SDFP Writer Maria Garcia Thanks Neighborhood House Story Tellers with Appreciation Luncheon

NH celebration cake excerpt

By Anna Daniels

San Diego Free Press writer Maria Garcia hosted a very special thank you luncheon for the men and women whom she has interviewed for her award winning series “The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights.” The event, attended by over sixty people, was held on August 9 in the community room of the Logan Heights Library.

These men and women, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, shared personal details of their lives and old photographs during their interviews that enabled Maria to weave together a unique social history of Logan Heights with Neighborhood House as the focus. That history spans from World War I to the early 1970s, with the take over of Chicano Park and the occupation of Neighborhood House.
  [Read more…]

San Diego Free Press Celebrates!

sdfp 3rd cake thumbnail

By Anna Daniels

The San Diego Free Press celebrated its third birthday on August 8 with a Galastravaganzaversary party at Border X Brewing. Wow–three years! It has been an astoundingly active year for this unique all volunteer operated San Diego media presence. Contributors and editors have provided another year of progressive views with a distinctly grassroots perspective on the topics of labor, the environment, immigration, criminal justice, politics and government.

Our approach–multi-media and multi-genre– reflects the talents and interests of our contributors. Video essays, personal narratives, cartoons and poetry are essential to the way that we present the people’s history. We take risks in terms of both the content provided and the format. The creative juices continue to flow; the vision of where we are headed is becoming more clearly delineated. Time for craft beer and a slice of galastravaganza cake!   [Read more…]

Chicano Park in Barrio Logan

Prog San Diego - Copy

Editor’s note: Welcome to our newest column, Progressive San Diego! We received an email from Dave, a reader in Liverpool, UK, who’s visiting San Diego later this year. He had one simple question: What are some progressive places to visit?

That got us thinking. There’s nothing really available online that’s broad and comprehensive with regard to San Diego’s progressive history and locales — a directory of sorts. We want to change that.

And so twice a month we will feature a person, place or thing that has done something to contribute to our important cause and culture. Given our time and resource restraints, each feature will be short and sweet, or pulled from other sites with permission. Please feel free to add information in the comments. We would love this to be organic and ever evolving.

This installment: Chicano Park in Barrio Logan   [Read more…]

SDFP Cartoonist Junco Canché to Have First Solo Exhibit of Work


Artesano: The Political Cartoons of Junco Canché to be held Saturday in Barrio Logan

By Brent E. Beltrán

San Diego Free Press is always looking for contributors. Especially voices from outside the mainstream dominant culture. Some contribute one or two pieces. While others stick around for longer.

One such contributor brought fully into the Freep fold is Joaquin Junco, Jr. aka Junco Canché. Since May 19, 2014 he has contributed sixty editorial cartoons under the Junco’s Jabs moniker. His toons have taken jabs at a variety of local, national and international politicians, celebrities and evil-doers.

For the first time in his young life Junco will have a solo exhibition of his work. The exhibition takes place this Saturday, July 25 at Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan.   [Read more…]

Logan Library to Host Women of Color in Comics Panel


An interview with panel moderator and comic book writer/publisher Regine Sawyer

By Brent E. Beltrán

Comic-Con is here and, as usual, Barrio Logan has been left out of the official fun stuff. But we don’t fret around here. We do things for ourselves, like Chicano-Con and MARVEL vs DC.

But there is also something else taking place in San Diego’s favorite barrio. On Sunday, July 12 from 12:30pm to 1:45pm there will be a panel discussion at the Logan Heights Library called Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender & The Comic Book Medium.

The panel is free to all and will be moderated by Lockett Down Productions Publications owner Regine Sawyer. There will also be some free giveaways to audience members from the panelists as well as free superhero comics for kids and parents donated by an anonymous friend of mine.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Occupation of Neighborhood House…

NH- Liberation

…and the birth of the Chicano Free Clinic

The occupation of Neighborhood House that began when barrio activist Laura Rodriguez chained herself to the doors on October 4, 1970 occurred a mere six months after the takeover of Chicano Park in April 1970. Both actions involved many of the same people and both actions demanded community control over decisions that affected the lives of residents.

With the takeover of Chicano Park in April 1970, the barrio had said “¡Basta!” to land use decisions that displaced thousands of residents as a result of military use of the bay during World War II followed by the growth of the shipbuilding industry; then by the construction of freeways and the Coronado Bridge; and zoning changes that permitted yonkes (junkyards) to exist side by side with long time residences.

The occupation of Neighborhood House was a demand for community control over this beloved institution that had been in existence for 58 years at that time. Its progressive era service philosophy had been displaced by Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.   [Read more…]

Ignored by Comic-Con Barrio Logan Creates Its Own


By Brent E. Beltrán

Barrio Logan, located less than a mile from the convention center, has been mostly left out of Comic-Con over the years. Comic-Con International recently bought a building at 16th and National in Barrio Logan. Yet no official events are scheduled to take place here.

There’s not even a shuttle bus stop yet there will be Comic-Con buses running every twenty minutes down Cesar Chavez Parkway heading towards the freeway. And there will also be countless attendees using this community as a parking lot to escape the outrageous parking fees.

Yet no official activities take place here. No outreach has been done to incorporate a low income, mostly  Latino community impacted every year by Comic-Con. And that is unfortunate.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: From Empowerment to Direct Action in the Barrio!

chicano power

The Plan de Santa Bárbara and the take-over of Chicano Park set the stage for the occupation of Neighborhood House

The 1960s brought many changes to Logan Heights that reflected the social convulsions unleashed by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement nationally. Urban renewal policies brought freeways and massive displacement to Logan Heights. Generations of Mexican Americans in the community had indeed become “Americanized” and had their own vision of what constitutes a Great Society. They were demanding positions of leadership in every aspect of their social and political life.

And Neighborhood House was changing too. Last week’s interview with Irma Castro, who went to work at Neighborhood House in 1961, provided a glimpse into some of the changes.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Girls Social Clubs and Signs of the Coming Occupation

NH_Shebas dance

As the boys social clubs grew in popularity during the 1950s, girls expressed interest in forming their own clubs. The girls social clubs that sprang up during this period included the Shebas, Blue Velvets, Madonnas and Faberges. While girls had historically taken the lead in their own social activities, especially when it came to charitable events such as food drives or kids programs, their social clubs operated in many ways as auxiliaries to the various boys clubs which included Los Gallos, Los Lobos and Los Chicanos.

By belonging to a social club it became easier for the girls to explain to their parents the amount of time they were spending at Neighborhood House.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The In-Between Decade 1955-1965

NH- Navarra store Lucky Strike Ad

The jitterbug. Catholic school girl uniforms with Oxford shoes. The decade of Cold War peace between the Korean and Vietnam Wars in the country at large was a period of continued social changes in Logan Heights.

During this in-between decade, long time Logan Heights residents were beginning to relocate to Valencia Park and Kearny Mesa, an indication that it was a sign of status to move out of the community. Freeway construction during this period had displaced residents and divided the Greater Logan Heights community and more divisions would occur with the construction of I-5 and the Coronado Bridge. Those changes would culminate in the turmoil of the late 1960s, specifically the Chicano movement.

The Logan Heights of the 1950s and 1960s was a mixed neighborhood.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Los Chicanos, 1950s Social Club

Los Chicanos jacket emblem

Los Chicanos, like the other social clubs, focused on providing a positive image of the guys from Logan Heights. According to a brochure from their Golden Anniversary Dance in 2005, Los Chicanos got their name from a suggestion that was made by Albert Usquiano. The general consensus was that other social clubs had been named after animals but that they should be daring and go with the term Chicano.

Even though some of the boys used the term Chicano among themselves, in 1955 it was not an everyday term used in the majority community.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Gilbert Reyes and Los Lobos

Los Lobos jacket detail

Lowriders. Metal taps on shoes. Club jackets. These expressions of 1950s popular youth culture were evident in Logan Heights. Youth social clubs such as Los Gallos in last week’s article developed along with that culture. Los Lobos was another social club in Logan Heights that expressed and interpreted youth culture in unique ways.
  [Read more…]

SDFP Writer Maria Garcia Receives SOHO Cultural Heritage Award

Maria Soho 2

The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) announced its People in Preservation Awards this past Thursday, May 21, 2015. San Diego Free Press contributor Maria E. Garcia was one of the ten people tapped for recognition. The majority of award recipients had beautifully and lovingly restored residential or commercial property to their original architectural state.

Maria’s designation was distinctly different. Her cultural heritage designation conveyed the underlying premise of the evening that “The past is not the property of historians; it is public possession.”
  [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: 1950s Social Clubs–Los Gallos

Los Gallos Dance Ticket - Neighborhood House

Social clubs have been a noteworthy part of Logan Height’s history. After WWII, Leonard Fierro, Frank Peñuelas, Mike Negrete and Armando Rodriguez were reunited and started a new Toltec Club based on Frank’s 1930s prototype at Neighborhood House. Girls participated in the Lucky 13 Club. The 1950s brought a revived interest in social clubs for the young people in Logan Heights. Los Gallos was one of the first of these clubs.
  [Read more…]

Ten Questions for Ken10


Local Poet Returns to the Mic at Poetic Libations II

Thursday night marks the return of Ken10 as a featured poet on the San Diego literary arts scene. Ken10, also known as Kenton Hundley, took a short break from performing his poetry regularly at local venues.

In the 2000’s Ken10 was a constant fixture at the various poetic happenings that took place during that period. He was a member of Goatsong Conspiracy and the award winning group, Los Able Minded Poets, and performed his socially conscious, hip hop and jazz influenced verse throughout San Diego.   [Read more…]

History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Life in the 1950s

1950s TV Set

Last week’s article “The Korean War Years” highlighted the differences between the Korean War and World War II in terms of their impacts on life in Logan Heights. Readers were introduced to Johnny Leyva, a Korean War vet who grew up in Logan Heights. Johnny’s story continues this week, offering a glimpse into 1950s life.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Korean War Years

38th Parallel sign

Veterans of World War II returned home deeply changed by their experience. They found that Logan Heights and San Diego had also been changed by the war. The effort to find a new normalcy would be interrupted by the Korean War.

This is part I of the Korean War and the 1950s, viewed through the experiences of Johnny Leyva who grew up in Logan Heights.
  [Read more…]

Barrio Bits: Placas, Chicano Park Day and Barrio Art Crawl

Saturday is Chicano Park Day AND Barrio Art Crawl! I repeat. Saturday is Chicano Park Day AND Barrio Art Crawl!

For the first time in the history of the universe two of the greatest things (of the many) that Barrio Logan offers is happening on the same day. From 10am until 5pm you can enjoy the sights and sounds that is the annual Chicano Park Day celebration then from 5pm until 9pm you can crawl the streets of La Logan in search of artistic enjoyment at the various art venues within this creative community.

Chicano Park was founded on April 22, 1970 as a land takeover by community members after they found out that a California Highway Patrol substation was going to be built on the site instead of a park. In 2013, due to the beautiful murals that grace the pillars of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, Chicano Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Dancers and Dancing

Emma Lopez, Nachita Hernandez–and Rita Hayworth!

By Maria E. Garcia

Dancing lessons and dancing have been a focus at Neighborhood House since the early days. As stated in previous articles the dancers often performed at fund raisers held at the Marston House. The most memorable show from the early years was when they performed at the reception held for Jane Addams, founder of Hull House and a noted social worker. In those days they also performed in Balboa Park and at the Presido. Dance productions gave the entertainers from Logan Heights the opportunity to visit other parts of the city as well as for the members of the majority community to see the talent of the dancers from Neighborhood House.   [Read more…]

This is for…

By Brent E. Beltrán

This is for those that came before
The ones that paved the way
Blazed the trail
And beat the path

This is for he, she
You, me
Everybody in this neighborhood

This is for the park builders
The pillar painters
Sculpture makers
Cactus garden caretakers   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Girls Play Ball!

Part II of Americanization through Baseball

By Maria E. Garcia

Newspaper articles in the 1940s and later indicate that at times a girls softball game was played prior to the boys games. This was almost always done as a way of enticing more people to attend the game. It is unclear whether attendance was to the benefit of the girls playing prior to the boy’s game, or if the boys team attendance benefited by playing after the girls.

From time to time the girls team would play against the boys team to add to the enjoyment of the game and to increase attendance. In some ways the early girls teams were a novelty to the general public, and yet, taken very seriously by the girls playing the game.   [Read more…]

Photo Murals Honoring Cesar Chavez Installed in Barrio Logan

What could have been an ugly structure will now become an important part of the community

By Brent E. Beltrán

This week photo murals depicting late labor leader Cesar Chavez have gone up on a new parking structure in Barrio Logan. The structure, located on the corner of Cesar Chavez Parkway and National Avenue, will be fitted with eight different photo murals “reflecting and honoring the life and work” of the United Farmworker co-founder.

Carlos LeGerrette, activist, photographer and originator of the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, was instrumental in making the photo murals a reality through his historic and extensive photo collection of Cesar Chavez and the UFW.

“We worked with LeGerrette and other community members through a series of collaborative meetings to determine which images of Cesar Chavez should be displayed on the facility,” said Rudy Kastelic, Interim President at San Diego Continuing Education. “We have been serving the Barrio Logan community since the 70s and we’ve had ‘good neighbor’ relationships with Barrio Station, Cesar Chavez Service Clubs and other organizations in the community that we wanted to include in our building process.”   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Americanization through Baseball

By Maria E. Garcia

Settlement Houses across the United States, including Neighborhood House, stated that the Americanization of immigrant residents was one of their goals. Books and news article from the 1920s through the 1940s allude to the fact that baseball games and baseball teams were methods used in that Americanization.

Some articles go as far as to state that they were a way of replacing what was considered “Mexican interests.” Emory Bogarus from the University of Southern California (USC), in referring to the Mexicans in Los Angeles, states “Baseball clubs were used to counter the interest Mexicans had in bull fighting, gambling and cock fighting.”

Neighborhood House, the various canneries and some employers in San Diego formed baseball teams for their employees. This was done not only to Americanize them but to maintain loyalty to a particular employer. Involvement in this popular sport had consequences that broadened the meaning of Americanization in unanticipated ways.   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Merlin Pinkerton, Mentor and Coach

By Maria E. Garcia

Once a month the Logan Heights Old Timers meet for breakfast at the IHOP in National City. At one of those meetings I asked them to share their memories about Coach Merlin Pinkerton. Coach Pinkerton came to Neighborhood House in 1943.

The people quoted in this article are between the ages of 65 and 95 and yet their memories of Coach Pinkerton are clear and reflect the love they felt for him. The question becomes how did this man become the most loved and respected coach in the history of Neighborhood House? What did he do and how did he do it?   [Read more…]

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Tulie Trejo’s Blue Ribbon Life

From learning to bake at Neighborhood House to winning the Pillsbury Bakeoff

By Maria E Garcia

It was Cinco de Mayo, 1941. Obdulia “Tulie” Trejo had left the turmoil of her parents’ house with its eleven children and the harsh restrictions her parents imposed upon her. She was living at the time with her girlfriend Dolores and her mother. On that particular Cinco de Mayo, Tulie was seventeen years old and that is the day that she met Joe Trejo, a young man from Carlsbad, at the waterfront near the foot of Broadway.

Joe had a car and taught her to drive. The car was a 1941 maroon stick shift Chevy. The car took them to Mission Beach, which she refers to as “our playground.” They would also drive to Balboa Park. Another place they really loved was Oscar’s on Broadway. At this time her mom was working at the cannery and unable to supervise what Tulie was doing. This gave her a lot of freedom.

Joe wanted to marry Tulie right away but with her eye on her high school diploma she said “no.”   [Read more…]