Photographer for Original OB Rag Passes – Bruce Gardner RIP

by on October 12, 2021 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Bruce Gardner, 1973.


One of the first great photographers for the original OB Rag, Bruce Gardner, has passed. Friends believe he was 70 years old.

Around 1974, Bruce joined the staff of the Rag as a photographer, and many of his black and whites made the front cover. He worked out of a garage which he had converted into a darkroom, across the street from where the rest of the staff worked. Those were the days when the Rag was published out of an old surfboard maker’s shed, in the backyard of an OB house near the coast.

When the Rag offices moved to Newport Avenue, Bruce could be found near the lay-out boards.

Later, after the original Rag folded, Bruce went north in the mid to late 1980s and mined gold out of the streams of the hills of the western Sierra. He had graduated from San Diego State and was an avid rock climber, until he suffered serious injuries in a fall while in college.

Bruce always wore his signature white cap and brown shirt. In the 2000’s, he lived in the eastern Sierras and worked at Mammoth Mountain. As an old friend used to say, ‘They threw away the mold when they made Bruce.’

Here is my favorite of Bruce’s photos – it’s of an undercover member of the SDPD Red Squad with multiple masks on so no one would recognize him, emerging from the back of a unit he had just raided.

Here are some Rag covers from the 1970s with photos by Bruce:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael J McCullough October 12, 2021 at 7:33 pm

Thank you for the article on Bruce. It was extremely accurate as I lived next door to Bruce pretty much the whole time he was in OB. He made a wonderfully strange imprint on my life, for which I am extremely grateful.
I’m sad. RIP Bruce.


Carl M Zanolli October 15, 2021 at 5:26 pm

I knew Bruce from the dorms at San Diego State in 1970 and lived with him, Bob Edwards and George Kenegos on Cape May Street in 1973 for a very short while. He always wore that white cap. I lost track of him and wondered to him.

I have very fond memories. I lost track of him a long time ago and always wondered what happened to him. Incredible intelligent and a fearless anti-war activist. Let’s remember him well.


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