Archive for April 24, 2010

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, April 30, 1954—Part II

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Gail Umeham

Vet Opens Pharmacy
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 2

For the convenience of shoppers in the Mayfair Market, Maurice Cohen has announced the opening of an ethical prescription pharmacy in the North Park Mayfair Market Home Center.  The pharmacy will specialize in prescriptions, vitamins and biological.

Cohen, an East San Diego resident, is a licentiate in pharmacy.  A native of Southern California, he has had 25 years experience in the drug business.  He served 12 years in the U.S. Navy as a chief pharmacist and is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean conflict.

Lasker Lodge News
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 2
By Lou Levitt

The Spring membership drive is now under way according to Marshall Tucker, general chairman.  So far this year 19 new members have been signed up which is mighty good, but, never quite good enough.  Members are urged to bring as many friends as they can to the meetings so that we can get them interested in the workings of B’nai B’rith and get them signed up.

The Bowlers have decided upon a summer league, and all B’nai B’rith members, regardless of their lodge affiliation are invited to join.  Get in touch with Gerry Friedman.

Jack Spatz, chairman of the membership retention campaign is quite concerned with the members who haven’t as yet paid their 1954 dues and urges them to do so at once.

Lasker Lodge is going to offer their hand in the forthcoming Cotton Ball to be held May 30th.  This will be a joint affair with all B’nai B’rith lodges and chapters contributing to the success of the affair.

Temple Sisterhood Sets “ Cotton Pickin’  Time”
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 3

We gave you just a hint in the last issue of the Press—now Sarah Silverman and Sylvia Bickman, program chairmen, say to give you all the wonderful detils.  On Wed., May 26, Sisterhood will have its First Annual Donor Luncheon, for which San Diego’s newest department store will present “ Cotton Pickin’ Time”  their First Fashion Show in San Diego.
Molly Morse will be commentator, as our own members model the very newest in fashion, around the poolside at the Manor.

Ruth Smollar is Luncheon Chairman, and co-chairmen Jane Dreier and Francis Gordon promise a superb luncheon, which will be served in the Terrace Room.  Following the Luncheon and “ Cotton Pickin’ Time,” there will be a wonderful treat…more about that next time.

Remember the date, Wednesday, May 26, 11:45 a.m. at the Manor Hotel.  Attendance for the Luncheon and Fashion Show will be by reservations only so be sure to call the captains, Mona Sharpe, Atwater 4-8129 or Ethel Kolkey, Juniper 2-0527, early so you can be sure of being there.

Youth Awards To Be Made By B.B. Council
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 3

B’nai B’rith Coordinating Council announces that its annual “Youth of the Year” award to the outstanding student of each high school will tae place during the month of May.  This program is co-chaired by Ruth Brav and Reva Garvin who report that the acceptance of this program is on the increase.

The Council has purchased a colored print of the “Toymakers” issued by the Anti-Defamation League to be placed in use at the film depository at the San Diego State College.

The Council announces that its annual spring dance and card party will be held at the Beth Jacob Center on Sunday, May 30.  The Committee comprised of Harry Wax, Jack Lowenbein Robert Cohen, Audrey Sack, and Ruth Brav, promise that the dance will be a greater success than last year and the outstanding orchestra has already been hired.  The proceeds from this party are used by the Council for the Armed Services and Youth Programs of B’nai B’rith in this community.

A tentative announcement is made that B’nai B’rith will reinstate its annual picnic for the community on Sunday, August 29, at Big Oak Ranch.  The committee, comprised of Jack Lowenbein, Stanley Yukon, Morrie Kraus, and Joe Kaplan are endeavoring to make this one of the outstanding events of the year.

Home For Aged Group Plans For Luncheon
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 3

The Hebrew Home for the Aged will hold their ninth annual Donor luncheon Wednesday, May t, at 12:30 p.m.  Theme of the luncheon will be the planning of programs to keep aged hands busy and minds alert.  Many handicraft articles will be shown.  Mrs. Harry Wax, general chairman of the Women’s Auxiliary, will present a very entertaining program including a violin solo by Mr. B. Fishman, noted San Diego violinist and small fry, Mike Williams, San Diego’s newest television star on Monty Hall’s Tiny Town Program known to our community as Michael Schwartz, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Schwartz.  He will do his famous “It’s in the Book” skit.  Mrs. Alex Cohen and her committee, together with Mrs. Paul Cudney, will do the decorations.  Guests of the home will be invited.

Beth Israel Family Sabbath May 7th
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 3

Temple Beth Israel’s last Family Worship Sabbath of the Temple year will be held next Friday, May 7th, at 8:00 p.m.  All Religious School children whose birthdays occur in May, June and July will be called to the Altar for the Rabbi’s blessing.

The Children’s choir, under the direction of Cantor Miller, will participate in the service.  Linda Zuckerman and Fred Goodman of the Confirmation Class will read the Candle-lighting and Kiddush services, respectively.

Rabbi Morton J. Cohn will continue his series of story-sermons based on the lives of great American Jews, in observance of the American Jewish tercentenary.

All children and their parents are urged to attend this lovely service.  “The family that prays together stays together.”

B.J. Sisterhood Gives Old-Time Melodrama
Southwestern Jewish Press April 30, 1954 Page 3

“Ah hah, me proud beauty!  You are in my power.”
“Save me!  Save me!”
“Unhand her, you villain.”
“Curses!  Foiled again!”

The play’s the thing!  And the play to see is the Beth Jacob Sisterhood’s presentation of a melodrama entitled “The Villain Still Pursues Her” starring Ann Elvove, as the Mother, Esther Brisker, as the Daughter, and Phil Mollick, as the Villain.

This show will have everything!  Melodrama, black-out skits, can-can girls, singing waiters, and even a men’s ballet.
And while you are watching all this wonderful entertainment, you can enjoy pretzels and beer, sandwiches and drinks.
The Sisterhood Gay Nineties Revue and Cabaret Nite will be presented Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23, 8:15 at the Beth Jacob Center, donation–$1.  Tickets are now available.  Contact any member of the Sisterhood or the Congregation office.

And if you want to get in on the act by helping with costuming or props contact chairman Alice Solomon, AT-4-2798.  The cast meets every Monday night.

So mark those dates on your calendar—May 22 and May 23, for an evening of fun and sparkling entertainment.  After the revue there will be dancing to make the evening complete. 


Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.


National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene plans a big bash to celebrate its 95th anniversary

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

By Jeanette Friedman

NEW YORK –I’ve often told the story of how my father—a yeshiva bochur from Munkacs who loved the Yiddish theater—tied his cousin (female) to the back of his motorcycle and headed into Prague from Presov to see drama queen Ida Kaminska. When he got back to Presov, his uncle gave him a “mishebeyrach,” a blessing (not), that he never forgot. But seeing Kaminska emote in Yiddish on the stage was worth every  “patch” (smack)! That love of Yiddish theater has been passed down to me, who finds the Yiddish theater as vital today as it was in my dad’s youth.

Just five years away from its centennial as the oldest theater in the USA and as a unique Jewish cultural icon, the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene (NYTF or fondly, the Folksbiene) is thriving in New York and around the country. It continuously celebrates the vivacity of Yiddish, brings Yiddish culture to every “vinkele” (every corner) of America. From the South Shore to the Deep South, from the Hamptons to LA, from Crown Heights to Cleveland, and from “da Bronks”  to Dayton,  NYTF is attracting younger, fresher audiences to a wealth of programs. What they’ve discovered in recent years is that you don’t need to be Jewish or speak Yiddish to love Yiddish theater—audiences and performers come from diverse backgrounds and adore the whole experience.

The NYTF’s 95th birthday party, From the Golden Land to the Promised Land, is an international gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center to be held on May 2nd, Lag B’Omer. It will honor Joel Klein, the chancellor of NYC’s Department of Education.  Aaron Lansky, who began his renowned  National Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts by dumpster-diving on the Lower East Side and saving myriad Yiddish books from extinction, and Bryna Wasserman, artistic director of the Yiddish theater in Montreal, are both receiving Mlotek Prizes for their contributions to Yiddish culture.  The gala will pay tribute to  the considerable and significant contributions of the Mlotek family, whose Hurculean efforts, along with those of others, helped rescue Yiddish culture in North America from oblivion.

The dynamic Eleanor Reissa, who can belt out a song like Ethel Merman, and Emmy-Award winner Fyvush Finkel, who was just a tot when he first tripped the lights, will be the emcees. Fyvush, Allen Lewis Rickman and Yelena Shmulenson who opened the Academy Award nominated film, A Serious Man, with a 9-minute, all Yiddish scene, will present a musical memorial to the late great Mina Bern, who kept us laughing and crying until the very end.

Israeli superstar, Chava Alberstein is a headliner, as are the troupers of Yiddishpiel, who are coming from Tel Aviv to strut their stuff. Daniella Rabbani,  Dani Marcus and the Gala Ensemble Performers, all young NYTF regulars, will shine in the footlights, as Frank London and his Klezmer Brass All Stars keep feet tapping and hands clapping.

Many a pundit has said Kaddish for the Folksbiene over the years, but it was “le’vatala” (in vain). Audiences have grown to the tens of thousands each year and include ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages. Supertitles in Russian and English accompany all performances, and true theater lovers want to catch old-timers like Theo Bikel before they retire or enjoy Reissa and  Burstyn as they bring down the house.

Young parents bring their kids to rollick and roll at Kids and Yiddish every year at Chanukah time; traditionalists attend free stage readings of the classics.  Folks have sought out the amazing  comedy, Schlemiel The First, in the North Jersey suburbs and the outer boroughs of New York. They packed a theater in Dayton, Ohio to see a presentation of “Di Next Dorika,” and filled an auditorium in LA to sing along with Burstyn in “On Second Ave.”  There’s always something for everyone.

Beginning May 25,  Mike Burstyn will star in a five-week run of The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer, adapted and directed by Reissa. It’s about a natural comic who fights for truth and justice in ways not familiar to Superman/Clark Kent.

Kids and Yiddish, readings, performances around the country by The Troupe, stuff for free, a cabaret once a year that rivals a night at the best supper club in the city and an annual gala on the Great White Way that’s made up of great performances—that’s the grande dame of Yiddish theater, the Folksbiene in action. Not bad at all for an old lady.

NYTF entertainment, which gently educates all comers with “Yiddishkeit,” is available at the click of a mouse.  Visit to learn more about how to join in the fun and have a great theater experience.
Friedman is metropolitan New York bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Palestinian intransigence helps Israel with White House

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Zionists of the world, relax. Your allies are the Palestinians. They will protect you even from the White House of Barack Obama.

Again the Palestinians have said no to efforts of White House emissaries to extract what they can from Prime Minister Netanyahu. He proposed to negotiate toward a Palestinian state with temporary  borders, with the final lines to be decided some time later.

No doubt some will say this was not a serious offer. What self respecting politician can tolerate a state with undefined borders?

Israel is a decent example. From 1948 to 1979 Israel had no defined borders. Then it had one with Egypt. It acquired part of another, with Jordan, only in 1994. There remain problems with the northern border, and that between Israel and Palestine is anyone’s guess.
Sixty-two years and counting, this country with indefinite borders is on the World Bank’s list of wealthy countries, and is arguably the most successful of the 100 or so new states to emerge after World War II.
Another sticking point for the Palestinians, according to Saeb Erekat, is Israel’s refusal to stop construction in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu has refused to take that step. Some say that he has agreed to “avoid provocations” in Jerusalem, whatever that means.
President Obama has said that he cannot force the Israelis and Palestinians to do what they refuse to do, but he keeps trying.
Could it be that the American president has a Messiah complex, feeling that he must solve what has eluded others?
He is not a Muslim, but has identified with their sensitivities due to the slights and insults of others. If he absorbed anything from all those sermons by Jeremiah Wright, he may view Israel as one of the reasons for the  ill feelings of other people in this region.  

Is it the curse of Americans and those dependent on them that they select attractive and articulate individuals with no experience in international affairs?
George W. Bush created no end of harm by his missions to bring democracy to Iraq and provide Afghanistan with a better regime than the Taliban.

We are still waiting for the results of Obama’s engagement with Syria and Iran.

It is not a good time to create a Palestinian State. Hamas, widely viewed as an impossible partner, has control of Gaza. One of its reasonable claims is that rivals in charge of the West Bank are illegitimate, insofar as they remain in office 15 months after the end of their term.

Given the prominence of an assertive Islam, we should not expect Hamas to soften its position about Israel, or for the Fatah cadres around Mahmoud Abbas to depart significantly from their demands.

No one in a key Israeli position can say an explicit “No,” or “Leave us alone” to the head of the country that is vital for it economic well being and security.

The essential function of whoever is the prime minister is to avoid the absolute negative, and to demonstrate a willingness to help the American president.

Aid will come from Palestinians’ sense of having a monopoly of justice. Their penchant for saying no, without talking to their people about flexibility and compromise, may eventually convince Americans that the game will not end.

Aid is also coming from respectable Americans, such as Ed Koch and Charles Shumer, who are trying to hold the White House to a standard of fairness in apportioning blame to itself and to others for the impasse.

We can conceive any number of scenarios emerging from a failure to achieve peace. No one of them is more certain than any other.

Tensions may continue indefinitely with occasional violence, kept in check by Palestinians not wanting a repeat of what Israel did to Gaza in 2008-09, or before that to both Gaza and the West Bank after 2000.

Violence may flare. We hear threats of a “third intifada.” If the most recent decade is an indication, that would  weaken the Israeli left, and increase the misery of Palestinians.

Palestinian nationalism can weaken, and people continue to drift away. That may seem unlikely due to assertive Islam and a friendly White House, but several Palestinian Diasporas beckon with economic opportunities.
If the American president views himself with a sacred mission about Palestine and Israel, we won’t have a good night’s sleep until 2013 or 2017. American demands, echoed by Europeans and Israeli leftists, will produce much nervous scrambling to please, or to look like one is trying to please.

Then whoever comes to the Oval Office may recognize the folly of President Obama, and define this part of the Middle East–perhaps without saying so–as an issue too hot to handle. 

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Jewish license plate — Mirjam

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO–Melanie Rubin spotted this Spanish spelling of the biblical name, Miriam, who, of course, was the big sister of Moses.

This license plate has been added to our online collection.  If your car has a Jewish license plate, or you spot one that does, please send us a photo of it  at for posting.

San Diego’s Historic Places: Presidio Park grounds

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The Padre by Arthur Putnam

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—As in a game of ‘Treasure Hunt,’ clues about San Diego’s history under three flags can be found in a variety of places outside the graceful Serra Museum – including on one of the three flagpoles!

“In recognition of the financial contributions made by the inhabitants of the San Diego Presidio to Spain in its war against Great Britain; these financial contributions assisted the American colonies in their fight for independence and the establishment of the United States of America,” says a small plaque placed by the Sons of the American Revolution on the pole for the U.S. flag.

We think of July 4, 1776, as a most important date of the American Revolution – the official date of the American Declaration of Independence. This came only seven years after San Diego was established as a Spanish settlement on July 16, 1769 with the celebration of mass by Father Junipero Serra. The Spanish soldiers sent to safeguard Serra’s settlement, along with his fellow Franciscan missionaries and the indigenous Kumeyaay, were the “inhabitants of the Presidio” mentioned on the plaque.

But what did they have to do with the American Revolution which we think of as being fought on the East Coast of the United States?

The organization that sponsored the plaque wants people to change their thinking. The American Revolution really wasn’t fought only on the U.S. mainland. It was part of a worldwide conflict in which Spain and France along with the 13 American colonies (but not Canada) were arrayed against England.

In determining how to deploy its troops, the British couldn’t simply worry about George Washington and his troops. They had to worry about what the French and the Spaniards might do next. Would they attack the British home islands? Would they send their fleets against British targets in the Caribbean?

Given such circumstances, everywhere that Spain or France had garrisons contributed to Britain’s worries, and were included in the chess match of global war. The active duty soldiers of Spain, by such reasoning, were contributing factors in the eventual American victory—including those soldiers here in San Diego–even if they did not see direct action.

Besides the flags of Spain and the United States, the flag of Mexico also flutters near the Serra Museum, representing the country which exercised the shortest period of rule – only 25 years—over San Diego but which nevertheless looms large in San Diego history. 

On a treasure hunt for San Diego’s past in this central portion of Presidio Park, one can find allusions in plaques or sculpture to all three of these flagged periods – as well as to the centuries of Kumeyaay history that preceded the eras of all three nations whose banners wave on the flagpoles.

The Kumeyaay period

“The Indian” sculpture was created by sculptor Arthur Putnam (1873-1930) as part of a commission he received in 1898 from newspaper publisher Edward W. Scripps to create for the grounds of his Miramar Ranch estate five heroic sculptures depicting early California life. Unfortunately, Putnam had completed only three sculptures—“The Indian, (1904)”, The Padre (1908),” which is located in a grove nearby, and “The Ploughman (1910)”—when a brain tumor caused him to lose consciousness in 1911. Although he survived another two decades, he never sculpted again. “The Ploughman,” incidentally, can be found at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The two other intended sculptures were to be of a Spanish soldier and of a Mexican woman on horseback.

The sculpture depicting an Indian with a slain puma built upon Putnam’s experience as a renowned animalist. One of the earliest reviews of the piece was in the November 1905 issue of Craftsman with writer S. Mayne Baltimore suggesting that the sculpture “represents an Indian who typifies, as unconsciously as a forest animal, the native poise and dignity of mind, as well as the grace and strength of body, of man untrammeled by civilization….This Indian has been on the trail, and a mountain lion, the spoil of his bow and arrow, lies on the boulder against which he leans. The limp carcass of the big beast, flung like a discarded blanket over the rock, is a perfect foil to the lithe strength of the figure, so vital in its repose, that leans against it. The hunter is nude, save for the breechclout of the southern Indian, and every line of his stalwart frame, lean, compact, and muscular as that of a panther.”

The Journal of San Diego History was less rhapsodic in its issue of Summer 1972: “On the grounds of the original San Diego Presidio in Presidio Park stands an imposing, nine-foot statue depicting one of the aboriginal inhabitants of the North American continent. Although somewhat fanciful in its rendering, the statue is representative of the California Indians in general….”

Near the statue is an ewaa, a traditional dwelling of the Kumeyaay, which also can be found at various other historic venues such as Mission San Diego and Mission Trails Regional Park.

The Spanish period

San Diego’s Spanish period is depicted in this area of Presidio Park by “The Padre,” another of Putnam’s sculptures, by the “Serra Cross,” and by the ruins of the  old Presidio’s chapel, which are buried under mounds of dirt on a lower lawn.

Like “The Indian,” Putnam’s “The Padre” was relocated to Presidio Park in 1933 and donated to the San Diego Historical Society during the American Bicentennial Year of 1976. Some people supposed the sculpture is meant to depict Serra, but this is not the case: it is supposed to represent all the Franciscan Padres who served in California’s 21 missions. This figure’s head is bowed, his hands are folded behind his back, his feet are in sandals and his waist is girdled with a rope holding a crucifix.

Near the statue the 28-foot-high Serra Cross pays tribute to the founder of the missions, with a plaque at its foot saying: “…Here the first citizen Fray Junipero Serra planted civilization in California. Here he first raised the cross. Here began the first mission. Here founded the first town, San Diego, July 16, 1769.”

Save Our Heritage Organization reports that the cross was “built in 1913 from fragments of tiles from the original Presidio of 1769.” The cross, officially celebrating the bicentennial of Father Junipero Serra’s birth,  was dedicated by the Order of Panama during the City of San Diego’s build-up to the California-Panama Exposition in Balboa Park in 1915.

The cross was located at the spot where the spacious home of the presidio’s commandant and first Mexican governor of California, Jose Maria de Echeandia, had been built so as to command a view of his officers’ quarters and San Diego Bay.  To reach the home and other buildings of the presidio, 19th century visitors had to pass through the sentry gate of a wooden stockade. 

Faculty and students of San Diego State University excavated the mounded grassy area during the 1960s, finding in addition to the outline of the Presidio’s post-Mission chapel various artifacts providing clues to life at the Presidio from 1769 to 1821, when Mexico gained its independence from Spain.

Indicating patterns of trade were a Chumash abalone shell fishhook, pottery of local Kumeyaay manufacture as well as fragments of pieces from Europe, Asia and Mexico; a gun flint; a blade from what was assumed to be a sword, and even a “Phoenix” button of the type ordered by Napoleon for his soldiers.

Outside the Serra Museum is a wooden wine press, described by a plaque as “a gift from the Spanish island of Mallorca , Father Junipero Serra’s birthplace, for San Diego’s bicentennial in 1969. Similar presses were used in California missions.”

The Mexican Period

At the far end of the Presidio’s main parking lot is a yellow room and observation structure upon the wall of which has been placed a plaque alluding to the story of Sylvester Pattie, his son John Ohio Pattie, and their travelling companions who constituted the first overland party to reach California from the continental United States. (Earlier,  Jedediah Strong Smith had arrived in San Diego as an individual.)

The plaque says: “Sylvester Pattie, pathfinder, leader of the first party of Americans. Entered Alta California over Southern trails, arrived at San Diego Presidio March 27, 1828. An officer in the War of 1812 , born in Kentucky August 21, 1782, died near this spot April 24, 1828. First American buried in California soil. Commemorating also his son James Ohio Pattie and companions Jesse Ferguson, William Pope, Richard Laughlin, James Puter, Nathaniel Pryor, and Isaac Slover.”

Below this is another plaque reading: “1782 Sylvester Pattie 1828 The United States Daughters of 1812 San Diego Chapter April 1992.”

In his book The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, the younger Pattie, a veteran of the War of 1812,  explained the circumstances of his imprisonment at or near this very spot: After being apprehended by Mexican authorities, the party told the commanding general of the Presidio that they were fur-trappers, but the officer “with a sinister and malicious smile, observed that he believed nothing of all this, but considered us worse than thieves and murderers; in fact, he held us to be spies for the old Spaniards, and that our business was to lurk about the country, that we might inspect the weak and defenceless points of the frontiers, and point them out to the Spaniards, in order that they might introduce their troops into the country …..

“Though amazed and confounded at such an unexpected charge, we firmly asserted our innocence in regard to any of the charges brought against us. We informed him that we were born and bred thorough and full blooded republicans; and that there was not a man of us who would not prefer to die, rather than to be the spies and instruments of the Spanish king, or any other king; and that but a few years since, we had all been engaged in fighting the forces of a king, allied with savages, and sent against the country of our home…..”

The father and son suffered privation in separate cells, about eight to ten feet square with walls of stone. The food was barely edible, and though the guards were sympathetic, the general absolutely refused to improve their conditions Pattie wrote: “I had become so emaciated and feeble that I could hardly travel across my prison floor. But no grief arrests the flight of time, and the twenty-fourth of April came, in which the sergeant visited me and in a manner of mingled kindness and firmness told me that my father was no more. At these tidings, simple truth calls on me to declare, my heart felt relieved. I am a hunter, and not a person to analyse the feelings of poor human nature. My father was now gone, gone where the voice of the oppressor is no more heard….”

At the entrance to the parking lot, the narrative on a California Historical Marker covers both Spanish and Mexican history at this location.

“San Diego Presidio Site,” the marker reads. “Soldiers, sailors, Indians and Franciscan missionaries from New Spain occupied the land of Presidio Hill on May 17, 1769 as a military outpost. Two months later, Father Junipero Serra established the first San Diego Mission on Presidio Hill. It was officially proclaimed a Spanish Presidio on January 1, 1774. The fortress was later occupied by a succession of Mexican forces. The presidio was abandoned in 1837 after San Diego became a Pueblo. California Registered Historical Landmark # 59, first registered December 6, 1932. Plaque placed by the State Department of Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter E Clampus Vitus, August 8, 1992.

The American Period

The landmark Serra Museum was designed by architect William Templeton Johnson and dedicated July 16, 1929, a little more than a century after members of the Pattie party experienced their agony. Because its architectural style is reminiscent of the missions, tourists often mistakenly believe that the imposing building is, in fact, the mission. Johann Wahnon, a teacher who once worked at the Serra Museum,  commented that of all questions he had heard, “Is this the Mission?” outranked them all.

Yet, near the entrance to the museum is sufficient explanation of the building’s origins and purposes. It reads: “George White Marston, 1850-1946, friend of his fellow men, lover of all growing things, piece by piece over many years acquired these acres, the site of the first Spanish settlement in the state of California. He erected this building, planted the trees and shrubs, and nurtured their growth with tireless devotion, and when the barren hillside had blossomed into beauty, he presented Presidio Park to the city he loved as a memorial to Father Junipero Serra…” The marker was placed  by the San Diego Historical Society on October 22, 1950.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  This article appeared previously on