Jul 02

R.R. Crossing Poly

©The Tribune

©The Tribune

Couldn’t find a story to go with these negatives marked R.R. Crossing Poly Sept 7-63.
My guess is this is the Foothill Blvd. crossing of the Southern Pacific tracks. Cerro San Luis is on left, and Bishop Peak on right, the palm trees of California Blvd. This area is all student housing now. Post a comment if you have better information.

Jun 29

Race tensions and bar riot San Luis Obispo, World War II week by week

A San Luis Obispo bar, Dante’s, was the scene of a fight that spilled out into the street that involved up to 200 African-American soldiers.
Eventually Sheriff Murray Hathway resorted to tear gas and extra military police were called out from Camp San Luis Obispo.
Bar owner Dante Chiesa refused service to men he said appeared drunk.
Soon more soldiers came in from the USO down Higuera street and demanded “If you can’t serve us serve our friends.”
One of the men in the crowd was reported to say “If you can’t give us liquor, give us water, but give us something to drink.”
Chiesa ordered an assistant to serve from the 12 cases he had on hand. About that time white officers who had observed the scene ordered the men back to camp. An argument ensued and the brawl went out into the street. Chiesa sent his civilian customers to a back storeroom as a brick came through one window and the other was smashed by hitting and kicking.

Race tensions may have led to a fight downtown in San Luis Obispo as reported in this June 25, 1943 Telegram-Tribune.

Race tensions may have led to a fight downtown in San Luis Obispo as reported in this June 25, 1943 Telegram-Tribune.


Though both negro and white military police and the fire department tried to break up the fight, bottle throwing shouting and threatening with clubs continued for half an hour until extra MPs arrived.
Just one week before there had been race riots in Detroit and the week before that the zoot suit riots had shaken Los Angeles.

A second day story lowered the number to 75 of 400 negro soldiers in the area involved in the fracas. It hinted that the paper had overplayed the incident the day before.
Camp commanding officer Col. Henry T. Bull said “The disorder at no times assumed the elements of a race riot, although one witness testified that someone shouted ‘race riot’ in the negro USO dance hall, and the soldiers went out into the street believing themselves to be attacked.”
“One dangerous element was that of a military policeman who pulled a pistol out without authority or necessity,” Col. Bull said. “He was placed under arrest by other military policemen and removed from the scene.”
Col. Bull said that as long as civilians obey civil police the military police will take care of the soldiers.

Jun 28

July 4, 1877

In the backwater burg of San Luis Obispo, for many years after California became a U.S. state in 1850, holidays associated with Mexico were celebrated with more gusto than American holidays.
It took a long time for Anglos to outnumber Mexican and Indian natives in the region. There was no gold, no major port and much of the prime land was tied up in Spanish Land grant era ranchos.
In 1877 it had been less than 10 years since the first newspaper had been published in the county, and a share of second newspaper, The Tribune, was being sold. The paper was under the direction of O.F. Thornton with printers J.K. Tuley and W.W. Waters Jr. assuming half interest from founding printer H.S. Rembaugh.
It had been a eventful decade for newspapers in the county.
Two had been founded and failed, the Pioneer and the Democratic Standard.
The Tribune was in it’s fifth ownership transition and though editor O.F. Thornton didn’t know it at the time, he would be out as editor of the Tribune within two years.
Careful readers of the “4th of July 1877″ ad will find his replacement, Geo. B. Staniford, as part of the Honorary Committee.
Hopefully the Good Will Fire Co., No. 2 had secured a cannon for the celebration. Apparently the alternative, anvil firing, was not the safest idea.

Big doings planned for July 4 in the June 23, 1877 San Luis Obispo Tribune

Big doings planned for July 4 in the June 23, 1877 San Luis Obispo Tribune

Jun 26

Downtown Morro Bay 1963

Downtown Morro Bay 1963 ©The Tribune.

Downtown Morro Bay 1963 ©The Tribune.

Jun 24

The filming of Boris Sagal’s “1,000 Plane Raid”

Tribune librarian Sharon Morem found a set of fascinating 35mm negatives in the bottom of a folder marked with an illegible scrawl. The first glassine sleeve appeared to read “’1,000 P+ei Raid’ Movie #1″ and the rest had less information, only numbered 2-4.
The images showed impressive B-17 bomber stunt flying below the eucalyptus treetops over a faux English airfield. The filming location was the Santa Maria airport, an actual World War II training base.
From one of the negatives the date of the filming and name of director was extracted. Boris Sagal made a career directing action television and movies, his best known film “Omega Man.”
The story written by news editor Mel Gauntz published in the Telegram-Tribune Focus section, January 20, 1968.

A Stunt pilot flies a B-17 bomber at treetop level over a faux English airfield built in Santa Maria for the movie "1,000 Plane Raid". ©The Tribune/Jim Vestal

Stunt pilot flies a B-17 bomber at treetop level over a faux English airfield built in Santa Maria for the movie “1,000 Plane Raid”. ©The Tribune/Jim Vestal

’1,000 Plane Raid’ — cinema chaos
SANTA MARIA — An outsider watching the filming of “The 1,000 Plane Raid” here, would think movie-making is mostly a crowd of people standing around shivering in the wind.
It’s not, apparently, but you couldn’t prove it by me.
There must, however, be a method to their madness — movies always seem to reach the screen with a beginning, a middle and an end.
Somewhere — maybe locked in a closet back at the studio — There is someone who knows what should be shot here, what shot there, when, and where it’s all supposed to fit.
Movies are made, like puzzles, from bits and pieces — fitted together later by someone with the over-all plan in mind.
The creativity would seem to be there — in the director’s mind and the film editor’s fantastic skill.
Here, it’s the bits and pieces.
There’s a shooting schedule about the size of the New York City telephone directory. And apparently, enough of the staff here has read it to get the job done.
The director, Boris Sagal, the assistant director, Erich von Stroheim Jr., the cameramen, sound people and the property men seem to know what they’re doing.
But they’re out numbered.
Luckily, “The 1,000 Plane Raid” is a war movie, so you can tell the players without a program — they’re the ones in the World War II Army Air Force uniforms.
And the technicians are obviously working. But who are all those others? Shivering in the wind. A lot of reporters, newspaper photographers, teen-agers eager for a look at a movie star, relatives of extras hired locally, movie buffs.
Teen-agers and moms crowding around the male lead, Christopher George, asking for autographs — they must have watched “Rat Patrol” on television.
The stars of “The 1,000 Plane Raid” aren’t big stars, so the filming at the Santa Maria Airport loses a lot for the casual fan.
And can embarrass the dickens out of a movie nut like me when he’s introduced to James Gammon. Especially if you’ve seen “Cool Hand Luke” twice — but somehow missed Gammon.
But he’s gracious, thank goodness. “I’ve got a face that’s easy to forget.”
And Noam Pitlik’s in it too. Luckily, he was atop the English airfield control tower they’ve built here, so I didn’t have to ask him which one he was in “Fortune Cookie.” (Saw that twice too.)
Not ever having seen “Rat Patrol,” the only one of the cast I recognized was J.D. Cannon, who played the educated one in “Cool Hand Luke.” But he split after lunch (so much for movie nuts.)
The female lead (a WAC lieutenant, thank you) is played by a spotlessly pretty gal named Laraine Stephens — she’s the one in the shiny green heels; the lesser WACs have to wear those brown World War II clompers.
The main thin that strikes you is the surface pandemonium (the director and assistant director once yelled “action” at the same time. It was their first day of filming here, that’ll get sorted out.)
Next is the friendliness of everyone (except the sound truck man, but he was working hard and maybe had a bad lunch). The stars chat with anyone who’s introduced to them, and some who aren’t The director stops work to be nice. Even the producer, Lewis Rachmil, a vice president at Mirisch Corp. and associate producer of “Hawaii,” has time for everyone it seems.
Is it always so much fun? Is everyone always so friendly? One of the lesser WACs says she’s only been in a couple of movies, but it was the same then, she says.
They filmed four scenes the afternoon I was there:
1. A truck driving toward an old B17.
2. Gammon driving up in a jeep, jumping out, puffing his cigarette and striding into operations.
3. Gammon striding out of operations, puffing his cigarette and exchanging a few words with “spotlessly pretty.” Before driving off — about three feet.
4. Everyone on the flight line, Noam in his control tower (and all’s right with the world) while they count the planes returning from a raid: “16…17…18…the whole group, major” (ever seen that one before?)
The bits and pieces:
“Open the window.” It won’t open; it’s nailed. “Pull out the nails.” It won’t stay open. “Wedge it.” It’s wedged open.
“Action.”
“Take off those sunglasses.
You had them off in the last scene.”
“Get that white rag off that pole.”
“Who were the guys on the wing last time? Get back there.
Yes, the same two; its gotta be the same two.”
“Get some smoke out of those chimneys.” Comes smoke. “Action.”
They actually say “action” — and even “cut.”
Just like in the movies.

"1,000 Plane Raid" star Christopher George (left) on location at Santa Maria Airport. ©The Tribune/Jim Vestal.

“1,000 Plane Raid” star Christopher George (left) on location at Santa Maria Airport. ©The Tribune/Jim Vestal.

Jun 22

Camp San Luis soldiers volunteer, World War II week by week

A number of Camp San Luis Obispo soldiers volunteered to work in local hay fields. Farmers were short of labor between the demands of the draft and high wages in wartime industries.

Detroit was recovering from race riots that had killed 26. One trouble spot had been the Packard Motor Car Co. where white employes protested upgrading African-American workers to similar status. Rioting came to an end as steel-helmeted army troops entered town to restore order.

The United Mine Workers were on strike for the third time since May 1.

Telegram-Tribune headlines from June 22, 1943.

Telegram-Tribune headlines from June 22, 1943.

Jun 21

10 reasons to buy an RCA Victor Radio

E.E. Long Piano Company touted 10 big improvements as selling points of this new RCA Victor Radio in this ad from October 12, 1931. Here they are but they are not as amusing as the lists David Letterman reads.

RCA Victor was a top of the line radio when the cabinet was as important as the electronics in 1931.

RCA Victor was a top of the line radio when the cabinet was as important as the electronics in 1931.


1. Automatic volume control.
2, NINE tubes
3. New RCA Victor Super-Heterodyne with Pentode tubes.
4. Shock-proof rubber-floated chassis.
5. Laboratory-scaled life-time condenser.
6. Micro tone control.
7. Noise-eliminating transformer.
8. Stethoscope-tested speaker.
9. Acoustically synchronized cabinets.
10. Hand rubbed waxed lacquer finish.

Come in today and hear this new set—it’s a wonder!

Jun 19

Lovern’s Clam Bell of Oceano

Drifting fog, a bell rings over the dunes a cold clam fork in hand…
On Sept. 7, 1989 Telegram-Tribune reporter Carol Roberts wrote about the clam bell.

The clam bell called Oceaon clammers to the clams for many years at Lovern's in Oceano

The clam bell called Oceaon clammers to the clams for many years at Lovern’s in Oceano

OCEANO — Betty Boyd had a few friends over last weekend to ring a bell.
The bell once rang atop her dad Bill Lovern’s store on Pier Avenue, where he rented out clam forks and fishing gear.
The friends came and went all afternoon Sunday to commemorate Lovern, who died in September 1977. They listened to 1950s music, had some cake, then hung the 300-pound bell in Boyd’s front yard. And that’s where it will stay, bearing a plaque that states: “In loving memory of Bill ‘Willie’ Lovern.”
The bell is rare because it has two clappers. Boyd’s parents, Bill and Ruby, bought it in the early 1950s from an antique dealer who told them it had been cast in Switzerland. It was brought to California in 1900, Betty said. The dealer bought it from someone on the Carrisa Plains where it once called in cowhands.
“It could be heard a mile away,” said Betty.
Ruby Lovern (now 75 and still an Oceano resident) and their kids were her dad’s life, Betty said, along with deep sea and surf fishing and pulling stranded motorists off the state beach. His business was the family’s business.
Bill and Ruby Lovern were childhood sweethearts in Texas. They moved to Oceano in 1945. They had a fishing gear rental stand in Pismo Beach and later opened their clam and tackle shop and towing service in Oceano.
After her father did, Betty rented out clam forks and fishing tackle in another building in Oceano, where the Place Restaurant is now. She gave up the business in 1980. For a while the bell hung over her store, too.
It was fun growing up as Bill Lovern’s daughter, said Betty, who worked in the fishing store. “I used to love Memorial day and Labor Day weekends because of all the people here.”
She also enjoyed getting to talk with celebrities Ben Gazzara, Broderick Crawford and James Arness. “They came real often. They were nice people, just like everybody else.”
Her dad helped transport film crews into the dunes to shoot movies and commercials. He had converted a 1929 Model A Ford ice truck into the “clam taxi.” He added benches, a ladder shaft and power winch.
Mist customers, however wanted rides to and from their favorite clam digging spots. If they didn’t have some, Bill Lovern offered advice.
Life centered around the ocean.
Lovern and his son, Skip, occasionally rescued a swimmer or clammer from the surf. They pulled up vehicles from Pirate’s Cover and hauled motorhomes from the mouth of Arroyo Creek.
As a teen-ager, Betty learned to drive on the beach.
“You could drive all day and never pass another car,” she said. “It’s different now. I definitely prefer the old days.”
The Lovern family once lived in the house across McCarthy street from where Betty’s home is now. Her sister, Barbara Reed, lives down the road. They still walk the beach together.
Hanging the bell was something she’d been meaning to do for a long time. Its stand is blue and the bell is orange. “Those were dad’s colors,” Betty recalled. He painted everything those colors.”

Betty Boyd has brought her dad's 300-pound clam bell home to hang in her Oceano front yard. ©The Tribune/David Middlecamp

Betty Boyd has brought her dad’s 300-pound clam bell home to hang in her Oceano front yard. ©The Tribune/David Middlecamp

Jun 17

Paso Robles land rush 1982

This week the Tribune publishes a five part series on water. The seeds for the issue were being planted in the late 20th Century as Paso Robles expanded to the east side of the Salinas River.
The property values seem economical when you look back 30 years but property buyers at the time also had to contend with 15 percent interest on loans.
The land near Paso Robles High School was so open that a hot air balloon was used to mark the location. On January 1, 1982 Telegram-Tribune reporter Phil Dirkx wrote about the real estate boom.

Prospective land buyers lined up for free breakfast in Paso Robles Saturday morning. Hot air balloon marked the sale site. ©Phil Dirkx/The Tribune.

Prospective land buyers lined up for free breakfast in Paso Robles Saturday morning. Hot air balloon marked the sale site. ©Phil Dirkx/The Tribune.

Lining up for Paso land
SLO firm promotes rush on lots

More than 200 people showed up on a chilly hilltop in Paso Robles Saturday morning for what had been advertised as a land rush.
The high ground near the new Paso Robles High School was bare except for streets, curbs, sidewalks and street lights. It had been graded, improved and staked out into 87 lots by Walter Brothers Construction Co. of San Luis Obispo. The buyers will have to provide the houses.
The sale started at 9 a.m. after a free pancake and sausage breakfast that started at 8.
The first buyer had been waiting since 6:30 a.m. He was Rob Neeper, a six-month transplant to Paso Robles from Brea and an electronic engineer at the Beckman Instruments Inc. plant in Paso Robles.
He and his wife have one child, a son, born last week.
He brought the lot 33, where the sales trailer and breakfast tent were placed. He said it had the best view.
When he walked out of the sales trailer he smiled and said, “Get off my land.”
The price listed for his lot was $27,900 The cash required for the down payment and closing costs was listed as 11,410.
The unpaid balance of $16,740 could be financed for five years at 15 percent interest with only interest payments ($209 a month) required during that time.
Many of those who showed up were in the real estate business and some were planning to develop other nearby tracts.
Somebody said, “There are as many peddlers as buyers here.”
Among the non-peddlers were Bob and Barbary Finley of Paso Robles.
“We decided we would at least look and see what they had to offer,” said Bob.
They lease their present home and would like to buy one “before we are priced completely out of the market.”
The “land rush” had been advertised in newspapers in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Jose and Paso Robles and on television stations in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo.
A hot-air balloon was tethered on the tract as a temporary landmark for potential buyers.
Some of those attracted by the advertising were a family from Santa Barbara, Albert and Jean Escalera and their son Bryan and his wife, Jan.
Jean Escalera said they got up at 4:30 to get to Paso Robles for the sale.
“There’s a lot of growth yet to come here,” she said. “Young people from Santa Barbara have to go somewhere; there are no lots at this price there.”
The Escaleras bought one lot to build a house for possible sale to someone else.
The balloon and the breakfast tent were folded up by noon, and by the time the day drew to a close, a total of seven lots were marked “sold” on the signboard map.It is hard to judge whether the land rush promotion was a success, said Vicki Silva, President of the Paso Robes Board of Realtors.
There haven’t been any similar promotion[s] in Paso Robles recently, she said, and winter usually is not as good for selling real estate as the spring.
“We were very much aware that we would not sell them all,” said Walter Brothers spokeswoman Rachel Cannon.
“It was just a beginning promotion,” she said. “Just an attention getter.”
She also said there were 10 to 20 more people Saturday who said they were interested and were to check with their sources of financing this week before making a decision.
Walter Brothers had no intention of building the houses on the tract because they engineering contractors and houses are out of their line, she said.
Cannon declined to reveal how much the company had spend advertising the land rush but said: “It was a very considerable amount.
“We did not penny pinch,” she said.
“We are pleased and proud of the project.”

Jun 16

Zoot Suit Riots, Los Angeles 1943-World War II week by week

Sometimes people look back on a time, remembering the good and overlooking the bad.
While the nation pulled together to fight World War II there were some ugly events that showed America was still on the journey to the goal in the United States Declaration of Independence,”that all men are created equal…”
According to the PBS website American Experience, at the time Los Angels was a volatile stew of cultures. Mexicans fleeing revolution, landless dustbowl refugees, African-Americans departing the south in search of better jobs and more freedom, Japanese undergoing forced relocation, and the pressure of an influx of thousands of servicemen blowing off steam on leave.
Tensions were particularly high in segregated enclaves where out of town drunk servicemen were sometimes beaten when they failed to respect local culture.
Tensions rose between the communities and the Los Angeles authorities began to crack down on Zoot-suited young men who swaggered to the beat of jazz music.
Perhaps the style alone was enough to ignite anger for some. In an era of forced wartime austerity a proper zoot suit required double the usual quantity of fabric.
Sailors and Zootsuiters faced off in a series of fights as summer began to heat up in June 1943.
The police, many World War I veterans, were reluctant to arrest servicemen.
At one point a cartoonist dressed Axis leaders Tojo, Hitler and Mussolini in zootsuits.
Later a citizen panel would blame racism for the cause, the mayor pointed at white Southerners and juvenile delinquents.

UPDATE: The cartoonist was named Dorman H. Smith, he worked for the Newspaper Enterprise Association. Read more about him here.

Cartoon from June 16, 1943 comparing Tojo, Hitler and Mussolini to zootsuiters.

Cartoon from June 16, 1943 comparing Tojo, Hitler and Mussolini to zootsuiters.

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