Family Photographs… and their stories: Daddy in Balboa Park… San Diego, California

Daddy in Balboa Park, San Diego, California

I’ve had this photograph of my father, Clayton Bryan, in my photo album for years, but never took a closer look, until I put my Nancy Drew hat on and grabbed my magnifying glass. If only I had sat with daddy years ago, and asked about his Navy photos… but I’m thankful he took many while in San Diego. There was a mile long trail through the grove of twisted pines and gnarled oaks in Balboa Park… and this photo might possibly have been taken on this walking trail. Even though there were paid attractions to visit… I’m sure he watched his expenses.

In trying to decipher what was written on the back of the above photograph… I was not coming up with the correct word in googling. No sooner than I posted it on my Facebook page, I had help from a few cousins who gave me the correct name of Balboa Park… and ironically it was in San Diego, California… and not far from the Naval Base.

Balboa Park is a 1200 acre historic park in San Diego, California… and actually not far from where he was stationed at Naval Base San Diego, also known as 32nd Street Naval Station; it is the second largest surface ship base of the United States Navy. 

In knowing how close Balboa Park is to the Naval Base… it definitely pinpointed that this was a logical place he and his buddies would visit on their free time; it was on a direct bus route… which was their only choice of travel. and also free to walk through!

During WWI, the Navy acquired Balboa Park for free and converted it into a training facility for new recruits… mainly because it was located alongside a large body of water. The Lily Pond there was used to train sailors how to row and maneuver small boats, as well as teach them to swim and float. It was later returned to the city, but in WWII, the park was again taken over by the military… later the buildings were turned into many of the museums you find there today. All three branches, Army, Navy and Marines, were active there in training, but the largest presence there was the Navy.

In colorizing this photo, I see daddy was in his dress blues… as the black and white photos make his uniform appear black… which I always thought was the correct color. And as usual, there is hardly a photo of my father without a cigarette in his hand. Daddy was very handsome in his Navy uniform… and that thick wavy hair combed back definitely gave him a resemblance to Elvis. Mama always referenced that she felt he had looked very close in looks to him. The walking trail definitely looked to be very grown with growth. I searched his other photos, hoping to identify where else in the park he might have gone, but nothing else looked to have been taken in a park. (Those trees with the white blooms intrigue me… maybe someone can identify them.)


Want to see more Family Photographs… and their stories, click HERE

To read Family Stories… click HERE.
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About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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