Dan Soderberg Photography

Keeping “Kewl”

Kids of The Boulevard.

Staying “kewl” on a summer’s day.

Being “kewl.”

Kewl and on the move.


Grand Breakin’ Master.

The Boulevard as play yard.

81º at 7 p.m. Being “kewl” in sweats.

“It’s not called a scooter. It’s a RAZOR.”

Dan Soderberg Photography

From Dirt Road to Premier Strip

Dedicated to the ease of automobile access The Boulevard was San Diego’s premier commercial strip until 1960 and 1961. That is when Interstate 8 was completed. The malls of College Grove, Mission Valley and Grossmont Center were built. The traffic and customers El Cajon Boulevard once saw went to those areas.

Pearson Ford. The jingle is true, “They stand alone at Fairmont and El Cajon,” as the only remaining new car dealership of the strip.

Many of the old lots remain, but now dealing used cars.

The Schwinn Bicycle Center once occupied the purple building, left side. Also of note is the United Car lot and the little Queen Anne house at this site.

3747 El Cajon Boulevard today.

The Emma Schnug residence, 1910. The little house knew The Boulevard when it was still El Cajon Avenue and only a dirt road.


Signage Of The Times

1950’s architecture exemplified ideas associated with bringing the future to present day. It was an era of test pilots, sonic boom, sputnik and the atom. The Boulevard saw roof lines that seemed to lift off and soar. Signs had aeronautical features.

I remember it as Fosters Freeze or Dairy Queen. They saw the slanted roof line as the perfect style befitting their soft ice cream treats.

The Flying Wing of the day was never quite successful. However something about the design resonated with architects.

The Flying Wing as motel architecture.

The Flying Wing was reincarnated later as the Stealth Bomber.

Or was it as a funeral parlor? The term for this futuristic mid-century style of architecture is Exaggerated Modern.

The signage of the times shared the same ideals as the architecture. One saw boomerang and trapezoidal signs, and huge arrows pointing towards the best place to go. No sign on The Boulevard had more style at shouting “shop here!” than this Honda landmark. A whirling arsenal of boomerangs speeding across a bow. As car dealerships relocated to Mission Vally and elswhere, Honda abandoned its Boulevard sales venue. The sign was taken down.

La Cresta Motel was once among the cream of The Boulevard motel crop.

An ordinary square sign would have been considered both ordinary and “square.” With a touch of neon, this was a most respectable offering.

Good signage was especially important to liquor store owners. This could either be viewed as a jet wing or arrow feather.

The building (right) is nearly all in one with the sign itself.

Neon was an essential element of the era.

Dan Soderberg Photography

Ben Hur

From Interstate 5, outside downtown San Diego, you can see a Ben Hur. He won’t be thundering along at 95 miles per hour though. He’s stayed put there at 800 W. Ivy since way back in the 1920’s as Ben Hur Coffee, Tea and Spice Products, Inc. They were based out of Los Angeles in a building that also remains. However there the original art work is gone. Only a faded trace of the letters “Coffee.” Another sign “Angeles Desk Company” was painted over it. Luckily, this handsome display in San Diego survives and adorns the urban landscape.

Ben Hur Coffee, Tea and Spice had its day though. With plants also in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. They had a good contract going with Lucky Markets as producer of their store brand.

Six years after buying A. Schilling and Company of San Francisco, McCormick and Company then acquired Ben Hur Products, Inc in 1953. Schilling lived on in brand, but Ben Hur fell by the wayside.


You may find an old Ben Hur coffee tin on ebay selling for a hundred bucks. Or maybe a spice tin is more budget friendly.


Home and Family

Madame Paint

I wondered about the delicately dappled white calico that studied me all the time. Then I began to receive mysterious “gifts” at my doorstep. Miscellaneous socks, underwear, panties, etc. The mystery continued day after day. I mentioned this to my neighbor Connie. “That’s Paint, the white calico, doing that,” said Connie. “She’s telling you she loves you!”

Sure enough I caught her red handed, or clawed if you will. At the doorstep looking up at me with a brazier clutched in her jaws. Offering to me what I surely most wanted in the world. I discovered she routinely raided the laundry room at an apartment building next door.

When I went for walks I had the strange feeling I wasn’t alone. I turned around to look about. Nothing. But then out of the corner of my eye a white feline figure moving in the bushes. There was Paint. She had been following me for some time on all my walks. Darting from bush to bush. And unknown to me at first even across busy streets. “You crazy little cat,” I told her.

I never knew such bravado from a creature as dainty and delicate as she was.

There was no doubt I had been adopted. Such persistence was irresistible.

Connie’s husband Mil was a veterinarian. They had been caring for Paint and her great big son Tiger. But Connie has rather severe allergies to cat dander. Otherwise Paint and Tiger would have had a good home. However, they made sure the cats had access to water and excellent food at a sheltered window sill of their place. Mil took Paint and Tiger into the clinic. Gave them shots. Spayed and neutered as well. Paint required antibiotics and medicine because of internal injuries she suffered.

Paint’s early life was at a house where two men lived. Two miserable examples of human existence that routinely kicked Paint about for entertainment and laughs. The men were away frequently. Paint had to fend for herself in the alley ways. Though barely past being a kitten herself, a big nasty tom cat had his way with her. She then had kittens of her own. The “men” reacted by throwing Paint and her litter out onto Riviera Drive. It is a busy street in Pacific Beach notorious for speeding vehicles. Paint managed to save herself and only one kitten, Tiger. Her litter was crushed by rushing cars.

For weeks Paint roamed the alleys for whatever scraps of food she could find. So skinny and weak she could barely walk and carry kitten Tiger by the nap of his neck. As she searched for the next bit of garbage food.

Connie and Mil discovered Paint much the same way I did. Offerings left on their doorstep and window sill. Rags and gardening gloves belonging to the lady owning the house I lived at. Connie showed her the gloves. “So that’s what happened to my rags and and gardening gloves.” It was all Paint’s doing.

Connie and Mil nursed the cats back to full health. Tiger grew up to be seemingly twice the size of Paint. She decided however that he was big enough to be on his own. Paint constantly sought to push him out of the nest. But Paint was all Tiger ever knew. He wasn’t about to leave no matter how much punishment she dished out in the form of hissing, spitting, swiping and batting. He just took it like a punching bag. Not that Tiger’s experience with Mom and nasty humans hadn’t affected him. He grew up to be afraid of his own shadow.

Connie loved Tiger dearly. She and Mil found a home for him in Mission Hills. Paint adopted me. They all lived happily ever after.

Paint was certainly resilient. Somehow not losing an instinct that there was a human out there she could trust. But she was going to chose carefully. Finding a veterinarian was good instinct on her part. And then how she knew I would succumb to her charms, I don’t know.

Most people never saw the charming Paint. For understandable reasons she had no interest in people at all beyond her chosen one. But she wasn’t the kind of cat to run and hide under a bed. She stood her ground under all circumstances. Some saw her as aloof. Others thought she was rather regal. Queen like. She kept her mostly white coat of fur spotless. Her gate was light and dainty. Almost ballet like. And perhaps because of her early life encounter with that old alley cat, she did not tolerate any other cat whatsoever. She patrolled her turf and took on intruders no matter how much larger they were.

When I moved to Normal Heights Dad installed a cat door at the front of the house. I was afraid with so many creatures of all sorts in the neighborhood some would find their way through that door. Paint was always on guard though. Once a cat managed to stick its head through. Paint responded immediately and dished out a severe penalty to the intruder. As always she cleaned up thoroughly after dirtying her paws on the riff raff.

It was never done better on Leave It To Beaver, or Father Knows Best. She knew the sound of my VW at the curb. Without fail charged out her little door to greet me. To side rub my legs and escort me in. And yes, most likely over to the food dish.

She was a bird lover. She easily caught them. Or if she saw them through the window she clicked and clattered her jaws while observing. She ran to the television at the sight of any animal or bird shown. Sometimes taking a few bats or swipes at the screen.

Paint liked being on the bed at night, kneading out her selected location. That’s unless she suspected trespassers might be lurking about. Then she’d guard the door. Otherwise she’d jump on the bed, circle her spot, turn on the purr machine and get cozy. Invariably I woke up to the sound of her cleaning duties. The licking and chewing. Occasionally if she felt I hadn’t passed inspection, she licked and chewed on me as well until I met standards.

Since Paint has gone on to Heaven, I haven’t sought a new pet. Maybe a beta fish or two. But not a furry four leg variety. Her legacy of tragedy, triumph, heart, determination, loyalty and personality is unique. And quite irreplaceable it seems to me.

Dan Soderberg Photography


The VW snapped a tie rod somewhere along I-15 in the vast reaches of the Mojave desert as I was headed for the Grand Canyon. Triple AAA brought me to Yermo. A bit of a town that amounts to a quick gaze from a single highway exit.

The Garage was closed for the day. I’d be spending the night in Yermo. No worries about needing to check in to sleep somewhere. VW is home away from home.

Besides, A truck stop cafe was at hand. Style and living all the way. The handy duty mechanics at Yermo Garage got me rolling along the next day all right.

Related links.



Dan Soderberg Photography

Thoughts and Prayers

Reverence on The Boulevard. Blessed Sacrament Church.

The Boulevard has not one…

…But two Churches of Christ.

Theosophy examines “truth” found in all religion.

Church activist.

It is either the first or the last stop on the road to Heaven. Boulevard Chapel, Goodbody Mortuary.


Echoes and Remnants

Unknown boarder.

Mrs. Burbidge’s Boarding House at Ingraham Street and Union Avenue near downtown Los Angeles is where Gunhild and Bill Soderberg lived after Gustav Soderberg left the country, late 1920’s. It is apparent from the photos this was a most pleasant neighborhood with fine old homes. This is where Keith Teter met Gunhild.

Ingraham Street no longer exists at Union Avenue. A school yard completely covers the grounds of the former street block.

Of the few remaining blocks of Ingraham Street, this was the only old house I found. All the rest are ramshackle apartment buildings or commercial type of structures. Not far from Union Avenue, Bill and Gunhild must have passed this house numerous times.

After Gunhild and Keith were married, they and Bill moved to a house on Shatto Street. As with Ingraham Street, little remains on Shatto that resembles a residence. In his extreme old age Bill went back to this neighborhood. He lamented not finding familiar sites. Little evidence of the world he knew as a child in Los Angeles. This landmark, however, remains. The Commodore. Gunhild worked here as a housekeeper when they lived on Shatto. They were still at Shatto when Greta was born.

Only 3 or 4 blocks from the former site of Mrs. Burbidge’s Boarding House stands this outstanding Queen Ann home of 1894 called the Mooers House. It is located on Bonnie Brae Street. Mr. Mooers made his wealth from the discovery of placer gold, a mountain of it, which became the claim known as Yellow Aster. It was one of the largest gold producers in southern California and one of the noted mines in the State. Mr. Mooers enjoyment of his wealth was unfortunately short lived and tempered by ill health. He died in 1900.

I’m intrigued with the peak enclosure there above the second floor. That paisley swirl opening. Almost a beach wave motif.

All that ornamentation.

Next door is another gorgeous home. Both homes stand in sharp contrast to their surroundings of ugly dirty commercial structures and slum dwellings filled with lay-abouts or druggies. Save for two or three exceptional structures this fine old neighborhood was completely discarded.

Keith and Gunhild’s house on Cheviot Drive in Cheviot Hills is still up and well. With additional structure added in back.

August 2007

World War II. Keith, Milo Foster, Greta, Bill and Jeanne. The shutter design to the right is also on the kitchen window (behind Keith). Later photos show the addition of a flagstone retaining wall, but the shutters removed from the kitchen window.

The added flagstone features. House numbers moved to the right of the spot in previous photo. Zack and his catch of the day.

Sam, a four leg friend and Noah’s Ark (on the table) about where the additional structure or add on seems located today.

Zack (right), Sam and tortoise. That sun room in back may now be joined with the added room.

Related Links:


Marstrand, Pt. 2. A life in Los Angeles.


Oui, oui, oui…City of Lights

Las Vegas is a town that took the Disneyland approach of replicating familiar world wide sites as “themes.”

Some will say the Las Vegas Strip is the epitome of a synthetic environment and monument of greed. Others may point to a strange if not extreme kind of beauty.

At any given moment I relate to either sentiment.

My stay in Las Vegas, August 13 and 14 was at Hotel Paris. Besides the obvious iconic miniature Eiffel Tower and hotel marque in the form of a hot air balloon, the facility is faithful to the theme down to the smallest details.

I was struck by the number of guests in the lobby, restaurants and elevators I heard speaking French. Apparently, oui, this is home away from home for many a French tourist.

The intensity of summer heat in Las Vegas isn’t apparent in photos. Imagine, though, after a short time in the sun my camera became too hot to touch.

Dusk provides only some relief from the heat. At least one can hold a camera without burning the fingers. Here is Hotel Bellagio. The immense fountain is one of the seven wonders of the entertainment world. Fountain jets are seemingly capable of shooting water nearly as high as the hotel itself. The water blasts and light effects are timed and synchronized to music played over a superb outdoor sound system. Sinatra is most typically played. But I’ve heard orchestral pieces and popular movie themes played as well. It is simply impossible to walk by without stopping during a performance.

I’d say The Flamengo is better displayed in a video clip. One of the more recognizable landmarks and light displays of The Strip.

Ballys and Paris are effectively one hotel. One traverses from one property to the other without stepping outdoors. Ballys is an older hotel, formerly the MGM. At another site a new MGM Grand was built after the old facility was stigmatized. On November 21, 1980 A fire killed 84 people and injured 785. At the time it was the second worst hotel fire in modern U.S. history. Ballys however seems to thrive and flourish. 1980 is now considered olden times. A growing population of people born after 1980 check in. Guests unaware of the tragic event.


The Beatles “Love” by Cirque Du Soleil

It is a ripping and a rocking good show there in Las Vegas by Cirque Du Soleil. A portion of The Mirage Hotel and Casino is dedicated as “Love” theater. The design and colors of the box office, theater entrance, The Beatles Revolution Lounge and night club hearken to 1960’s Carnaby Street in London. A modern “mod,” if you will. All shiny, plastic and eye catching.

In the tried and true tradition of performing art, the show sets right off to grab the audience. The already kettle boiler Get Back is potently supplemented by a digitally remastered layer of drum and guitar work from Abbey Road; The End.

Action on stage is so busy and swift moving, it is hard to pick any one spot of the “three ring circus” to follow or focus upon. An unrelenting rush upon the senses.

The opening set is an homage to the rooftop performance of Get Back by The Beatles in 1969. Its a rooftop whirl, swirl, jumping and jive hullabaloo of dancers, acrobats, odd characters and costumes. The visual climax comes as the entire set seemingly destructs. Chimneys and brick walls crumble and implode every which way. Then all transfigured into something else altogether as the songs and various digital sampling of songs flow forth. Every moment is captivating if not thrilling to watch and listen too. I was ready to stay seated after the show and watch once more. An additional 26 songs would be just as wonderful and easy to enjoy.