Photos from the Vault

Mitchell Park construction: World War II week by week

Stories from 70 years ago:

Nov. 11, 1943

The fifth “Armistice Day” of World War II dawned with fighting from the South Western Pacific Islands to the skies over Germany.

Headlines reported U.S. troops had landed on the Japanese-held Bougainville Island.

Conscripted Axis troops from Czechoslovakia mutinied when ordered to move to the Russian front by Nazi leaders. A battle took place in the medieval French town of Villefranche-de-Rouergue.

In San Luis Obispo, landscape and fixture plans were progressing slowly on what would become known as Mitchell Park. Service clubs like the Lions, Exchange Club, National Council of Jewish Women and the Soroptimists were inching the project along despite the wartime labor shortage. The playground was slated to contain a wading pool, see-saws and a sandbox. It was the second park in the city. The first city park is the triangular park bounded by Osos Street and Santa Barbara Avenue. A project of the San Luisita Parlor of Native Daughters, it had been created more than 35 years earlier. Both parks had been neglected, and the city was making plans for upkeep.

San Luis Obispo County was among the top 10 mineral-producing counties in California in 1942, according to a recently released report by the state mineralogist. The value of minerals extracted from the county was listed at $1,032,114 with the leading minerals being chrome, manganese and quicksilver. The wartime boom was similar to the World War I spike that peaked in 1918.

Joseph Bouchard of Nipomo passed away at age 101. He was thought to be the last living Union veteran of the Civil War in the the county.

Capt. Andrew J. McGovern Jr. of San Luis Obispo died from an accidental rifle wound while training at Camp Coxcomb.

Nov. 12, 1943

Over the last year the Soviet Army had recaptured more Russian soil than was still held by the Nazis. It had been 630 miles of hard fighting from Stalingrad to Kiev.

Preliminary work on a housing project for Marines in Morro Bay was underway. Barracks and mess halls for 1,500 were being built. It was hoped that a dredging project would resume at the harbor. It had been abandoned several months earlier, but a recent allocation of a million dollars by the House of Representatives offered hope.

A Coast Guardsman drowned when a boat carrying 10 men capsized off Morro Bay. His name had not yet been released.

Nov. 18, 1943

"From a prison camp in Tokyo the voice of 1st Lt. Nelson Herbert Russell, formerly with the San Luis Obispo County Welfare office, came to his family last Sunday night. Except for one letter, this is the first news they have had from him since he left the United States for the Philippines Oct. 26, 1941." Russell had been taken prisoner at Bataan and said he was "as well as could be expected."

A car loaded with five passengers was prowling San Luis Obispo, the occupants tossing gallon jugs at pedestrians. A woman entering the Lea Bowling alleys at 9:45 p.m. was startled when the glass jug crashed above the doorway over her head then shattered on the sidewalk. Bowlers said it sounded like a bomb. While police investigated this incident, a similar event occurred at the Greyhound bus station. No one was seriously injured. The next day's story told of the city attorney filing charges against five high-school students.

Nov. 19, 1943

More than 1,000 British bombers dropped tons of high explosive over Germany in overnight raids followed by daylight raids by American bombers.

The Edna oil field near Pismo Beach was preparing to drill for oil at 3,155 feet in the sub-surface sand.