The Coast News Group
Community Commentary Inside Oceanside

Inside Oceanside: Make your voice heard

Would you believe it if I told you that we have a world famous rock star buried in Oceanside?

If you look at one of the ornate upright tombstones in the northwest corner of Oceanview Cemetery, you will see that, sure enough, there lies John Bonham.

This John Bonham was put to rest in 1915 at this cemetery that was founded 20 years earlier. The Led Zeppelin drummer died in 1980.

So no, that historic graveyard at 1300 S. Coast Highway is not a stairway to heaven.

But it did get me to thinking about all the other celebrities who do have Oceanside connections.

Back in the day there were rumors that Barbra Streisand kept a suite in Oceanside’s only high rise, the Marina Towers which overlooks the harbor. Not sure about that one, but we do have our share of real star crossings.

Many know that country music star and OHS grad Barbara Mandrel cut her teeth performing with her sisters in the Mandrel Family Band in the bar that is now known as Firewater Saloon on Pier View Way. But did you know that another country star, Freddie Fender, used to hang out at that very same saloon in the ‘50s when he was a Camp Pendleton Marine?

Actress Barbara Werle owned the ranch style house at the very south end of Nevada Street which overlooks the Buena Vista Lagoon. Werle, who died last year, appeared in Battle of the Bulge, Charro and with Elvis in Harum Scarum.

Other semi-famous actors who retired in Oceanside include Preston Foster (“My Friend Flicka,” “The Last Days of Pompeii,” Annie Oakley) and Eric Christmas (he was the principal in the “Porky’s” series).

Gorgeous Denise Richards (El Camino High class of 1989) has done quite a few movies (“Scary Movie III,” “Starship Troopers,” “Wild Things”) and had TV roles (“Melrose Place,” “Two and a Half Men”).

Pop singer John Ford Coley (he was partnered with England Dan) lived on Kelly Street overlooking the Buena Vista Lagoon in the early ‘80s.

Olympic champion figure skater Sonja Henie parlayed her gold medals into a lucrative movie career. She used that Hollywood income to purchase 1,600 acres near El Camino Real and develop the upscale Henie Hills neighborhood.

Then there were those who dropped by Oceanside. Although he lived in Carlsbad, Gabe Kaplan was regularly spotted hanging out in downtown O’side. Leo Carillo’s ranch was in Carlsbad, but his Oceanside connection was that he owned the Acapulco Mexican restaurant in South Oceansdie (now Hon Sushi).

The best famous-person-visiting story has to be actor Robert Vaughan who dropped into Oceanside when he starred in TV’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. He was friends with Blade-Tribune Tom Braden publisher who lived on Pacific Street in South Oceanside. I have friends who swear Vaughan stopped by to see the family that inspired Eight is Enough by landing his helicopter on their seaside roof.

Civic lesson 101

To the eight people or so who showed up last Tuesday at the South Oceanside Elementary School gymnasium to speak about narrowing the 3.1-mile strip of Coast Highway from four to two lanes, I apologize for getting the wrong Tuesday.

It is THIS Feb. 11. Please show up again for the 5 to 7 p.m. scoping meeting that is seeking public input about whether this is a good idea.

May I please point out what I have learned since last we communicated. The construction to make Mission Avenue and Seagaze Drive one way roads will cost about $2.5 million. About half of those funds came from redevelopment funds. Those funds will be not be available for the proposed Coast Highway project since redevelopment doesn’t exist any more.

That means the Coast Highway project will have to find its funding from somewhere else. Does this mean we tap the city’s general fund? Does this mean that we neglect potholes to pay for landscaping and bike lanes on Coast Highway?

Also, proponents of this project don’t seem to understand that 20,000 cars a day traverse Coast Highway in Oceanside. This is our reality. This traffic is there, it needs to served first and foremost, and this project will cut down 101’s utility by 50 percent, putting an extra burden on nearby side streets like Freeman and Tremont that were never intended for such a use.

Sorry again for the wrong date. But please show up again.

Beach shorts

Once again, the Flying Pig is bringing home the bacon for Oceanside. The gastropub on Tremont Street near Wisconsin Avenue was given another major print accolade. The February “Best Restaurants of 2014” issue of Ranch and Coast Magazine just named the Flying Pig as “Best Gastropub.” The magazine says,”The Flying Pig soars above the competition with farm-to-table cuisine that’s perhaps better than any other eatery in its hometown of Oceanside.”

Quick, what does Oceanside have more than most other cities? If you said Walmarts and lifeguard towers you’d be correct. But here’s another phenomenon: exploding taco shops. In October Deiberto’s on Mission Avenue and Copperwood Way endured some $350,000 in damages from a fire. It is still closed. Last Sunday, Diego’s on the 1000 block of South Coast Highway was also closed due to a fire that caused $10,000 in damages. An OFD employee says both fires started with the deep fryer. Another reason to avoid fried food.

Oceanside born and raised, Ken Leighton is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at  [email protected]