The Journal of San Diego History
April 1955, Volume 1, Number 2

AND THE RAINS CAME: Back in 1916, a prolonged drought led to a venture in rainmaking which was featured by the employment of Charles M. Hatfield, a professional rainmaker; it was featured also by floods which took out Lower Otay Dam, filled Mission Valley from edge to edge and are still recalled with grave head-shaking by old-timers. Barbara Tuthill, who wrote “Hatfield the Rainmaker” for Western Folklore in April 1954, would like to know the present whereabouts of Hatfield.

THE OMINOUS “FIFTY-FIVE”: The whistle which blows at 10 p.m. daily at the Kettner Boulevard power-house was used, for many years, to sound the code-number of any fire-alarm box which “came in” — and also for other purposes of an even more threatening nature. Specifically, the signal of five blasts, a pause, and five more, was officially designated as the “Riot Call” — while the blowing of “4-4” meant that the Naval Militia was being called to the colors. Can anyone supply the dates on which these signals were first used, and when they were discontinued?

A MARITIME MONSTROSITY: So far, both the San Diego History Center and the Maritime Research Society of San Diego must admit defeat in trying to identify, from its photograph, a small Mexican steamer. And they have been trying for years. The photo depicts a wooden vessel probably 75 feet long, schooner-rigged, with a transom stem. Her hull planking shows the original, graceful sheer of a small sailing vessel — but at some time, someone decided to raise the sides of the hull, which they did in a most fantastic manner. The new deckline was about three feet higher amidships than it was at the bow and stern, and a more frightful-looking craft you cannot imagine. The photo shows her at the old Steamship Wharf at the foot of Fifth Street and in the background lies the famous old steamer Orizaba, which is not listed after 1888. It is definitely not the Carlos Pacheco, and probably not the Manuel Dublan. Does anyone have any ideas?

MR. McCONVILLE IS MISSING: A visitor at the Museum inquired recently about a bronze statue of John McConville which, he stated, was in Balboa Park in 1940 but is not there now. No one seems to know what became of it — or even to recall it, for that matter. The visitor, who was from Idaho, is the grandson of McConville’s brother.

A “FAMOUS” LITTLE VESSEL: In the January Quarterly, a request for information on the schooner Vaquero — “supposed to have been built in San Diego in 1869” — was printed; the information was sought by the Orange County Coast Association. From the microfilm files of the San Diego Herald at the Public Library, Archivist Ben Dixon dredged up references to her, but they were far earlier than 1869. She is mentioned more than once during the Fifties in the Herald’s “Marine Intelligence” section, the last time being when she brought the materials for constructing the lighthouse on top of Point Loma, which gives her a definite bid to local fame.