Research in the New San Diego Public Libary

22 Sep

Research is an addictive thing. I will admit I love making discoveries. For our 47th wedding anniversary we rode the train from Oceanside to San Diego. We then took the trolley to the new San Diego public library. It opened a year ago, and was thirty years in the making. It has a reading room with a three story dome; over a million books; it is nine stories and nearly 500,000 square feet. It is awesome architecture.
My quest was in the San Diego history section and the gal who works on the 9th floor was helpful in so many ways. We researched old city directories that listed where people lived in 1924. I wanted to locate the home Elsie and Jack moved to from Palomar in 1924. We recently drove down Panorama Ave., the street with almost all homes vintage, from early 1900’s. Elsie address was 4800 Panorama, but the last house on that street today is 4798. What happened to 4800? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find what happened to the house, but I discovered some amazing facts about that small neighborhood while at the library. The street ends at a small park of which I took little notice. Research revealed that the Mission Cliff Park was apparently “the place to go” just a few years before Jack and Elsie and my mother moved there. In 1897 it even had a German beer garden, a merry-go-round, a shooting gallery and a pavilion for dancing parties. Vaudeville companies performed there and there was a wooden observatory that allowed patrons to view Mission Valley. By 1907 there was a syndicate in San Diego that had plans to build exclusive luxury homes along Panorama Drive. It was THE place to live. Elsie, Jack and my mother Catherine rented a home on that lovely street overlooking the valley. On many days in 1924 Elsie wrote in her diary, “…worked in the canyon and love that.” That canyonside is right above Texas Street and it is hard to imagine anyone spending time developing a garden on that steep hillside above that very busy street. It was a wonderful time for her.
Elsie also wrote about one of the men hired during apple season on Palomar who seemed to be able to display his knowledge on almost any subject during meal times. Apparently this apple picker worked during apple season so that all winter he could rent a cheap room in downtown San Diego near the library. He simply spent months at the library absorbing facts and history. Sounds like a plan to me!

Waiting for the trolley. The large dome behind me is the new San Diego Public Library

Waiting for the trolley. The large dome behind me is the new San Diego Public Library

The St James Hotel will be mentioned in the next book. I will leave it a mystery as to how it is involved.

The St James Hotel will be mentioned in the next book. I will leave it a mystery as to how it is involved.

It has been nearly 3 years since I first published “Elsie.” I continue to hear from readers that have enjoyed reading about her life of 100 years ago. Thrilled that the number of Amazon reviews are now at 291. Curt has promised a special treat if I reach 300. Elsie would be amazed.

2 Responses to “Research in the New San Diego Public Libary”

  1. Rita Covalt September 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Barb, your investigative abilities never cease to amaze me! I’m glad Curt is so supportive and will be glad to see what special treat he has in store for you at the 300 mark!!!!! Waiting with bated breath for the next book and the surprise as to how you weave the St. James Hotel into the story. Keep up the good sleuthing and writing!

  2. ritaroberts September 23, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Hi Barbara, Your ongoing research is just amazing. I love libraries and books in general, we can learn so much from them can’t we, and we are learning more about your fantastic story of Elsie. I will be looking forward to seeing and reading your next book.

Leave a Reply