Tag Archives: san diego reader

The U.S.S. Bennington—Part 1

Out & About

One of the best things about this Internet-connected world is that I can subscribe to various sources to let me know what’s happening, what happened, and what’s going to happen.

Recently I was informed by our weekly newsmagazine, the San Diego Reader, that the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove got a new entry sign. I had never heard of the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove so I rushed right over there to explore.

Bennington Memorial oak Grove

That was not the easiest thing to do. The reason why I had never heard of it is because it’s the most difficult place to get to. Perhaps it wasn’t way back in 1905 when 66 oaks were planted in the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, but that intersection now is a nightmare of traffic into and out of Balboa Park, into and out of a major subdivision, on and off ramps for Interstate 5, and on and off ramps for State Highway 94.

Although the grove is in Balboa Park, this is not an easily accessible area of Balboa Park because the closest place to park is a mile away in that older subdivision which also happens to have those Permit Parking Only Between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. signs. After driving around for a while, the Balboa Park ranger opened an obscure road to a parking area, and that’s where I parked. When I got back to my car a couple of hours later, every parking spot in that little parking lot was taken, and cars were circling like vultures waiting for the next car to leave.

It was a mile walk down a very busy thoroughfare, 26th Street, to get to the entrance to the grove.

Walk down to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Walk down to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

At 6:00 in the morning, one should be enjoying the fresh morning air instead of car exhaust fumes….

It was not a pleasant walk but it was the only logistically logical walk, and there were quite a few cute little bridges over the dry creek. Bridge might be too nice of a word for a couple of them.

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bridge on the walk to Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

I finally got to the grove. It looked like no one has done any maintenance to it in about 112 years. Poor trees.

Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

The path is well worn but in my two hours on a weekday morning, I saw no one using it, not a single person. Just me. Maybe it’s an evening path instead of a morning path….

There were billions and billions and billions of squirrels. Uh, der. Oaks…. Acorns….. Squirrels.

Squirrel in Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

Squirrel in Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

I had a staring contest with one little guy. Finally, I focused my camera on him, said “I’m going to put you on Facebook” and pushed the shutter button. Here’s what I got:

Squirrel in Bennington Memorial Oak Grove

So, what is the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove and why is it there? Why was it created? Why 66 oak trees?

The Bennington refers to the U.S.S. Bennington, Gunboat No. 4/PG-43 (picture from Wikipedia, by William H. Rau):

U.S.S. Bennington by William H. Rau

On July 21, 1905, the Bennington was rocked by a boiler explosion in San Diego that killed 66 men and injured nearly everyone else on board. A tug beached the ship to prevent her from sinking. After Bennington was refloated, the damage was deemed too extensive to repair and the ship was decommissioned in September 1905. It was sold for scrap in 1910 and served as a water barge for the Matson Line at Honolulu from 1912 to 1924 when it was scuttled off the coast of Oahu. Eleven men were awarded the Medal of Honor for “extraordinary heroism” in the aftermath of the explosion.

At the time of the explosion, a group of city officials and fraternal organizations were preparing to plant over 300 memorial trees in Balboa Park, then called City Park. They voted to add the men who died aboard the Bennington to the list. On November 30, 1905, with a ceremony to honor the dead, 66 California live oaks were put in the ground at the bottom of 26th Street.

According to my news source, “USS Bennington oak grove now on Balboa Park map” by Leorah Gavidor; San Diego Reader; April 20, 2017:

“Until recently, the grove lacked signage or explanation. Kathleen Winchester, historian for the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, is working to put the trees on the map. When she took on the project, as part of Friends of Balboa Park’s adopt-a-plot program, the memorial did not appear on the park map. It’s on there now, where 26th meets Pershing, across from the municipal golf course.

“Enlisting the help of local Boy Scouts, Winchester set out to give the long-neglected grove a makeover. Judith Reale, another Daughter of the American Revolution and a landscape designer, donated plans. Winchester divided the work into several scout-sized projects that earned the boys their Eagle designations. Balboa Park maintenance worker Jaime Diez provided tools, materials, and equipment to do the heavy lifting.

“Improvements include a new bridge on the trail along 26th; a welcome circle of redwood logs salvaged from the maintenance yard; a gravel path (still in the works); a sturdy wooden sign facing 26th Street; and a kiosk that will list the 66 names alongside a link to a website with details about each man’s biography.

“I didn’t want to disturb this serene grove, but I wanted something more for the memorial. I want to commemorate each of the men’s contributions to their country.

“A survivor of the blast was the only black man aboard the Bennington, John Henry Turpin. Turpin was among a dozen men who worked to save the lives of fellow sailors. Eleven of the men received medals, but Turpin was not among them. Though he went on to achieve Chief Gunner’s Mate and retire from the Navy, his deed was not recognized during his lifetime.

“Winchester is petitioning the Navy to award Turpin the Medal of Honor posthumously.

“In addition to regular Balboa Park maintenance funds, money for the project came from the Daughters of the American Revolution and the scouts themselves. Any proceeds left in the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove fund will go to replacing dead trees in the grove.

“Winchester is “very happy with the City of San Diego” for adding safety features along 26th Street to complement the improvements: curbs, cones, and striping were put in to protect pedestrians using the popular trail that runs through the grove.”

I didn’t see any safety features while I was there.

This is not the final story of the U.S.S. Bennington, though. Part 2 tomorrow.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

IB Groomin'

Bye, Bye Petco!

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

OneI got published!

Remember my blog post about the joker who drove his car onto the railroad tracks?

My blog post is here, and my story was published online by the San Diego Reader here.

2A follow-up on my blog post about mean, mean Petco not allowing local businesses to participate at the Loews Coronado Surf Dog Competition this past Sunday.

Here’s most post about Petco and the competition.

Now comes word that another local business which was declined an opportunity to participate had a run-in at the actual competition on Sunday. Seems IB Groomin’ from Imperial Beach had a person at the beach before the competition started. Said person was in the IB Groomin’ Surf Dog costume which we’ve seen at past competitions:

IB Groomin'

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

IB Groomin’ had been a sponsor and vendor at the competition since 2009, just as IB Pet had been. Elizabeth Pearson, the owner of IB Groomin’, said she was not protesting at the event but simply passing out flyers for Saturday grooming specials. In the past, dog owners and their salty, sandy dogs often stopped by for a dog wash and cut. “Loews used to ask if I was bringing the dog suit,” Pearson said. “Lots of people in the community like my dog suit. They like to see it there. Kids come up and say hi.”

After a few minutes, a member of the Loews staff asked her to leave. Shortly afterwards, deputies also asked her to leave. “It was pretty overboard,” Pearson said. “I understand that it’s about money. Petco sponsored them. OK. But I don’t even understand why we couldn’t show up on the beach and support competitors at the event. Our customers were participating in the competition.”

Loews Hotels declined to comment, both to the Patch where the story first broke, and to me when I called earlier today.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Imperial Beach substation could not be reached for comment by Patch. When I called they said they didn’t have time to comment on a past event. Huh?

Until further notice, Petco has lost me as a customer. Of course, they’ll never miss me.

I have never stayed at a Loews. Now I think I know why.

ThreeOccasionally, the utility companies, especially the electric company, likes to prune trees that are getting too close to power lines. How close some of these brittle eucalyptus trees are to power lines can be critical during fire season when the Santa Ana winds come blowing through at 70 mph. In some cases, if the tree is relatively small, they will remove the tree. In other cases, as with tall eucalyptus trees, they will simply wait until near summer, after all the sap is out of the root and back in the trees, and then chop all the branches off, thereby depriving the tree of vital sap and leaves needed to convert sunlight into useful energy. Sometimes people will see what the utility company does to its trees. Thinking that it must be good for the trees, they will do the same thing to their trees, as this person did:

Badly pruned tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On my way back by that house, the owner was out in the yard so I stopped to talk to him about the trees. He had no idea that there is a good possibility that those trees will die now. He asked me why utility companies trim their trees like that and I explained what was going on. When I left him he was quite sad about his trees. He thought the massive pruning would help them grow more beautiful. I’ll keep an eye on them but I do believe they are beyond help now.

FourRecently I had the opportunity to hear a great pianist (Jim) on a unique grand piano.

As I was preparing the piano for the concert, I noticed that the two lowest white bass keys were painted black.

Considering that this was a concert grand piano made by one of the best manufacturers, I couldn’t believe that someone would paint two of the keys.

I pointed them out to Jim:

Piano keys

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

He told me why they are painted black.

It’s intentional.

Anyone know why?

I’ll give you a hint: The piano is a Bosendorfer concert grand piano.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos