Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Nineteenth Century San Diego County Tattoos v. Early American Tattoo History

In Ira Dye’s article, “The Tattoos of Early American Seafarers, 1796-1818,” he laments the lack of additional documentation on tattoos. The California registers from 1892-1898 provide the exact large data group that Dye was looking for, when including the registers from all of the counties in the state, since tattoos were recorded, as well as occupation and age. He might have been pleased to see that his analysis of SPC-A and POW records holds up late into the 19th century. Both initials and anchors continue to hold their positions as the first and second most popular tattoos among tattooed San Diego County registered voters. And most of the tattoos were in black ink. Dye points out, it is difficult to know if men in non-marine occupations with tattoos are representative of a general population that were also tattooed or were likely former sailors, etc. There were men in San Diego in non-marine occupations with tattoos, e.g. the New York laborer with the most tattoos of the tattooed registered voters with five: a bracelet and a cross on his right hand, and an anchor, cross, and heart on his left. Of course, he could have previously been a sailor, as laborer is a general occupation. The majority of the tattooed voters were indeed listed as sailors, longshoremen, wharfingers, and sea captains.
Examples of tattooed men and their tattoos in the early voter registers: an English gardener with bracelets on both wrists and an English farmer with “designs tattooed on both forearms. A Swedish wharfinger carries his work home with him as illustrated by an anchor tattooed on each hand. And a fifty year old Finnish longshoreman, Augusto Anderson, with “A.A.A.S. 1842” in India ink on his right hand and a star on his left. A Finnish stenographer with “B.W.L.” in India ink on his left arm and a Norwegian sea captain living in Coronado, with an anchor on his right hand. A Russian painter with an anchor on his right hand and a bent finger. Patriotic tattoos continued to be popular. Too far removed from our country’s founding years to be related, immigration takes over as a means of explaining a naturalized citizen with an English flag tattoo and a Scotsman, James McInnes (a laborer) with thistles on his left wrist. Tattoos demonstrated new allegiances as well, as with the ruddy-complected Irish rancher (Lawrence Garrigan) with “American Sailor” tattooed on his arm and someone else with a U.S. coat of arms. Did Frank Woodruff, a 44 year old merchant from Ohio, living in Oceanside, benefit from the invention of the electric tattoo gun for his tattoo of a ballet girl on his left arm? The arms, including wrists, arms, and forearms, then hands continued to be the most common places for tattoos. However, the clerks may not have been asking the men registering to vote if the had tattoos elsewhere on their bodies.

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 133, No. 4, December 1989, p. 532-549

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hoodlums in 1939

The Army and Navy Academy, originally located in Pacific Beach, moved to Carlsbad in 1937. Today, it continues to be a part of our community, with a most excellent and picturesque location on the northwest end of town. This 1939 article tells the story of some hooliganism that occurred on the campus by local teens. The way the situation is handled by the staff and community, via the Carlsbad Journal, demonstrates the sensibility of their time and place. FYI, in 1939, there was no Carlsbad High School. Carlsbad teens attended Oceanside-Carlsbad High School in Oceanside, now Oceanside High School.

The Journal is in receipt of a letter from Major John Davis, president of the San Diego Army and Navy academy, reporting that Mrs. Virginia Atkinson, their dramatics coach and their dramatics team, were continuously annoyed at the theatre last week by hoodlums.

The dramatics team was rehearsing for the State tournament held this week in Pasadena where the Carlsbad entry from the Military academy won second place and in which, there were eleven entries.

During the evening while rehearsals were in progress these hoodlums would pound on the theatre doors and throw rocks and other missiles at the building for no other apparent purpose than to annoy and disturb those who were at their work.

When Mrs. Atkinson went to the door and invited the boys inside they responded with language and epithets that are imprintable.

Some of the hoodlums were recognized and at least some of them are high school students at Oceanside, and one of them a senior.

President Davis in his letter to The Journal said that it is not the desire of the academy to make unnecessary trouble for the boys or their parents, that the school not only desires to avoid such steps, but wants still more to become a home institution, a part of the community life in Carlsbad, and he asks what can be done to avoid experiences of this kind in the future.

The splendid thing for these boys to do, if they read this report, would be to go to Maj. Davis or Mrs. Atkinson and apologize and promise not to repeat their acts of rowdyism.

Putting it mildly, it is unfortunate that a community like Carlsbad should have young men as residents whose idea of fun is to indulge in acts of vandalism, and worse still, should consider it smart to use vile language in the presence of a lady. Mrs. Atkinson will be able to forgive and forget, but the boys themselves, and high school students at that, will eventually suffer severe and unpleasant consequences for engaging in their idea of sport.

There is just one way that these boys will ever amount to anything. It won't help them any to be arrested and punished by law, but if they persist in such rowdyism that is what will happen to them. If they want to feel good again their only course is to report to the Academy that they are sorry.

That would be the first step toward becoming young gentlemen.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Coronado Fishing and Hunting Grounds

The ocean fishing off Coronado in plain sight of the hotel is unparalleled. During the season of Spanish mackerel, rock cod, barracuda, and yellow tail, a two hours' catch of a couple hundred pounds is an every-day affair. Spanish mackerel weighing from eight to nine pounds is a fair average.

Those who have had the most experience in all parts of the United States say that the California quail is the most difficult bird to kill, and get in your bag, that flies. The famous shot, the late Ira Payne, after failing to bag a single quail with nine consecutive shots, said that they are the most elusive and delusive birds he had ever tackled.

A reservation of 1,900 acres within one and one-half miles of the hotel has been stocked with thousands of jack-rabbits, and the management has cleared a field of one and one-half miles long, over which guests of the hotel on horseback follow a pack of thirty greyhounds.

These rabbit chases are now among the most popular sports in Coronado, and occur twice a week, and oftener, if a dozen riders desire to indulge in a chase.

There is no expense to guests to join any of these chases, except for mounts, it only being necessary for them to leave their names at the office one day in advance.

(From a travel brochure, circa 1900)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Viewpoints of time & place

"Just as travel underlines that obvious but ever-surprising fact that, from wherever you view the world, it looks different, so does history offer intellectually something of the same insight. Our surroundings have been the home to countless generations of people estranged from us by time, for whom the assumptions and realities of life were, in a myriad of ways, fundamentally different. That realisation [sic] should be revelatory, inspiring and admonishing in equal measure."

From the March 13, 2013 issue of Country Life magazine

"A Plea for Palomar", by J.H.Y., 1901

A poem written about Palomar Mountain, which had earlier been known as Smith's Mountain

Fell my oak and fell my pine-tree; send my cedar to the mill;
Strip the tangled pine from off me; roll my boulders down the hill;
Grade my summit; till my valley; tear away my woodland pride;
Parcel me in city lots, and run a railway up my side;
Rule my streets with dull precision, block by block, in order time,
Here a church and there a depot, where the tiger lilies grew;
Mar God's handiwork about me; let my beauty be a myth;
Then, defaced and desecrated, call me after Mr. Smith.

But while yet the stately cedar sentinels the sylvan lawn;
While at times from yonder thicket peeps the nimble-footed fawn;
While the glory of the morning breaks on precipice and peak,
And the winter sees my waters leaping down to Panama Creek;
While the valley smiles beneath one, stretching westward to the main,
Mile on mile of rolling pasture, green alfalfa, golden grain;
While I look on Catalina, far beyond the ocean shore,
And the gleam of sunny waters on the lake of Elsinore;
While I dominate the lowland, hill and valley, near and far,
In my majesty and beauty, let my name be Palomar.

Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke speaks on open space, circa early 20th c.

So far the tourist has not discovered it [Africa], and I would like to see it in its undisturbed glory before railways and air routes have arrived, before luxury hotels and nightclubs have grown up like poisonous fungi - before it’s been tarnished and made ugly for civilisation [sic] which is unable to let things well enough alone.

From Bror Blixen: The African letters, edited by Gustav Kleen, 1988

Sunday, March 10, 2013


As in the Roman year, so in the English ecclesiastical calendar used until 1752 this was the first month, and the legal year commenced on the 25th of March. Scotland changed the first month to January in 1599. This month was called Martius by the Romans, from the god Mars, and it received the name ‘Hlyd Monath’, i.e. ‘loud’ or ‘stormy month’ from the Anglo-Saxons.

From The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, a naturalist who created this journal for the year 1906. She never allowed anyone to see it during her lifetime. She was born in 1871. After attending art school, she worked as an illustrator. She met her husband, Ernest Smith, a sculptor, while she was living in London. She died tragically, in 1920, drowning in the Thames while gathering buds from chestnut trees.