Old Town happens to be my very first home in San Diego. As a baby, I lived on Conde Street in a house that has since been torn down. In fact, a lot has changed in the (muffled)-something years since then. Much of the surrounding area has become a tourist hot spot that is faithfully avoided by the locals, but Old Town proper still remains a charming step into the past for me literally and emotionally.
A state historic park, Old Town covers the time period between 1821 and 1872 with free museums, a working blacksmith shop, people dressed in period-style costumes and events throughout the year.
Once, my grandma and mom were on a stroll with me through the main drag and decided to venture into the old cigar shop to see all the old artifacts and types of tobacco.
“You can’t come inside with the baby,” said one attendant. “No one is allowed under the age of 18.”
“She won’t be smoking,” replied my mother.
Despite the assurance we were turned away, finally returning when I was of age to complete the stroll.
There is a battered, wood-carved Indian that stands outside the shop, a symbol for cigar stores that began when early store owners would circumvent the illiteracy of the general community by using striking emblems to advertise their shops’ services and wares. While I could not snap any pictures from the inside, the store is delightful with an authentic smell and display cases from the mid-19th century that house all kinds of smoking paraphernalia.
All photos by Annie Lane.
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