Friday, October 31, 2014

Historical Landmark #12 Whaley House

Whaley House CA Historical Landmark #65 
2476 San Diego Avenue. 
San Diego, California 

I have visited the Whaley house twice and every time I have been there I  always learn new interesting history behind it. Now a museum, people tour the house looking for ghosts and historical vibes.

The Whaley House built in 1857, was the home of Thomas Whaley and his family . At various times it also housed Whaley's general store, San Diego's second county courthouse, and the first commercial theater in San Diego. The house has witnessed more history than any other building in the city

During your tour you will see the courthouse room, some of the items that were sold in the general store, as well as the theater which is located upstairs.

Americas Most Haunted House in America

According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960

According to the Whaley House main website
The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is "Yankee Jim." James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. The local newspaper reported that he "kept his feet in the wagon as long as possible, but was finally pulled off. He swung back and forth like a pendulum until he strangled to death." Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it dissuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there.

Many visitors to the house have reported encountering the entire Whaley family during museum tours. Many members of the Whaley family died at this house which also includes a suicide from one of the Whaley daughters, Violet Whaley.  The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue  right by Old Town San Diego.  Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum.

 Pop Media

The Whaley House has been featured in many historical documentaries as well as a wide variety of paranormal and sci-fi shows, including SyFy's Channel's Fact or Fake: Paranormal Files and Travel Channel's Americas Most Haunted

In 2012 there was an independent low-budget movie titled The Haunting of Whaley House. Which uses the history of the Whaleys as the premise of the film. The movie can be found on Netflix. 

Check out the trailer:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Historical Landmark #11 Mason Street School

Location: 3966 Mason St., Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Historical Landmark #538 

Built in 1865, this was the first public school house in San Diego. Mary Chase Walker was its first teacher. She received a salary of $65/month. After eleven months she quit teaching and married Ephraim Morse who was president of the school board at the time.

Mason Street Schoolhouse in 1870

The San Diego History Center has an excerpt  from a paper Mary Chase Walker wrote in 1898 entitled Recollections of Early Times in San Diego.

Mary Chase Walker
 I arrived in the bay of San Diego on the morning of July 5, 1865. It was a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth. The first night of my stay at the hotel, a donkey came under my window and saluted me with an unearthly bray. The fleas were plentiful and hungry. Mosquitoes were also in attendance. An Indian man did the cooking and an Irish boy waited on me at the table, and also gave me the news of the town. The landlord told me I could go into the kitchen and cook whatever I wanted if I didn't like the Indian's style and I availed myself of this privilege. I rented two rooms in the Robinson House for $2.00 a month. My school was composed mostly of Spanish and half-breed children, with a few English and several Americans. I aimed to teach which was most meaningful to them; namely reading, spelling, arithmetic, and how to write letters. At recess the Spanish girls smoked cigaritas and the boys amused themselves by lassoing pigs, hens, etc. The Spanish children were very irregular in their attendance at school on account of so many fiestas and amusements of various kinds. For a week before a bull fight the boys were more or less absent, watching preparations, such as fencing up the streets leading to the plaza.
Miss Walker taught for 11 months in the Mason Street School  She became the center of controversy when she invited a black woman to lunch at the Franklin House and some diners stormed out, while others stared with contempt. Her story became so controversial that led to her quitting her position despite being supported by the superintendent (her husband)

Mason Street School served the community from 1865 to 1872. In 1872 the school was moved to a 4 room structure half a mile away. The Mason Street School was converted into a home until about 1918.  From 1918 until the late 1940’s the building housed a restaurant.


The building was restored into a museum  in 1955 and considered a California Historical Landmark. 

Here's a list of punishments at Mason Street Schoolhouse


1. Boys and Girls Playing Together
2. Fighting at School
3. Quareling at School
4. Gambleing or Betting at School
5. Playing at Cards at School
6. Climbing for Every Foot Over Three Feet Up a Tree
7. Telling Lies
8. Telling Tales Out of School
9. Giving Each Other Ill Names
10. Swaring at School
11. For Misbehaving to Girls
12. For Drinking Spiritous Liquors at School
13. Making Swings and Swinging on Them
14. For Waring Long Finger Nails
15. Misbehaving to Persons on the Road
16. For Going to Girls Play Places
17. Girls Going to Boys Play Places
18. Coming to School With Dirty Faces and Hands
19. For Calling Each Other Liars
20. For Wrestling at School
21. For Weting Each Other Washing at Playtime
22. Scuffling at School
23. For Going and Playing about the Mill or Creek
24. For Going about the Barn or doing any Mischief about the Place

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Who Knew #11: Wrigley Field in Los Angeles

When most people hear the name “Wrigley Field,” they picture brick walls, ivy and a team with the longest World Series drought in Major League Baseball. But two years before the Chicago stadium became known as Wrigley Field, there was already another ballpark with the same name in Los Angeles, California.

The story began in 1921, a few years after William K. Wrigley Jr. became principal owner of the Chicago Cubs. Wanting to acquire a minor league team in California, he acquired the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. (Not to get confused with the current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) After failing to find a place for the newly acquired Los Angeles Angels, he decided to build his own ballpark. Wrigley hired architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who had designed Cubs Park (now known as Chicago’s Wrigley Field) to design the stadium after Cubs Park.

Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League

 Wrigley Field was a perfectly symmetrical ballpark with more than 20,000 seats on the corner of 42nd Place and Avalon Boulevard in South Central Los Angeles.

For 33 seasons, 1925 to 1957, the park was home to the minor league team Los Angeles Angels. The minor league baseball days ended when the Brooklyn Dodgers transferred to Los Angeles in 1958. Rumors swirled Los Angeles, that the Dodgers would perhaps use Wrigley Field as their temporary home while awaiting construction of their new stadium. Dodger owner Walter O' Malley criticized the stadium for having small dimensions, but the real reason why he opted out for the Los Angeles Coliseum  was because it sat 93,000 people.
Wrigley Park Supporter hoping the Dodgers would call it home

The stadium became vacant until 1961, when the now LA Angels of Anaheim became a Major League Baseball team. The team used this stadium for only one year until they awaited their new stadium in Anaheim. The stadium then became very popular for filming. Before MLB integrated the Home Run Derby to the MLB All Star Game, famous baseball players would come to this field and film a home run derby style show

The stadium once again became vacant and with the rise of two Major League Baseball Stadium the venue became vacant and only used for other recreation events. The city of Los Angeles decided to demolish the stadium for a new recreational facility and a medical facility. Demolition began in March 1969. The once futuristic and first known Wrigley Field disappeared and is often forgotten due to Wrigley Field in Chicago still serving as a home to the Chicago Cubs.

Wrigley Park being demolished in 1969

Interesting Facts: 

Cubs Park was renamed to Wrigley Field until 1927. Almost 5 years after L.A's Wrigley Field

William K. Wrigley's company Wrigley's Chewing Gum

1920's ad for Wrigley's Gum

Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park - See more at:
Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park. - See more at:
Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park. - See more at:
Los Angeles' Wrigley Field was the original Wrigley Field, bearing the name when it opened in 1925 as the Cubs ballpark was known as Cubs Park. - See more at:

Friday, October 17, 2014

El Tepeyac Cafe

 812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033


 I had been wanting to try this place for such a long time because I had heard so many good reviews and its a must spot if you're into Los Angeles history.

Located in Boyle Heights, El Tepeyac Cafe is an East Los Angeles landmark restaurant that has existed since 1952. Owned by the Rojas family it is known for its 5 pound burrito, called Manuel's special.

According to the official website El Tepeyac Cafe 
its been featured nationally on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” has brought in new customers from all over the country to try and eat the Manuel’s Special Burrito – many have tried but few have succeeded. Currently, the honor of being named #23 of the Travel Channel’s 101 Best Chowdowns in America has brought renewed national attention

El Tepeyac has even been featured in shows such as TNT's Southland

Despite not ordering a burrito which is their specialty, the quesadilla was one of the best I've had. I sat in the outdoor patio to remember my favorite show of all time Southland!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Who Knew #10 Simons Brick Company #3

In 1886, Reuben and Melissa Simons and their six children left Hamburg, Iowa, for Los Angeles, California. Reuben was a brickmaker, born in England in 1836, and had immigrated to the United States in 1866. Reuben and his teenage sons, Joseph, Elmer, and Walter, located a clay deposit in the southern part of Pasadena, where they opened their first brickyard. In 1900, the Simons Brick Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. Joseph Simons was president, Elmer Simons was secretary and treasurer, and Walter R. Simons was vice-president. The Pasadena brickyard was a great success and soon the Simons sons were eager to expand their brick manufacturing business to other areas. The Simons opened a total of 8 brickyards but brickyard #3 (present day Montebello/Commerce) was known as the largest brickyard in the world

Simons Brick Company Plant in Pasadena

In 1905, Simons Brick Company Plant Number 3 was built on property that was formerly a Mexican land grant, Rancho Laguna. They purchased 273 acres of land for their new clay pit and brick plant, which was named the Number 3 Yard.  Walter Simmons was the leader of this brick company as other family members had expanded through out Los Angeles County in Boyle Heights and in Santa Monica. This yard was on the northeast corner of the intersection of Vail Avenue and the Santa Fe Railroad. The plant office was on Rivera Street. Its general boundaries were Vail Avenue on the northwest, Greenwood Avenue on the southeast, the Santa Fe rail line on the southwest, and Date Street on the northeast
Simons Brick Company in Santa Monica (1939)

During the 1906 San Francisco earthqauke, the Simon Brick Company shipped out a lot of bricks to construct the destroyed city.

Aeriel view of the Simons Brick Company #3. Picture taken in 1924.

The company started with around 500 workers and grew within time. When several of the workers asked for local living arrangements, the company erected two large boarding houses for the single men and two- to four-bedroom homes for families, all rented at $1 a day. By 1925, Simons grew to a population of about 1,600, mostly of Mexican immigrants.

Simons Brick Company Plant #3 Largest Brick Yard in the world Montebello/Commerce

The Simons Brick Company not only became a business but its own town, it had its own lighting system, water works, and sewage disposal system. There was a depot, a general store, a postoffice, a church, a grade school with five teachers, a motion picture and amusement hall, an auto repair garage, a recreation field, and a handball court. The most intriguing was that they had their own baseball team which was composed of company workers and played in a league.

Simons Brick Company Baseball Team

The demand for building bricks waned after World War II as concrete was replacing brick as the preferred structural building material. The Simons Brick Company began to shut down the brickyard in 1947. In May 1952, the yard was condemned and the workers were forced to move from Simons. Acting as a guardian for her ailing husband, Mrs. Edith Simons gave $6,000 from their estate to each of the 19 remaining families to help them move out of Simons.

What's Left

There's really not much left other that memories and told stories by those who were members of this community. After the yard was condemned the Simon's sold everything to industrial developers. If you go on the 5 freeway, A Simons marker can be seen on the southbound Interstate 5 Freeway from the Washington Boulevard on-ramp on what is known as the Simon's Underpass. There are many business around the LA county area that might still have some bricks that were made by the Simons Brick Company Plant 3!

A Simons brick, not all bricks have the Simons name
Interesting Videos

Great Documentary on the Simons Brick Company

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Unsolved Mysteries #1 Did Babe Ruth really Call His Shot?

October baseball calls for historic memories. By 1932 Babe Ruth was already past his prime, he was no longer the best hitter in baseball. Still to come, however, was the single most dramatic -- and mysterious moment of his career: his "called-shot"

From Babe Ruth Central,
It’s Saturday, October 1, 1932 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. It’s a bright and sunny day. It’s Game 3 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. And the grandstands are jam-packed with nearly 50,000 fans.
Before the start of the game, the tension between the teams is high. “Trash-talking” of the day is at its peak between the two teams. Both the Cubs players and their fans are particularly focused on hurling taunts toward the Babe. Some of the comments are pretty tough.
The Babe steps up to the plate, but then steps back out of the batter’s box for a moment and apparently gestures toward center field. And the “smack” is silenced as the crack of Babe’s bat is heard and he smashes a big, booming homerun over the wall near the flagpole in center field. Some say it was the longest homer ever hit out of Wrigley Field.
And in those moments, with emotions and agitation among teams, players and fans running high, this particular turn at the plate and the ensuing homer created the legend of Babe’s Called Shot. Was it truth, rather than legend? Was Babe pointing at the spot he planned to land his homer or was he pointing at Root? Or was he simply gesturing in general? No one really knows for sure.

Although Babe Ruth calling his shot sounds legendary, did he really do it?  When asked he never denied it but also never confirm it. Other players and eyewitnesses to the events of that day were split, with some confirming the Called Shot and others saying the Babe simply pointed to the Cubs dugout. In the 80′s and 90′s a few 16mm films from fans were discovered, with one seeming to confirm the truth of the legend and the other refuting it.

Here's a video that also documents this mystery!

Is he pointing to center field? Is he pointing out to some fans? players in the bleachers?