AMERICA'S FINEST CITY: HISTORY RECALLED IN SAN DIEGO MEMORIES III

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Hear our interview with Roger Showly on East County Magazine Radio Show's Bookshelf: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/au...

San Diego Memories III: A Time Of Change – The 1960s and 1970s, by The San Diego Union-Tribune (Pediment Publishing, 2020, 176 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 21, 2021 (San Diego) - Roger Showley, who provided the chapter introductions and captions, as well as the foreword to this fantastic book, San Diego Memories III: A Time of Change – The 1960s and 1970s, puts this book in perspective by stating: “This pictorial history of San Diego in the tumultuous 1960s and 70s is coming out at an extraordinary time of a pandemic, when life seems just as uncertain and unpredictable as it was 50 years earlier. A generation that came of age back then thought it would change the world, that no one over 30 could be trusted. They reveled in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, led civil rights marches, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and were drafted to fight in it. In many ways the now – aging Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s are seeing another social upheaval led by their children and grandchildren who are ready to throw out the norms and follow a different path.”

Roger Showley was a writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune for 44 years before his retirement, specializing in real estate, local history and historic preservation. He made the major contributions to San Diego Memories III, is now president of the Balboa Park Committee of 100 and serves on the Architectural Foundation and Friends of San Diego Architecture.

If it is true that a “picture is worth a thousand words” San Diego Memories III paints a tapestry of the pictorial history of San Diego through the numerous pictures and images in this book, a history which I am proud to be a part of in my years of living in this jewel of a city on the west coast.

This pictorial history of San Diego just further underscores the premise of this city being known as “America’s Finest City.” Located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, San Diego is widely known as “America’s Finest City”, famous for its miles and miles of white-sand beaches and amazing weather, the city offers an abundance of fun attractions for visitors of all ages. I am proud to say that I am one that enjoyed the white-sand beaches, amazing weather and fun attractions!

San Diego Memories III resonates with me for so many fond and profound reasons, as I once lived in San Diego and spent quality time at or near many of the locations pictured in the book, such as Horton Plaza, Ocean Beach and Mission Bay.

Also, it should be noted that while living in San Diego, I wrote a review of Dominic Sandbrook’s book Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right for The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2011.

The Ocean Beach public fishing pier pictured here marches slowly out to sea as construction moves ahead on the $855,000 project. California Governor Edmund G. Brown cast the first fishing line from the pier on opening day, July 2, 1966. The city-state pier extends 2,000 feet offshore from Niagara Street.

I spent a lot of time and fond memories on the referenced Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego, riding my bike from downtown San Diego near 4th and Broadway and going to the end of this pier and listening to music on my headphones, and eating at the restaurant near the end of the pier while relaxing and spending the day there. While at the Ocean Beach Pier I would also take videos of surfers and other scenes from this beautiful and iconic pier pictured here and here.

The Santa Fe Railway pictured here operated three San Diego passenger trains daily to Los Angeles in 1968. The company proposed replacement of the 1915 depot in the 1970s but it remained in place even as railroad properties around it were sold for residential development in subsequent years. Amtrak, the national passenger system, took over passenger services operations by 1971.

I also spent a lot of time at the Santa Fe Railway, now Amtrak, taking numerous trips up to Oakland and San Francisco, and my hometown of Chicago. I recall so many fond memories of riding the Amtrak train from San Diego to Chicago, taking 2 days to get there, spending a lot of quality time in the “Observation Car” on this train.

Life came to a halt in San Diego as well as the rest of the nation when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on November 22, 1963. State, county and city offices, courts, libraries, and colleges closed early. Phone calls were the biggest on record and various events, including a Chargers football game, were postponed or canceled. Passerby hammered in fury on the windows of the downtown Republican headquarters, residents crowded into bars and restaurants to watch television coverage, and flags throughout the area were immediately lowered to half staff. Locals recalled Kennedy’s commencement appearance at San Diego State College just five months earlier. The San Diego Union editorialized on the next day’s front page, “It was a strike out of a night of the impossible. It was blinding with its suddenness. The period of mourning for President John Fitzgerald Kennedy will be with us for a long time.” 

The assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 5, 1968, and the 1967 fiery death of the three Apollo 1 astronauts on January 27, 1967, were equally shocking to the nation in a decade that brought so much tragedy and chaos. President Lyndon B. Johnson reacted by saying, “I ask every citizen to reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King who lived by nonviolence.”

Ironically, I was actually living n Kansas City when the Union-Tribune published the death of Dr. King in 1968, while the city was in a state of martial law, as was a number of other cities across the country.

The 9,000 ton nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise moves through San Diego Bay on its way to North Island Naval Bay on its way to North Island Naval Air Station in March 1971. Photographer Joe Holly caught the scene from Point Loma on a clear day that took in downtown high rises and the mountains in the distance.

I recall some 50 years later in what can be described as a “then and now” travelling back towards downtown San Diego and looking over this same aforementioned scene of San Diego Bay where the USS Enterprise is pictured in the photo taken by Joe Holly.

There are iconic photos of Archie Moore and Muhammad Ali together, as well as Ronald Reagan and other personalities in this well written and documented book of the pictorial history of San Diego.

San Diego Memories III covers many categories, namely activism, military, sports, transportation and public service, and the numerous pictures in this book speaks volumns. This is a book that everyone should have on their coffee table or in their private library, and a book that I highly recommend.

Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a book reviewer with The San Diego Union-Tribune.Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

 

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Comments

Restaurant on Ocean Beach Pier

After writing this review Roger Showley indicated to me that he plans to followup subject book with another, by covering 1980-2020, which we all know has been quite revealing and traumatic. He further indicated to me that a chapter solely devoted to 2020, a year as fraught as 1968. In further regard to Showley's referencing my favorite beach in the world, Ocean Beach, attached is a picture of the restaurant near the end of the pier that I spent a lot of times there over lunch.