The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1984, Volume 30, Number 1
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor

Book Review

Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor

History of San Diego Rotary Club 33. By Joseph L. Howard. San Diego: San Diego Rotary Club Number 33, 1981. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index 343 Pages. $55.00.

Reviewed by Rhoda E. Kruse, Senior Librarian, California Room, San Diego Public Library.

It is unfortunate that this book had to be priced so high, for there is much in it that will prove of value and interest to non-Rotarians. Though focussing on the Club, Mr. Howard has included enough local history to give some perspective. This technique, plus others, saves the volume from being a dry-as-dust enumeration of who was elected to what office in which year, and similar data.

It is true that there is visible strain, at times, in the author’s efforts to vary his terminology. Some misspellings, and a factual error or two, also jar the reader. For instance, on page 32, Howard states that the Club’s newsmagazine editor’s place of business moved in 1914. This change in address on the masthead was not caused by a move, but by a change in street numbering.

The book’s faults are minor, however, when placed in the balance with its virtues. It is plentifully illustrated, with black-and-white photographs reproduced in a sepia-like effect. Most, but not all, of the pictures are Rotary-related. They are placed where they belong, chronologically, and vary in size and placement, contributing to a well-designed volume. Some are not as clear as could be desired; the fault may be in the original. Also, the book is well-indexed, and has a chronology and other useful appendices.

By far the greatest virtue of this volume, however, is its skillful blend of humanitarianism and human interest. One of Rotary’s tenets is Service, and the book is a veritable roll-call of “pillars of the community.” Yet they are not placed on pedestals; one catches informal glimpses which show them as people. For instance, in 1921, members were asked not to throw bread rolls at each other during luncheons.

Like the attendance record (47 years) of one of Club 33’s members, Mr. Howard’s history is worth noting. If you don’t buy it, try to borrow a copy to read. Your time will be well spent.