by Kristi Hawthorne, from Oceanside Living Magazine
Oceanside has its own share of myths or urban legends that get passed around and soon become truth in the minds of many. Some of these are funny, minute details of Oceanside that never happened or in fact happened but are exaggerated. We take a look at just a few of those, along with some that might have happened.
The Oceanside Pier was once a mile long. Exaggerated. None of Oceanside’s six piers have ever been a mile long. Many locals will recall that the “old pier” (the previous pier) was either “a mile long” or “longer than the present pier”. A mile is 5,280 feet long. The old pier was 1,941 feet long and today’s pier (built in 1987) is 1,942 feet long.
William Shatner had a home on South Pacific Street. Never happened. Sorry to say that the actor that portrayed Captain Kirk never lived in Oceanside. There was a home located at 1127 South Pacific Street which had the initials “W” and “S” on its door. It was a popular rumor that Shatner lived and even held parties there, but the home was once owned by a local contractor, William Silberberger, not the captain of the Starship Enterprise.
The opening credits to Gilligan’s Island were filmed at the Oceanside Harbor. Never happened. As picturesque as the Oceanside Harbor is, it was not used as the home of the S.S. Minnow. There were two locations used, the first was the Honolulu Harbor, and the second, Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles.
Al Capone tried to buy Rancho Santa Margarita. Maybe. In 1931 rumors were rampant that famed gangster Al “Scarface” Capone was purchasing Rancho Santa Margarita, which would later become
the home of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. A writer from Hollywood may have started the rumor and it was printed in Los Angeles magazines and newspapers. It created quite a buzz in Oceanside
and San Diego County after the San Diego Union Tribune ran the story on its front page. However, the general manager of the rancho repeatedly refuted the claims. If Capone was ever really interested in
owning the Rancho, apparently he made an offer that was refused.
The Hunter Restaurant is haunted. Maybe! The Buena Vista Cemetery was a privately owned cemetery established in 1888. Nearly 50 or more people were buried there between 1888 and 1916.
The cemetery was purchased by a developer in the 1960s, who petitioned the City of Oceanside to rezone the property for commercial use which was ultimately approved. In January of 1970, 17 bodies were disinterred and removed to El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley. However, that left several remains behind! (Even after a dozen or so were reinterred to various cemeteries by family members.) When grading began on the property for the building of the restaurant and gas station (now a bike shop), a number of remains were discovered. Although as many as six graves were uncovered, construction continued! In fact, in 1991, five additional remains were discovered by an oil company. Restaurant employees over the years have told of unexplained happenings and whispers of
hauntings were kept quiet until the restaurant embraced its spooky history. A plaque was placed on the sidewalk on Vista Way by the Oceanside Historical Society years ago, listing the known names of those buried there…some of whom are undoubtedly still there.
Buried Treasure or Sunken Pirate Ship off Buccaneer Beach. Never happened. As early as the 1940s a local archeologist claimed that a Spanish ship, the Trinidad, sailed east in the San Luis Rey River and later sank off the Oceanside coast in 1540. The ship was supposedly loaded with tens of millions of dollars in gold and its captain, Francisco de Ulloa, was buried in the hills of the San Luis Rey Valley. The story changed over the years but the claims inspired decades of treasure seekers, all to no avail. Some even surmise that’s how Buccaneer Beach got its name, however, Ulloa and his crew were explorers, not pirates. Historical records and transcripts reveal that Ulloa sailed back to Mexico and even Spain and was not shipwrecked in Oceanside.
Names carved on the Oceanside pier helped to build it. Not true. As Oceanside prepared to celebrate its 100th year anniversary in 1988, a Centennial Committee and Foundation was formed to help in the celebration which included the building of a Centennial House, a float in the Rose Parade, the minting of Centennial coins and a gala. To help finance the Centennial celebration, residents paid $25 for each name carved on the pier’s wooden railing. Funding of the Oceanside pier, built in 1987, came from the Wildlife Conservation Board, State Emergency Assistance, Community Development, the State Coastal Conservancy and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.