News & More

Ocean Beach Historical Society board members, and the community are active in writing, winning awards, sitting on boards of non-profit organizations and much more. Also, many community members past and present have also left their mark on O.B. See what O.B. is all about.

Fond Farewell: Ocean Beach remembers pillar of the community: ‘Shoeshine Willie’ Washington: Link to 8 News

Ocean Beach's holiday tree leans into the wind in 2018.A Page from History: The twisty past of OceanBeach’s holiday tree
BY ERIC DUVALL DEC. 13, 2021, Point Loma and OB Monthly:
Well, that would depend on your vantage point. Or what side of the (chain link) fence you’re on. But all that aside, the Ocean Beach community Christmas tree is greeting its 41st consecutive season this year, and its preposterous, zany and improbable history is certainly something to celebrate. Article LINK:

Collier’s Shack in Ocean Beach is pictured in 1907.

Ocean Beach pioneer D.C. “Charlie” Collier bought the parcel at the bottom of “Pacific Avenue” from Carlson and Higgins when he was a teenager.  He moved a two-room cabin on to the property in 1888, and so began an almost forgotten story that became part of the mythology of Ocean Beach.  Read the story of Charlie Collier and his Famous Shack. Link here:

Feedback on the OB Library Expansion Plans!
The Ocean Beach Planning Board and community members looked at the long awaited plans for the OB Library Expansion on Wed. Nov. 3, 2021 Water’s Edge. For further info. please visit: Ocean Beach Planning Board Website at:
or READ: Public Input Not Allowed on New OB Library Design – Is Ocean Beach Getting the Shaft, Again?

The Story of Warren-Walker School: OB’s long-running institution Warren-Walker School began very quietly in 1932. Tutor Nellie Walker began with two students in an upstairs room in the Kraft Building. The school, serving the community for nearly 90 years, now has four campuses in San Diego. Ocean Beach Historical Society Board Member, and Warren-Walker teacher, Kitty McDaniel tells the story in the Point Loma – OB Monthly. Click link:

OB People’s Food

The Little Co-op that Could.  OB People’s Food will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. In half a century of providing quality organic food to the people of San Diego, People’s has become a part of the fiber (get it?) of the Ocean Beach Community, as well as OB’s largest employer.  Find the story here:

San Diego Floral Association Garden Tour
Vistas and Verandahs: Ocean Beach Gardens 
Was Sat., June 26, 2021 at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Enjoyed the beautiful OB hills. 
A safe event is our highest priority. 

Keepers of the Flame

In their annual People in Preservation Awards, San Diego’s Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) recognized the great work of OB Historical Society’s Susan and Pat James in the preservation and enhancement of Ned Titlow’s Wisteria Cottage in Ocean Beach.  The OB Landmark is graced by the century old Wisteria vine which covers the patio and adorns the front of the cottage.  SOHO also noted the couple’s continuing efforts in hosting the biennial Wisteria Garden Party.  Congratulations to Pat and Susan!  A very well deserved honor.

The James honored for Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party in Ocean Beach
by DAVE SCHWAB Peninsula Beacon – 06/18/21 

Excerpt: Among the artifacts preserved at the historic wisteria vine-covered cottage at 4761 Niagara Ave. are a huge Ocean Beach monument sign, nostalgic community business signs, and the old Strand Theatre’s film projector (1925-1998).

“I collect a lot of relics, like this entryway sign to Ocean Beach that was on the highway for 35 years, and business signs from Quiggs Bar & Grill and the Electric Chair,” said Pat James who, along with wife Susan, have been caretakers of the charming OB beach cottage built in 1907 by a couple from New Mexico.

The garden party tradition was started by the late Ned Titlow, past president of OBHS, and Carol Bowers, OBHS co-founder. Now known as the Wisteria Garden Party, the spring event brings local artists and famous OB residents together to play music, showcase art, and bring photos and memorabilia showcasing the beach community’s long history.
Read more: San Diego Community News Group – The James honored for Wisteria Cottage and Garden Party in Ocean Beach

30 thoughts on “News & More

  1. The OB MainStreet Association, the OB Community Foundation and the OB Historical Society are working together on the upcoming OB Historic Plaque Project. We are looking for photos that are really clear with good contrast to use on the plaques. We could use photos of the Library, OB Elementary School, Newport Hotel (now OB Hostel), Strand Theater (now Wings), Pier,Silver Spray and the Bank of Italy (now Starbucks). If you have any great photos, please let us know at or call Denny Knox at OBMA 224-4906. We would love to hear from you.

  2. 1940’s Big Band Swing Dance, Saturday, November 14, 2009, 7-11 P.M.
    14 piece live band.
    Fort Rosecrans Historic District, Naval Base Point Loma, Historic Argonaut Hall, Building 138
    Presented by the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation.
    For tickets and reservations go to, or email

  3. I am looking for some information on the Polly Gas station that used to be on Vulcan st. in OB…. my father grew up there, him and his step father ran the station, and he attended Point Loma High, this would have been around 1940 — any info would be great…. he is in his 80’s, and we are trying to find some history……
    Mark Mekenas

    His name was Ernie Smid….

    1. I vaguely remember a Polly Gas Station from when I was a kid back in the 40’s and 50’s, but the street name isn’t familiar to me. Are you sure about Vulcan, or could it have been Voltaire Street. Voltaire was and still is a main thoroughfare and down where it crosses Sunset Cliffs Blvd I remember several old gas stations there. I wish my brain was clearer so I could have a better memory of those things. There was a very worn gas station there that had some parrot cages in the sales area. I know, you’re going to think I’m keying on the station name, Polly, but I’m telling the truth. Could that have been your dad’s place?

  4. Pat-
    I am a bit dismayed that none of the Park&Rec people that I have spoken to know who Robb Field, Dusty Rhoades, or Bob Kenny Field (OB Elementary) are named after… Zippo on the historio dude…
    Perhaps the Beacon should run a story or two on who these (and other) dedications were named after and why ?
    Keep Those Marshmellows Flying !!!
    -Michael the Sandman

  5. Michael,
    As time marches on, less and less is known about our history.
    It is our mission as a Historical Society to keep our history alive.
    One way we do this is by our monthly programs.
    We have had programs on Robb Field and Bob Kenny Field.
    Dusty Rhodes is overdue.
    I wish Lois and Dusty where around today so I could get there take on whats going on today.
    Just this morning I heard there’s going to be a proposal for developing the Camp Holiday (Seaside Cottages) property.
    I’m very concerned.
    Good idea about articles in the Beacon. I’ll see if I can find someone who might be interested in writing about these folks.
    Good hearing from you.

    1. Francesca, we do not currently have a on-line photo gallery. Our collection is available by appointment. You can make an appointment by calling our archivist Mary @ 619-223-7784. You can see historic photos online at or check out Steve Rowells work at .

  6. I am doing research on a Collier Park Hospital that was supposed to be in San Diego (maybe still is) from at least 1954-1960. Searched old phone books and photographs of hospitals at the Museum of Photographic Art in Balboa Park and came up empty. Originally assumed it was located in La Mesa, but appears it was in San Diego. Found 3 references to Collier Park Hospital in San Diego on Google… all happened to be adoptees born at College Park Hospital and looking for their birth parents. Do any of the long time residents of OB happen to know where this hospital was located? It may have been a clinic for destitute or unwed mothers rather than a hospital per se.

    1. Hi Ed! Collier Park Hospital was where I was born, and as I was then adopted shortly thereafter, I also believe the place was a home or ward for destitute mothers. I researched CPH years ago, and think I at least might have found out its location. Let me revisit the subject and get back to you! Greetings from Caroline Simpson Timmerberg

    2. Hey Ed,
      I may not be correct, but back in the 50’s there was a small hospital on either Midway Drive or perhaps on Frontier Blvd. My worn out brain is telling me it’s name started with a “C”, but not sure about that. I recall some kids on the beach digging a tunnel in the sand and it caved in on one of them and he was asphyxiated. The ambulance rushed him to one of the hospitals in San Diego and in the process, drove past the small hospital where life saving measures might have saved him.

      These are vague recollections.

      1. I was born at Collier Park Hospital and my mother was an unwed mother but she kept me with support of my grandparents and aunt. The address on my birth certificate is 2301 Bolinas St. San Diego. No zip code just Zone 7. Googled the address but did not find the address but did find the street. Hope this helps if someone is looking.

      2. What years are you referring to? Midway drive was called Causeway St. There’s Channel St, but that may have come later. Fun stuff!!! Thanks for your post.

    3. Collier park hospital was operated by the Salvation Army’s Door of Hope. A place for unwed mothers to be cloistered away from society and have their children taken into adoption by coercion and manipulation in a time when being pregnant and single was considered aberrant behavior.

      1. Hi Arlene, what is/are your source(s) that describe Collier Park Hospital as a manipulative, coercive, woman-shaming organization? My sources – my biological mother, who gave birth to me there in 1960 – tells quite a different story. Of course, the girls and women, who resided temporarily at the Booth Home for Unwed Mothers in Ocean Beach, were protected from daily society. Many of them by their own choice. Of course that time period was completely rigid and puritanical as far as accepting single mothers into society. The Booth Home, however, was a safe and protective environment for girls who were scared and unwontedly pregnant. Many of them had horrible family situations that included histories of parental sexual abuse. I can verify that the Booth Home provided care, love, friendship, learning and good medical care, as well as solid obstetrics. The Salvation Army has also kept immaculate records over decades of the residents of the Booth Homes. (I would post a picture here of the Ocean Beach house, but don’t the system will allow it.)

      2. I looked at my birth certificate and spoke to my mom. I was born at Collier Park Hospital. My mom is from a family of immigrants who did the best they could. I was not adopted out and after I was born they helped her with my care. I applaud the resilience and strength she has always had and am grateful for the help they gave her so I could come into the world nourished and loved.

      3. I was also born at Collier in 1953. I was given up for adoption after my birth mother could not care for me.

      4. HI Arlene and others. I apparently started this conversation back in 2012. My wife knew she had been born at Collier Hospital, but did not know where it was located. She knew she had been adopted and just wondered where the hospital was. I took her to the site where the hospital used to be and pointed to the apartments that are now there and showed her where she was born. I should have gotten back and shared that I had found it, but did not. Arlene is correct as is Betty. It was The Door of Hope and was located at 2301 Bolinas Street. My information was found by researching old phone books and going to the assessors office to look up old plot maps ownership records. FYI, one of the phone books showed an additional address for The Door of Hope as being 2271 Soto. My research morphed into my finding my wife’s birth mother! It was interesting research and I thank everyone who replied to my original query. I apologize for not sharing the information back in 2012.

    4. Yes, Ed, you started this thread and then never replied! Unfortunate, because in 2015, I ended up getting in contact with the Missing Persons dept. at the Salvation Army, and they set me up with a contact person, who not only shared old photos of the Collier Park house, but also located my biological mother. Had you replied, I could have shared some great material with you. My biological mother insists that Collier Park was a caring and protective shelter from a cruel and judgemental outside world. No stories of manipulation and coercion in her memory. I asked one of the other posters to back up her claims of coercion and manipulation, but as with you, received no response. There is still no way to post photos here, otherwise I would post my stills of the old Collier house.

      The moral of the story is: Next time, answer sooner!

      1. I have been properly chastised, Caroline. I found my information shortly having made my post and, shortly thereafter, got on with more specific research into my wife’s birth family. I did not add it to the conversation then as there WAS no conversation until a year later. At that point I had already moved on and had even contacted her mother other who, by the way, wanted nothing to do with it!

        My only quest at the time was simply to find the physical location where my wife was born. She had lamented that, although I was also adopted, I KNEW where I was born. I was not trying to find her mother at that time, that came later. I never stopped to think that others might have been able to use my information for the more serious research into finding their own family…my bad.

      2. Ed, hi! No, no don’t feel chastised, all is well! It was so long ago, and adoption-related subjects can become complicated very quickly. I think it was that article about the Hippie Riots of 1971 in Collier Park that gave me a clue as to the Collier Park “Hospital” and how to find out more about it, which entailed contacting the Salvation Army. It was always such a mystery, having grown up in Ocean Beach, why there was no record of CPH and why no one had ever heard of it. Yet, there the name was, right on the birth certificate. Anyway, don’t feel bad, please! I still have some cool, old photos of the “Hospital”, if you’re interested. Hit me up on my website! Best wishes, Caroline

      3. Wow! Unbelievable that we stumbled upon this. It is a Sunday afternoon and I was filing some documents and I came across my birth certificate.
        My husband happened to be on google maps looking up sites to visit and I asked him to look up my birthplace listed as 2301 Bolinas St. San Diego. We couldn’t find any pictures just street names. Then we found this blog/Ocean Beach Historical Society. I too, was born at Collier Park Hospital in the 50’s to a unwed mother. I was always told I was born at a “girls school for unwed mothers”.
        I was supposed to be adopted but it turned out my Grandmother and Aunt came to get me after I was born. My mother never talked of it sadly. She is now deceased.
        I would love any pictures, or other stories and information you might share. How can I get them?
        Thankful and grateful,
        Deborah Golden
        P.S. I appreciated the back and forth from Caroline Timmerberg and Ed Hayman…good stuff!

  7. I work for the San Diego Public Library as the Exhibit Assistant for the annual San Diego Local Authors Exhibit. I noticed you had a book at your booth at this year’s OB Street Fair and we would like to include it in the upcoming exhibit next year. I am interested in obtaining your contact information, particularly an e-mail address, to add to our database. You may contact either me or the Library Programming Director, Marc Chery, at 619.236.5817 or Also, please visit the San Diego Public Library’s Local Authors webpage at – thanks so much!

  8. Hello,

    We’d love to include your events. You can submit an event here:

    Please include an image if you have one.

    You’ll then be in consideration for the highlights section:

    Thank you!
    San Diego Reader

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