Articles by Richard Crawford

22nd October
2014
written by Richard
A postman wearing protective gauze. National Archives.

A postman wearing protective gauze. National Archives.

In the fall of 1918, San Diego children skipped rope to a popular rhyme:

I had a little bird

Its name was Enza

I opened the window

And in-flew-enza

In the last weeks of World War I and in the months that followed, an influenza outbreak swept the world, infecting a billion people and killing as many as 50 million. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in history. In San Diego the scourge reached epidemic proportions . . .

Read the story of The Spanish Flu.

25th September
2014
written by Richard

The Board of Education has just had their attention directed to a most deplorable state of morals existing in our schools; and the evil has been traced to some degraded persons . . . poisoning the minds of boys and girls.  –Reverend Samuel J. Shaw, United Presbyterian Church, San Diego.

In 1903 San Diego, the 14th century novel The Decameron, was the target of the book censors.  Read about the Deplorable State of Morals.

Reverend Samuel Shaw. From Smythe, History of San Diego.

Reverend Samuel Shaw. From Smythe, History of San Diego.

8th July
2014
written by Richard
A grove of eucalyptus in Rancho Santa Fe.

A grove of eucalyptus in Rancho Santa Fe.

San Diegans planted olive trees by the hundred, citrus by the thousand and eucalyptus trees by the multi-million . . . the coming of the eucalyptus from Australia was the long awaited Millennium—practically a supernatural beneficence to every area of life: economical, medicinal, and ethereal.  –Leland G. Stanford, San Diego librarian and author.

The story of San Diego’s eucalyptus trees.

20th June
2014
written by Richard

Yesterday Tent City had a big crowd as the forerunner of the record breaker which is expected today. Every tent was crowded to capacity and day visitors packed the boats on every trip across the bay.  –San Diego Union, July 4, 1910

Fourth of July celebrations in the early 1900s were huge civic affairs. And no city did it better than Coronado in 1910. Read about Coronado’s 4th of July.

Coronado's Tent City in the early 1900s.

Coronado’s Tent City in the early 1900s.

19th March
2014
written by Richard
Alonzo Horton, ca. 1868.

Alonzo Horton, ca. 1868.

Mr. A. E. Horton yesterday donated to the San Diego Free Reading Room Association his fine library. It will be remembered by old residents that this library was bought as the nucleus for a public institution some time ago—Mr. Horton having paid a large sum of money for it.  –San Diego Union, May 21, 1873.

San Diego’s first public library struggled to open its doors. A large book donation by city father Alonzo Horton was a start. But there were strings attached. . .

The story of San Diego’s First Library.

12th March
2014
written by Richard

With a roar that rocked the walls of the Savage Tire Company three hundred yards away, shook a trolley car on the rails five blocks off, and rattled the windows in the houses within the radius of over a mile, the Standard Oil Company’s 250,000-gallon distillate tanks blew up yesterday just before noon . . . –San Diego Union, October 6, 1913.

It was the most spectacular fire San Diego had ever seen. On Sunday morning, October 5, 1913, oil tanks at the Standard Oil Company plant at the foot of 26th Street exploded. The story of The Great Standard Oil Fire.

Union_Oct_7_1913

6th January
2014
written by Richard

The city awoke this morning in a climate apparently transplanted. Shivers ran where shivers had not run before and the weather bureau was bombarded from early morn with telephone calls to know the reason why. Lightly constructed “Southern California” houses shrank with the cold and fairly trembled with the quivering of their occupants. –San Diego Tribune, January 6, 1913.

A century ago San Diego got a cold taste of winter weather.  The story of the Big Freeze.

freeze1913

San Diego Union, January 7, 1913.

3rd December
2013
written by Richard
Children await the opening of a new toy library. National Archives.

Children await the opening of a new toy library. National Archives.

 

Christmas day every day in San Diego. Toys every day for children to whom the real Christmas has never meant a thing. That is the purpose of San Diego toy loan libraries. –San Diego Union, August 13, 1939.

A federal government success story: toy libraries for children during the Great Depression.         The Toy Loan Libraries.

13th November
2013
written by Richard
The Thanksgiving Day menu from the Horton House Hotel.

The Thanksgiving Day menu from the Horton House Hotel.

In 1872, the dour secretary of San Diego founder Alonzo Horton would complain in his diary: Thanksgiving Day has not been very well observed. Too tired to work and too forgetful of comforts enjoyed . . . May our ingratitude be forgiven.  –Jesse Aland Shepherd.

But in future years San Diegans would invest a bit more in the national holiday: Thanksgiving in Early San Diego.

5th November
2013
written by Richard

It was a crime that incensed San Diegans: the “murder” of a young sailor from a US. warship by a deputized marshal. For one summer and fall, San Diegans would eagerly follow the case of a “posse” gone wild and accused of brutalizing American sailors.

The story of a riot in the Stingaree and The People versus Breedlove.

The crew of the USS Charleston.

The crew of the USS Charleston.

Previous