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Old San Diego

By Pat Grant

Old San Diego began before Friar Junipero Serra founded San Diego de Alcala Mission in 1769, or before 19th century whalers deposited their cargoes on the marshes below the Presidio. San Diego’s history stretched back before the people who settled the Americas walked across the land bridge from Siberia around 10,000 B.C.

In 1981, on the cliff at the north end of Del Mar Beach, the prehistoric remains of “Del Mar Man,” were discovered, predating all previous finds in the Western hemisphere. Now that’s old San Diego!

In 1951 my husband and I moved to San Diego and stayed, raised a family, built a house. Jim, an engineer, worked on planes for Convair and then as a rocket engineer on the Atlas ICBM when General Dynamics bought Convair in 1953 and set up its Astronautics Division on Kearny Mesa. Atlas launched the first four astronauts in Project Mercury and is still at work today, launching from Vandenberg. We saw lots of sailors. San Diego, home port for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, is one of the Navy’s largest surface ship bases. When we came, there was also a tuna fleet moored at the foot of Broadway.

Anthony’s Restaurant moved bayside and offered a dock for small boat sailors like us—as did Red Sails on Shelter Island, famous for hush puppies.

I remember the Chicken Pie Shop in Hillcrest and the 18-cent hamburgers at Jack in the Box on El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego’s first drive-through. In 1957, the new I-8 drove the cows out of Mission Valley. In 1964, UCSD registered its first freshman class. The Coronado Bridge opened in 1969. Thousands cheered, but we mourned the ferry.

And here I am, still in good Old San Diego.

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