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Before Oceanside had a harbor

Advertising Oceanside’s second annual Harbor Days in 1961
Advertising Oceanside’s second annual Harbor Days in 1961

Oceanside’s small-craft harbor first opened back in June of 1963. But by the late 1950s, the town knew it was getting a much sought-after harbor. With funding secured from the federal government in 1960, the town put on a weekend festival known as Harbor Days.

Brenda Kennedy and her former husband Frank were active in the Oceanside Jaycees — a junior chamber of commerce for small business owners aged 18–40. The organization came up with the idea for Harbor Days. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sam Williamson, was vice president of the organization.

The business group, with wives known as “chamberettes,” planned the whole event. “Everyone that had a business in town helped out,” said Marcia Kennedy Williamson, Brenda’s sister-in-law.

Brenda remembers the big yacht moored in the new harbor. It was owned by John Dahl, owner of the then-nationwide chain of Uncle John’s Pancake House. He let the group use the yacht as the Harbor Days headquarters. “We’d have all our meetings on the yacht,” she said.

Besides the involvement of the Kennedy family, which owned a Texaco station (on Short Street, now known as Oceanside Boulevard), Marcia remembers some of the other business leaders involved at the time — Harold Carpenter of Carpenter’s Towing and Wrecking Yard, Dean Howe of Howe’s Hardware (both businesses were on Hill Street, now known as Coast Highway), and Jim Terry of Terry’s Auto Body (which is still in business on Mission Avenue.)

“The purpose back then wasn’t to make money for the chamber,” said Brenda. “It was to promote the town of Oceanside and the new harbor. We all helped out in the carnival, food booths, and the fishing derby down at the pier.”

Sam, who later went on to serve four terms as a city councilman, remembers one of the most fun events was the Nail ’n’ Sail competition. Participants would have to make a quick boat, then try to sail it. Most entries sank. And they still do today.

Sam credits then-mayor Erwin Sklar with being the one who put the harbor idea into action by going back to Washington DC to secure support and funding. One thousand residents helped purchase the first $1000 construction bond with a contribution of $1 each. Harbor construction was started on February 6, 1961, just prior to the 2nd annual Harbor Days

Prior to the opening of the harbor, deep-sea fishermen would catch a boat that came up from San Diego. I can remember seeing my dad climbing down a ladder from the old wood-piling pier. It would sway with the swells. Halfway down, they’d walk across a 12-inch plank, then climb down a rope ladder, fishing tackle and all, into the rocking boat.

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Advertising Oceanside’s second annual Harbor Days in 1961
Advertising Oceanside’s second annual Harbor Days in 1961

Oceanside’s small-craft harbor first opened back in June of 1963. But by the late 1950s, the town knew it was getting a much sought-after harbor. With funding secured from the federal government in 1960, the town put on a weekend festival known as Harbor Days.

Brenda Kennedy and her former husband Frank were active in the Oceanside Jaycees — a junior chamber of commerce for small business owners aged 18–40. The organization came up with the idea for Harbor Days. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sam Williamson, was vice president of the organization.

The business group, with wives known as “chamberettes,” planned the whole event. “Everyone that had a business in town helped out,” said Marcia Kennedy Williamson, Brenda’s sister-in-law.

Brenda remembers the big yacht moored in the new harbor. It was owned by John Dahl, owner of the then-nationwide chain of Uncle John’s Pancake House. He let the group use the yacht as the Harbor Days headquarters. “We’d have all our meetings on the yacht,” she said.

Besides the involvement of the Kennedy family, which owned a Texaco station (on Short Street, now known as Oceanside Boulevard), Marcia remembers some of the other business leaders involved at the time — Harold Carpenter of Carpenter’s Towing and Wrecking Yard, Dean Howe of Howe’s Hardware (both businesses were on Hill Street, now known as Coast Highway), and Jim Terry of Terry’s Auto Body (which is still in business on Mission Avenue.)

“The purpose back then wasn’t to make money for the chamber,” said Brenda. “It was to promote the town of Oceanside and the new harbor. We all helped out in the carnival, food booths, and the fishing derby down at the pier.”

Sam, who later went on to serve four terms as a city councilman, remembers one of the most fun events was the Nail ’n’ Sail competition. Participants would have to make a quick boat, then try to sail it. Most entries sank. And they still do today.

Sam credits then-mayor Erwin Sklar with being the one who put the harbor idea into action by going back to Washington DC to secure support and funding. One thousand residents helped purchase the first $1000 construction bond with a contribution of $1 each. Harbor construction was started on February 6, 1961, just prior to the 2nd annual Harbor Days

Prior to the opening of the harbor, deep-sea fishermen would catch a boat that came up from San Diego. I can remember seeing my dad climbing down a ladder from the old wood-piling pier. It would sway with the swells. Halfway down, they’d walk across a 12-inch plank, then climb down a rope ladder, fishing tackle and all, into the rocking boat.

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Love that photo! The boy is my Uncle Kenny Ray (the author) and the beautiful lady is my Mom.

Oct. 1, 2014

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