Category Archive: 1920s

Jul 11

Ah Louis, pioneer builder of San Luis Obispo

Ah Louis was the nickname given to Wong On who arrived in San Luis Obispo about 1870.

Ah Louis has to be on any top ten list of early persons of influence in San Luis Obispo. This article comes from the May 10, 1956 Centurama edition of the then Telegram-Tribune but the column was republished from one written in 1929 so some of the references need to be updated. Post a comment …

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Jun 12

Uncovering Moses of Guadalupe, Cecil B. DeMille films Ten Commandments in 1923

Glen Wharton shows a portion of Cecil B. DeMille's set for the 1923 movie The Ten Commandments, filmed in the Guadalupe Dunes. The set had been buried in sand for over 65 years when it was uncovered in the 1990.
©The Tribune/David Middlecamp

Is it archeology when the artifacts are actually movie prop replicas made of plaster? Ancient Egypt has long captured the imagination of story tellers and in 1923 Cecil B. DeMille was setting the standard for epic movies, before color and sound had come into the picture. He would later remake the epic story in color …

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Nov 30

The Roaring 20s, world class motor racing at Exposition Park

R.E. Heidorn takes a walk along the old banked curve of the once famous San Luis Obispo auto racing course. Contours of the only one-mile track were still visible along South Street in 1965. © The Tribune

Automobile engines were what put the roar into the Roaring 20s. In San Luis Obispo a palace to the newfangled automobile was constructed between two monuments of the railway, it was called Exposition Park. The roundhouses for the Southern Pacific and the Pacific Coast Railway were near opposite ends of South Street. The narrow gauge …

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Jul 18

Pismo Heights Property For Sale, Rustic Bungalows $690

Pismo Heights property for sale, million dollar views for much, much less. ©The Tribune

Pismo Heights is the neighborhood above Judkins Middle School. Many of the street names are from San Joaquin valley towns. This photo ran in the November 26, 1992 South County edition of the then Telegram-Tribune but the image looks to be from the late 20s or early 30s. The print also had a penciled note …

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Jun 13

Buy This! said the screaming head

Screaming heads have been an advertising designer's favorite image for centuries.

Why is the screaming head such a durable image in advertising? Why is it such an eye stopper? Seeing is more than absorbing raw visual data. It is sensory reasoning, distinguishing faces from the background, identifying features and expressions. Upwards of 30% of the brain is devoted to decoding the world around us. Yet for …

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Apr 06

Santa Manuela School, the Leonard Collection

Santa Manuela School, where Lopez Dam is today.

Today the playground is buried under Lopez Dam. Santa Manuela Schoolhouse was built in 1901 and served the families of the Lopez Canyon region until closed in 1957. When the dam was built in the late 1960s the South County Historical Society rescued the schoolhouse from demolition. It now sits at one end of the …

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Mar 23

A guest post from the author of “Nipomo and Los Berros”, Doug Jenzen

Pacific Coast Railroad station in Nipomo. The narrow gauge predated the Southern Pacific. Photo courtesy Doug Jenzen

Author Doug Jenzen has generously agreed to share with Vault readers an introduction to his new book on the South County. He will be at a book signing at the Dana Adobe Saturday, March 24. He is donating all the book royalties to restoration of the historic structure. (The automated watermark incorrectly says these are …

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Mar 12

Broadway at the Elmo, Spice of 1922

Spice 1922 is promoted in the Daily Telegram Sept. 4, 1923.

A giant woman dances in a skimpy outfit amid windmills. Stylish to be sure but why are  over 20 chorus girls singing, dressed in Dutch costumes complete with wooden shoes. Starved for entertainment — is the first phrase that springs to mind. It was the era before television. Movies were in black and white and …

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Mar 05

Cab rides to Hearst Castle, Steve Zegar saw it all

Steve Zegar tells his story as cab driver to William Randolph Hearst in the November 6, 1965 edition of the then Telegram-Tribune.

Steve Zegar was the first man to drive up the grassy sides of Hearst’s Enchanted Hill, before there was a Castle, or even a road. Now that is someone with a story. A story that had to wait decades to be told. Zegar maintained his relationship with Hearst and newspaper and movie mogul’s friends by …

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Feb 06

The Ship Cafe in Morro Bay, shipboard dining in the 1920s

Morro Bay in the late 1920s had far fewer business options.

Here is a quirky design lost to history. Ship on a stick, or sticks. The rock is familiar but today there is a more solid causeway leading out to it. This is a digital scan of postcard for sale on the internet with a postmark of 1931. The inscription reads “Morro Rock, higher than Woolworth …

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