History of oceanside 1938-1962
By Kristi Hawthorne
As Oceanside turned 50 years old, it was reaching new heights in development and growth. The headline in the January 6, 1938 Oceanside Blade Tribune read “Around $85,000 In New Building Under Way Here.” Project included construction of a new wing at the Oceanside-Carlsbad High School, several new houses and two “cottage courts” being erected, improvements to the Oceanside Beach (formerly the El San Luis Rey), and additions to the lumber yard.
Our growing city was in need of a new modern hospital and construction work on a new $16,000 hospital began in February of 1938. The contract was awarded to local builder Charles Rieke with the building to be completed by May 1st.
The Oceanside Hospital was made possible through the efforts and foresight of a registered nurse, Golda Lester who came to Oceanside in the 1930s and started a small hospital on North Freeman Street. In 1936 she purchased three lots at Fifth and Horne Streets with the intention of building a larger hospital which she was able to accomplish by gaining support of area doctors and the community who helped with donating funds. Golda Lester married one of her patients, Ellis Zahniser, and was one Oceanside’s leading businesswomen and figured prominently in the progress of the city.
In 1939 San Diego Gas and Electric built a new District office building designed by San Diego architect Frank Hope. It was located at 620 Second Street (Mission Avenue). Al Whisler was the manager of this office and hired Pauline Tyler Larsen to demonstrate ironing in front of the large picture window of the store. Appliances such as irons and furnaces were sold at the gas and electric office until local merchants complained that this practice was hurting their businesses!
Hiram and Edna Huckabay opened Huckabay's Department Store in 1939 at 501 Second Street (Mission Avenue). This popular department store was a fixture in downtown and remained in business until 1969.
Two notable car dealerships were established in Oceanside in consecutive years. Charles B. Weseloh, Sr., started a Chevrolet dealership in Ramona in1925, moved to Escondido in 1935 and then opened in Oceanside in 1940. In 1946 they built a new building at Hill and Topeka Streets, which was described as “one of the most modern Chevrolet agencies in all of Southern California” and “a distinct asset to the Oceanside business district.”
Homer Heller opened his Ford dealership 1941. In 1947 Vince Dixon partnered with Heller to form Dixon-Heller Motors. The dealership was located at 229 South Hill Street.
In 1940 Oceanside’s population was 4,651 but that would soon change with world events and the advent of a combat training base at Rancho Santa Margarita Rancho. As World War II intensified the historic rancho was taken over by the United States Navy to be used as a training base for the Marine Corps.
20,000 marines and civilian support flooded the base and dramatically changed Oceanside forever. Oceanside was hard pressed to meet the need for housing and other essentials the military and civilian personnel demanded. Oceanside's population more than doubled in five years. Restaurants, schools and hotels were bursting at the seams.
The city and chamber of commerce urged homeowners to rent rooms to military personnel or their families. It was common for people to knock on doors and ask for a room to rent or a place to sleep. Out of town property owners were contacted by the chamber and asked to rent their summer homes to help with the housing crisis. Many families opened their doors and hearts to servicemen and their families and thus began a long lasting relationship between Oceanside and Camp Pendleton.
Detached garages in the rear of many downtown homes were converted to small houses or apartments to accommodate the growing population. Trailer parks that were once used by tourists and summer visitors now were used as permanent homes due to the housing shortage. The owner of the lot behind the 101 Cafe on Hill Street (Coast Highway) brought in small trailers and rented them out to servicemen and their wives. John and Pauline Spangler, owners of the 101 Cafe, had to live in the back room of the restaurant because of this shortage.
A federal housing unit called Sterling Homes was built in 1944 in response to the housing demand by the influx of military families. This housing project was built within the city limits of Oceanside with entrances from Mission Avenue and Lemon Street.
In 1940 there was just over 600 students enrolled in Oceanside schools, that number nearly doubled by 1946 and classrooms were bursting at the seams.
The Southern California Telephone Company had to enlarge 4 times in four years to keep pace with the mounting demands. The business office was moved to the DeWitt Hotel (now the Dolphin Hotel) to accommodate workers.
In 1946 Oceanside’s new public library was completed, at a cost of just over $34,000. Located on North Nevada Street, this was the library’s first home apart from other city offices, such as the city clerk, since its inception in 1904.
Oceanside’s quaint little Santa Fe train depot built in 1888 was no longer adequate and on December 7, 1946, it celebrated its new "modern concrete depot", designed by Santa Fe architect, H. L. Gilman. The $100,000 train station was described as having a "stucco exterior, concrete floors and foundation, a wood frame with asbestos shingles, marble floors and wainscot in the main waiting room, colorful asbestos tile flooring in the main office, and fluorescent lighting."
At that banquet Leo E. Sievert, General Counsel for the Santa Fe Railway, remarked, "Oceanside, the gateway to San Diego County, is an important station on our main line and its growing importance is exemplified by the building of the station we have this day dedicated to the further service of your happy land of flowers, swaying palms, attractive homes, productive farms, progressive and outstanding businessmen."
In 1946 two airports were approved by the city council. The Hi-Hi Sky Ranch airport was located just south of present day Oceanside Boulevard, east of Crouch Street. Kenneth Nill, owner/operator, was a senior test pilot for Boeing Aircraft and a civilian director of flight training for the Army in Denton, Texas. His wife Coyle Wellman was a flight instructor at the Hi-Hi Sky airport which took its name from a boy’s home located nearby.
The second air field was on city-owned land adjacent to the San Luis Rey river below the Rosicrucian Fellowship. The land was leased to William Lake and James Carr for a ten year period with an option to renew. This airfield was later designated Oceanside’s municipal airport in April of 1946.
In the late 1940's plans began to relocate Highway 101 east of downtown Oceanside. Even before the war years, Hill Street was widened to four traffic lanes to accommodate traffic. For years, businesses along the coast route prospered with the business that literally came to their doors. Not all of the traffic was welcomed, however. In 1944, Trustees of the Oceanside Baptist Church were authorized to move the church, which had stood on the corner of Fourth and Hill streets for nearly forty years simply because the location “had become too noisy and busy.”
Bumper to bumper traffic through downtown Oceanside was common, especially on the weekends. In 1947 plans to re-route Highway 101 began and by 1953 the first phase of the new highway was opened. The new Highway 101 was later renamed Interstate 5 in the 1960s. In 1998 the City of Oceanside renamed Hill Street to Coast Highway and also helped to declare it as part of the historic 101 Highway.
The Oceanside Athletic Club held its grand opening on July 30, 1949 with a Main Event that featured a heavyweight championship wrestling show. Marie Middlekauf was the owners and savvy promoter of the Oceanside Athletic Club and was one of the few women in the wrestling and boxing industry and a "protégé" of James J. Jeffries, a heavyweight wrestling champion. During the week the public could roller skate while the arena was used as a roller rink. Every Friday the building was converted from a rink to a stadium, as the bleachers that sat thousands were set up every Friday for the wrestling matches that were to be held that night.
Erwin Sklar purchased property at the corner of First (Seagaze) and Freeman Streets in 1950 and built the Crest Theater which opened the following year. It was the one of the largest movie houses in San Diego Count and continued operation up until the late 1980's.
Population figures tripled in ten years, with Oceanside residents numbered at over 12,000 in 1950. The demand for housing was always high. In 1952 Walter H. Potter began construction of seventy-three houses in his new sub-division between Stewart and Hunsaker streets. These houses later expanded throughout South Oceanside and were promoted as having "stucco interiors with hardwood floors and attached or detached large single garages. Rooms consist of living room, dining area, kitchen with nook, three bedrooms and bath." These houses are still referred to as "Potter Homes" and South Oceanside continues to be a desirable place to live.
By the mid to late 1950's housing developments had spread down to and throughout the San Luis Rey valley. "Henie Hills" was named after Olympic skater Sonja Henie and her brother Leif Henie who purchased property in Oceanside in 1943. Leif Henie and his wife Gerd bought their acreage from A.M. Dunn and built a large 3,629 square foot home. Together Leif and Sonja Henie also purchased much of the surrounding acreage which was later sold to developers and portions were used for Tri-City Hospital and Mira Costa College.
Marty Schroder was one of the first businessmen to build in the valley with Marty's Valley Inn in 1955. Schroder's vision of the future proved wise as Oceanside's development continued eastward.
Fred Siegel built the Star Theater in 1956. Its first feature was "Moby Dick" starring Gregory Peck. One of the largest theaters in San Diego County, the Star seated 960 people. The marquis, a large neon sign, was created by the Electrical Products Company of Los Angeles and is considered unique in its “googie” styling.
Mission Square Shopping Center at Horne and Mission was the first shopping center in Oceanside, built in 1960 by Elm Glaser. The following year a second shopping center on Mission and Canyon began construction.
In late 1959, groundbreaking ceremonies took place for Tri-City Hospital, the first public hospital in the north coastal area serving Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista. The original hospital building was 4-stories, including basement, with an 88 bed capacity, and built at a cost of $2,500,000. The project was completed on July 16, 1961 and ready for new patients.
In 1961 groundbreaking for the new Oceanside Small Craft Harbor took place was touted as “a day of hope and promise" by Mayor Jerome Jones.
Population figures nearly doubled from the previous decade and Oceanside’s building and growth continued. Our city ended its 75th year optimistic about the future.
By Kristi Hawthorne, President of the Oceanside Historical Society
5/24/2015 01:06:54 pm
Would you have any pictures of TENT CITY and the pier in the 1950s . Thank You
1/9/2016 09:03:27 pm
You can go to Walgreens and get a book on the history of oceanside
Billy Jack Long
5/16/2017 12:42:28 pm
Only in Oceanside.
6/8/2016 03:07:29 pm
Our family vacationed each August 1st to 30th for $75 for the month on the strand in Oceanside. We stayed in the little Cottage City... tiny little houses right on the strand, and just down from Roberts Cottages, south. Is this what you mean? Were they really tents that you stayed in? Would love to find pics of Cottage City.... really run-down but what wonderful vacations we had.... Saturday nights listening to the Marine Corps bands down by the pier...the square dances down by the pier... then uptown to the arcade and dodge cars. What terrific memories.....
10/9/2015 03:44:18 pm
Does anyone remember the name of the old department store (circa 1980) on Mission, across the street from Oceanside High?
10/17/2015 07:22:46 am
12/17/2015 02:36:54 pm
1/9/2016 09:04:22 pm
4/18/2016 03:48:17 pm
My mom worked there in the early 70's.
5/2/2016 10:34:49 am
"GRANTS" then they closed and "WALKER SCOTTS" opened up
8/29/2016 09:37:25 pm
I think it was Grants!
9/3/2016 03:31:04 pm
It was WT Grants department store.... Walker Scott's did come afterward. Thrifty's was on the corner with 5 cent ice cream cones!!
3/7/2017 12:39:04 pm
8/12/2019 01:22:44 am
12/24/2019 04:12:34 pm
I think you're thinking of JJ newberry's it had the best hot dogs in town
2/22/2020 06:05:25 pm
No o have family thath died 1939
5/7/2020 10:48:34 pm
There was "Grants" Department store. Then "Walker Scotts".
10/31/2020 02:42:03 pm
1/8/2016 04:30:51 pm
Does any one know about a dysentery plague in the early 1940's? A lot of babies died from it.one of them my brother who was born 1/11/44 and died 1/22/44 in Oceanside . I am looking for his burial place n have been told there was a mass burial due to so many babies having died. Would appreciate any info. Thanks, Patty
11/20/2017 01:16:17 am
2/2/2018 11:15:39 pm
God bless and help you find what you are looking for
3/24/2016 04:14:44 pm
Anyone remember "Mission Homes" in the 40's or1950's. I lived there as a child was a neighborhood of wood frame homes that I understood had been base housing moved to Mission Ave. We referred to then as crackerbook houses, low income people lived in them. Interested in knowing if anyone remembers anything about them or lived there.
4/3/2016 06:45:38 pm
My family moved to Oceanside during the Korean War when I was 4 years old. There was NO housing available so we had to live in the Crackerboxes for 2 weeks. Even as young as I was I can still remember the miserable conditions. The houses had no bathrooms. We had to use the community bathrooms which were absolutely disgusting: overflowing toilets, floor inches deep firstname.lastname@example.org waste. After going there once, my parents bought a commode to put in the house and my dad would dispose of it in the bathrooms. It was utterly gross.
10/31/2020 02:41:31 pm
As I remember the exterior of these shacks was sheetrock with a so called waterproof paper barrier. This was wartime material. I lived in a shack with the the same siding for a couple of years while we built a house in South Oceanside.
Paul D Sloop
12/11/2016 11:37:52 am
My family owned the land sold to the Williansons to start thier strawberry field in Fire Mountain. The house I grew up in still stands at 2260 Ivey Rd.
Toni Morgan Bastien
11/20/2017 12:58:01 am
Yes, I remember. My Aunt, Jackie Kentner Miller, taught swimming at your home's swimming pool during the summer in the 1950s. Corky Sloop, is who I remember most!
2/22/2020 06:09:33 pm
Send pictures if can Kevin Mitchell
Dale Peter Deden
4/25/2022 07:46:54 pm
We get strawberries there often. When I pass that home Paul, I recollect the sloop shaped sign that used to be out front! I remember when you lived there, old Lincoln and ECHS days. Hope that you're doing well!
Marilyn Veale Bisplinghoff
4/7/2017 10:48:03 am
I was around five years old in 1957. Lived in Oceanside. The place we lived all year long... was Beachlake park, next to the now Oceanside Harbor. I would walk nearly round trip, three miles to North Oceanside Elementary School. Attended grades K to Sixth. The summers were thousands of people, and their motor trailers, and vans and tents, for camping and enjoying the sand and sun. People, from all over came to Beachlake Park to enjoy their summers. Sadly today, you do not have tenting, and a lot of open coastline, due to changes and developments of homes and commercial industry. Later, I moved with family to Vista, Ca. Inland, and found the area less active. Enjoyed meeting school friends. However, nothing like early summers, when I would anticipate the meetings with old and new friends. I did not keep a diary of friends. Wish I had. God bless Oceanside. fondly, Marilyn
2/1/2018 05:48:50 am
I also Lived at Beachlake,I think about 1960.I went to North Oceanside school and Mrs.Houts was my teacher. ( best one).Our trailer was first row next to the beach.Favorite place growing up.
Dawn Hale Anguiano
3/17/2018 05:20:48 pm
I moved to Oceanside in 1950 with my family when my dad was called here because of the Korean war. We rented a beautiful home in the 200 block of Nevada St from Dr. Roger Fox, that home still stands there today. My dad opened a photography studio in an old Victorian house on Mission Avenue in the mid sixties, Richard J.S. Hale House of Photography. In the sixties he opened Sir George's Smorgasbord on Mission next to the old drive in theater near Sterling Homes. So many great memories, what a wonderful place to have grown up.
Gaill s McFarland
5/26/2020 01:50:56 pm
My family loved sir georgesG any buffet to this day I refer to as sir georges
7/24/2018 01:58:07 pm
I moved to Oceanside with my family from New Jersey in the summer of 1955 when I was 7 and attended North Oceanside School. Joe Trotter was principal. I think there was Mrs. Wallace, Mrs. Ippolito, Mr. Ladd, and Mr. James.
James r Butera
8/23/2018 12:16:15 pm
Mr. Trotter was my 2nd grade teacher
James R Butera
5/22/2019 10:14:58 pm
Joe trotter was my 2nd grade teacher at South O. Best teacher ever.
9/22/2018 07:57:31 am
Looking for the couple or their children who lived in Oceanside Ca in 1953 that allowed my mom and dad to live with them while my dad was stationed in the marine corp out there, please email me
5/6/2019 04:26:40 pm
I was born in Oceanside CA my parents built our home on Clementine St. Going towards Mission Ave. on Clementine St. on the corner was an Italian restaurant called Guido's best Italian food on the planet till this day does anybody remember
5/20/2019 09:55:40 am
Does anyone have any photos of the Oceanside Lumber Company that was down by the Pier. It burned down some time in the 70s I think
5/14/2020 10:01:53 am
I've seen some good pictures of the lumber yard online and some Post cards as well.
10/31/2020 02:33:28 pm
My dad bought a ton of supplies and lumber at Oceanside Lumber building a house around 1950.I can still remember the smell and the look.
6/6/2019 04:32:36 pm
During WW II, We spent our summer vacation in an Auto Court on Strand Blvd. It was probably a half mile north of the pier. Approximately 10 years ago, I visited the site and a caretaker showed me inside one of the units. At that time, I wondered how my parents, my three sisters and I could have managed to have all stayed there.
Barton J Van Syoc
8/2/2019 02:39:36 pm
I'm looking for my mother. I was born in dec of 47. Just where is unknown as Calif classified me as abandoned because she didn't sign my release. My Father whom I found this past Feb had died in 95 and didn't know about me. I discovered through my two half sisters that he was in the Marine Corp. and stationed at Pendleton when he was 17 and that he got his GED there. He most likely met my mother there at OHS and I was told that he ate dinners at her parents house. However they didn't know her name. She had a sister but I don't know if she was older or younger but she married someone named Brown because through DNA I have a first cousin named Gregory Brown, my mother's, sister's son. He hasn't returned my request through Ancestry. All of our relatives are from the Tennessee area. I would greatly appreciate and help you might have for me.
Barton J Van Syoc
8/2/2019 04:58:26 pm
My fathers name was Manley Oakes
8/3/2019 03:52:12 pm
Barton, can you email me at email@example.com
9/12/2019 05:44:25 am
I'm searching for a 1959 map of Oceanside and/or Camp Pendleton. It's a gift for my husband who was born there 60 years ago. Any suggestions where to find these?
1/23/2020 02:26:07 pm
City Directory 1962 - 519 Freeman Ave Oceanside
2/4/2020 10:18:45 pm
I'm trying to find out who lived at the address of 519 Freeman in Oceanside, in 1962. It will be in the 1962 City Directory, which is not online. Any information at all about this address1960-1970 is greatly appreciated. Most importantly is the year 1962.
Susan Moore LeFeber
2/25/2020 08:40:37 pm
I have a damaged family photo taken by Roy Morris of The Swanson Studio, dated April 1961. Does anyone have any recollection of this business and know if any of the family is still in the area? I'm interested in finding out if there are any archived negatives. Thank you.
3/5/2020 01:57:05 pm
I have an original copy of the 1957 Ms Southern California Beauty Contest that was held at the stadium at the pier. It has many ads from the local shops and many aerial photos of the area of Oceanside from the beach to the Freeway. Also some local politicians. My mom owned Hazel's Fashion Fabrics, if any one has any memories about the yardage store I would love to hear about them,
8/22/2020 10:16:59 pm
My father and mother developed, owned and operated THE ACAPULCO GARDENS. [1950-65]. I have their history, memorabilia, photos with movie stars, politicians and business owners who were friends and frequent visitors. Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotels for example. I am organizing my items for donation. Refugio I. Rochin
2/6/2021 09:28:49 pm
I was 13 years old in 1960 and played my first "professional" gig at Acapulco Gardens. I would like to share a photo of the band with you.
9/10/2021 07:17:59 am
so your the daughter or the son of the rochin’s inquiry minds want to know
Robert M Pickle
9/10/2021 02:15:21 pm
Answer to eddie 21 - not familiar with the rochin's name - no known connection.
9/18/2021 03:20:20 am
what’s your name
9/18/2021 02:58:05 pm
Bob Pickle - - Do you relate to the 1950's ?
12/27/2021 08:58:48 am
When did the Acapulco Gardens close?
11/29/2020 01:42:53 pm
We just recently moved to the “north valley” near the back gate. This part of town fell into some bad times but is starting to turnaround. These homes were built in the mid-late 1960s and just embody that Cold War era military architecture...I would love photos of this part of town in the late 1960s/early 1970s! Thanks!
12/25/2020 05:12:24 am
This is amazing history . I will be commenting some more in the months to come. Thank you for your site.
1/31/2021 01:20:36 pm
Lindsley’s Grocery on Freeman and Windward near Coast Highway in north Oceanside. There is a house on the SE corner with old painted lettering with this grocery name. Does anybody have any info? Thanks!
2/14/2021 03:58:20 pm
Lindsley's Grocery hidden under a stucco color coat for years and scraped off exposing the name. I too am curious. Danny at Moorco Heating and Air said there was a store there but didn't have any more information on it.
9/9/2021 03:13:54 pm
Who remembers Tuten's Market on Vista - just off Main (101) ? It was owned by Larry Tuten - moved half block to new building Larry had built, I think 1952. I worked for Larry PT while in the Marines 1951 - 1953 (not authorized - but no repercussions) - helped move the store -business stayed open. Larry was a Prince of a man -treated me like a son. Unfortunately, Larry passed too young- about 59. Store became Red & White with very capable new owners - good for the community.
9/23/2021 12:15:51 am
What an exquisite article! Your post is very helpful right now. Thank you for sharing this informative one.
10/3/2021 02:50:01 pm
Born and raised in San Luis Rey. I seen a lot of improvement in Oceanside. Recently just bought a potter home in south O. 4 th generation on my wife’s side of family. Belonged to her great grandparents. I love this city. We are both 62 and loving it. My dad was a farmer in San Luis Rey valley. Went to palmguist and Libby elementary . I’ll always live in this great town of ours
2/18/2022 04:04:22 pm
Does anyone have the history of 621 N Horne St? We bought the home in June of last year and have to try and locate any permitting history for the garage conversion. Since it might have occurred during the housing rush of the 1940s it might be hard to find. Anyone have any ideas?
5/3/2022 06:21:11 pm
Does anyone remember a mall downtown oceanside in the 50's?
6/19/2022 09:29:07 pm
My family & I live in Oceanside in the 50's at the Beach lake trailer park.
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