The 1930ís: the Depression and its following downs and ups

Even with all the new businesses in town, Carlsbad was not able to totally elude the effects of the national depression. The city itself entered into another slow growth period. The First National Bank on Elm Street, that had just opened in the late 1920s, closed its doors or, as was commonly noted, went on a "Bank Holiday." Gradually, throughout the 1930s, the bank repaid investors in small increments the money they had deposited before the depression. Some Carlsbad adults recall playing in the abandoned bank as children. It was a place furnished with piles of newspapers and an empty vault. Other adults remember their sorrow at seeing classmates living in the abandoned bank building with their families. Those families that were totally without any other resource were often forced into dividing the space behind the tellers' windows for living space. Albert Cohn, a wealthy Los Angeles Grocer, who retired to Carlsbad and lived in a beautiful Spanish style estate, donated many pairs of shoes to needy children in Carlsbad.

Regardless of the hardships suffered throughout town, Carlsbad hung on during the depression. Perhaps not growing as fast as before 1929 or as prosperous, but it grew. A few of the weekend avocado growers, those who bought land on a whim while attending an Avocado Day Festival, didn't survive the depression years. Many speculated that they would not have survived as avocado farmers even if the depression had never occurred, since they lacked practical farming experience. During the halcyon days of the 1920s when Carlsbad was billed as Home of the Avocado, many investors were thrilled with the notion of buying "Avocado Acres". They dreamed of retiring and becoming wealthy gentleman farmers, but it was this group that didn't survive. Those farmers and ranchers with real agricultural experience made it through the depression, living off their land. Considering that for five years Carlsbad endured a severe drought, this was a significant achievement.

In 1933 the Works Progress Administration or Public Works Administration paid 100 men, sixty cent an hour to build a drainage system in Carlsbad. The Carlsbad Mutual Water Company also offered work when it began consecution of Calaveras Dam.

It is interesting to note that in the midst of the depression, the Carlsbad Planning Association, a scaled down version of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, petitioned the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to adopt zoning ordinances for Carlsbad. This made Carlsbad the third town in San Diego County after Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe to institute building restrictions. Edgar Hastings, Chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, commented, "This will mean much to the future of Carlsbad. Instead of just growing with no restrictions or limitations, Carlsbad will take its place in orderly construction." (Carlsbad Journal, 12/26/35)

In fact, it was during this period that Eddie Kentner enlarged his Twin Inns restaurant, by adding a rear dining room. This room also had the famous canvas murals painted by J. Morton Patterson and with assistance of Edna Knox. These murals depicted San Diego backcountry landscapes such as Warner Hot springs, Pala and Julian.

One of the most significant events for Carlsbad during the depression was the 1936 relocation of the Davis Military Academy from Pacific Beach. Bringing needed cash to the city; it helped to relieve some of the depression era impact. Occupying the empty Red Apple Inn and surrounding property on Carlsbad Boulevard, the Davis Military Academy changed not only the schools address but also its name to the Army and Navy Academy. By the late 1930s the depressionís grip loosened on Carlsbad and the city started to grow again. Eddie Kentner continued with his remodeling plans at the Twin Inns, adding new doors, fireplaces, kitchens and powder rooms. A businessman does not undertake such extensive work if the business is not prosperous and growing.

In 1939 the Carlsbad Woman's Club asked Julia Shipley if she would sell a piece of land at a reduced rate to the California State Forestry Department to build a fire station. Mrs. Shipley, a Carlsbad resident since 1896, surprised her neighbors by giving the land outright for use as a State Forestry Station. Perhaps it was the example of Mrs. Shipley's philanthropy that prompted her daughter Florence Shipley Magee to donate her home to the City of Carlsbad almost 40 years later. The land donated to the Forestry Station was located at the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard and Beech. It was directly across the street from the Shipley home. For the first time in the history of Carlsbad, there was a fire station located in town. State Forestry firemen under the direction of Chief Max Norwood constructed a 69 x 50 foot adobe firehouse as well as other buildings on the site during their spare time. Once World War II began in 1941, lack of manpower forced the state forestry service to call for volunteers to man the station. This action was helpful 10 years later when Carlsbad decided to incorporate and founded its first volunteer fire department.

In 1939, another sign of prosperity occurred when ranunculi, narcissus and anemone grower W. C. Garrett sold his entire bulb crop of 20 million flowers before the crop was even harvested. His fields, located south of Elm near Roosevelt, ran parallel to the train tracks and drew so much attention that the Santa Fe trains passing through town slowed down for the passengersí enjoyment. Special mention of Garratt and his willingness to walk visitors through the fields, were touted in news articles, bringing people by the thousands to view the spring flowers.