When “General Store” Really Meant Something

A list of polling places for a county bond election in the San Diego Union in early 1923 gave the polling place for Valley Center as “Shelby’s Store.” They didn’t have to give any more address details, because everyone in Valley Center knew where it was.

For decades, the wooden building at the corner of Valley Center and Old Roads held a general store. And in those days in what was then called the “back country” of San Diego County, the phrase “general store” really meant something. It was the neighborhood grocery store, post office and gas station. For decades, in addition to gas pumps for cars and trucks, there was a separate pump for kerosene, since electricity still wasn’t widespread and a lot of residents still used kerosene lamps.

The place also served as a branch of the county library. As late as the mid-1940s, Valley Center’s only public telephone was located on the porch. A former owner’s son told a reporter in 2001 about having to drive on unpaved roads to deliver phone messages received at the store.

The store was considered, in one owner’s words, the “social hub” of Valley Center. If you’d like to learn more about it, and to see a photo of the place from the 1930s, come to my OASIS class, “San Diego North County-A Look Back,” on Wednesday, July 8 at Cypress Court in Escondido. For more details and to register, see the “About” tab on this blog site.

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers and the book, Once Upon A Time in Valley Center, compiled and published in 1992 by the Valley Center Historical Society.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s