The First OB Rag – 45 Years Ago

by on September 8, 2015 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach, Politics

OB Rag cover vol 1 no 1It was 45 years ago this month – September – when the very first issue of the OB People’s Rag hit the streets of Ocean Beach.

With the banner date of September 17 1970, Volume 1 No. 1 was published on a mimeograph machine, it included 4 pages, back and front, stapled together.

The first issue included slams against the current state of education, articles on the women’s movement, struggles in the military, a critique of the “Miami-Beachization” of OB, plus a recipe for revolutionary granola.

In a message from the staff, the Rag declared:

The OB Peoples’ Rag will address itself to the problems and needs of the people and the community:

the Rag will create a continuous dialogue within our community thus providing a voice for its youth and its poor;

the Rag will keep the community informed on local, national and international news that pertains to the people and our culture with a revolutionary analysis;

the OB Peoples’ Rag will pressure for the radical social, economical, political and cultural changes that our society needs in order for the people to have their just and rightful power and freedom.

And thus, the newspaper was born, evolving into a booklet format and later a newspaper one – lasting into 1976. It was handed out at local OB markets and on street corners – people were asked for a quarter donation.

Much later, of course, the OB Rag emerged again in print in the early years of this century. And finally in October 2007, the online version of the OB Rag was launched.

Below, we’ve re-printed every article of the first issue.

First, some background.  The following is an excerpt from “The First Circle” written several years ago by staff about the small collective who published the first editions, and who lived on Etiwanda Street in northeast OB.

The Etiwanda House

The initial circle of the paper consisted of Frank Gormlie, a local who had grown up in Point Loma, who had surfed in OB in his youth, and a recent graduate of UCSD – the Rag had been Gormlie’s brainchild as he saw it as a handy way to do community organizing in OB. The circle also included Bo Blakey, fresh from the campus battles at UC Berkeley and another graduate with Gormlie of Pt. Loma High, Class of 1966.

The two had agreed along with their significant others to set up a small house collective at the Etiwanda address earlier that summer.

The circle also included John Lyons, San Diego native, and veteran of the UCSD radical scene, who lived in his mobile step-van parked in the driveway at Etiwanda. As the resident artist, Lyons used Gormlie’s ideas for a masthead logo, and drew the first “OB Rag” design – a version of which is still in use to this day.

Despite the differences among this first core staff – supporting different wings of SDS, for example, the initial group became lasting friends, enduring those initial months of raw, underground publishing efforts. Any differences were glossed over by the camaraderie, their similar backgrounds and current “revy” stance, plus their clear propensity for political action over rhetoric.

The OB Rag appeared in Mike Wallace’s 60 Minutes program in a section
on underground newspapers titled “Notes From the Underground.”
Here, staff member Bo Blakey is shown on national television distributing
issues at the foot of Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach.

This initial publishing core of the Rag – and every core that followed – were of the volunteer activist mold. They never received any salary or monetary compensation for their journalistic work, other than a few dollars made while peddling the paper. This was the standard for that era of underground newspapers.

Staples and Mimeograph Machines

These first issues of the OB Rag were printed on both sides of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper — to be soon enlarged to 14 inch, stapled together, printed first on mimeograph machines and then on an old web press.

It was distributed around Ocean Beach on street corners and in front of markets – all for a donation of 25 cents. Throwing mainstream journalistic techniques to the winds, the early Rag was used as an organizing tool, as it took on greedy landlords, the police, and the local town council, using a particular flamboyant and irreverent journalistic style, employing the jargon of the street.

the raw OB Rag Vol. 1, No. 5 - Nov. 5 - 17, 1970Inspired by the first editions, a number of people joined the core:

  • John Porter, another UCSD student who moved into the Etiwanda House (who eventually moved on and earned a doctorate in math);
  • Marilyn Maquire, an early local supporter (who later became an RN and went on to organize nurses at area hospitals);
  • Nora Nugent, an early advocate of gay rights (who would go on to work within government as an open lesbian);
  • and Ruth Astle, a grad student from UCSD that Gormlie met while both lived with their spouses in the married student apartments on campus (who later became a judge in the Bay Area).

Often the process of putting out the next issue of the paper involved late-night scenarios, sweetened by incense and the new FM radio stations, where Gormlie worked on his articles, Lyons penned his graphics, and Blakey – who took on a late shift at a local factory – would come home and finish up his assignment. Occasionally a police car would slowly drive by, brushing the house with it powerful search light. Meanwhile, the typewriter clattered into the night.


The Very First Issue of the Original OB Rag, Vol. 1, No. 1

Front cover of the first OB People’s Rag. The text is reproduced below. Masthead and graphics by John Lyons and front page text by Frank Gormlie.

We have scanned all four pages – see below – plus we have retyped all of the articles so you don’t have to squint and ruin your eyes. In addition, we have included all of the graphics and most of the hand-drawn headlines.

And naturally, the language in the articles is sooo-seventies, a mix of the raw rhetoric and bravado of the campus militant with the casual drawl of the counter-counter, as the staff was a bunch of young twenty-somethings, half still in college and the other half fresh off the campus.

So, here you go, the very first OB Rag:

Page 1

Volume 1 Number 1 – September 17 1970 – Blue Sky – Ocean Beach Peoples’ Rag

Welcome Back to School (for those who go…)

WELCOME BACK to the finest educational institution of the most powerful nation and civilization that has ever existed. You should be proud to be part of this great free school system in this great state of CALIFORNIA.

You’re luckier than you realize… in some countries schools are ringed with barbed wire so that the students can’t escape and in other barbaric societies armed guards patrol the school corridors insuring that the students don’t become unruly.

So be grateful for in some authoritarian countries on the other side of the iron curtain student lockers are routinely searched for contraband by the secret police, and the homes of students can be entered by the police without warning or knock.

In some overseas dictatorships students are taught in their social sciences that they live in a class less society and the school system exists solely as government propaganda machine.

We have it so much better than those totalitarian regimes where student writings and newspapers are censored and controlled by the government. So when you get to that part of the Pledge: “… with liberty and justice for all…” hold your head up high for you know that we in America send men to die for those words.

“I Pledge…”

School is starting this week, The people of the Rag realize that high schools are prisons of boredom. That they do not relate to the world or community and serve mainly to keep young people off the street so they can’t cause any “trouble” and brainwash youth with some of Amerika’s great bullshit. High school students are starting to see that their textbooks are nothing but transparent lies.

The Rag hopes to have a column in every other issue written by and for high school students. If you are interested in telling the truth about the bullshit that comes down in the schools come to 23xx Etiwanda St. on Monday night at 7:30 for a rap and planning sessions.

Page 2


Women are constantly being abused and harassed This comes down hardest on freaky and minority women. Both the pigs and our brothers treat us like less than regular people. The pigs benefit from this because we provide money for them and relaxation for our bothers so they’ll be satisfied enough not to fight their oppression. In O.B. the “hippie chick” image is pretty popular. But is it really good? Always having our bodies on show, not having much to say about things.

Working women have spent time doing hard work which makes us feel shitty and them spending the rest of the time pleasing people by putting on a false image. Walking around Newport and the beach- how do people really relate to you? Your body, and if you don’t respond submissively through your body then you’re messed up.

From their own experience whether as housewives or workers women are becoming more aware of the economic, political, and social injustices that arise from male chauvinistic elements in our society. We recognize low and unequal pay scales in work, job discrimination, the exploitation of our bodies, and the problems that arise from being tied to the home as an unpaid and unrecognized labor force.

People are out to change this thing we live in. And a lot of women are realizing that their roles should be changed. Us being submissive all the time, sexually and mentally, and doing the worst jobs isn’t good for us, isn’t good for our brothers, it’s just good for the pigs that run this society and ar3 making lives lousy. It is important for women to rise up, to take part in the changes and change our lives. We must struggle with our brothers, helping them to see that women playing lower roles hurts them and us. We will gain our dignity and together fight the people who hurt us both.

Already in San Diego women are getting together organizing things like day care centers, programs and a newspaper. We think it would be good for O.B. women to get together and talk about the specific abuses coming down in O.B. Also, the women should be taking an active part in the other thins beginning here, like the O.B. Peoples’ Rag. If women would like to get together, come by 23xx Etiwanda next Wednesday night at 7:30.


“MDM” meant “Movement for a Democratic Military”.

Down at the beach and on the streets you may have noticed groups of short-haired guys, who, if you look closely seem like they might be right on people. They are most likely GI’s stationed near by. A few years ago, most of these guys were just like you are now. They were in H.S. or hanging out on the streets. Some of them joined the military because they got busted by the man and joining the service was a way of getting out of going to jail. Others joined because it was the best way they knew, at the time, of dealing with the draft – a problem all males have to or will have to face.

GI’s are forced to get their hair cut short and dress in a typical straight style or the busted by the military pigs. It is no accident that these rules have been enforced. The military fools from tricky Dick Nixon to the lifers know that it is in their best interest to keep up this separation.

By keeping GI’s away from the people, they can be used to fight against the people. Next time the pigs riot and we hold them off for awhile, GI’s will be called out against us. Which side do you want to be on?

Page 3


“STP” stood for either a “Serve the People” storefront opened on Voltaire Street, or for “Stop The Pigs”. (Take your choice.)

At noon, October 3, the people of San Diego County will march from Horton Plaza to the police station. The march will protest the repression suffered by the youth, Black, Chicano and poor white communities in the hands of the pigs.

In 1969 the SDPD conducted over 424,000 Field Interrogations: mostly against youths, Black and Chicanos. Over 47,000 arrests were made that year. 65% of the charges were dropped. 33% of those arrested were youths.

It is time the people unite and defend themselves from the many abuses the pigs inflict upon them. Be there! All Power to the People!


Ocean Beach is a ghetto, a poor white ghetto and thus like barrios and ghettos all over Amerika, the police and fat-cat capitalists have virtual freedom in manipulating, controlling and oppression the people.

OB’s history of oppression is just beginning – for the plans the corrupt city government and such humanitarians as C. Arnholt Smith have for OB do not include room or space for the people, the youth, the poor of our community.

Slowly the small old single family dwellings are being bought up to pave the way for large high-rise, high-priced apartments and hotels. The rich, all white conservatives that run San Diego have great plans for the entire city – and especially the beach areas; they want to make San Diego the Miami Beach of the west coast.

(It’s no coincidence that Nixon has his strongest backings in Miami Beach where he was nominated and in San Diego where he spends an overly proportionate amount of his time, for the same kinds of people run both towns.)

The ruling class of San Diego wants OB’s excellent beaches for themselves and their cronies. In their view OB has to be cleaned of “the bad elements” (the youth and the poor) so that Hilton will build the hotel he’s promised.

This clean-up program is currently under way in the form of increased rents and evictions and by gradually increasing the police intimidations and harassments thus virtually forcing the “bad elements” to leave.

In order to combat this piggery, the Rag is compiling a list of evictions and harassments. If you can help us or give us some info, contact the Rag office.

Page 4

Media Message from the Staff

Since neither the present political, social nor economical institutions of our community, our city, or our state are designed to directly fit the needs of the people, the people must find ways to fit their own needs; the OB Peoples’ Rag is one such way.

The OB Peoples’ Rag will address itself to the problems and needs of the people and the community:

the Rag will create a continuous dialogue within our community thus providing a voice for its youth and its poor;

the Rag will keep the community informed on local, national and international news that pertains to the people and our culture with a revolutionary analysis;

the OB Peoples’ Rag will pressure for the radical social, economical, political and cultural changes that our society needs in order for the people to have their just and rightful power and freedom.

The people who put out the Rag are young human revolutionaries. We realize that there must be a revolution within ourselves as well as without. Thus to struggle for a new world, we must struggle within ourselves to become new women and new men untied from the hang-ups we acquired by growing up in a racist, male-chavinistic, egotistical and money-grabbing society.

OB is a community mainly made up of surfer, long hairs, service people and young workers. Our problems are basically the same problems as the Chicano and Black in southeast San Diego, the same as the greaser in Chicago, the same as the Puerto Rican in New Your City ….

Our brothers and sisters in these other communities have realized this and they’re gettin’ their shit together. It’s ’bout time we got ours … for you know, “those not busy being’ born are busy dyin’,” is right on! If we don’t seize the time, the time will seize us.

The OB Peoples’ Rag is designed to serve the people of OB and the success or failure of the Rag depends on the response from the community. Any person wanting to work on or with the Rag – come to the planning session 7:30 Monday night at our offices 23xx Etiwanda St. Any news that relates to OB can be reported by calling 224-xxxx.


There should be no undercover police. There is because the pigs job is not to serve the community but to keep the people from raising up and taking their just freedom. It will be a community service function of the Rag to expose and publicize narks and other undercover pigs. If you have pictures of undercover pigs in O.B. bring them by the Peoples Rag office at 23xx Etiwanda. We will print the pictures. The spirit of the people working together is stronger then the pigs terror.

Peoples’ Revolutionary Granola

Into a very large bowl place:

2-3 lbs. rolled oats
2 cups wheat germ
2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups sliced almonds
1 tbsp. salt

Into another bowl pour:

1 1/2 cups oil; 2/3 cup water
3 tbsp. vanilla

Pour liquid into bowl of dry ingredients; mix well. Spread the Granola mixture over baking pan and bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Remove from oven when Granola is golden. Let cool and add raisins. Optional ingredients: walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, dope.


Page 1

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Page 3

page 4

Click on the images to see scans of the original pages.
The images are large and may take a few second to load.

For other OB Rags that have been scanned, go here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

tj September 8, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Wow – Awesome!!!




Rufus September 9, 2015 at 7:21 am

Congratulations from one of your many “right of Atilla the Hun” OB neighbors.

And congratulations for outlasting the UT and LAT who no longer understand what local news reporting means.

Keep doing what you do well and what you know well, Frank.

Keep it local!


Frank Gormlie September 9, 2015 at 9:12 am

My first chuckle of the day – ‘outlasting the UT’. Thanks, man.


Debbie September 9, 2015 at 8:03 am

Well Done!

Congrats to all that made it happen.


Tom G September 13, 2015 at 6:28 pm

“Slowly the small old single family dwellings are being bought up to pave the way for large high-rise, high-priced apartments and hotels. The rich, all white conservatives that run San Diego have great plans for the entire city – and especially the beach areas; they want to make San Diego the Miami Beach of the west coast.”

That hasn’t changed much has it? Alas, the battle continues.

Thank you Frank, for all you’ve done in the last 4 1/2 decades. Really.


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