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San Diego in books - the Joy Fielding mention, Englishmen snap up city blocks in 1885

Errol Flynn decks Adolph Spreckels for calling him a fairy, why no railroad to San Diego

Errol Flynn in Dive Bomber. Shots of the Enterprise, of the naval installations at San Diego, and the catapulting planes proved of great interest to the Japanese.
Errol Flynn in Dive Bomber. Shots of the Enterprise, of the naval installations at San Diego, and the catapulting planes proved of great interest to the Japanese.

"HOW ABOUT SOME OF THAT PATE you’ve been stuffing your face with, Peter?”

“God, women!” Peter groused, fixing his wife a cracker heaped with pate. “I suppose now you’ll want one too,” he asked Jane.... “Don’t look so serious,” he was saying. “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want it.”

Jane took the cracker from Peter’s outstretched hand and swallowed it in one bite.

“Oh, sure. Now you’re going to tell me you want another one.”

“So, tell us about San Diego,” Sarah urged. “What did you do there for so long?”

“What are you talking about? San Diego’s a great place,” Peter said.

“For a week, it’s a great place,” his wife told him.

“For almost a month ... I mean, how many times can you visit the zoo?”

Joy Fielding See Jane Run 1991

SAN DIEGO IS ALSO A "BOOM" TOWN, and suddenly sprang from an obscure little locality into a place with 30,000 inhabitants, though it has now sunk back to 15,000. During the excitement some thought it was going to turn out a second San Francisco.

The guest I alluded to as having dined with me, came out in 1885, and bought three blocks of land in San Diego.

For two blocks he gave, in English money, £100 each and for the third £120. After eighteen months he sold the first two for £750, and the third for £500. Within less than fifteen months, these same three blocks were sold by the men who bought them from him for 160,000 dollars or £32,000. There are endless stories of this sort, but I give this, as I believe it is true. I afterwards went to call on Mrs. S-----(my guest’s wife), a former member of the London School Board. She told me that her doctors at home said it was impossible for her to winter in England, so, having sons ranching in San Diego County, she and her husband had permanently settled in California. When she first arrived she was a martyr to chronic bronchitis; she is now the picture of health, and is no longer bothered with the complaint....

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Mr. S - was, prior to his departure from the old country, a leading member of the Corporation of London. Although he admits that Southern California is a wonderful country, and admires greatly the way it has shot ahead, he still agreed with me that, to some extent, the self-sufficiency of the people completely spoils them.

If they only were more modest, and did not consider that whatever they possess, or touch, is superior to anything else on earth, one would be full of admiration for their enterprise. But their arrogance and conceit make one fly off on the other tack and endeavour to find out the flaws. Mr. S----finds much to amuse him in his adopted country. The administration of the criminal law is to him something quite new. That a murderer he knew of should, because he was rich, be able to secure five trials, and then buy himself off with only a nominal sentence, seemed to him all wrong....

The Coronado Hotel is one of the largest in the world. They can put up a thousand guests, but I should not care to be one of the number. During my visit, although it was comparatively empty, the season being over, there were some 200 people left. The temperature at noon in the shade was, for the last few days of my stay at the end of April, from 74 degrees to 78 degrees, and the weather all that one could desire. During my five or six weeks’ stay in Southern California, we did not have more than ten really beautiful days, and four out of these I experienced in San Diego. Even in this hotel I found artificial heating was required during the winter. It rarely blows a gale, but there is nearly always a breeze, and this we often found very chilly. The hotel is built upon a long, narrow peninsula, and is about two miles from the town of San Diego.

San Diego can also be reached from Panama, as the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. call there on their way to San Francisco; it is therefore possible for delicate persons, wishing to come out to Southern California, to do so without the very fatiguing journey across the Continent. The only bit of railway travel they need do, is from one side of the Isthmus of Panama to the other — say forty miles. The route is by Royal Mail from Southampton, and thence by Pacific Mail up the Mexican Coast. An additional feature in its favour is, that it is cheaper than the land journey.

Charles G. Nottage In Search of a Climate 1894

WE WERE EQUALLY FORTUNATE with our production of Dive Bomber. The navy encouraged the project and gave us an extraordinary amount of cooperation, including the use of the San Diego Naval Base, PBY5 Consolidated bombers, interceptors, torpedo bombers, aircraft carriers (including the U.S.S. Enterprise), as well as several technical advisers.

The purpose of the picture was to illustrate techniques of training navy pilots, copilots, and navigators, particularly in hazardous night-flying by instruments. We dealt with the danger of high-altitude flying: blacking out when pulling out of dives; nervous problems that developed in intensive combat; and the strain of separation from loved ones at home. In addition, we wanted to show the considerable might of the San Diego Naval Base and its surrounding installations. With no thought of any warlike attitude on the part of the Japanese, our chief concern was to make the public aware that our country was fully prepared in the event of an attack by Nazi Germany.

We decided to cast Errol Flynn in the role of the naval air force corps surgeon who survives the problems of dive-bombing to become a full-fledged hero. We did not suspect Flynn’s unusual enthusiasm and unheard-of interest in shooting on the Enterprise and in the restricted areas of San Diego. Ralph Bellamy and Fred MacMurray were added to the cast, with Robert Lord associate producer and Mike Curtiz directing.

Everything went well at the beginning. I often drove down to San Diego and stayed at the famous old Coronado Hotel where Errol, Ralph, Fred, Bob, and Mike were billeted. It was a happy company, and Mike was in good form.

Trouble began in the hotel itself. Errol had a dog with a tendency to misbehave, like its owner. It would jump up without warning on girls’ laps and prove unduly affectionate. When dislodged, it brought the tablecloth to the ground, shattering glassware and dishes. On one occasion it took a bite out of a waiter’s leg and he fell to the ground, carrying a heavy tray with him. On another occasion, when Adolph Spreckels, the San Francisco sugar tycoon, picked on Errol, calling him “a fairy,” the two got into a fistfight that ended up with Errol decking his opponent.

Worse trouble came on the U.S.S. Enterprise, that very famous aircraft carrier from which we catapulted planes in some of our more spectacular sequences. Mike Curtiz, who seemed to think he was secretary of the navy, screamed at the admiral (in front of his men lined up on deck in white uniforms),

“The ship’s smoke is going in the wrong direction!”

The admiral became very red in the face. He said icily, “And what, Mr. Curtiz, do you suggest I do about it?”

“Turn the ship around in the opposite direction!” Curtiz replied.

The admiral’s answer I have fortunately forgotten.

Curtiz ordered the crew up and down the deck until they were ready to kill him.

In revenge, the chief gunnery officer ordered a violent fusillade to be fired from the decks throughout the night as a form of gunnery practice. We got no sleep at all.

Despite Mike’s behavior and constant problems with the weather, we made a good picture. But there was a strange aftermath. The picture was sent to Japan as a normal film export, since there was no thought of a possible attack from that quarter. The detailed shots of the Enterprise, the shots of the naval installations at San Diego, and the techniques of catapulting planes used by our navy unhappily proved of great interest to the Japanese.

Hal Wallis and Charles Higham Starmaker: The Autobiography of Hal Wallis 1980

THE ENTIRE COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO was buoyed up with hopes of prosperity, which now seemed founded upon a solid basis.

As for the town of San Diego itself, the dwarfed and stunted little city, she went crazy with joy. Her joy, however, was not of the boisterous, uproarious kind, it was of a mild character, which smiles at everybody, and takes all that comes in good part, ready always to join in the laugh on herself, provided everybody enjoys it. She was happy, seeing a broad vista of coming prosperity in the near future. Why not? She had every reason and every right to expect that the Texas Pacific would be built....

“They have not an earthly right to oppose the Texas Pacific, and all their motive is that they don't want competition to their Central Pacific Railroad. They have already made millions out of this road, but they want no one else to make a single dollar. They want to grab every cent that might be made out of the traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and they don’t care how many people are ruined or how many homes are made desolate in the South or in California.”

“Oh, George, but this is awful! If those men are so very rapacious and cruel, what hope have we? They will certainly sacrifice San Diego if their influence in Congress is so great! Poor San Diego! my poor, little, native town, to be sacrificed to the heartless greed of four or five men.” ...

And thus this young couple went on discussing San Diego’s chances of life or death, and their own hopes in the future. They were not the only couple who in those days pondered over the problem of the “to be or not to be” of the Texas Pacific, which never came! That aid which was to bring peace and comfort to so many homes, which at last were made forever desolate!

Yes, aid was refused. The monopoly triumphed, bringing poverty and distress where peace might have been!

Yet in those days — the winter of’74-’75 — everybody’s hopes were bright. No clouds in San Diego’s horizon meant misfortune. Not yet!

And of all of San Diego’s sanguine inhabitants, none surpassed in hopefulness the three friends who had invested so heavily in real estate, viz.: Mr. Mechlin, Senor Alamar and Mr. Holman. They exhorted all to keep up courage, and trust in Tom Scott....

When all were seated, Governor Stanford said in his low, agreeable voice, which anyone might suppose would indicate a benevolent, kind heart:

“What can I do for you, gentlemen?”

Don Mariano laughed outright. The situation struck him as being eminently ridiculous. Here was this man, who held pitiless their destiny in his hands — held it with a grip of iron — and not one thought of the distress he caused; he, through his associate, Huntington, was lavishing money in Washington to kill the Texas Pacific, and thus snatch away from them (the three friends) the means of support, absolutely deprive them of the necessaries of life, and he asked them what he could do? and asked it with that deep-toned, rich melody of voice which vibrated softly, as if full of sympathy, that overflowed from a heart filled with philanthropy, generosity and good will. This was a sad and cruel irony, which to Don Mariano made their position absurd, to the point of being laughable.

“This is like laughing at a funeral,” said Don Mariano, apologetically. “Please pardon me. What made me laugh was that I felt like answering you by saying, ‘Governor, you can do for us all we ask.’ But — but —”

“Say it out. But what?” said the Governor, smiling.

“But will do nothing for us,” finished Mr. Holman.

“That is to say, for San Diego,” added Mr. Mechlin, afraid that it might seem as if they came to ask a personal favor.

“Ah! it is of San Diego that you wish to speak to me? Then, truly, I fear I can do nothing for you,” the Governor said.

“But you can hear what we wish to say to you,”

Mr. Holman interposed, with a sickly effort at smiling.

“Certainly, but really, gentlemen, you must excuse me for saying that I am very busy today, and can only give you a half hour.”

They all bowed.

Mr. Mechlin and Don Mariano looked at Mr. Holman, as it was understood that he would be spokesman. But Mr. Holman’s heart was leaping with the indignation of a lion, and then shrinking with the discouragement of a mouse into such small contractions — all of which he in no way must reveal — that for a minute he could not speak.

“I suppose the San Diego people wish me to build them a railroad, isn’t that it?” said the man of power, slowly arranging some papers on his desk.

“Or to let some one else build it,” said Mr. Holman.

The Governor colored slightly, in evident vexation.

“Tom Scott, for instance,” said he, sneeringly. “Take my advice, gentlemen, and don’t you pin your faith on Tom Scott. He’ll build no Texas Pacific, I assure you.”

“Then why don’t you build it?” asked Mr. Mechlin.

“Because it won’t pay?” was the dry reply.

“Why won’t it pay? We have plenty of natural resources, which, if developed, would make plenty of business for two railroads,” Mr. Holman said.

“Only the San Diego people say so. No one else thinks of San Diego County, but as a most arid luckless region, where it never rains.”

Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton The Squatter and the Don 1885

The Reader will pay $10 for submissions to "Out of Context" that are selected for publication. Choices must be drawn from books or out-of-town periodicals. Include author, title, date of publication, and your phone number. Send to "Out of Context," 2323 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92102

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Errol Flynn in Dive Bomber. Shots of the Enterprise, of the naval installations at San Diego, and the catapulting planes proved of great interest to the Japanese.
Errol Flynn in Dive Bomber. Shots of the Enterprise, of the naval installations at San Diego, and the catapulting planes proved of great interest to the Japanese.

"HOW ABOUT SOME OF THAT PATE you’ve been stuffing your face with, Peter?”

“God, women!” Peter groused, fixing his wife a cracker heaped with pate. “I suppose now you’ll want one too,” he asked Jane.... “Don’t look so serious,” he was saying. “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want it.”

Jane took the cracker from Peter’s outstretched hand and swallowed it in one bite.

“Oh, sure. Now you’re going to tell me you want another one.”

“So, tell us about San Diego,” Sarah urged. “What did you do there for so long?”

“What are you talking about? San Diego’s a great place,” Peter said.

“For a week, it’s a great place,” his wife told him.

“For almost a month ... I mean, how many times can you visit the zoo?”

Joy Fielding See Jane Run 1991

SAN DIEGO IS ALSO A "BOOM" TOWN, and suddenly sprang from an obscure little locality into a place with 30,000 inhabitants, though it has now sunk back to 15,000. During the excitement some thought it was going to turn out a second San Francisco.

The guest I alluded to as having dined with me, came out in 1885, and bought three blocks of land in San Diego.

For two blocks he gave, in English money, £100 each and for the third £120. After eighteen months he sold the first two for £750, and the third for £500. Within less than fifteen months, these same three blocks were sold by the men who bought them from him for 160,000 dollars or £32,000. There are endless stories of this sort, but I give this, as I believe it is true. I afterwards went to call on Mrs. S-----(my guest’s wife), a former member of the London School Board. She told me that her doctors at home said it was impossible for her to winter in England, so, having sons ranching in San Diego County, she and her husband had permanently settled in California. When she first arrived she was a martyr to chronic bronchitis; she is now the picture of health, and is no longer bothered with the complaint....

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Mr. S - was, prior to his departure from the old country, a leading member of the Corporation of London. Although he admits that Southern California is a wonderful country, and admires greatly the way it has shot ahead, he still agreed with me that, to some extent, the self-sufficiency of the people completely spoils them.

If they only were more modest, and did not consider that whatever they possess, or touch, is superior to anything else on earth, one would be full of admiration for their enterprise. But their arrogance and conceit make one fly off on the other tack and endeavour to find out the flaws. Mr. S----finds much to amuse him in his adopted country. The administration of the criminal law is to him something quite new. That a murderer he knew of should, because he was rich, be able to secure five trials, and then buy himself off with only a nominal sentence, seemed to him all wrong....

The Coronado Hotel is one of the largest in the world. They can put up a thousand guests, but I should not care to be one of the number. During my visit, although it was comparatively empty, the season being over, there were some 200 people left. The temperature at noon in the shade was, for the last few days of my stay at the end of April, from 74 degrees to 78 degrees, and the weather all that one could desire. During my five or six weeks’ stay in Southern California, we did not have more than ten really beautiful days, and four out of these I experienced in San Diego. Even in this hotel I found artificial heating was required during the winter. It rarely blows a gale, but there is nearly always a breeze, and this we often found very chilly. The hotel is built upon a long, narrow peninsula, and is about two miles from the town of San Diego.

San Diego can also be reached from Panama, as the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. call there on their way to San Francisco; it is therefore possible for delicate persons, wishing to come out to Southern California, to do so without the very fatiguing journey across the Continent. The only bit of railway travel they need do, is from one side of the Isthmus of Panama to the other — say forty miles. The route is by Royal Mail from Southampton, and thence by Pacific Mail up the Mexican Coast. An additional feature in its favour is, that it is cheaper than the land journey.

Charles G. Nottage In Search of a Climate 1894

WE WERE EQUALLY FORTUNATE with our production of Dive Bomber. The navy encouraged the project and gave us an extraordinary amount of cooperation, including the use of the San Diego Naval Base, PBY5 Consolidated bombers, interceptors, torpedo bombers, aircraft carriers (including the U.S.S. Enterprise), as well as several technical advisers.

The purpose of the picture was to illustrate techniques of training navy pilots, copilots, and navigators, particularly in hazardous night-flying by instruments. We dealt with the danger of high-altitude flying: blacking out when pulling out of dives; nervous problems that developed in intensive combat; and the strain of separation from loved ones at home. In addition, we wanted to show the considerable might of the San Diego Naval Base and its surrounding installations. With no thought of any warlike attitude on the part of the Japanese, our chief concern was to make the public aware that our country was fully prepared in the event of an attack by Nazi Germany.

We decided to cast Errol Flynn in the role of the naval air force corps surgeon who survives the problems of dive-bombing to become a full-fledged hero. We did not suspect Flynn’s unusual enthusiasm and unheard-of interest in shooting on the Enterprise and in the restricted areas of San Diego. Ralph Bellamy and Fred MacMurray were added to the cast, with Robert Lord associate producer and Mike Curtiz directing.

Everything went well at the beginning. I often drove down to San Diego and stayed at the famous old Coronado Hotel where Errol, Ralph, Fred, Bob, and Mike were billeted. It was a happy company, and Mike was in good form.

Trouble began in the hotel itself. Errol had a dog with a tendency to misbehave, like its owner. It would jump up without warning on girls’ laps and prove unduly affectionate. When dislodged, it brought the tablecloth to the ground, shattering glassware and dishes. On one occasion it took a bite out of a waiter’s leg and he fell to the ground, carrying a heavy tray with him. On another occasion, when Adolph Spreckels, the San Francisco sugar tycoon, picked on Errol, calling him “a fairy,” the two got into a fistfight that ended up with Errol decking his opponent.

Worse trouble came on the U.S.S. Enterprise, that very famous aircraft carrier from which we catapulted planes in some of our more spectacular sequences. Mike Curtiz, who seemed to think he was secretary of the navy, screamed at the admiral (in front of his men lined up on deck in white uniforms),

“The ship’s smoke is going in the wrong direction!”

The admiral became very red in the face. He said icily, “And what, Mr. Curtiz, do you suggest I do about it?”

“Turn the ship around in the opposite direction!” Curtiz replied.

The admiral’s answer I have fortunately forgotten.

Curtiz ordered the crew up and down the deck until they were ready to kill him.

In revenge, the chief gunnery officer ordered a violent fusillade to be fired from the decks throughout the night as a form of gunnery practice. We got no sleep at all.

Despite Mike’s behavior and constant problems with the weather, we made a good picture. But there was a strange aftermath. The picture was sent to Japan as a normal film export, since there was no thought of a possible attack from that quarter. The detailed shots of the Enterprise, the shots of the naval installations at San Diego, and the techniques of catapulting planes used by our navy unhappily proved of great interest to the Japanese.

Hal Wallis and Charles Higham Starmaker: The Autobiography of Hal Wallis 1980

THE ENTIRE COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO was buoyed up with hopes of prosperity, which now seemed founded upon a solid basis.

As for the town of San Diego itself, the dwarfed and stunted little city, she went crazy with joy. Her joy, however, was not of the boisterous, uproarious kind, it was of a mild character, which smiles at everybody, and takes all that comes in good part, ready always to join in the laugh on herself, provided everybody enjoys it. She was happy, seeing a broad vista of coming prosperity in the near future. Why not? She had every reason and every right to expect that the Texas Pacific would be built....

“They have not an earthly right to oppose the Texas Pacific, and all their motive is that they don't want competition to their Central Pacific Railroad. They have already made millions out of this road, but they want no one else to make a single dollar. They want to grab every cent that might be made out of the traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and they don’t care how many people are ruined or how many homes are made desolate in the South or in California.”

“Oh, George, but this is awful! If those men are so very rapacious and cruel, what hope have we? They will certainly sacrifice San Diego if their influence in Congress is so great! Poor San Diego! my poor, little, native town, to be sacrificed to the heartless greed of four or five men.” ...

And thus this young couple went on discussing San Diego’s chances of life or death, and their own hopes in the future. They were not the only couple who in those days pondered over the problem of the “to be or not to be” of the Texas Pacific, which never came! That aid which was to bring peace and comfort to so many homes, which at last were made forever desolate!

Yes, aid was refused. The monopoly triumphed, bringing poverty and distress where peace might have been!

Yet in those days — the winter of’74-’75 — everybody’s hopes were bright. No clouds in San Diego’s horizon meant misfortune. Not yet!

And of all of San Diego’s sanguine inhabitants, none surpassed in hopefulness the three friends who had invested so heavily in real estate, viz.: Mr. Mechlin, Senor Alamar and Mr. Holman. They exhorted all to keep up courage, and trust in Tom Scott....

When all were seated, Governor Stanford said in his low, agreeable voice, which anyone might suppose would indicate a benevolent, kind heart:

“What can I do for you, gentlemen?”

Don Mariano laughed outright. The situation struck him as being eminently ridiculous. Here was this man, who held pitiless their destiny in his hands — held it with a grip of iron — and not one thought of the distress he caused; he, through his associate, Huntington, was lavishing money in Washington to kill the Texas Pacific, and thus snatch away from them (the three friends) the means of support, absolutely deprive them of the necessaries of life, and he asked them what he could do? and asked it with that deep-toned, rich melody of voice which vibrated softly, as if full of sympathy, that overflowed from a heart filled with philanthropy, generosity and good will. This was a sad and cruel irony, which to Don Mariano made their position absurd, to the point of being laughable.

“This is like laughing at a funeral,” said Don Mariano, apologetically. “Please pardon me. What made me laugh was that I felt like answering you by saying, ‘Governor, you can do for us all we ask.’ But — but —”

“Say it out. But what?” said the Governor, smiling.

“But will do nothing for us,” finished Mr. Holman.

“That is to say, for San Diego,” added Mr. Mechlin, afraid that it might seem as if they came to ask a personal favor.

“Ah! it is of San Diego that you wish to speak to me? Then, truly, I fear I can do nothing for you,” the Governor said.

“But you can hear what we wish to say to you,”

Mr. Holman interposed, with a sickly effort at smiling.

“Certainly, but really, gentlemen, you must excuse me for saying that I am very busy today, and can only give you a half hour.”

They all bowed.

Mr. Mechlin and Don Mariano looked at Mr. Holman, as it was understood that he would be spokesman. But Mr. Holman’s heart was leaping with the indignation of a lion, and then shrinking with the discouragement of a mouse into such small contractions — all of which he in no way must reveal — that for a minute he could not speak.

“I suppose the San Diego people wish me to build them a railroad, isn’t that it?” said the man of power, slowly arranging some papers on his desk.

“Or to let some one else build it,” said Mr. Holman.

The Governor colored slightly, in evident vexation.

“Tom Scott, for instance,” said he, sneeringly. “Take my advice, gentlemen, and don’t you pin your faith on Tom Scott. He’ll build no Texas Pacific, I assure you.”

“Then why don’t you build it?” asked Mr. Mechlin.

“Because it won’t pay?” was the dry reply.

“Why won’t it pay? We have plenty of natural resources, which, if developed, would make plenty of business for two railroads,” Mr. Holman said.

“Only the San Diego people say so. No one else thinks of San Diego County, but as a most arid luckless region, where it never rains.”

Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton The Squatter and the Don 1885

The Reader will pay $10 for submissions to "Out of Context" that are selected for publication. Choices must be drawn from books or out-of-town periodicals. Include author, title, date of publication, and your phone number. Send to "Out of Context," 2323 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92102

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