Halls of History—Billions and billions served

Halls of History

When I started college at Texas A&M University in September 1973, I lived in Moore Hall, a dormitory just feet from a McDonald’s restaurant at Northgate. It became my go-to dining experience if I missed eating in Sbisa Hall, and for late evening, midnight, and after-midnight snacks.

Texas A&M UniversityWhen I moved off campus for my sophomore year, it was more of an effort to get to McDonald’s at Northgate, several miles away. Fortunately, there was another McDonald’s a half mile from me on Harvey Road. Since it was on the way to campus, it became my daily dining experience for the final three years of my undergraduate experience.

I lived in Houston from May 1977 to April 1983 and never did find a McDonald’s to call my own.

When I moved back to College Station in April 1983, McDonald’s on Harvey Road again became my go-to eatery…. for ten years!

When I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I immediately looked for a McDonald’s. Amazingly, there was one in Hillcrest right behind the Center for Social Services, which is where I “came out,” and where my life was centered for the next eleven months.

Recently, I discovered that the McDonald’s at 1414 University Avenue in Hillcrest was built in 1977 but is an original McDonald’s location from the 1960s. Here it is:

McDonald's in Hillcrest, San Diego, California

My discovery came about because two of the three original locations remaining in San Diego County were in the news.

One is at 1146 East Valley Parkway in Escondido, about 30 miles northeast of Hillcrest, and the building was recent demolished and rebuilt, now looking like this:

McDonald's in Escondido, California

That restaurant was not yet open when I went by on June 6. It should be open now.

The third oldest location, at 137 Canyon Drive in Oceanside, about 30 miles due north of Hillcrest,  is the one that was making the biggest headlines here. It looked like this on June 6:

McDonald's in Oceanside, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Along with it being an original location dating from the 1960s, it also has one of the few remaining signs stating how many billions of burgers had been sold:

Mcdonald's in Oceanside, California

If you look at your local McDonald’s, it probably says something like “BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SOLD.” The sign at the Hillcrest location says “BILLIONS SOLD.”

McDonald’s pre-corporation history started when Richard and “Mac” McDonald opened a barbecue restaurant at 1398 North E Street in San Bernardino, California, on May 15, 1940. The San Bernardino location is now an unofficial McDonald’s museum owned by the Juan Pollo restaurant chain (not related to El Pollo Loco).

McDonald’s as a corporation was founded on April 15, 1955, when Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald’s restaurant after, according to one source, having purchased McDonald’s equity and assets from Richard and Maurice. The real story of Kroc’s purchase might never be known because there is a lot of disagreement about how it came about.

Ray Kroc’s aggressive business practices were the subject of the song “Boom, Like That,” released in 2004 by Mark Knopfler, formerly the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits.

Ray Kroc, who had joined McDonald’s as a franchise agent in 1955, lived much of his life, and died, right here in San Diego. He owned the San Diego Padres professional baseball team from 1974 until his death in 1984.

Just a mile down the road from me is The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, which has one of San Diego County’s year-round ice skating rinks. Regretfully, the Salvation Army is quite homophobic so I have not been by to visit the facility and, thus, have no pictures of it. And you won’t find a link from my blog to their web site; you’ll have to find it on your own if you’re interested.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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22 thoughts on “Halls of History—Billions and billions served

        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          They consistently get a score of 0 from the Human Rights Campaign. Remember that the Salvation Army actually is a church organization, and one of the most homophobic there is.


      1. Gallivanta

        Mmmmm….but they are well respected here, as far as I know,(in our pro gay rights environment) but I have just checked out their website and policies and it is disturbing; the paper is from 2005, though.


        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Go to HRC.org. You can find the latest and the greatest on all corporations and other business entities.

          When Joan Kroc was dying, she was giving away millions and billions of dollars. She gave $10 million to the Salvation Army here, and they chose to build The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center with some of it and put the rest in an operations endowment.

          I was singing in The Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego at the time, and when the Center was complete, we applied to do a concert out here in “homophobic East County” to reach a wider not-necessarily-gay audience. The Army turned us down because we were not “men of God.”

          Well, Joan had also given millions to many arts organizations, including the Chorus. She heard about what happened, and reneged on the rest of her pledge to the Army.

          Suddenly, we were welcome at the Salvation Army. But as soon as she died and the Army got the remainder of her pledge, they denied the Chorus from performing there, and have done so each year since.


  1. viewpacific

    Thanks for the history, I was surprised how much San Diego was involved in the chain’s history.
    Also, I surprised myself in something else. When you mentioned coming out, I thought it was in reference to eating at McDonald’s. I have a lot of vegan friends and going to McDonald’s would not sit well with them. Other friends are anticorporate or anti-chain, and they’re not very tolerant about McDonald’s. At the same time, I have friends representing an alphabet soup of orientations and gender identities. So, at first I thought you were talking about revealing where you eat.
    Thanks for the interesting blog and all your great photos.


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Once I got comfortable with my own sexual orientation I quit eating at McDonald’s. I don’t know whether or not it was intentional, but it happened. I had not eaten at McDonald’s for 19 years……….. until a few days ago when my new employee, Julian, took me to McDonald’s. I chastised him real good………..LOL


  2. SmallHouseBigGarden

    Just crossed the Salvation Army off my list of vintage shops.

    I’m very disappointed to learn this…they do fairly good work with addicts (i am 8.5yrs sober) and although I personally never used any of their social services I know several who credit their first months of sobriety to salvation army outreach.
    I just don’t get why some people are so god damn conservative and averse to opening their minds! I’ve gone through quite a few stigmatizing experiences when people learn I was a heroin user. it’s as if suddenly that’s the ONLY part of you they see, which I imagine you got from some closed minded idiots when you came out.

    I have no time for that attitude in people OR institutions. Thankyou for sharing that tidbit about Salvation Army!!!!


    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Yep. As I tell people about the “gay agenda:” My gay agenda is to get up every morning, shower and shave, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, go to work to make money to pay my bills, take a break, work, eat lunch, work, teak a break, eat supper, blog, play with Zoey the Cool Cat, hug Jim and tell him I love him, more work, game of chess, listen to lots of music, take lots of pictures, get out and see the world beyond my window…………….

      As you can see, it’s a really stupendous agenda. When I have it complete, I will have taken over the world!………………..LOL

      Being gay is an integral part of me but I’m sooooooooo much more than that integral par.


  3. LAMarcom

    The very first time I went to Paris (1978). I met up with a buddy (another Texan). He would not shut up until we went to the MacDonald’s on the Champs-Élysées. I said to him, “Bart. We are in Paris fucking France. Best food in the world. You wanna go to Micky D’s?”
    “Yep,” he said.
    * heavy sigh *

    Thanks for sharing these images Russel and thanks for the trip down memory lane.


      1. LAMarcom

        Many times. I even pissed in the Seine River while looking at Notre D. (Please don’t tell anyone-it was very late and I am certain there were no witnesses)



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