Ocean Beach Signs and Memorabilia

by on June 16, 2017 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Claudia Jack at home with her OB signs.

Before an audience of 50 people inside the chapel at the former Methodist Church on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, Claudia Jack got to show off many of the signs and memorabilia from Ocean Beach that she’s collected over the decades.  The show was the monthly public gathering of the OB Historical Society.

Claudia Jack graduated from PLHS in 1963,

After an introduction by the new OBHS president Eric Duvall, Claudia presented slides of many of the signs she has amassed – all kept in her house – and each one with a story. She also had a whole pile of objects from OB’s past.

Born and raised in OB, Jack began collecting things OB once her children were getting big, she said, “I started out small.” With the help of Ray Blavatt managing the projector, Claudia explained the first photo – it was a parking sign from Frontier Lanes with its original wood backing. “Very heavy,” she said.

Then she proceeded to tell a short story about how she obtained it. She saw it on at the site of whatever took Frontier Lanes place and started just to take it. But a guy came up and say ‘no way!’ Claudia immediately left and went into a local market, and returned to the site with 2 boxes of cookies. She offered them to the guy – and he let her take it.

Another slide flew up on the screen. It was the Voltaire Park sign dedicated to a woman named Mika who started Stephenie’s Bakery right there on Voltaire. Her bakery was across from the park called “Voltaire Park” by local activists who took over the trash-heaped vacant lot turning it into a park. Mika unfortunately passed away very suddenly, and the park was dedicated in her honor. The land was private, however, owned by World Oil.

The day that the city allowed a contractor to bulldoze the land and scrap all the trees and plants in the garden, Claudia found the park sign under a pile of dirt, handed the worker a $20 bill and it’s been in her home ever since. The sign was painted by Kip of Voltaire. Claudia would like to see it in the next OB Holiday Parade.

Not every sign was from OB. Claudia had a couple from the famous nude beach up at Black’s Beach. One read, “Nudity Prohibited” citing some municipal ordinance, and the other “Swimsuits Optional From This Point”.

Claudia showed off a slide of T-shirts worn by Hodad’s Mike “Bossman” Hardin that were auctioned off as a fundraiser. She had a bunch of motorcycle posters, a Farmers Market “give-away food” sign, old Coca-Cola and 7-Up signs, original market food labels and boxes. One slide drew a chuckle from the audience; it was of a street sign from Long Branch Avenue and Cable that had been altered to read “Bong Ranch”.

She had posters from early Sixties OB surf shows and evens, such as one from Bruce Brown’s film, “Slippery When Wet” film shown at the Strand in 1962.

Now, Claudia continually claimed she “stole” many of the signs and objects. She had a pair of ancient handcuffs she “stole” from a police car back in the Sixties. She told the audience that she has a pair of bolt cutters in her car.

A couple slides were a compilations of Steve Rowells’ photos from the “1968 Labor Day Riot” on Long Branch.

Also, right there in front of her, Claudia had the skeletons of 2 pistols found in the ashes when Dago Choppers on Voltaire burnt down.

At the end of her presentation, Claudia offered a pitch on being a community volunteer to the crowd.

Two pistols found in the ashes after Dago Choppers burnt down.

Pat James then rose up before the audience and spoke of some of the signs he’s also collected. He has a Willie’s Shoe Shine sign, a Quig’s sign with the Seagulls Roast sign on the reverse side. But in addition, he and his wife Susan have the original OB entryway sign that  was up for 35 or more years. It had been auctioned off a couple of years ago at the annual Christmas fundraiser and a Arizona couple got it, but then decided it was too large. It’s now in Pat and Susan’s yard.

The event ended and the crowd pleased themselves on the cheese cake served in the ante room.

The crowd gave Claudia a hearty round of applause at her efforts at saving some of our local history. And at the end, she told everyone that when she goes, she’s handing everything – even the old PLHS lockers – to the OB Historical Society.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric DuVall June 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for being there Frank!


Jon Carr June 16, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Bummed that I had to miss this. The pistols are pretty amazing. And I remember helping get the entry way sign into Pat & Susan’s yard. What an ordeal! That thing must have weighed a half ton, and we drove it hanging halfway off the back of a golf cart down Sunset Cliffs to the annoyance of all the cars that had to wait on us. Haha… fun times.


Nancy Witt June 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

Thanks again, Frank, for the nice writeup as we couldn’t be there for the meeting. Sorry we missed it. I dropped in the office, and always nice to see her right as you come in.


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