Things have gone full circle at the asymmetrical structure on the corner of Bacon Street and Newport Avenue. Ocean Beach’s first Bank of America branch. The structure later housed a Silvergate Savings and Loan Association outlet. But the financial institutions moved to their own facilities, and transactions at 4994 Newport took on a radical twist when the Left Bank bookstore rented it in November, 1974.
The distributors of Marxist and other radical socialist literature brought in speakers like Herbert Marcuse along with radical films not likely to be shown in any of San Diego’s other movie houses. Upstairs, editors of the OB Rag and Feminist Communications assembled their unorthodox exhortations. However, Left Bank organizers went their separate ways last spring, some to the Playa Giron bookstore in Ocean Beach, now also defunct. A different crowd moved in to renovate 4994 Newport, and this week the first branch of the Peninsula Bank began doing business there.
Executive vice-president Larry Willette said the bank chose to open its first branch in Ocean Beach, which only has two other banks serving it, because the two-year-old Peninsula Bank is committed to independent community status. (The bank defines the “peninsula” as the area including Point Loma and Ocean Beach to about Morena.) “OB people like to do their thing in OB and they just didn’t want to move over the hill to our Point Loma branch to do their banking,” Willette said.
Not surprisingly, old-time Left Bank associates aren’t happy about the disappearance of all radical institutional activity from OB. Referring to the new starkly stucco bank branch, one former Left Bank worker grumbled, “It took us two years to hippyize the place and now you should see it.”