From an article published in The Fallbrook Enterprise, Thursday, June 9, 1983, written by Bob White, editor. This information is taken from the Fallbrook Historical Museum Micro Film Library which is available to the public.
Beginning in the twenties, when the use of the automobile became less and less of a novelty, the major roadsides were dotted with auto courts, cafes and gasoline pumps.
One of these oases for travelers which also became popular among local folk, was the Silver Springs Café, on Old Highway 395 south of Fallbrook.
Mrs. Walter (Gertrude) Hughes, recalls her experiences in Fallbrook beginning when she came here with her husband and daughters in 1931.
During the Depression years, Mrs. Hughes opened a roadside sandwich shop and sold gasoline on old U.S. 395, the major inland route between Mexico and Canada. Her business grew into a family restaurant frequented by truck drivers, travelers, and Fallbrook residents. She was famous for her pies, and her place became a favorite with the evening high school crowd.
Mrs. Hughes also sold flowers grown commercially by her husband on their ranch (where he also grew citrus and avocados). She studied the florist business in San Diego and became Fallbrook's first florist.
During the war years, Mrs. Hughes was appointed to the elementary school board, rolled bandages for the Red Cross, served on the War Price and Rationing Board in Oceanside and assisted with the USO and did hospital work at Camp Pendleton.
Her husband, an electrician and welder, who installed many irrigation systems in the Fallbrook area, worked at the Fallbrook Naval Ammunition Depot, where he was eventually in charge of the water supply system. Together they helped organize the local chapter of VFW, and Mrs. Hughes became a president of the VFW auxiliary.
After the war and a bad freeze in which they lost many avocados, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes sold their ranch and bought 20 acres a mile closer to Fallbrook on U.S. 395 (now Mission Road) and built a new home.
She was active in Eastern Star and became Worthy Matron of the Fallbrook chapter, traveling often to meetings in other parts of the county. Her husband had become interested in rockhounding and the local mines, and they took courses in geology, gem cutting, and silvercasting. They were among the organizers of the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, exhibiting their collections countywide. Their Silver Springs Gem Shop provided space for classes in both ceramics and gem cutting.
In the post-war years, Mrs. Hughes added to her income by preparing the Rotary luncheons, operating Sutton's Pharmacy lunch counter, and after the new high school was built on Stage Coach Lane, worked at the snack bar there. She also studied the real estate business, got her license, and worked briefly for Wayman's Realty.
Always active in the Fallbrook Christian Science Church, Mrs. Hughes sent her girls to the tiny frame building in Fallbrook, and helped the church grow into its present modern structure on Fallbrook Street.
She served on the grounds committee for the new building. After many years as a member, she studied theology, taught Sunday school and became a Reader in the church.
Gertrude was involved in the community also through her daughters who were very active in the school activities which required chauffeuring, dress-making and counseling.
One daughter, Mrs. John Peters, who worked in Fallbrook until her retirement from Bank of America, also kept Mrs. Hughes informed of community activities, and her husband, a 35-year employee of State Forestry, shared his firefighting experiences throughout the county and state. Beginning in 1948, Mrs. Hughes served on the election board and continued for many years.
The following information was dictated by Gertrude Hughes to her daughter Liz Hughes Yamaguchi in 1983.
In 1929 my husband and I located a 10-acre ranch three miles south of Fallbrook. We had moved to Los Angeles from Cincinnati, Ohio a few years previously, and had been looking for a place 'out in the country' to farm. We had taken a train trip to Oregon, and made weekend investigations of Rancho Santa Fe and Vista, but in the end, we chose Fallbrook. We sold our house and lots in South Gate as partial payment and moved to our new home, "Silver Springs Ranch" in 1931. Halfway up our hillside was a three bedroom house, near which was a small planting of lemons. At the foot of the property, adjacent to the Inland Highway 395, now Mission Road, were some old buildings which had been used as a service station and garage. Some time later I learned that these buildings had been used as a pick-up point for illegal merchandise during prohibition days. Behind the service station was a creek, and adjacent to it was a 15-gallon per minute spring from which the ranch took its name. Below the rocks, from which the spring flowed, the water formed a pool in a cement catch basin. There was a roof over the whole area.
In order to meet the mortgage payment on the ranch, Walter continued to work during the week for Santa Fe Railway in Los Angeles, coming home weekends to farm. I entered our oldest daughter, Janie in first grade at the Fallbrook School, and looked after the ranch with the help of Betty and Carol, ages four and three. We kept the redwood tank at the top of our hill filled with water pumped from the spring, and irrigated the 500 berry plants Walter had set out. We also watered the lemon trees and the several rows of gladiolas and dahlias, which Walter had gotten from Mr. Ralph, a fellow Santa Fe employee (whose uncle started the Ralph's Grocery Chain).
During the summer, Gladys Herman (Hall), a South Gate neighbor and student at U.C. Berkeley stayed with us. I remember when we decided the pump needed 'cleaning,' and we proceeded to take it apart. When we couldn't get it back together, we had to carry water from the spring up the hill to the house in order to give the children their baths. Another time, in the evening, while the children and I were watering the berries, a baby rabbit popped its head out of the basin. We caught him and his brothers and sisters and took them down to a shed attached to the garage near the house, where I made a cage. By that time it was dark and we could hardly wait until morning to go out to see our new pets. We were so disappointed when we found the cage empty! Another evening, when we came back down to the house after watering, we found that a skunk had gotten into the kitchen and was occupying the cupboard where we kept our pots and pans. When we couldn't make the animal to come out we went down and got Mr. W.W. Scott, our neighbor who lived across Highway 395 from our ranch at the base of Scott's Hill (Rattlesnake Hill, where the Fallbrook Public Utility Water tank is now located). He came and put strychnine in the cupboard. Needless to say, for some time afterward we could not bear to go in the kitchen.
In 1932, I was expecting our fourth child, and Walter arranged for Mrs. Conner from Temecula, to help me occasionally during the week. Dr. A. Morgan delivered our fourth daughter, Jackie at Silver Springs Ranch in October. Walter's sister-in-law, Cecil Hughes, whose husband was working for a nursery in Carlsbad, came to stay with me. Shortly after this, Walter became seriously ill while working on the job in Los Angeles so we had to move back to Los Angeles to be with him.
Walter recovered and we returned to Silver Springs in 1935, when I was 32 years old. Only President Roosevelt's Homeowner's Loan Corporation had prevented us from losing the ranch. Since the Depression was on, there were no jobs. Walter started welding pipe and installing irrigation systems and water pumps, while I opened a sandwich stand, using the tiny service station building. I bought gasoline from Jim Armfield's Union 76 wholesale place, on north Mission (about where McDaniel's avocado packing house is today). I pumped gas and sold oil, in addition to preparing hamburgers and coffee and selling cold drinks. Walter again grew gladiolas and dahlias which he displayed in a huge metal urn he had made, hoping to attract more customers.
On the other side of the deep ravine from the sandwich stand, where our creek ran into a culvert under Highway 395, was a heavy cement cistern. We filled this with water to make an inviting place to stop, and Walter piped the spring water to a faucet near the cistern, but we didn't charge people for our spring water. It was very pure and doctors recommended it for their patients. Consequently people came from as far away as Oceanside with bottles to fill. One old-timer told me he remembered our spring as a stopping place to get water when then made the trip, by wagon, from Elsinore to Escondido.
People trusted each other in those days. I never thought of taking my rack of oil cans in at night when I closed up shop. One Sunday morning when I came down to work, I was disheartened to find two cans missing. However, the following Sunday I found the two cans had been returned, along with a note of apology. My faith in mankind returned.
Times were hard and my daughter Jane (who worked for Bank of America in Fallbrook until she retired in 1981) recalls how people in an effort to save gas would begin coasting their cars at Anthony's road, across from the present Professional Building at Rocky Crest Road, and continue the rest of the way to our place to get a gallon of gas.
In the 1930s Highway 395, which was the main north/south highway ran through Fallbrook on Main Street and was used extensively by truckers bringing produce, especially potatoes and onions, from Hemet and Murrieta to the coast. Our place became a pick-up point for local produce. I remember Elmer Kane, who had a large chicken ranch on the north side of Rattlesnake Hill, leaving crates of eggs every morning for the market truck to load and carry to San Diego.
After I had a telephone installed in our sandwich shop, I would leave the back door unlocked so the neighbors could come in and use it. It was the only phone within a mile. The telephone number was 7-J-3.
My business increased and I stocked groceries and created my own pie recipe. People began returning just for my pies. There was no florist in Fallbrook, so I took courses in floristry and obtained my license. Walter built a flower shop over the ravine to provide a protected place for the cut flowers and space to work on orders. I remember how this location over the creek created problems. One year of heavy rains, the creek overflowed and washed Elmer Kane's egg crates under the building and blocked the culvert. Walter had to climb down into the rushing water and make his way under the flower shop to the culvert to retrieve the boxes. The children and I stood on the bank, watching and fearing that he would be drowned.
To meet the increasing traffic, we put in two more gasoline pumps and enlarged the café several times until there were 11 seats at the counter and four booths for family-style meals. My schedule was to get up at 5:30 a.m., pick the flowers from Walter's garden to put in the flower shop, and by 6:30 had Silver Springs Café open and ready to serve our breakfast customers. I took care of flower orders in between preparations for the lunch and dinner runs. It was usually midnight by the time I closed up shop and walked up to the house to go to bed.
Because jobs were scarce everywhere, our families in Ohio sent their young men to California to find work. Our nephew, Walter Driver, came to live with us. He helped his Uncle Walter on the ranch and also worked on the Spencer's ranch in Fallbrook. My cousin, Ray Beckelman, stayed with us and helped me in the café until he joined the Marine Corps. Then he would thrill us all by flying up from the Air Station in San Diego, circle low over the ranch and waggle the wings of his airplane at us.
Alvin Davis, whose parents, Dr. and Mrs. Percy Davis, had a ranch near Fallbrook was also with us for a while. Alvin was always clowning. I remember one Sunday morning he came down late for breakfast and stopped in the kitchen to do his "hat act" with the chrome top of the Silex coffee maker. On this particular morning I had not yet had a chance to clean it, and as he put it on his head, he was showered with wet coffee grounds.
Silver Springs Café became a place for local families, like the Bandinis and Reinemans to have dinner. At that time all of the eating places in Fallbrook which were open late served alcohol. Since we didn't at Silver Springs, parents entrusted their teenagers to us in the evenings. High school students came in after school dances and sport events for pie and coffee and to play the jukebox and pinball machine. I remember when Jimmy Banks and his team came from Pala to play Fallbrook, they always stopped on their way home and I served them pie and ice cream.
Sometimes when Marion Clemmens, Stanley Van Dyke and Dick Gird came in at closing time, I would go up the hill to bed and let them fix for themselves. They would close up for me. All the high schoolers enjoyed carving their initials and messages in the paint of the counter. When there was no more room for names, the boys brought tools from their woodworking class and refinished the counter.
As soon as my girls were old enough (Janie says when she was only 13) they assisted me by running errands. They carried flowers and I walked down the rows picking them. They also pumped gas, swept floors and washed dishes as well helping to prepare and serve the food to our customers. After we opened the flower shop and orders for floral work increased, I especially needed and appreciated their help to running both businesses.
Eventually, we couldn't handle it all, and I employed Ila Fern Callaway, whose family had live in Fallbrook since 1920, to work after her high school day was over. We didn't get to have her very long however, for she married our nephew Walter and became Mrs. Driver. They soon went to San Diego to work at Consolidated Aircraft, now General Dynamics. Ila Fern and Walter Driver retired back to Fallbrook and now live at the west end of Elder Street.)
Another waitress, Gladys White Jennings (Kuhn), had recently arrived from Oklahoma. Her family lived up the highway from us on the other side of Shady Grove. She worked for me until she got a job cooking at the Douglas Shearer Ranch in Monserate. Edna Rhodes (Shields) came to work at Silver Springs, learned the business and opened her own café on Main Street in Fallbrook in the Rhodes Motor Company building.
Among my best customers were local teachers like Mildred Keller and Maie Ellis (later principal) from the elementary school would come in with their husbands to Silver Springs to eat. Also the Coutts, Deavers and Huschers, who taught at the High School were regulars. Others I came to know because they came to the café were Walter Crane and "Pop" Beamer, who served on the school board. In 1941 when there was a vacancy, I was appointed to serve on the board of the Fallbrook Elementary School. I was on the board for three years, during which time we added more buildings to take care of the increasing enrollment at the school caused by Camp Pendleton.
My flower business continued to expand. I was the only florist in Fallbrook for a long time, and people came to me for wedding arrangements, corsages for school dances and graduations, and flowers for funerals. Mrs. Edith Tedford, who lived in Winterwarm, often helped me with the graduation flowers, especially one year when the high school girls decided to carry colonial bouquets. At another graduation we used the flowers from the orchid tree on Maie Ellis' ranch, where the present high school is located, to make corsages for the graduating eighth grade girls.
I'll never forget how Mrs. Ellis' son used to climb a tall fir tree on their place to decorate it with Christmas lights. It was a beacon for all to enjoy along Highway 395, and those of us who passed by it on our way to town called it "our Christmas tree.
In the 1940s it was customary for our friends to give flowers to the young people who were graduating. Tables were set up in the cafeteria to display them. Although graduating classes had fewer than 30 students, many flowers were needed. In those days there was no wholesale flower market in San Diego. I had to order flowers from the Los Angeles market on Wall Street. They were delivered to the flower shop of Marian Hager (Pellanda) on U.S. 101 in Oceanside. I would pick them up from there. I also bought flowers from growers in Carlsbad and Leucadia.
After the government purchased the Santa Margarita Ranch and developed Camp Pendleton and the Naval Ammunition Depot (now called the Naval Weapons Station), armed convoys of ammunition trucks began passing by the café on their way to the Port of San Diego. As soon as we heard their sirens up the road, we always ran out to watch and wave, and the men waved in return. I remember when one of our N.A.D. trucks exploded on its way down into Rose Canyon, where the University of California is now located. Eucalyptus trees on both sides of the road were blown down by the blast. Another time, one of the motorcycle M.P.s leading the convoy had an accident at the foot of the new section of 395 which cut off the hazardous 'Hellers Bend' and a car of Naval officers came speeding back to Silver Springs to use our telephone to call for help.
We all participated in war-related activities. Earlier, with the Frank Parkinsons and others, we had started a VFW Post (Walter was in the Navy in World War I). The members met in the basement of the Oddfellows hall. I remember rolling bandages with the Fallbrook Chapter of the Red Cross, and gave 1,400 hours of volunteer time for Fallbrook on the War Price and Ration Board in Oceanside. I also remember getting up very early to take my girls out to the Shearer's Ranch to man the airplane spotting station. They identified and called in the headquarters all the aircraft, which they spotted overhead. One evening Elliott Bandini stopped in the café on his way to Fallbrook to help Mr. Potter, superintendent of the school, in the temporary civil defense headquarters which had been setup at the high school He took the girls with him to serve as "victims" in a mock air-raid to test the preparedness of Fallbrook's emergency systems.
In the war years an order went out that no lights were permitted to be seen after dark (in case an enemy aircraft flew over) and we kept Silver Springs open by installing heavy blackout curtains over the windows.
Many of my former high school customers went off to fight in World War II and found time to write to us. In January 1944, Sgt. Bob Crane, while stationed in India, sent a letter closing with these words: "Well Mrs. Hughes, have you got lots of pie and ice cream? 'Tonight I'll just start off with a half a banana cream pie and four scoops of ice cream and two pineapple malts.' - You can see how much reserve you'll have to build up before I get back there. . ."
Some of my boys never returned. Charles Clemmens, stationed in England during the way, was killed flying over Germany. I had to do the flowers when he was brought home and buried in the Oddfellows Cemetery, across the road from his family home.
After Walter started work at the Naval Ammunition Depot (1941), first as a guard and later as their water maintenance person, there was less need for me to keep the café open such long hours. Eventually Silver Springs Café was operated briefly by Pearl Morrison's relatives and later we sold the building to the Wolfe's who moved it in town to their lot by the Oddfellows Hall where they used it as a residence for many years. We relocated the flower shop up closer to our house on the hill (but still fronting on U.S. 395). We remodeled it and I continued to do floristry work. But Fallbrook was growing, and Gladys Kuhn and I decided to open a flower business and gift shop in town. We rented adjacent to Raymond Wayman's real estate office on Main Street.
After we gave up the flower and gift shop, I continued to so some cooking. On Thursdays in the early 50s, I prepared Rotary luncheons in the meeting room of the Masonic Hall and in the 60s I worked the snack bar at the new Fallbrook High School.
After the big freeze in 1949 my husband and I sold Silver Springs ranch and moved a half-mile north to 20 acres on what is now Hughes Lane. We kept the name of Silver Springs for a gem and mineral business, which had grown out of our hobby of collecting rocks.
Although there is still a road named Silver Springs Lane near our former property, the pumping of underground water has eliminated the old spring. People still remember Silver Springs Café. In 1975 at a reunion held at Live Oak Park I took along some of the early pictures of the café to share. When I go to Harrison's Pharmacy soda fountain to gather and visit with old-timers our talk is often of the old days when many of them used to gather at Silver Springs Café.
Someday I'm going to have a reunion of my own and bake pies for all my old customers. . .
The daughters of Walter and Gertrude Hughes include Liz Yamaguchi of Fallbrook, Janie Peters, of Mohave Valley, Arizona, Carole Huzieff of Oceanside and Jackie Jackson of Renton, Washington.
Fallbrook Historical Society
Fallbrook, CA Area Information: History
Elizabeth Yamaguchi's Writings On Fallbrook History
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Last update: 23 January 1999.