Illegal Vines

The headline below is from a front-page article in the Escondido Times-Advocate’s edition of Saturday, October 9, 1920:

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Prohibition had gone into effect in January 1920, transforming the growing of grapes, which had been part of San Diego County’s agricultural scene going back at least to the days of the Spanish Missions, into a crime.

“Several thousand gallons of mash in vats ranging in size from 500 to 1,200 gallon capacity, hundreds of gallons of wine and five tons of grapes were seized in three raids made in and near Escondido by federal and county officers Wednesday evening,” began the article, which went on to say that “The haul at the trio of wineries is the most extensive raid yet made in this county and brings the number of places raided around Escondido to a total of five during the last few weeks.”

The law allowed for a certain amount of winemaking for individual family consumption and for the making of “sacramental” wine for religious purposes. A number of San Diego winegrowers utilized those exemptions to try to survive.

However, only four San Diego County wineries survived after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, according to Richard Carrico’s 2016 book, Of Wine on the Lees Well Refined:A History of Wine and Wineries of San Diego County.

Winemaking thankfully made a comeback here. As of 2019, there were over 150 commercial wineries in the county, according to the San Diego County Vintners Association.

To that the History Seeker can only say: Cheers!

Attracting Patients and Doctors

The photo below is from a promotional pamphlet for the Florence Hotel, which opened for business in January 1884 on Fir Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in downtown San Diego.

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The Florence was one of a number of new hotels built to accommodate a rising tourist trade in San Diego County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. San Diego’s mild climate made “health tourism” an important part of the travel market of the day. The owner of the Florence, W.W. Bowers, who also happened to be Alonzo Horton’s brother-in-law, was interested in promoting his hotel for all comers, not just “invalids” or “consumptives,” to use two popular terms among the San Diego business community in those days. But he certainly wouldn’t turn down business from anyone either, including doctors themselves. In late 1883, as he was getting ready to open the Florence, Bowers felt compelled to write a letter to the San Diego Union that included this:

“I am not a doctor, neither am I building a sanatorium, asylum, hospital, nor home for the friendless. I am engaged in erecting what is intended to be a first-class family hotel, nothing more-no-less; the guests will, I suppose, do as at other hotels, choose their own physician if they desire one without the advice or interference of any employee of the house; I state this because I have in one day received as many as four applications for the position of physician-not from the doctors here, but from friends and relatives of doctors who want to come here.”

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Bear Valley

Recognize this?

The photo is from the book, Picturesque San Diego, which was published in 1887, and the caption reads, “View near entrance to Bear Valley.”

The description of “Bear Valley” accompanying the photo describes the area as “a very productive section, about 40 miles north of San Diego. Population about 1,000. Store, blacksmith shop, school-house, brick church. Productions: Fine stock, hogs, bacon and grain; some honey is also made. The rainfall in this Valley is more than three times as great as on the coast, and a crop failure has never been known there.”

Bear Valley also had a small post office, whose postmaster chose a name by which we’ve all come to know this section: Valley Center.

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Making Things Better Together

In these complex, seemingly fractious times we’re going through right now, I thought I’d offer a little example of the history of San Diegans working together for the common good.

The two photos appearing in today’s post are from the website of the Library of Congress and are from April and May of 1942. This was shortly after the United States had entered World War Two. Both photos show the San Diego offices of the Pacific Parachute Company, one of a number of companies aiding the nation’s defense efforts. When the company opened its doors at 627 Eighth Avenue in downtown San Diego in March of 1942 it was proclaimed as the first defense plant in the city, and perhaps the first in the whole country, to be managed by an African-American. That manager was Howard Smith, who is shown in the photo below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another photo showing the company’s main workroom reveals a predominantly, though not exclusively, female workforce:

Accounts in the local media of the time describe the workers as including African-American, Asian and Latina workers as well as Caucasians. It was a workforce that looked like America, working to meet the needs of a nation at war. Rather like a lot of American workplaces, then and now.

Just a little reminder of the historic reality of America.

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Hopski

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The photo above, courtesy of the National Park Service website, was taken in 1915. It shows an ad that was displayed on the wall of the then-Mission Brewery at 1715 Hancock Street in the city of San Diego’s Middletown area. The ad was for Hopski, which the brewery had just introduced as a hop-based yet low-in-alcohol beverage. This was at a time when the temperance movement was growing across the country, and some brewers were trying to address it.

An article in the April 15, 1915 San Diego Union announced the debut of Hopski, which it called “A ‘jagless’ beer, guaranteed to cheer but not inebriate, and containing all the beneficial properties of malt and hops, even unto the foam and taste….”.

While made of malt and hops, Hopski was said to have “but one-fifth of one percent of alcohol,” which, according to brewery vice-president E. W. Handschy, “is less than that of many healthful foods…..That is why we guarantee it to be non-intoxicating.”

Ads in newspapers for the beverage prominently featured the frog (hops, hoppy, get it?) and the motto, “It’s Got the Pep.”

While clever, the ad campaign couldn’t save Hopski and the Mission Brewery from the prohibition wave. By 1918 the brewery had gone out of business. Beer would come back. Just not Hopski.

Sources: Historic San Diego newspapers and the National Park Service website (the former Mission Brewery building is on the National Register of Historic Places).

Wishing a Happy and Historically Safe Holiday to All!