My family and I moved to Ocean Beach in 1966. What a wonderful place it was then.
There was always a lot of activity on Newport, and there were so many stores that the locals could shop at and find almost everything they needed: Lownes Department Store; Elms Men Clothing; Para’s Book and Magazine shop; Denny’s Restaurant and later Mayfair Market. Safeway was where Apple Tree is now; Coronet was such a fun place to nickel and dime shop – (us old timers called it a “Five and Ten Cent Store”). And then there was the Pet Store on the corner of Newport and Cable; a fancy children’s shop where I bought all of my daughter’s clothes; the old Rexall Drug store with the wooden floors, etc.
And right on the southwest corner of Newport and Cable Streets opened the“James Gang.” Wow! They could do any type of printing you wanted; business cards, business forms, shirts, souvenirs, and this was in 1976, way before computers were on every person’s desk.
My husband and I had just gone into business making “Musical Seashells”. (What’s a “musical seashell” you ask?) We would find seashells that were big enough to implant a music box in the cavity; drill a place for the key, and voila! A musical seashell. Later on we made musical seashells utilizing Manzanita, driftwood, etc.
We did a lot of shows during the beginning of our business. We needed something that would set us off from other vendors doing the shows with us. “The James Gang” developed our “personalized” shirts, complete with the Shamrock and “O’Curry” logo. Those shirts are THIRTY-FIVE years old and they look as new now as they did then. And…we wore them almost daily! Quality like that is not easy to find in today’s time.
I read in the OB Rag that “James Gang” was looking for a buyer; it was time for them to leave and pursue other venues. One more place of history was getting ready to leave. True, it may still be “The James Gang”, but it will never be the same.
It was time to revisit the “Gang.”
I had made an appointment with Holly – not a “gang member” but a wonderful addition to the “family” – to have some shirts made up honoring the memory of my husband Bob. He died of lung cancer 18 months ago and the Lung Association is having their annual walk on May 1st. The Lung Association gives out shirts, but I wanted to have something from the James Gang for prosperity purposes.
Not only was I met by Holly, I was also met by Susan – the wife of Pat – who also came to meet me. They were aware of my articles for the OB Rag; we reminisced about the Newport Ave. store, and the making of the original shirts. No one would know that they were going to leave OB. They were as friendly and helpful as they were that eventful day in 1976. I ordered the shirts for my “team” of walkers, and they were a little saddened to think that this might be the last time I give a special order to the James Gang. If you have something special you want done – even if it is only one shirt – do it while the original “gang” is there. You will really enjoy yourself – and there won’t be another time.
Another landmark is leaving our neighborhood. As they say, “Ocean Beach, I hardly know ye now”.