Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
podcast_1400-MiddayEdition.jpg
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

New Book Profiles A Changing San Diego In The 60s and 70s

 December 8, 2020 at 10:30 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Dial back a half century or more in San Diego, it's astonishing to see how different things were. You see San Diego and the Salk Institute were in their infancies San Diego state was a college, not yet a university. The Padres didn't join the major leagues until 1969. When they had a brand new stadium, a few miles East of the brand new sports arena, these milestones, and much more are included in San Diego memories at time of change, the 1960s and 1970s. It's by long time, San Diego journalist, Roger, Shirley, and he joins me now. Roger, good to have you back on the program, Speaker 2: 00:34 That'd be with you Mark. Well, let's Speaker 1: 00:36 Start with the 1960s, hard for people our age to realize that is 60 years ago. But what about San Diego from what was it like at the start of that tumultuous decade? How big was the city who lived here? Speaker 2: 00:47 Well, it wasn't yet one of the top 10 cities in America. Uh, it was still growing and growth was a big thing. So in those days, San Diego was trying to diversify its economy and you've mentioned UCS D and sock Institute and San Diego state, all part of the drive to become a high-tech research and development center of America. Speaker 1: 01:10 Right. I want to ask you about that. The sixties were a great a time of change culturally and of course, great tragedy in the national level with the riots and the assassinations, the Vietnam war. How did San Diego figure into all of that? Speaker 2: 01:21 Well, we were not, uh, immune to, uh, all kinds of, uh, moving squad in those days. There was, there was a protest demonstration in front of the El Cortez hotel because of a, a, a battle over fair housing laws in California. We had the same issues in San Diego or discrimination and inclusion. Um, women were beginning to become more and more, uh, prominent in San Diego affairs, not only getting elected to office, but there were scientists, uh, researchers, women standouts in every field of San Diego life. Now Speaker 1: 01:58 Some of the major accomplishments here in the 1960s, I did mention the, uh, the, a couple of new stadiums and pro sports came to town. Speaker 2: 02:06 Well, let's see, you mentioned the universities. I think that's probably the most important thing in the 1960s and seventies, San Diego became a national, uh, uh, major, major league sports city with the charters coming in 1961. And you mentioned the, uh, potteries becoming a major league team at the end of the decade. We also go into the seventies. We're trying to become a, a, a major league basketball team center, which didn't work very well. Right. Speaker 1: 02:35 At one point we had three major league teams here in, in the period you're writing about. Speaker 2: 02:40 Yeah. So I was surprised how, uh, sports came away and it was always a major, uh, come on for big cities though. You can't be a major league city of other major league teams. Okay. Speaker 1: 02:50 Before we move to the seventies, tell us something about the sixties here that younger people, or those of us who moved here from elsewhere might not know about San Diego in the sixties. Well, Speaker 2: 03:00 I think the Vietnam war, uh, movement or ended war moving was very strong in San Diego, particularly UCLA. I was a student at the campus the second half of the sixties. And I've experienced that firsthand. All the pictures I have included this book. I remember personally witnessing as a student at the time. Speaker 1: 03:18 Well, let's move on to the 1970s off the top of my head. It was the time of mayor Pete Wilson, the moderate Republican establishment fully in charge, right? Speaker 2: 03:27 Exactly. He was, uh, actually probably the most important and influential mayor in San Diego history for a number of levels. He was the one who, uh, introduced growth management, uh, rules in San Diego trying to make growth paid for itself. And he was a leader. We still remember as a returning around about downtown in the seventies, he made redevelopment number one priority. And out of that came Horton Plaza, shopping center, the convention center, or the trolley downtown offices, office towers and housing. So B Wilson was very popular in his day. He was reelected three times. Speaker 1: 04:09 So a lot of those, uh, accomplishments and the foundations for things that we saw later, as you mentioned, Horton Plaza, and, uh, some of the rest, uh, were, were done by Pete Wilson. At that time, there was a big push back then and still is now, as you note, uh, for, uh, airport that never quite came to be a new airport here. Speaker 2: 04:28 No, that was a, in the previous book I did, which was on the forties and fifties, the whole question of Miramar, and they had the approval and they were going to take over Miramar Naval air station. And some people said, Oh, that's too far away. We'll never need to go that far for an airport. So, and ever since then, as you know, we've been discussing what to do with Lindbergh. And this year, this decade, these two decades, it was culminated in the worst plane crash in American history at the time of the PSA, Christian I 78. And we all had people thought, gee, that if, if we don't move the airport because of that terrible crash, we'll never remove it. And that's turned out to be the case. Speaker 1: 05:10 Sure has. Well, again, the same question about the seventies, tell us something about the seventies in San Diego that many people might not know. Speaker 2: 05:17 As I mentioned, the pain, the plane crash, the other two big events in 1978, where the, uh, was the arson fire that destroyed the old globe theater and the electric building in Balboa park. Uh, we had a terrible school shooting by Brenda Spencer in 1979, but then on the plus side, we had all the usual, uh, rock stars most prominent with in the sixties was the Beatles, but we had the BGS in the seventies, you know, or Elvis Presley came here five times in the 30 year period. San Diego was Richard Nixon's, so-called lucky town, lucky city. He, whenever he was running for office, Diego voted in great, uh, uh, celebration of Richard Nixon's political career. He had the Western white house just outside the color Kent County borders up the road. Uh, this period was when the San Onofre power plant was built. And here we are about to demolish that. And then one other thing, the seventies we shouldn't forget is that Comicon started in 1970 at the U S grand hotel. There were only 300 people that went to the first one. And now when there's not a pandemic, Comicon draws is more than a hundred thousand people. Speaker 1: 06:28 Right. And I didn't realize at all that I went back, uh, way that far will finally tell us about this series of books on San Diego history. What's the overall concept. And I should note that you're a natural for this having written about the city and region for more than 40 years with the union Tribune and with the roots your family has here. Speaker 2: 06:46 Yeah. Thank you. I went on the day, the day of the week, I was leaving the UT in 19 2018. After that many years, uh, Jeff flight, the editor said, Oh, I have a project for you. And so he told me about this company named pediment, that partners with newspapers around the country to do historical picture books. So they said, I said, sure, I'd love to do that. And they, uh, they have a formula where they have, uh, a newspaper usually partner with a history historical society. In this case, San Diego history center, most of the pictures are come from the unit tribunes, um, photographer work, uh, that are housed at the history center. Speaker 1: 07:21 Well, so many photos and so many stories. Where can our listeners get these books? Speaker 2: 07:26 Well, they're available from the history center. You can go to the pediment publishing company. Speaker 1: 07:31 Now note that we will have those links on our website to go to kpbs.org and the information on how to get these books will, will be there as well. I've been speaking with San Diego journalist and author. Roger Sholay. His latest book is San Diego memories. A time of change the 1960s and 1970s. Thanks, Roger. Speaker 2: 07:49 Thank you, Mark.

Ways To Subscribe
MiddayEd_generic-new_RaHZLYm.jpg
A city on the brink of change builds a university; bets on major league sports; hosts several prominent visitors and takes a pass at moving the airport, even after a horrific plane crash.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments