 of a Saturday edition of the Telegram-Tribune. It is also marked “PE” or “RE” though at this time I don’t know what that notation refers to.
I am guessing that it ran in paper sometime the 60s or 70s.
I asked Effie McDermott who also asked Norm Hammond, if they had any record of John Bell. Both South County history authors were unable to find a mention of him in their research.
The photo was stamped part of the C.C. Pierce collection of historical photographs, then that citation was crossed out and replaced with:
Title Insurance and Trust Company
Collection of Historical Photographs
Their website has the same photo and variations but no more information.
There are 55 John Bell listings in the 1900 Census in California but there don’t appear to be any from San Luis Obispo County.