We knew that when we volunteered to help develop this article series it would be fascinating to go through all the historical archives. However while pouring over meeting notes (many in beautiful, handwritten cursive), newspaper clippings, scrapbooks and photographs, nothing quite prepared us for this sentence written in February of 1944.
“But, oh reader of the future…”
It impressed upon us how these women were thinking of the collective us then, now and in the future. They expected the meticulous documentation of the work they did to be preserved and read again. Like us, they were concerned for their country, their community and their families. At that moment in time, that sentence was written to us. We were those future readers. It had a profound affect–and literally brought tears to our eyes. Cheers to the historians! And now, for some history…
Location, location, location.
When first established in 1924, the club met at homes, churches, halls and lodges. One common location was referred to as the Alligator Rock Lodge at Bacon and Coronado streets.
In April of 1927, the club leased the 200-foot-long Flatiron building located near Abbott and Newport. They met there for 14 years. In 1939 they suffered through a high tide flood that forced them to move out temporarily.
Then in October 1941, tides destroyed the entire building.
Homeless, the club then met at various locations, including the old Apple Tree Grocery location (CVS now), which they rented for $25 a month, and Wallace Hall in the Episcopal Church. They also purchased a location on Del Monte, as well as on the 4800 block of Newport, ultimately looking for a place they could call home.
In 1944 Mrs. Jean Rittenhouse deeded a plot of land at our current location of Bacon and Muir. The deed had strict stipulations “… given with the understanding that these lots are to be used as the site for a club house for the OBWC and should that organization abandon the property, fail to pay the taxes when due, attempt to sell the lots, or remove the proposed club house to any other location … the lots will immediately revert to the ownership of Jean Annette Rittenhouse or her heirs or assigns.”
Now all they needed was a structure. A bungalow, once used as a Congregational Church and as a school room for Ocean Beach Elementary came up for auction. Armed with a mission, representatives for the club went to the auction. Bidding started at $10, and was ultimately purchased for $1,350. The meeting notes read, “But, mark well, reader of the future, this was another important day in the history of the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club. It marked the purchase of the School Bungalow for $1,350.”
The building was moved onto the lot at our current location, and continues to serve us now. It’s important also to note that this all happened during WW II – a time when the primary focus of the OBWC was providing food, shelter, companionship and warmth to the servicemen patrolling our shores. The Service Men’s Club. More on that next issue.
Submitted by the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club Floor Campaign Committee.