Movin’ on up! Actually, we were moving just a block away; to the next street over, off the main street. But, any move was apt to be an improvement. It was the mid-1950s and the Daily Times-Advocate, which long since had outgrown a space that allowed for absolutely no expansion, was vacating its 237 East Grand Ave. location for a new and larger building, a facility it could occupy for another 15 years.
Co-publishers Fred Speers and Bert McClintock had contracted for a new and modern newspaper plant to their specifications in the 200 block of East Ohio Avenue (now Valley Parkway), one block north of the Grand Avenue site. The new building, which may have been obsolete compared with plants today 60 years later, was close to being the difference between night and day from the Grand Avenue location. It had separate areas for the newsroom, classified advertising and circulation, something that was lacking in the old building.
I was one of four reporters in that decade of the 50s at the Grand Avenue building, which as about 50 feet wide and extending to the alley, separating it from Second Avenue. The news staff “office” was behind a long counter in unencumbered space (no cubicles or screens) that we shared with four other persons: a classified advertising sales lady, a circulation manager and clerk and a bookkeeper. My “desk” was a typewriter table. You can imagine how all of us must have felt movin’ up!
When one entered the new T-A on Ohio Avenue, you walked into a small lobby and faced the first office area — a reception/classified advertising counter. To the right of the lobby was a circulation department office; behind the reception counter (with an entrance to the left off the lobby) was the newsroom, now spacious enough for as many as eight people.
Much of the center of the new building as taken up by a “job shop” — a print shop offering posters, placards, flyers, business cards, etc., with access to the production department, which occupied more than half the total floor space of the new structure. The “job shop,” which employed two full-time people, was a holdover from the Grand Avenue site and had been part of the operation for years, although it played no part in producing the newspaper. It simply was another source of revenue for the company, apparently a lucrative one.
When I recall those days in that building, I think the retail advertising staff got short-changed. To get to the advertising department, one had to walk through the newsroom, along a hallway, and there was the two-man advertising staff — sitting right across from the rest rooms. Yes, sir, when a man or woman entered or exited the respective toilet facility – “Wham, hi, there, advertising staff!” But, everyone got used to it. Wehad moved up! When T-A ownership changed hands years later, the “job shop” was eliminated and the retail advertising staff moved into a more appropriate and expanded area, easier to reach and now in the center of the building.
Fast vs slow pitch softball
The Escondido Nightball League (fast-pitch softball) flourished in the Forties and Fifties. It was the primary form of men’s recreation in the summer. Games were played at the old Finney Field, on North Escondido Boulevard across the street from what is now the movie theater complex. Some of the team sponsors were Sunkist (the lemon-packing plant), Dunamis (Emmanual Faith Church), American Legion and the Elks Lodge. Some of the better pitchers were Bob Atilano, Clint Jones, Leonard Schroder and Nuke Goswick. Among the many players were the Calac brothers (Leo, Don and DeLisle), Chick Embrey, Bud Quade, Bob Houser and Burl Gist.
In fast-pitch softball, some pitchers are so good and fast that it’s rare to get a hit. One player who tended to buck the odds was Burl Gist, who chose to bunt. Opposing pitchers and players knew that he was apt to try to bunt, but he was so fast, he often beat the throw to get his hit. One of the real characters of the league was Marcus Alto, an older gentleman (older than the players) who managed the Sunkist team. Marcus coached first base during a game and was a non-stop chatter box, attempting to throw the other team off- balance. As the years progressed, interest in the game waned as few hits and runs were scored because of the speed of the pitchers. As fewer people were able to play because of that, the city recreation department in the Sixties introduced slow-pitch softball allowing for more hits and runs and, therefore, a game that was more fun to play.
When slow-pitch first was started, it was limited to men 36 years and older — supposedly to attract more men to playing, who couldn’t compete with the younger guys. As a safety precaution, the league prohibited wearing shoes with spikes and allowed no sliding. The game became so popular that the city, after a few years, removed the minimum-age limit, permitted spikes and sliding.
The Nightball League soon disbanded, and slow-pitch today has become so popular that thousands are playing. The only fast-pitch softball remaining today is that played by the women, for whom there was no organized sports activity in those decades of the Forties and Fifties.
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Ron Kenney was a reporter and editor with the former Daily Times-Advocate from 1952 to 1979. He was a copy editor on the editorial pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune from 1985 to 1997.