The first president of the Pacific Rod & Gun Club, Joe Springer, wrote a history of the club which was published in eight parts in the club newsletter, The Pacific Breeze.
Part One–Originally printed March, 1949.
Setting down the history of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club is a difficult task, but at the request of dozens of members I’m going to try and do just that. The story of the club will be told in serial form in the Pacific Breeze. This is the first installment.
It was early in 1928, that I was asked to attend a sportsmen’s meeting in the States Restaurant by Joe Michel. It was there I found I was at a meeting of Pacific Rod and Gun Club and was elected to membership and president of the club all in one night. Why I took the job, I can never tell—possibly it was my friendship for Michel or perhaps I was just a glutton for punishment.
For the first several years, things were hectic. I stayed President for five consecutive years—1928 to 1932. I will try to tell of the things which happened over these years during the term of each of the Presidents.
Some of the men in the original club and who are still members include: Felix Berata, J.P. Cuenin, L.F. Guerin, Primo Livenais, Lou Meyer, Joseph Michel, H.O. Preston, M.O. Preston, and Fred Quick.
One of the men, outstanding and deserving of a lot of credit for helping the club out, financially and otherwise, and keeping it together when the going was tough is none other than our number “1” member on the roll—Joseph Michel. Had it not been for his assistance, I doubt if the club would be in existence today.
The first thing after starting was to lease a piece of land at Cuttings Wharf on the Napa River and proceed to build a clubhouse. This we did. When we finished, we had a clubhouse but were in debt to the tune of $1,500. This was partly due to a light-fingered gent who absconded with part of our resources. The work was done by the members themselves, mainly on week-ends. It was here we spent most of our spare time until the job was completed.
The clubhouse consisted of a bunk room with sleeping accommodations for about twenty; a large dining room with a fireplace able to seat about fifty; a large kitchen with a range large enough to roast four good size turkeys at on time; and showers, toilets, etc. Not to be discouraged by a few setbacks, we held the official opening on February 22, 1929. It was a grand affair and lasted for three days, starting off with a big dinner Saturday night, followed by boat races on Sunday, fishing for prizes, trap shooting (we had a single trap) and many other activities. It was a gala event and really put the club on the map. One of our guests won the prize for the largest fish with a 29-pounder. Primo Livenais took second place in the trap shoot. Lou Meyer was the official photographer, and the Clift Hotel donated the dishes. All in all—a grand time.
For want of a place to meet in San Francisco, we convened at Topsy’s Chicken Roost at the Beach for about two years. Our meetings were all dinner sessions, the members each paying for their own. Many a nice time was had here with such events as ladies’ nights, indoor fishing contests, indoor turkey shoots, etc. Prizes were awarded annually for the largest fish caught.
On Sunday, April 7, 1929, the club held a sanctioned surf casting event at Palo Alto in conjunction with about ten other clubs in the casting Association. Among the casters there and who are still club members were Merl Preston, Felix Berata and yours truly. Livenais, an outstanding caster, was not there because an eight-pound baby girl was born to his wife on that day. On June 15 and 16, we held a black bass fishing and camping trip to Salt Springs Reservoir and on July 4th a trout fishing trip at Hamilton Park, Lake Almanor.
The club was incorporated under California law June 6, 1929. In July of ‘29 we published our first roster. At that time, we had a limited membership of fifty with forty on the roll. The same month, Primo broke his own record in casting with a heave of 511 feet an average of 502 feet for five casts, a world’s record at the time. Another event of note was a meeting of the Napa and Vallejo Sportsmen in conjunction with the members of this club at the clubhouse, to protest the dredging of gravel in the Napa River and damaging of Dutchmen’s Slough, both detrimental to striped bass fishing.
Part Two–Originally printed in April, 1949.
August 5, 1929, a telegraphic surf casting tournament between the east and west was held. It was a five-man team event, and the west beat the east by 510 feet 6 inches in five casts. Primo’s average was 521 feet 8 inches, his longest single cast of 547 feet 8 inches was a world’s record. It was after this that the east accused us of having rubber tape measures and challenged us to send Primo east to cast against their star caster, F.C. Berger. They offered to stand half of the expense if we would stand the other half.
We didn’t have a dime in our treasury but held a meeting on Sept. 24th at the Elks Club and enough money was contributed by the members to enable Primo to make the trip. It was then that our eastern friends discovered we did not use rubber tape measures but had the real thing. Primo surprised the boys there by casting 604 feet. This was not official however, as it was not done in an event, but anyhow, it was the first time 600 feet had ever been accomplished. It was enough to show our friends that Primo had the stuff. He did not do quite so well in the tourney because of rainy weather but he carried off high honors by winning all events and showing he had the material that goes to make a world’s champion, which he still is today. Primo’s effort for the event was 506 feet 7 inches, the next highest being 446 feet 7 inches—60 feet less than the winning score. This was against about 70 of the east’s best casters.
Well, the east did all right by our Champion—they gave him the key to Atlantic City, presented him with all kinds of testimonials, including a championship gold medal and an $85 reel—well deserved for the laurels gained.
A Christmas party was held at Topsy’s Roost on December 17th with presents for all the members. The award for the largest fish of the year went to M.O. Preston for his 14 1/2 pound steelhead caught on the Garcia River, and that wound up the year of 1929.
In 1930, we started meeting in Lou Meyer’s basement at 583 Dolores Street and continued there for about seven years. From here on a new era in the history of the club starts with another of those big clopping feeds with Lou Meyer and Milt Durand as Chefs.
On February 22nd and 23rd, we held our first Clubhouse Anniversary at Cuttings Wharf with the same kind oif program as the first with the exception we added a skeet field to our equipment and a great number of members enjoyed themselves at this new field.
On June 17, 1930, our first initiation ceremony took place with our newly organized initiation team, and a number of new members rode the goat.
On July 4th, 5th, and 6th, we staged a camping and trout fishing trip to Brightman Flats in the High Sierra—another very successful outing.
On August 22nd, in Buffalo, N.Y., two of our members, J.P. Cuenin and Lou Guerin, won championships in Fly Casting for which they were made honorary life members and Primo Livenais was awarded the same honor.
Tuesday, December 2 marked our annual meeting and big ravioli feed at Meyers basement. This wound up another year.
January 21st, our first meeting in 1931, was another big initiation held with another good class of candidates.
The meeting of March 17th, was the start of the campaign to take the striped bass off the commercial market. As our club was born as a conservation organization, we were in there pitching to assist the striped bass committee of the Associated Sportsmen in the passage of this bill. Many of our members spent hours, days and months in assisting this committee at Sacramento for the passage of this bill. Among this group were Howard Vernon, the father of the bill, Joe Michal, Lee Daggett, Lou Meyer, Jules Cuenin and yours truly.
Later in the year a dinner was given for Mel Cronin, the assemblyman who sponsored the measure.
Another outstanding event in this period was the sponsoring of the Angling Exhibit for Troop No. 37 of the Boy Scouts of America in their Merit Badge Exhibition at the Civic Auditorium. The exhibit consisted of a wooded scene with a running stream emptying into a lake full of live fish with a cutout of a Scout fishing. We won an award as one of the outstanding booths in the show. The boys in return tendered the members of the club a dinner in appreciation. This meal was prepared by them and was certainly worth while.
It was during this period the Bay Sportsmen’s Club amalgamated with our Club and we took over their skeet field. This marked our entrance into the skeet shooting business, adding to our roll a great many shooters who are now members of our club. This was a single field operated at Fort Funston opposite our present location. It was a rather crude affair compared to our present set up, in order to carry on a shoot, it was necessary to cart our targets, ammunition and batteries to and from the field each shooting day as we had no storage facilities. Walter Campbell was the chairman of the skeet committee at the time, and most of this work fell to him. Many a good time was had at this spot.
In July, a team from this club consisting of Jules Cuenin, Don Westwater, Bill Becktell, Oscar Franklin and Ralph Russell went to Los Angeles to shoot for the state team championship. Earlier in the year, San Diego tied San Francisco in a telegraphic shoot for first place. Our team went south to shoot shoulder to shoulder for this high honor. Sorry to say, San Diego won, but this shoot was the means of extablishing a feeling of good fellowship between both sections of the state. The team, with the exception of Cuenin, went in my car. We received a royal reception and a big barbecure steak dinner was held at Johnny Maltman’s palatial home in Pasadena for the group.
November 1, the club held its first handicap shoot. December 1st, another annual meeting and election of officers and on the 18th our big Christmas Jinks again at Lou Meyer’s.
On December 19th and 20th, we held our first Charity Shoot for the benefit of the San Francisco News Neediest Families Fund, an idea from the brain of one of our members. Here is what the News wrote in one of its editorials regarding the subject:
Doubtless good sportsmanship has been exemplified in many ways, but doubtless it never so nearly reached the heights as it did when the Pacific Rod and Gun Club engaged itself in promoting a skeet shooting program for the benefit of The News’“neediest family fund.”
The idea originated with Ed (Joe) Phillips, club member and sporting goods dealer, and he discussed it with President Joseph Springer and Sec’y. C.E. Heineman. Springer brought the suggestion to The News, asking nothing but endorsement from this paper, which was readily and gladly given. From that moment there began an intensive effort on the part of the club officers to prepare a program and stage the contest the following Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19 and 20. Alterations must be made at the shooting grounds at Fort Funston, printing matter, tickets, etc., must be provided, a list of over 100 prizes must be acquired and properly placed, and a thousand and one other details must be worked out in that brief time.
Day and night, Springer and Heineman and other club members worked and when the big day, a rain soaked Sunday, came everything was ready and going. Bad weather? Who cared. Nobody. Drenched to the skin but enthusiastic, the sportsmen filled the program between early morning and dark, and the greatest shooting success the club has know was consummated. Over $250 was realized for the Neediest Family Fund.
Speaking for itself and the needy beneficiaries of the fund, The News takes this occasion to express its keen appreciation of the good will gesture so freely and gracefully made by the Pacific Rod and Gun Club.
Part Three–Originally printed in May, 1949.
The year 1931 ended in a very successful manner. In the face of a depression, we made and spent more money than ever. We doubled our membership, paid off all our indebtedness, and had a good fat balance in the bank; we were finally over the hump.
1931 started off with a bang. A big corned beef and cabbage feed at our February meeting followed by our Second Anniversary at our Clubhouse at Cuttings Wharf—Feb. 20, 21, and 22—with a Pastachuta Feed and all the trimmings as usual, plenty of events and entertainment. Skeet shooting prevailed at our Fort Funston Field over the months and on May 22 “Primo” Livenais came forth and set his world’s record for all time by casting a four ounce sinker 623 feet 3 inches.
May 29-30 saw the first Northern California Skeet Championship Shoot held in Nevada City. What a shoot, and what a time. A trout dinner was given for the club having the largest representation, naturally we won it as we had over thirty present. I could almost write a page on this event but will leave it to your imagination. The following is from an article in the San Francisco News covering the events mentioned above:
ALL FILLED WITH JOY
The Pacific Rod and Gun Club is going around with its collective chest swollen like that of a pouter pigeon—this is, if a pouter pigeon has a chest. Good reason, May was a winning month for the club. First, on May 22, the club team broke the world record team score and, on top of that, Primo Linevais broke a world record for the individual cast and for the five-cast average. He made 560 feet for five casts and his longest and greatest was 623 feet 3 inches. The team total was 11,500 feet for 25 casts. Later, on May 29, at Nevada City, the club team won the northern California skeet championship and Jules Cuenin of the club won the individual skeet championship with a score of 50 straight. Well, with all this glory and triumph tucked under its collar, the club just can’t contain itself a moment longer. To let off steam and tell itself how good it is—which is justified—it will hold a “grand reception and jubilee” for the champion shooters and casters on Tuesday evening at 8 o’clock. You’ll be missing something if you are not there.
Several fishing trips were made by the fishermen of the club to Clear Lake; Rio Del on the Russian River, and the Napa River. While the fishing was not the best, fun was had by all. It was along in here that the first black bass were planted in Lake Merced for which our club was mainly responsible.
October comes along and another ravioli feed. Then we get down to the end of the year and our Second Charity Shoot for the News Neediest Family Fund with over 300 prizes and a contribution of $406.50 for the fund, and in a snow storm, the first to this city in years.
Well, as usual we had our annual meeting to elect the officers of the Club for 1933. This was held at Loesch’s Tavern on Leidesdorff Street. C.R. Danielson was elected as the new president, and I stepped down after five years as presiding officer. By this time, the club was in a good healthy financial condition—an up and going institution.
The first big event of the year was the high jinks, dinner initiation, and fishing trip on March 4th at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. Frank Mettman cooked a roast beef dinner and what a meal! We had some good old Corinthian hospitality and Jinks. That night we slept aboard the boats. The next day we went bass fishing on the upper bay and all caught fish. It was a grand time and one to be long remembered.
It was during Dan’s term that skeet shooting kept advancing by leaps and bounds, and it was necessary to look for larger quarters. It was then the present location was selected. These grounds were selected by Don Westwater, Walter Campbell, and yours truly. After approval, the next job was to try to secure the property. It took quite a while to effect possession, because of the opposition from the horseback riders and some of the golfers. This was finally overcome, thanks to the late Angelo Rossi, because of his confidence in our group and his help in overcoming our difficulties.
Well, from here on, most of our time was spent in planning and building our first two skeet fields on the present site.
Fred Quick took over the helm as President starting 1934, and the real construction of the fields, the grading and making a suitable road to enter the place. And let me say here and now, the one man who did an outstanding job at grading and putting the grounds in condition, was none other than the one time skeet champion, Emil Neuschwander. To him goes a lot of credit. Dozens of the members did outstanding jobs in helping to construct, paint and other things around the place until things were ready for the opening of the fields.
Finally, the day arrived for the dedication of the new fields on June 9 and 10. A great day for Pacific Rod and Gun Club, and the start of the club becoming one of the most famous in the country. Mayor Rossi fired the first shot in the ceremony, but a member behind the high house actually fired the shot that broke the target. Shooting was a regular thing now, and the club began to grow by leaps and bounds. Our membership was up to 100—the limit at that time.
On June 23-24, the first Northern California Skeet Championship was shot on these grounds. Somehow, I don’t have the records of this shoot, but we really pioneered the first Northern California shoot.
In July, the shooters went to Rio Vista for an inter-club shoot, and the club team won the beautiful dog trophy that adorns the clubhouse for capturing that event. The dog was named “Windy” by the gang because it was one of the windiest days on record. It blew so hard that it took some of the shooters off the platform while shooting. On leaving, each guest was presented with a box of asparagus by the Rio Vista club.
Then came the big Pastachute Night at Lou Meyers’ on August 7th—with vino and what have you. On this night, I was given a life membership. On October 6-7, the Western Open and California State Championship events were held. None other than our own Don Westwater won the Western with 99 X 100. Bill Becktell was second with 97. R.R. Stockberger took the California Championship on the second day with 100 straight. The shoot was quoted by one of the newspapers as the finest tournament ever to be held on the coast up to that time.
The annual banquet and election of officers was held at the 112 Club with genial Walter Campbell elected as president for 1935. Walter made a wonderful president during his entire term. As a member, he has always done his part—it’s his type that makes a successful club.
On March, 25, members and their ladies made a trip through the African Exhibit of the Academy of Science. We were the guests of Frank Tose, and this was one of their first showings—a worthwhile evening.
On April 24th, the famous Fisher-Cronin striped bass bill was passed after a 10 year fight in which many of the members of this club took part. We now have in our possession the pen with which Governor Merriam signed the bill. The pen was given to Howard Vernon, father of the bill, who in turn presented it to the club. On May 24, a testimonial dinner was tendered Vernon by his friends, and this club gave Howard an honorary membership.
Part Four–Originally printed in June, 1949.
In the middle of 1935, we held another Western Open and California Championship Shoot, and Dr. Sciaroni of Fresno won both events. Mrs. Hockwald of Seattle was the first woman to break 25 straight on our fields. Picnic, barbecue and outing May 26, at Mariani’s Ranch, featured by steaks by Lou Armknecht, beans by Mrs. Mariani, wine by Walter and coffee by Lou Meyer—what a day! Trap-shooting, rifle shooting, swimming, horseshoes, baseball, and pie eating contest—what more could be asked?
Then came the famous black bass survey August 17, on Lake Merced with Mayor Rossi participating. There were about 50 who took part in this survey, all bringing their own boats as there were no boats on the lake up to this time. Many camped out on the grounds all night and prepared a big breakfast for the participants and our guests. Many nice fish were caught. All were satisfied we would have good fishing when the lake was opened. Many shipments of bass were planted in the lake from time to time under the supervision of the black bass committee of this club so that the public might enjoy a little fishing.
At our annual meeting, December 5, at Casa Alta Club, 443 Sutter Street, Bill Peters was elected President for 1936. He only served a short time when Frank Beale took over for practically the next two years.
At the January 7, meeting, prizes were awarded for the largest fish caught in 1935. Among the winners were Frank Beale, H.O. Preston, C.R. Danielson, Merl Preston, Primo Livinais, and Fred Quick. This was followed by a cioppino feed on the 21st. The Manner-snappers Derby was Held on the 26th with the losing team paying for a steak barbecue. The dinner was cooked and served by the fishermen of the club.
By-Laws of the club were revised March 10, 1936, under the laws of the State of California. Other events held were: Easter Egg hunt for the kiddies on Easter Sunday, and a picnic at Mariani’s Ranch on May 10th. June 14th the Pacific Rod and Gun Skeet team won the Northern California Championship for the seventh straight time at Redding by breaking 472 X 500. At Fresno, on May 22, Don Westwater broke 99 out of 100 with a 410 gauge—believed to be a world’s record up to then. California State Championship held on our grounds July 18 and 19, and won by Harry Fleischmann of Los Angeles. Charlotte Lang of San Francisco took the women’s championship. As we had no clubhouse at this time, many brought cots and blankets and slept on the grounds overnight to guard the trophies for this shoot. We cooked breakfast for the members and guests out in the open. The adventures on that night would make a story in itself, but space will not permit.
About here, one of the most novel disputes in the sports was settled. The question of whether the eye and nerve of a champion trap shot was sufficiently coordinated to hit a golf ball traveling approximately 165 miles an hour. Fred Wetmore was the golfer and Norvin Fay the shooter. The balls were struck by the shot 35 to 40 yards away from the tee.
Sunday, October 18, Islam Temple of the Shrine held a skeet, trap, and duck tower event on our fields. Owen Pelky won the trap event, H.W. Heiken the skeet, and Charles Halloway the tower. At the November 19, meeting 10 turkeys were given away, Frank Beale was elected for a second term, and a resolution was passed to increase our membership from 100 to 200. On Decembert 6, a turkey shoot was held at the fields. At the December meeting, Beale was installed as president for 1937.
Scheduled trophy benefit shoot for the C.Y.O. on March 21, was postponed to April 4, because of rain. When the shoot was held, over 1800 persons attended with 200 shooters participating and a tidy sum was turned over to the Catholic Youth Organization.
May 30-31, saw the Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta skeet and trap shoot held in commemoration of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. Western Open Championship was held June 25, 26, and 27, with a Telegraphic Shoot. There is no record of the winners.
July 25, marked an Associated Sportsman shoot 27, was the opening date of the clubhouse at Lake Merced. In order to build the clubhouse, it was necessary to borrow some money from the members. This we did in sums ranging from $10.00 to $100.00. It was all repaid. One of our members, on the receiving of his check remarked, “I have loaned money to many clubs, for one thing or another, but this is the first time I ever received anything back.” (A tribute to the club.) All club meeting heretofore held at Lou Meyers’ were now held at the new clubhouse. Thanks to Lou and his sister for their many courtesies. On completion of the Lake Merced headquarters, we gave up the clubhouse on the Napa River.
August 31, the Linoleum Boys, Forrest and Pelky, put on a stunt and raised enough money to cover the clubroom floor with linoleum.
The first “Ducks Unlimited” Benefit Shoot was held at our Lake Merced grounds Saturday and Sunday, August 28-29. Another success with a nice profit to “Ducks Unlimited.” With nearly 400 entries, the shoot was won by Ed Hammond. Another Shrine Shoot was held October 31.
December 2, was the installation of our 1938 president, Bert Crowley, with the first banquet to be held in our new clubhouse. Yours truly was chosen to represent the club at the 1939 Exposition at this meeting.
Then came the catastrophe, the lake rose several feet and our fields were flooded out. Thanks to Bert Crowley and other loyal members, ways and means were devised to reconstruct and finance in order to overcome this difficulty. We went to work with a vengeance; trees had to be felled, higher ground graded, and buildings pulled out of the flood waters. By April 10, we were ready to go again, bigger and better than ever. George Taber of Lewis, Inc., donated trophies so we could hold a shoot to help pay for the new fields. Ray Bocci won the skeet shoot with 100 straight and Barney Worthen the trap shoot with 49 out of 50. This shoot was held May 8, and was a great success. May 17, a joint dinner meeting with the San Francisco Striped Bass Club was staged at our clubhouse.
Another California State Championship shoot on June 17, 18, and 19, was won by Grant Ilseng of Los Angeles. Another “Ducks Unlimited” Benefit Shoot—another success—August 20-21. September 18, Primo Livinais broke another record with 660 feet, 3 inches. September 25, saw another C.Y.O. Shoot. Skeet was won by Ed Williams, tower by James Pellascio, trap by Barney Oatfield, and Mary Keesling won the Ladies Event.
October 9 was the 3rd Annual Shrine skeet and trap shoot. Saturday, December 3, 1938, was the annual meeting and election of Dr. L.N. Alkalay as president for 1939—a meeting of fun, frivolity and good eats. The National Skeet Championship Shoot was awarded to this club for August, 1939. Opening date for fishing on Lake Merced was announced by the Public Utilities Commission as July 1.
February 12 was a good will shoot for Northern California Skeet Shooting Association held on these grounds.
Part Five–Originally printed in July, 1949.
The Rifle Range opened on March 1, 1939, with George Purdy as chairman.
The first rifle team of the club was formed in 1934, with Harold Ladd as chairman. The team encountered many difficulties until the present range was built. In the near future, a complete history of the rifle shooters, written by one of the members, will be published in the Breeze. It was along about here that our good member, Bud French, met with a fatal accident after leaving the field and passed on to the Happy Hunting Grounds. A suitable memorial was erected on the grounds in his memory.
March 21—a testimonial dinner tendered to Tod Powell of the S.F. Chronicle. On this occasion, Past President Bert Crowley presented an engraved plaque and a folding boat to yours truly for past services. April 9—Easter Breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt and merchandise shoot. Northern California Skeet Championship, April 29-30, was won by Ed Williams with 100 straight. May 16—a night in honor of the Past Presidents. June 20—A full course chicken dinner as a testimonial to “Uncle Joe” Dearing of the Call-Bulletin for his good work on behalf on conservation of fish and game. Saturday, July 1, Lake Merced opened to Black Bass Fishing—over 300 San Francisco anglers enjoyed this sport, within our city limits. It was a great day and many fine fish with many members catching limits. July 23—Another Barbecue and Picnic at Mariani’s Ranch. July 30—Lewis Trophy and Dedication Shoot on our eight new skeet fields in preparation for the National Shoot. Trophies were all donated by George Taber of Lewis, Inc.
August 6th marks another outstanding victory for the club. Our surf casting team won the national championship at the Golden Gate International Exposition with a score of 11,288 feet. The team consisted of Primo Livinais, Merl Preston, Fred Quick, William Souza, and Dr. H. Smith.
Aug. 8-12—The biggest shooting event ever held to date in the west—the National Skeet Championships held on the grounds of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club. Joseph Tobin was the general chairman, Dr. L.M. Alkalay, vice chairman, Joseph Springer, treasurer and ground manager. This was by far the biggest undertaking the club ever indulged in and to give a full account of this would be a story in itself. Several who were outstanding as chairmen of their committees were: Frank Beale, trophy committee; Harold Lang, referees; Jack Forrest and Walter Campbell, hotels and transportation; Bert Crowley, publicity; Lloyd Kahn, commissary and Traffic by the Girls Junior Game Patrol. Our trophies were the best ever and it was the first time one of these shoots ever came out in the black. The profit to the club was $1,500. Walter Dinger of Tulsa, Oklahoma was the winner of all-bore with 247×250. Patricia Laursen, women’s all-gauge, Don Sperry, 20 gauge and small gauge, Dick Shaughenessy, sub-small gauge, and Fresno, the team title.
You may think that was all there was to a National Shoot because in a few days it was over. But it took years and months of planning and preparing. It took almost three years to lay the ground work, finally sending Hugh Richardson to Tulsa to complete arrangements and gain a favorable vote from the National Association. His expenses had to be paid and that was done with the aid of the S.F. Convention and Tourist Bureau. Before permission was granted to hold this shoot, there were certain commitments to be made; such as having eight fields, parking area, competent referees, ammunition, targets and food—all which had to be guaranteed. The grading of the fields and the parking area were the big problems. This, we had the assurance from the city, would be done, and it was, but with many headaches, as it was a W.P.A. job and couldn’t be rushed. The eight fields were erected, but the shooters began arriving before the last shovel full of dirt was finished on the parking area.
The selection of the trophies took a lot of time and our choices seemed to please all. The program was another big jog—securing the advertising, preparing for the printing, having cuts made, the printing done, collecting for the ads. It was worth it because it netted a profit of $800.
The hiring of sufficient trap boys was another problem. Selection of referees took a lot of thought, and ours were pronounced as good, if not better, than any previous national. Purchasing of ammunition and targets was also a problem. We used a car load of targets in this shoot alone. Another big headache was the ammunition—it arrived all right, but the day before the shoot the ammunition companies wanted $5,000. on the line. We didn’t have 5,000 cents. We had to scramble and get the money. Five of our good members signed notes for $1,000. each and we borrowed the money to pay the bill, so ended another headache.
The visitors had to be housed and fed. All this was taken care of and we had food on the grounds every day. This is an incident of one of the amusing things that happened. A Mrs. Ellis, one of the lady shooters, came to me and said, “You don’t mind if I am a little outspoken, for I want to compliment you for the manner in which you have handled the ladies’ dressing room. At all other shoots, little out-houses, way in the distance, were used, with Sears, Roebuck catalogues.”
We had real rest rooms with a Chinese maid in native costume, to add a little color, and to take care of things, keeping it clean, etc. Platforms and tents were erected for the Ammunition Companies to display their wares and entertain their friends, since many of their “big wigs” attended. These platforms were given to us after the shoot and the lumber in them was used to build our present shell house. So you see, events like this just don’t happen. Our present membership should appreciate what has been done in the past to make this club what it is today.
Part Six–Originally printed in August, 1949.
Another Shrine shoot followed the month after the Nationals, and was won by no other than Walt Moore. Dec. 9—Another annual dinner, another year gone by and Dave Vollov elected President for 1940.
The first affair under his regime was a New Years Eve Party on December 30. Feb. 18—We held a merchandise shoot. Feb. 20—First showing of colored movies of planting black bass in Lake Merced. Sunday, Feb. 25—The first Carp Derby on Lake Merced, and how it rained! There were about 100 fishermen on the Lake and about 200 carp were caught—some weighing 10 lbs. The boys made bait out of dough and limburger cheese, and this must have been what attracted the fish. A swell feed was held after the derby for our members; cooked by none other than Dave Vollov, our new president.
Sunday, March 24—Another Easter Egg Hunt and merchandise shoot. Sunday, April 17—A successful C.Y.O. shoot won by Jimmy Pellascio at skeet, Billy Price at traps and Myrtle Beale the Women’s event.
April 16—A party was given Lou Meyer, following his promotion as Police Inspector, with many members of the Police Department present.
Second opening of black bass season on Lake Merced, May 29, with 286 bass caught the first day. 1940 California State Skeet Championship June 14-15. All gauge won by Don Westwater with 193-200; Alex Kerr, 410 gauge, 91X100; Westwater, 20 gauge, 98X100.
July 4th—Striped bass fishing trip for members, engineered by Jack Forrest. First Annual Cities Open Skeet Shoot, Sunday, July 21, won by Westwater. Aug. 6—A night at Regal Amber Brewery. Aug. 11—Primo Levinais broke all previous world’s surf casting records with a cast of 705 feet, 4 inches. Oct. 6—Another “Ducks Unlimited” Shoot, won by Dr. Alkalay. Tuesday, Nov. 19—Whist party with turkeys as prizes.
Saturday, Jan. 11, 1941—Another installation banquet and Don Westwater went in as President. Feb. 18—A big feed and get together meeting.
Sunday, April 13—Easter Egg Hunt and Hammersnappers Derby. April 27—Another C.Y.O. Shoot. Ray Bocci won at skeet, Vic Petry won at traps. Sunday, June 15—Striped bass fishing excursion; Bob Nelson, chairman. Western Open Championships June 21-22, Don Westwater won 410 event; have no record of 12 gauge.
On December 7, 1941, the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and that made quite a change. However, we had our annual meting on January 17, and Jack Forrest took over as President for 1942. Jack later went into the service.
On February 17, a meeting was held at our Club for the formation of the Minute Men. The meeting was successful, but Uncle Sam put his foot down on the movement and ended that.
April 5—Another Easter Breakfast with ham and eggs and only 50 cents per plate. Doc Veatch was the chef and there were free gifts for the kiddies, too. May 4, and a goodly crowd of members and their families attended the Shrine Circus in a group. May 19—Past Presidents Night and another Pastachuta Feed. Northern California Championship May 9 and 10. May 23 to 31 was Western Sportsmen’s Show and we had a fine outdoor exhibit. It was here that an Admiral approached me regarding a training program on our fields for boys in his squadron. Under the leadership of Don Westwater, as shooting instructor and yours truly, who arranged for guns, targets and ammunition, many thousands of boys received training—shooting seven days a week and eight hours a day. The gunnery officer of the squadron later said the shooting of the boys improved over 100 per cent after this training, as some boys never had a gun in their hands until the war broke out.
Another thing delegated to this club was the purchasing of skeet traps for the Fourth Air Force for the entire Pacific Coast. Hundreds of sets were bought by the purchasing committee of this club, inspected and passed on and in some cases installed in the interest of our armed forces and all without charge. Another contribution to the war—for which we received complimentary recognition.
June 20-21—California State Shoot—no records. July 26—Trap shoot by California Indians. Aug. 23—The first “Bud” French Memorial Shoot was held with a perpetual trophy award. This trophy was donated by the French Family in appreciation to the club for erecting a monument in “Bud’s” memory. The French family also had a drinking fountain erected on the grounds. Anyone winning this trophy three times receives it permanently. Ed Castegnetto won in 1942, Ray Brooks in 1943, and 1948, Al Revegno in 1947. Due to the shortage of ammunition, no Memorial Shoots were held from 1943 to 1947.
Sept. 27—Another “Ducks Unlimited” Shoot, also successful. Sunday, Oct. 11—In conjunction with Islam Temple, which furnished the food, we staged a barbecue for some 500 servicemen. This was quite an affair and required a lot of preparation, setting of the tables, barbecuing and lots of food preparing to feed this group. During the meal, a fine entertainment was in progress on a special constructed stage for the occasion. A worthwhile war effort in every way.
The annual meeting and election of Officers was held at the Clubhouse on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 24, 1943. The afternoon meeting was held because of black-outs during these crucial times. Dr. William H. White was installed as President. At this meeting the ne By-Laws of the club were adopted and are still in effect. During this period, a large quantity of fishing tackle was accumulated from our members and shipped overseas to boys in the service through the San Francisco League of Service Men and the writer.
April 25—Another “Bud” French Memorial Shoot, Easter Breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt. May 4, the club group attended the Shrine Circus in a body.
Curtailed by the shortage of ammunition, our directors decided to allow only (4) boxes per day to members and servicemen in uniform. Targets were unlimited.
June 27—Another Hammersnappers Derby. Sept. 15—Vaudeville Show at the Clubhouse by the United States Coast Guard. Sept. 19—Another “Ducks Unlimited” Shoot. Oct. 24—500 servicemen fed on our grounds by Islam Temple, with a barbecue
Part Seven–Originally printed in September, 1949.
Lloyd Kahn was installed Jan. 8 as president for 1944, with a buffalo supper celebrating the occasion. On Easter Sunday, we held the annual breakfast, and presents were given to the kiddies.
Due to the shortage of ammunition, it was necessary to limit shooting to every other Sunday. This cut shooting activities to a
June 3–It was an abalone dinner–with the shellfish furnished by Art Sloman and entertainment by servicemen of the Fourth
Wm. V. Hollingbery, Jr. was elected president for 1945. During this terminating year of the War, a great deal of the Club’s
efforts were turned to war activities as that was uppermost in the minds of all.
HONOR ROLL OF CLUB MEMBERS WHO SERVED IN THE ARMED FORCES
Dr. L.N. Alkalay
Eugene D. Bennett
Dr. Jean Cantou
Jules P. Cuenin
Theo. G. Doudiet
George L. Haaker
Francis V Keesling Jr.
|Alan J. Lowrey
James T. McClure
Owen M. Pelkey
Dr. Wm. J. Quinn
Dr. George Rader
Leslie L. Roos
Paul A. Saasta
Thos. C. Sanfilipo
Warren W. Smith
George M. Taber
Because of the scarcity of ammunition, the Rough Grouch Horseshoe Club was formed and several courses installed on the grounds. This was a weekly pastime until shooting resumed.
A barbecue and picnic were held Oct. 14, for about 50 blind servicemen fromDibble Hospital. All the food, refreshments,
cigarettes and entertainment was furnished by members, their wives, and friends. Also present were hostesses from the Stage Door Canteen. Prizes were given the boys for the best fish stories. PFC Walter McMillan of Maine (totally
blind) won the rod, reel, and line with this story: “His fish was so large that its head hung over the bow and his tail was used as a
propeller.” Barbecue chicken with all the trimmings was served for lunch. For dinner, the boys enjoyed hot dogs, cold meats, cakes, pies, salads, etc. mostly prepared by the members’ wives. Dancing and entertainment were in progress during and after meal time. The boys enjoyed it immensely so that when it was time to go, they all hated to leave.
A Thanksgiving party was held at the clubhouse Nov. 13.
Mason Kline was elected president and installed at the annual banquet Mar. 2 for the year 1946. Picnic at Mariani’s on Aug. 4, followed by the Western Open and California State Championships on Aug. 17-18. Over 600 shooters turned out for another Ducks Unlimited Shoot in September.
1947’s installation banquet brought us Ed Moors as president. On Feb. 9, we staged a Goodwill Shoot and enjoyed another Easter event April 6. On April 15, our club, together with the Southern Pacific Rod and Gun Club, entertained the boys of Letterman Hospital with a cioppino feed and bock beer. May 11–California Skeet Championship. On June 10, a corn beef and cabbage feed was given by our late friend and director, Al Albertson. On Aug. 20, Fred Maley of Better Fishing, Inc. addressed the club. Among the aims and objectives of his organization were improved fishing conditions throughout the country for juveniles. At this meeting, yours truly was presented with a national citation for his efforts o behalf of the veterans of Letterman Hospital.
On Jan. 31, 1948, J.M. Chrisman, Jr. was elected president and installed at another fine banquet and evening of entertainment.
July 18–Picnic and Outing at the Mariani Ranch. July 24-25, California skeet championships: all-bore won by Tony Banchero of Stockton with 100×100; 20 gauge, Dr. C.N. Alkalay, 100×100; 410 gauge, Ed Castagnetto, 48×50.
The club voted to increase the membership to 225 paying members. The membership is full to date, with a sizable waiting list.
One of the most spectacular shoots ever to be held on these grounds was the Portola Festival Skeet and Trap Shoots on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2 and 3. A fine souvenir program was printed for the occasion. The grounds were decorated with the Portola colors. Don Gasper, his aides, the queen and her ladies in waiting all honored us with their attendance. It was a very colorful festival. The shoot was won by Ed Castagnetto with 197×200 for high overall. Medals for winners in all classes were furnished by the Portola Committee.
The death of Al Albertson on Nov. 3, was a shock to the officers and members of the club as was the death of our past president, Dr. William White, earlier this year.
The hard times party on Nov. 13, was a huge success with over 225 persons attending. Dr. R.W. Eshmeyer, noted expert on black bass, gave an address on the subject of warm water fishes at our December meeting.
The first Northern California Goodwill Shoot for 1949, was held on our grounds Jan. 16. The all-bore event was won by James Pellascio, the 20 gauge event by Don Westwater, and the 28 and 410 gauge events by Ray Bocci. This closed President Chrisman’s term.
Part Eight–Originally printed in October, 1949.
On January 29, 1949, Clarence W. Bolton was installed at our annual banquet as the 17th President of the club. The first activity on April 17, was another successful Easter Breakfast and Hammersnappers Derby—with about 250 in attendance. The May 10th meeting was in honor of Bud Spencer, Ed Neal and Eddie Murphy of the San Francisco News.
June 12th we celebrated our Fifteenth Anniversary at Lake Merced and opened our new lunch room; June 14th we voted to make all Past Presidents Honorary Life Members.
July was a month of many activities. On the 9th and 10th, we held the San Francisco Open Skeet Shoot sponsored by Roos Bros. July 12, all the past presidents were presented with their honorary life memberships, and a dozen new members were initiated. July 16-17, the Western Open Skeet Championships —results in August Pacific Breeze—and on July 23, a very successful supper and dance was held. Primo Livenais, world’s greatest surf caster, and member of this club broke his own world’s record of 704 feet 5 inches, on Sunday, August 28, with a cast of 735 feet 10 inches. August 27-28, the Lake Merced Open Championships were held—results in September Breeze.
We have made great gains during the year 1949. The addition to the shell house is a wonderful improvement and has enhanced our facilities greatly. The new trap layout, when finished, will make ours one of the best. The making of all past presidents honorary life members was another gesture of good will.
We are affiliated with the Associated Sportsmen of California, The National Rifle Association, and the National and Northern California Skeet Shooting Associations.
Something few of our members know is the fact that our grounds are situated on one of the most historic spots in San Francisco, a place where history was made. A sign marking this historic spot stands on our grounds inscribed as follows:
“On September 23, 1835, Don Jose Jesus Castro, Governor of California, granted the Merced Rancho of 2,200 acres to Jose Galindo. This was the first grant of land in San Francisco. On May 12, 1837, Galindo sold it to Francisco de Haro and Francisco Guerrero for 100 cows and $25.00”
Our club is one of the finest of its kind in the country and a credit to the City and County of San Francisco. When we look back and see how this club has progressed over the years, we have something to be proud of.
Ever since we have occupied these grounds we have made many improvements and permitted many organizations the free use of our facilities; for barbecues, picnics, meetings, and many other functions, thereby creating many friends and much good will. Among them were Boy an Cub Scout organizations, sportsmen’s clubs, Legion posts, Shrine organizations, city departments, etcs., all in the interest of public welfare.
The success of this club is due mainly to the caliber of men we have had for officers and directors, who have given of their time unselfishly and without pay for the welfare of our members. They are deserving of much praise for the manner in which they have conducted the business of the club over the years, and too much credit cannot be given to them for their efforts.
This story is about to come to a close, and I hope the members enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it—it has brought back many pleasant memories.
For those who would like a complete story, I am having all the issues bound together into a single volume and anyone wishing a copy can have one by contacting me.
With best wishes for the continued success of Pacific Rod and Gun Club.
It is interesting to note that the above history was written long before the advent of the personal computer–or even modern typewriters. It is also interesting to note, that at the time these articles were printed, each club president was responsible for putting the monthly newsletter together and having it printed and mailed.
John Henwood was the first actual Editor of the Breeze. His first issue was December 1996, and it was during one of Woody Herve’s terms as club president that John started editing the newsletter.
John said that Woody asked him to help out by “temporarily” taking over the newsletter. He edited the newsletter for ten and a half years! That doesn’t seem too temporary! He did use a computer, but it was an early one and not the super technology we have today!
The first issue of The Pacific Breeze in the current format premiered with the June, 2007, issue.