Sunday, July 13, 2008

"About San Diego" program by Ken Kramer at SDGS

Linda and I attended the San Diego Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday. There were two main features - Ken Kramer presented his talk and video show "About San Diego" and there was an ice cream social for dessert. The SDGS program description is here. Ken's web site is at He has some of the stories, some trivia contests, and a blog.

Unfortunately, there were technical issues with Ken Kramer's DVD player and the society projector, so the program was delayed almost 30 minutes from the 12 noon start time. No matter - the room buzzed with conversation. SDGS President Marna Clemons brought the meeting to order and introduced Ken Kramer.

Ken is one of those radio/TV persons whose voice you've heard "all your life" - you instantly know who it is and that you like him. For over 20 years, he has written and produced 90-second segments for radio and TV about the history of the San Diego area, in addition to his regular "talk-show" job. He currently hosts a 30 minute program on the local NBC TV 7/39 channel on Sunday evenings which shows old and new short segments "About San Diego." Ken weaves his comments and some "hooks" into each one of the segments, sort of like "...and now the rest of the story." I enjoy the TV show each week because I am a 5th generation San Diego boy.

Ken's presentation at SDGS was in five parts -

1) He opened his talk with some of the "myths" about San Diego history - such as the "midget houses on Soledad Mountain in La Jolla" (nope - slope of road makes houses seem smaller); the "tragic day at Belmont Park when the roller coaster crashed into the Jack-In-The-Box" (never happened); "the Chargers team name was picked because Barron Hilton owned the team and a credit card company" (name sent in to a contest in LA); "Thomas Edison electrified the Hotel del Coronado" (nope, he visited there, but electricity at Hotel was from city works); "Mt. Helix was named after the street pattern up the mountain" (actually named after a snail - helix aspersa found there).

2) He discussed how several neighborhood and road names were generated - "Espola" Road was to connect Escondido to Poway to La Mesa (it never did); and "Pomerado" Road was to connect Poway to Merton to Bernardo (it did).

3) He talked about several historical events -- the 1888 water flume from the Cuyamaca mountains to San Diego (and the politicians at the SD end who couldn't wait to taste the water), the first Padres stadium at Lane Field (at the foot of Broadway in 1936) and the Luke Easter home run ball that landed on a freight car and went to LA, and the Charles Hatfield "Rainmaker" story (in 1916, the SD city council was to pay him $10,000 to fill Morena Reservoir - it rained for two weeks and flooded everything, and the city didn't pay him for fear of liability) which was turned into a play and movie starring Burt Lancaster.

4) Then it was time for the video show - he showed three short videos - first about the Caves of Kensington (which are 9 rooms and tunnels dug out below a house in Kensington many feet below ground level); secondly, how the Talmadge neighborhood got its name (the silent movies had three Talmadge sisters, Norma, Constance and Natalie, and the developers named streets after them); thirdly, about the streets in Logan Heights that run northwest-southeast and southwest-northeast - 45 degrees off the grid pattern in the rest of central San Diego (the developer claimed that there would be "sun all day" in houses on these streets due to the angles - but I think it was because the railroad ran northwest-southeast in this area along the bay).

5) Finally, Ken took questions for maybe 15 minutes of his 60 minute presentation. Many of them were asked about street names and neighborhood names.

This presentation was excellent, once they got the technical glitches fixed at the beginning. Ken knows his stuff. He shared a bit about how hard it's been to get air time over the years, and said that he has a three-year contract with NBC 7/39 for the Sunday evening show, plus 90 second slots on several weekly news shows. Ken took notes from the Q&A period about potential show topics.

The ice cream? Ah, delicious! I limited myself to two scoops with chocolate syrup... plus a chocolate chip cookie, and mixed in some conversation with SDGS friends.

Linda and I left after the ice cream and opportunity drawings (didn't win anything again... - note to self: Buy more tickets!) and we were home by 2:30, had a nice nap and went to the Padres game last night (gluttons for punishment...), topped off with a decent fireworks show.

1 comment:

Brent W said...

Your Espola rd comment was in-correct. Poway/ Escondido/ Lakeside. And it