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History of San Diego, 1930s

Local WPA and CCC workers, the famous diva Schumann-Heinck, letters from a Depression housewife, a wilder San Diego, what women wore

A WPA assistant cataloging shells, c. 1937
A WPA assistant cataloging shells, c. 1937

Was the WPA a Boondoggle or Saving Grace?

It's hard to look around San Diego and not see evidence of the WPA: the city library, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the dredging of Mission Bay (and Lindbergh Field), restoration of Balboa Park's Exposition Buildings. Even San Diego State University benefitted. In 1931, the college had outgrown its original location on Normal Street and Park Bouelvard. The WPA helped relocate it to the current site "at the eastern edge of the city.”

By Jeff Smith, July 8, 1999 | Read full article

"I went to a CCC camp [at Cuyamaca Rancho] in November of '37. First they taught me to dig holes."

The Way We Worked

The menu for the CCC's camp at Palomar Mountain on Saturday, May 22, 1937, shows that for breakfast the enrollees were served oranges, oatmeal, milk, hot cakes, scrambled eggs, butter, coffee, and sugar. For supper they were served roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, string beans, cole slaw, cottage pudding, rolls, and hot tea. The boys had to work hard for their food, but most of them say they put on weight during their hitches.

By Steve Sorensen, Sept. 17, 1987 | Read full article

Schumann-Heink with Brahms. In Here’s to Romance (1935) she sang Brahms’s “Wiegenlied.”

The Diva of Grossmont

Schumann-Heink publicly rebuked members of her audience for protesting the appearance of Chinese and Negro children in the dedication ceremonies of the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. Turning her back on the audience, she sang a lullaby for the children. Then she told the audience, “It is up to the war mothers to teach their children the love of law and not make a difference between black or yellow or brown or white skins.”

By Richard W. Amero, Nov. 7, 1991 | Read full article

If Roosevelt is nominated, my husband will vote for him, but I won't.

Depression Letters

“He had been working since May at Balboa Park, cutting wood, gardening, cleaning up ravines, canyons, etc. When he was put on the Federal work card, a foreman's name was on the card. Although he had to report to the same headquarters, he allowed himself to be sent out with a road gang, none of whom had ever used a shovel or a pick, and the foreman was an ex-mule driver of no mentality, a chain gang chaperone.

By Beverlee Calvert, Jan. 6, 1994 | Read full article

In for the Kill

“When I was 12 to 14 or so, I had a buddy who wanted to be a trapper, We got ourselves a dozen traps and set up a trap line that went down into Mission Valley from about where University Hospital is, out across the valley, then up through the cut where 163 runs now, and up onto Camp Kearny Mesa. There were a lot of animals in that valley.We were very good at catching skunks and opossums!"

By Jud Weaver, Sept. 1, 1994 | Read full article

Until she graduated in 1935, Evelyn wore the prescribed uniform to Hoover High: middy tops and dark skirts in the winter, pastel dresses in the summer.

Fashion Plate

Those who did go to parties — if they were the right parties — had a chance of posing in their hats and gloves for the photographers or San Diego Magazine. In November of 1948, Mrs. George Carter Jessop, "noted for her outstanding blond good looks," posed in a cocoa garbardine suit and a pillbox hat trimmed with coq feathers. Mrs. Harold Starkey, "one of San Diego's most attractive and vivacious matrons," stared heavenward in a $4000 mink cape.

By Laura McNeal, Sept. 3, 1998 | Read full article

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A WPA assistant cataloging shells, c. 1937
A WPA assistant cataloging shells, c. 1937

Was the WPA a Boondoggle or Saving Grace?

It's hard to look around San Diego and not see evidence of the WPA: the city library, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the dredging of Mission Bay (and Lindbergh Field), restoration of Balboa Park's Exposition Buildings. Even San Diego State University benefitted. In 1931, the college had outgrown its original location on Normal Street and Park Bouelvard. The WPA helped relocate it to the current site "at the eastern edge of the city.”

By Jeff Smith, July 8, 1999 | Read full article

"I went to a CCC camp [at Cuyamaca Rancho] in November of '37. First they taught me to dig holes."

The Way We Worked

The menu for the CCC's camp at Palomar Mountain on Saturday, May 22, 1937, shows that for breakfast the enrollees were served oranges, oatmeal, milk, hot cakes, scrambled eggs, butter, coffee, and sugar. For supper they were served roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, string beans, cole slaw, cottage pudding, rolls, and hot tea. The boys had to work hard for their food, but most of them say they put on weight during their hitches.

By Steve Sorensen, Sept. 17, 1987 | Read full article

Schumann-Heink with Brahms. In Here’s to Romance (1935) she sang Brahms’s “Wiegenlied.”

The Diva of Grossmont

Schumann-Heink publicly rebuked members of her audience for protesting the appearance of Chinese and Negro children in the dedication ceremonies of the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. Turning her back on the audience, she sang a lullaby for the children. Then she told the audience, “It is up to the war mothers to teach their children the love of law and not make a difference between black or yellow or brown or white skins.”

By Richard W. Amero, Nov. 7, 1991 | Read full article

If Roosevelt is nominated, my husband will vote for him, but I won't.

Depression Letters

“He had been working since May at Balboa Park, cutting wood, gardening, cleaning up ravines, canyons, etc. When he was put on the Federal work card, a foreman's name was on the card. Although he had to report to the same headquarters, he allowed himself to be sent out with a road gang, none of whom had ever used a shovel or a pick, and the foreman was an ex-mule driver of no mentality, a chain gang chaperone.

By Beverlee Calvert, Jan. 6, 1994 | Read full article

In for the Kill

“When I was 12 to 14 or so, I had a buddy who wanted to be a trapper, We got ourselves a dozen traps and set up a trap line that went down into Mission Valley from about where University Hospital is, out across the valley, then up through the cut where 163 runs now, and up onto Camp Kearny Mesa. There were a lot of animals in that valley.We were very good at catching skunks and opossums!"

By Jud Weaver, Sept. 1, 1994 | Read full article

Until she graduated in 1935, Evelyn wore the prescribed uniform to Hoover High: middy tops and dark skirts in the winter, pastel dresses in the summer.

Fashion Plate

Those who did go to parties — if they were the right parties — had a chance of posing in their hats and gloves for the photographers or San Diego Magazine. In November of 1948, Mrs. George Carter Jessop, "noted for her outstanding blond good looks," posed in a cocoa garbardine suit and a pillbox hat trimmed with coq feathers. Mrs. Harold Starkey, "one of San Diego's most attractive and vivacious matrons," stared heavenward in a $4000 mink cape.

By Laura McNeal, Sept. 3, 1998 | Read full article

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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