Remembering Presidio Hills

| May 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

Every once in a while something happens in our lives that we can call a “teaching moment.”  That happened to me recently with a new neighbor.  During this occurrence, I took the time to reflect on the past, and to re-experience living in the Presidio Hills neighborhood for 36 years.

Where did the time go, and what has changed?

Fact is, a lot has changed, including activity, structures, and neighbors.

As most of us who have lived here for that length of time or longer, including Karen and Bob Hansen, and Bob Grove, we know the personality of the neighborhood has changed somewhat.  A big reason for the change is the major increase in automobile traffic, which isn’t going away.  Add to that, bicycle traffic, which travels up and down our streets as fast as vehicular traffic.  And, now, many of them travel in groups upward of 50, which to me seems rather odd.  Isn’t bicycling supposed to be a pleasurable activity? 

So with that in mind, front yards have lost their appeal of being an ideal place to hang out, especially to meet and greet our neighbors, which is kind of sad.

However, there are some of us who still enjoy working in the front yard, washing vehicles and watching people from the front porch, balcony or yard.  I’ve even noticed a couple of my neighbors sharing their musical talents, playing guitars.  It’s a pleasurable distraction.

As for neighbors, over the past year we’ve seen lots of for sale signs in the Presidio Hills neighborhood.  I’ve had people ask me, “Why are all of the houses on the market?”

One of our neighbors, Steve Bernstein, whose house had been quietly on the market for numerous years, had been planning to move for a long time.  I will miss this dear neighbor and friend, who used to be my dance partner at various functions almost 20 years ago.  He had been known to throw impromptu parties for friends and neighbors.  He was quite the entertainer, and a very accomplished artist and interior designer.  He only owned classic cars.  One of my favorites, a Thunderbird, I got to drive.  What a thrill that was.

Bernstein was also close to a previous neighbor who lived across the street from him, June Moeser. She was the first female sheriff for San Diego County.  And, her husband had been a celebrity spokesperson for the Del Mar Fair.  I recall long visits with her as she shared stories about her life in San Diego and being a longstanding resident of Mission Hills.  Moeser also had a role in restoring the Sheriff’s Museum in Old Town State Historic Park.  Due to her age and experience, I truly enjoyed hearing her colorful stories, including her historic role with the sheriff’s department.

After she passed away, her house was demolished and a new structure appeared, hence a new neighbor arrived.

Next to her lived Ed Luce, an attorney, and his wife, Barbara, who were very influential people in San Diego’s political landscape. They were close friends with their direct neighbors, Mary and Bob Fadem.  Bob was a highly respected doctor.  Mary was very involved in the Episcopal Church and various non-profit organizations.  They also used to have lots of parties with influential guests.  It was a pleasure to be invited and share the evening with other neighbors and their guests, who were dynamic and impressive.

Sadly, there are some neighbors whose names I can’t recall.  However, it is still fun to remember their roles in the neighborhood, including the single mother and her two children who lived two doors down from us.  They used to have goats and a pony for pets.  It was a normal occurrence to see them tethered to the front yard eating grass, casually lounging and observing everyone who walked by.

As I think back on those years, I recall how much fun it was to share Presidio Hills with one of our culturally diverse neighbors, Connie Fuentes-Miller, who was the proprietor of El Fandango, a historical restaurant in Old Town State Park.  Fuentes and I were both involved in Old Town San Diego events and promotions. A piece of history disappeared from the neighborhood when she sold her house and closed the business.

Obviously, change is inevitable. And, though we can’t turn back the clock, there are elements of Presidio Hills that shouldn’t change, including keeping intact the friendly and caring character of the neighborhood. And, though it’s sometimes challenging to connect with each other, we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to not befriend our neighbors. 

Many of the people who live in Presidio Hills and Mission Hills say it’s the people, and the character of the neighborhoods that lured them here.  They also wanted to participate in a community that was historical, with a charming personality.

Let’s hope the next 36 years we support this legacy; and that we make the effort to contribute to the character and personality of Presidio Hills and Mission Hills. We can do our part to keep it unique and desirable…and a destination that we’re proud to call home.  

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Category: Architecture, feature, Historical, Life Style, Local News

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