Dan Soderberg Photography

Santa Fe Depot San Diego 1969

May is Historic Preservation Month. A good opportunity to reflect upon San Diego’s beautiful and historic train station. In the years following 1969 the Santa Fe Depot faced demolition not once but twice. Save Our Heritage Organisation had to save it two times from the wrecking ball. Saving our history is a never ending job. Invariably someone will come along again with a plan to demolish it. Therefore we always need to be vigilant.


The 1924 Samuel and Harriet Freeman House By Frank…

I was barely 16 in March of 1972 when I met Harriet Freeman. She was gracious about not only letting me see her home inside and out but to photograph it as well. This collection includes shots from a later visit in September 1972 as well.
The Freeman House was the last of four Frank Lloyd Wright concrete block houses built in 1924
March 1972
The street view of many Frank Lloyd Wright homes is often the most understated and minimalist part of the home.
September 1972 – Pepper Tree de-branched. Samuel and Harriet Freeman had long ago divorced. But the love for house lived beyond their marital bond. They continued to living in the house after divorcing.
Upper level room.
Photo from March 1972. Rudolph Schindler designed the furniture and other interior fixtures. Mrs. Freeman expressed a fondness for Schindler she didn’t necessarily feel toward Wright himself. While intellectually she admired Wright, it was Schindler she felt in-tune with. She credited him for making the residence “feel like home.”
March 1972
Harriet told me Greta Garbo stayed at this house when the German actress first came to the U.S.
View of Highland Avenue and Hollywood
The horizontal sweep of mullions supporting planes of glass that meet in a clear mitred corner – the corner window. A character defining feature in Wright’s catalogue, appearing here for the first time without the aid of stiles to support the horizontal mullions between the panes of glass. That distinction alone qualifies this house as being among the most important historic sites in California. Having said that, sadly, the home under purview of USC is crumbling to dust and is in shockingly dire condition.
The “front door” to a Wright house is frequently discrete.
March 1972

For sure, there is a ton of questions I should have asked. But at age 16, I hadn’t honed my interviewing skills whatsoever. Nor did I take notes as I’m sure Mrs. Freeman shared with me a lot more information than I remember now. Harriet Freeman lived into her 90’s, passing away in 1986.

Dan Soderberg Photography

Aztec Bowl San Diego

Aztec Bowl is long gone. But the neon sign was incorporated into the residential buildings that took over the site. Also wood from the bowling alley lanes were used for flooring in the residential units. Aztec Bowl was on 30th Street, West Side, just south of Meade Avenue.
Diary of Helen Hussey

Homewood Or Bust

In February of 1947 Bill and Jeanne Soderberg, with baby Sam in tow, hit the road and struck toward a new life and livelihood in the Chicago neighborhood of Homewood, Illinois. No mention of the decision factors in this bold move. But considering Bill was mustered out of the Marine Corp at the end of July in 1946 he was probably looking for the best opportunities to earn the family bread. Weighing his skills as a carpenter and home builder he may have seen Chicago as opportunity where carpenters earned good Union wages. He possessed a Journeyman Carpenter Certificate.

It appears the genesis of the Chicago idea emerged during the Yule season of 1946

From Helen Hussey’s Diary. December 22, 1946 – “Jeanne and Bill over – they are thinking of going to Chicago!”

Helen’s diary reveals an extremely active time in 1946 for her, Sam Hussey, Jeanne, Bill, and Sam. Their lives and households interfaced on a daily basis. Sam and Helen Hussey had a very active social life with names such as the Kings and the Grandjeans. Husseys over to their place. Them over to the Hussey’s. M0vie going, concert going, site seeing, eating out a lot, night clubs “bar hopping,” nights listening to the radio and reading, and the ever consistent “sherrying” before bed.

Mom’s caption “Our Trip to Homewood, Illinois. February 14, 1947. This is Superstition Mountain where we camped all night.”

Helen’s Diary. January 11, 1947. “Kids in for a minute. They expect to leave for Chicago around the first (of February).” Helen also mentioned meeting Hussey at the plant, then having lunch at Gotham. Then went to a cat show. “Good!” They went to the Shepards at night. Irene and Leon came to visit, as well as “the kids.”

1931 Model A Ford with fully loaded trailer in tow.

Helen’s Diary. February 11, 1947 – “Took care of the baby while Jeanne and Bill were over at their place cleaning and packing.”

That’s Likely part of the Superstition Mountains in the background. The saguaro indicates the Sonoran Desert. These clues might help locate the abandoned adobe in the following pictures. 

Helen’s Diary. February 12, 1947 “Bill finished packing the trailer. They’re all here, all night.” Helen had been downtown shopping and bought Jeanne long underwear and jeans. She also bought yarn to knit a sweater and socks.

Mom’s caption says “Jeanne and Sam in Arizona on way to Homewood, Ill. 

Helen’s Diary. February 13, 1947  “Another mad day. The Kings over at night to bid Kids good bye. Also Bob Beattie. Then the kids went to Bill Beattie’s house after 10. I had a hard time getting to sleep. Hussey bought Jeanne and me Valentines Candy.”

Adobe ruins that appear to be along the roadside.

Helen’s Diary. February 14, 1947 “Up about 4:30. Kids left a little after 5:00. Found they forgot their food!
Washed a lot of clothes, and got the mess fairly organized. Nite, awfully quiet here without the Kids. Sam and I shared a bottle of sherry.” Helen started knitting a white sweater.

“Arizona Jeanne and Sam Soderberg.

Helen’s Diary. February 16, 1947 “I miss the kids and wonder where they are tonight.” The day before “Sam to meet Harry Olsen, some new business deal. He stopped in on his way home and TALKED! Kings over with Sherry – quite a session.”

Roadside Adobe ruins

Helen’s Diary. February 17, 1947 “I wrote to Jeanne. Got a card from Jeanne mailed in Arizona. They discovered they forgot food at Riverside.”

Jeanne Soderberg

Helen’s Diary. “February 18, 1947 “A card from Jeanne from Phoenix.”

Sam and Jeanne Soderberg

Helen’s Diary. February 19, 1947 “Ash Wednesday. Wrote to Jeanne.”

Helen’s Diary. February 22, 1947 “Wire from Bill, safe arrival in Homewood!!” Helen writes it was a busy day with Gordon and the the Grandjeans there at night.


Helen’s Diary. February 23, 1947 “Lovely midsummer-like day. Wrote to Jeanne and sent airmail. Also sent them a wire.” Helen spent the evening reading, knitting, and listening to the radio. John King was there for a few hours.

February 24, 1947 “Wrote to Jeanne and Tony.” Knitting at night

“New Mexico.”

Helen’s Diary. February 27, 1947 “Cards from Jeanne.”

March 1, 1947 “I started knitting socks for Bill for Easter.”

Helen’s Diary. March 13, 1947 “Two letters from Jeanne.” The day before Helen mentioned having lunch at a drive-in, then to see a model Post War home on Wilshire. “Really something,” she said.

Helen’s Diary. March 15, 1947  “John King over in the afternoon and for dinner. Nite, Grandjeans over and stayed all night. Didn’t get to bed until 4 a.m.”

March 28, 1947 “I made Jeanne’s dress and knitted the baby’s socks.”


Helen’s Diary. March 29, 1947 “Packed and mailed kid’s Easter package.”

Helen’s Diary. April 1, 1947 “A letter from Jeanne. I wrote some to her at nite.”

This appears to be an accidental double or triple exposure which can happen in older cameras when one doesn’t realize you’re at the end of a film roll. Or if you fail to advance the film at any given point. 


Judging by the number of similar shots featuring the packed Model A ford as a focal point, conceivably Dad considered this packing job to be a personal feat of engineering.

Helen’s Diary. April 11, 1947 “Went to an antique show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. Lots of things to see.”
April 17, 1947 “Went to the beauty parlor at 3:30 – did a Rotten job on my hair.” She went back the next day to have it redone. “Better,” she said.
April 20, 1947 “Wrote to Jeanne.”

April 23, 1947 “Went downtown and bought the baby birthday gifts – train, t-shirt and cards. Hollywood at night with Sam. Then to the library and home for sherry.”

Helen’s Diary. April 24, 1947 “Received photos from Jeanne.”

Mom’s caption “Car and Arizona.” Dad’s caption “Homewood, Illinois Or Bust Feb 14, 1947”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

March 1, 1947 “I started knitting socks for Bill for Easter.”
May 5, 1947 “Wrote to and sent Jeanne a package.”

Helen’s Diary May 10, 1947 “Got a card from Jeanne for Mother’s Day. ”

Homewood Trip 1947  Mom’s caption “This is in the good sized mountain range in New Mexico. It was good and steep. The rocks were a pretty reddish color.”                                                                           

Helen’s Diary May 19, 1947 “Kings here for dinner then we went to the Wallace rally at Gilmore Stadium. It was packed. A terrific speech by Katherine Hepburn. Wallace was fine.”
May 21, 1947 “Up early, wrote a long letter to Jeanne. To Main Street to see Duel In The Sun.”
May 26, 1947 “Wrote a long letter to Jeanne.”

May 28, 1947 “Wrote to Jeanne.”

Helen’s Diary June 12, 1947 “Letter and card from Jeanne, wrote to her.”

Helen’s Diary June 19, 1947 “Went to the Home Show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. And stopped at Frank’s bar!”

June 21, 1947 “Letter from Jeanne and Bill. They want to come back to California”

Mom “Big Huge Grade In New Mexico.”

 Helen’s Diary June 23, 1947 “Wrote to Jeanne and Bill. Went to Post Office.”

Mom’s caption “This is the other side of that Big Mountain in New Mexico.”

 Helen’s Diary June 29, 1947 “Bill phoned. Jeanne arrives Tues 8:30 A.M. on the Chief!! Short notice. Have date that night at Grandjeans”

Helen’s Diary July 1, 1947 “Up early and drove and met Jeanne and baby. Train on time, 8:30. Kids look fine. Night at Grandjeans.”

Helen’s Diary July 2, 1947 “Hot day. Worked a lot in the garden. Nite, John King over for a minute. Jeanne and I took a walk.”

Mom’s noteThe Ozarks.”                                                                                                                                                      

July 5, 1947 “Slept most of the day and finished doing the dishes. Jeanne and baby to Mrs. Teter.” 

Dad’s caption “We made it February 1947” 

Helen’s Diary July 7, 1947 “Jeanne and I to the pictures. Odd Man Out with James Mason.”

Mom’s caption “Taken the day after we arrived.” 

Helen’s Diary July 10, 1947 “Jeanne over to Teters and came home upset.”

“Sam’s second birthday April 30, 1947 Homewood, Ill.”

Helen’s Diary July 14, 1947 “I watched the baby while Jeanne went to Santa Monica.”

Helen’s Diary July 19, 1947 “Bill called from Blythe at night.”

Helen’s Diary July 20, 1947 “Lazy quiet day. Teter came over for Jeanne. Bill and Jeanne over in the evening. Sherry.”

Helen’s Diary July 21, 1947 “Kids over to pick stuff up.”

Helen’s Diary July 26, 1947 “Jeanne and Bill over for dinner. Nice evening.”

July 29, 1947. “To Main Street today. At nite Jeanne and Bill over.”
July 31, 1947 “Went downtown early for Month End sales. Terrific crowds. Bought shoes, P.J.’s, robe and seersucker suit. Jeanne here in the afternoon and left at 4:30. Claire here at night. Tom Collins.” They were on a Hi Ball streak for a while. Then Tom Collins. With Sherry in between.

Helen’s Dairy August 3, 1947. “Jeanne and Bill over again.”
Similar diary entries up until August 17, 1947. But then…

On August 17  Helen went on vacation. Hussey stayed home. She got on an air conditioned bus that would take her to Las Vegas where she won a dollar!
“Quite a bus driver from Vegas to Cedar City where we stayed at a nice hotel. There was a desert storm.”
August 18 “Arrived at Zion at 11:00. Nice lunch then I took a one mile hike. The scenery is out of this world. The night is a starlit wonder. Good dinner, corny entertainment after which we left.”

August 19 “Took horseback ride to Angel’s Landing, back for lunch and left at 12:30 through Kaibab Forest – heavenly. Arrived at the Grand Canyon at 5:30 Nite, Grand Hotel. Huge dinner and a cute show.”
August 20 “Huge breakfast. Wrote cards, walked to Bright Angel Point. Afternoon to a trip around the rim of the canyon to Cape Royal highest point. To a program at night. It stormed over the canyon today.”
August 21 “Most spectacular day. Mule trip down canyon. Had to turn back on account of the storm, but 5 hours on the trail. Evening one of the best sunsets seen here. Last day at the canyon. Leave in the morning at 8:30.”
August 22 “Left Grand Canyon and arrived at Bryce at 2. Lunch and Rim Trip. Bus driver, Don,a geology student. Nite to lecture and show. And meet the famous Hodes Church. Cold, cold at night.”

August 23 “Terrific walk in the morning. Left Bryce at 2:00 p.m. and lovely drive to Ceder Breake. Chicken dinner there. Arrived Cedar City around 9 p.m. Stayed the night at Escalante Hotel and saw some Indians from India.”
August 24 “Up at about 6:45 NICE breakfast. Left Cedar City about 8:45. Stopped at Las Vegas for lunch. Then Barstow for dinner. Vegas to Barstow trip hot and tiresome. Arrived in L.A. at 9:39. Sam met me and we took a taxi home. Had sherry and talked.”

By August 31 everything appears settled and routine. Bill went on a fishing trip. The day before Helen and Hussey went window shopping in Hollywood. They played records at Wallach’s Music City. Then went downtown and visited the Bradbury Building, Olvera Street, and home about 9. And drank sherry.

All in all a two great weeks for Helen!


Dan Soderberg Photography

The Campus Drive In

The neon masterpiece stood at El Cajon Boulevard at College Ave in San Diego – Razed 1983. The Majorette Portion of the neon was preserved and is presented today by Save our Heritage Organisation at College Grove shopping center.


Historic Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Park

  1956 Kodachrome Slide  Courtesy Erik Hanson

That relatively small sign on a wooden post reads “Scripps Cove Park.” Documents show that in 1887 it was designated as La Jolla Park.  It was also known as La Jolla Shoreline Park. Those names changed on October 18, 1927 – the 91st of birthday of La Jolla and San Diego regional philanthropist  Ellen Browning Scripps – when San Diego Park Commissions dedicated the park to her and renamed it the Ellen Browning Scripps Park. It was, in a manner of speaking a ceremonial renaming. An official change came in 1961 when it was designated in the charter as Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Park.

Besides being one of the most actively used parks, especially for one so relatively small, it is one of our great cultural landscapes with it’s nature growth of tress and shrubs. The “soldier row” of Mexican palms, the twisted and turning Australian tea trees, and the single-trunk dragon trees.

With a look to the future new plantings of the Mexican fan palms are spaced between their elders as the life expectancy of those historic trees draws nearer. A gift that will keep giving for generations to come.

Special thanks to Historian and Researcher Vonn Marie May for her discussion with me about one of her passions. Historic landscapes. I’ve included her article from La Jolla Historical Society TimeKeeper newsletter below.