Elementary School in San Diego- In the Beginning (Part 2)

Part 2:  Coming to America:  Glencliff subdivision, 1955-1960

It was a night in October or November 1955 when my family met my father at the airfield on Pacific Hwy.  Climbing into the back seat of the 1949 Mercury I curled up and quickly went to sleep to the sound of the engine and the tires rumbling eastward on Market street toward, my new home in the Glenciff subdivision off of Market and 47th Street.

Shortly after arriving in San Diego, getting settled into my new surrounding and attending Chollas Elementary School (1st and 2nd grade) on Market street, I received my first letter (December 1955) from my paternal grandmother.  You see, I had been living with her since my dad shipped me off to the States in November 1953.  It wasn’t until a few years ago (2018) that I found an audio recording from 1954.  This recording is not Vintage San Diego perse, but I thought many of you would like listen to it.  Facebook does not allow just an audio recording to be posted so I added pictures from Germany and at the end, from the Silver Strand area.

1954 audio recording from P. Frank (my father) to his son Daniel (me)

1954 audio letter from Johnnie to her stepson Daniel (me)

Anyway here is a section of that first letter I received from my grandmother, Addie Mae.

“My Dear Pal, My Dear Buddy, My dear Friend, my dear Sweet Grandchild.   God bless you very good.  I know that you have been looking for a letter from me and when I came home from the airport I wanted to write so very badly but I was so tired and weak.  I was very sad because we were such good pals for a long time and again I was very happy because I could see God’s hand guiding your father.  Yes Danny, altho I miss you very much, I am still so happy for you, your Mama and Daddy. 

I am very happy that you like your school.  I want you to make your Mama and Daddy proud.  I want you to be the smartest boy in class. I call you my pal and my buddy because of all the good times we had together.”

Because the Baby Boomer Generation was growing by “leaps and bounds,” especially in the Glencliff/Euclid/Gompers Jr High area, the school district decided to build a new elementary school at the eastern end of the Glencliff subdivision.  The name of the school was to be Alonzo Horton.  The school was finished just in time for the new school year in 1957, the year I entered third grade.  Mr. Gordon was the principal and Ms Wentzel was my teacher – I thought she was very pretty.

I enjoyed Ms Wentzel’s class, but one day a situation with me occurred.  What was that situation?  It could have happened to any school age elementary student – I forgot my lunch.  Not a big deal you might say, but it turned out to be a really really big deal.  It had been raining that day and I forgot my lunch, you know the lunch I would carry in my “Steve Canyon” metal lunch box with the glass thermos.  The kind that would break if you dropped it – yes that kind.  Ms Wentzel took pity on this poor kid, me, sitting at my desk and not having lunch like the rest of the students, so she shared her lunch with me.  Well, when I got home my mother asked me what I did for lunch since my lunch pail was still sitting on the counter top.  I told her that Ms Wentzel shared hers with me.  My mother’s response was, and with a stern face said, “Don’t you ever take her lunch again.”  Yes ma’am.

A few months later, the same situation arose.  I forgot my lunch, it was raining and all of us were eating lunch inside at our desks.  Once again Ms Wentzel came over and asked what happen to my lunch.  My response was the same and so she offered to share her cookies with me.  I told her, that I couldn’t – that my mother forbade me to have a piece of my teacher’s lunch.  But Ms Wentzel kept insisting that I share her cookies, and I kept insisting that I couldn’t.  Finally she said, “Your mother won’t mind you sharing my cookies.”  So I took two of her cookies.

Ms Wentzel couldn’t have been more wrong.  When I got home, my mother once again asked what I did for lunch, and I told her.  She beat the crap out of me and kept repeating “I told you not to take your teacher’s lunch.”  To this day I never knew what set her off about that issue.  Maybe because during the war she had to fend for herself (her father was in the Germany Navy and didn’t know that he survived) or maybe she felt that Ms Wentzl thought the family could not adequately provide for their son.  But as I wrote previously, she was the best mother a child could have.

Click here for photos – Part 2
  1. Chollas not Chollis as shown of the shool photograph Elementary school 1956
  2. Daniel, 1st grade photo
  3. My mother Doris with my brother Rano on the front lawn at 4855 Guymon Street.
  4. Notice the skates. They were attached and tighten to the shoes with a “Key.” When the skates became useless because the key was lost, we made out own skateboards and scooters.
  5. Sitting in from of the TV at 4855 Guymon. Notice  I am wearing a tie for this formal photograph
  6. On the driveway at 4855 Guymon st. My brother Rano, my grandmother Addie Mae, my mother, and me. My grandmother would visit during the summer and always took the train. Loved for her to visit, because she would always bring some sort of goodies.
  7. Daniel and Rano posing in front of my father’s 1958 Mercury at 4855 Guymon st.

Continue on to Part 3
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