Remembering the Seven Seas Locker Club

by Kim Medders, US Navy, retired

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The Seven Seas Locker Club in downtown San Diego was a huge place off Broadway that took up a city block and never closed. You could go there at anytime, day or night, and get your uniform cleaned, pressed or completely tailored, complete with full zippers on each side of your jumper. Don’t forget to get liberty cuffs along with that. Could get your shoes re-soled and have a complete meal. One of the really cool things you could have done there was to get your neckerchief rolled. They had a machine that would perfectly roll it so you wouldn’t look like a boot. At one time, enlisted sailors were not allowed to have civilian clothes on bases or ships. The “7-Seas” provided a very large locker room so you could change into civies and “blend in” to avoid the Shore Patrol.

To new sailors fresh from boot camp, the Seven Seas was a wonderland of militaria. The Navy and Marine Corps Exchange system was pretty conservative, and would not stock some of the great stuff this store had. In addition to uniform stuff, Boots would go there to get postcards and souvenirs. You had to be careful though, because sometimes you could get talked into getting into trouble. There was this guy in my boot camp company who came back from Recruit liberty with a chest full of ribbons he had bought at the 7-Seas. He said the man who sold them to him said since he was in the Navy, he could wear any ribbons his dad or granddad had earned. This poor fella was sporting WWI, WWII and Korean ribbons. Luckily we were leaving the next day so the Company Commander only chewed his ass a little.

The last time I was in San Diego I went looking for the Seven Seas, but could not find it. I asked and someone said it was long gone, a victim of a changing world and a changing Navy. Admiral Zumwalt probably started its decline when he changed the Navy’s uniform and loosened regulations allowing sailors to wear civilian clothes off base. The exchanges have become more service orientated, and the Navy presence in San Diego has been significantly reduced with the closure of the Navy boot camp there and other downsizing. Still, the Seven Seas Locker Club had been around since WWII and I feel the Navy or the City of San Diego should have made it into a landmark.

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90 Comments on “Remembering the Seven Seas Locker Club”

  1. Jon says:

    Change is inevitable…locker clubs slowly disappeared by the late 70s and gone when the 80s rolled-around…

    • miles goodman says:

      Seven Seas could have survived and slowly changed as I fully expected but was thwarted by the San Diego Redevelopment Agency was held Eminent Domain powers. Once in the that dreaded power we were on 90 days notice to move. Improvements were, we were warned, not acceptable and no compensation would be granted. This was a strain both on leadership, personnel and management. Though we had no long term promise, our leases were in effect and we were not allowed to make improvements as compensation was not to be given. Further, we had thousands of useless feet to pay rent but could not offer anyone more than the ninety day lease. This was great for selling Christmas Trees in November but otherwise, quite useless.

      I was warned by the head of the Agency that “he ( the Director, would rather see “wild flowers growing on empty lots than see you in business.”, This was also published in the San Diego Reader sometime in the mid to early 1980’s, I believe.

      So much for the business attitude at that time!

      • I had a Uniform made there in 70. Great place. I sure regret that happened. It would have been so great to see again. That’s why I looked this up. I was hoping to have a New Uniform like my old one made when I visit out there soon . Guess there just any place to do that now.

    • Bob Holmes says:

      I bought a set of civilian clothes there, always had my neckerchiefs rolled, bought some seafarer dungarees, and “owned” a locker, all back in the early ’60s. Man, what a place, for a poor ol’ country boy first time away from south Texas. Along with the ‘Y’ down the street (if I remember correctly) my home away from home almost.

      • miles goodman says:

        Glad to hear from you. To be remembered and for the right reasons is wonderful. There are so few of us left and, as I often remark to my family, that I often drive downtown San Diego and see the places that used to be there and that were so very important to us. It was not just a business but an adventure that I sorely miss now.

        To most of us, it was the life and we enjoyed being there and meeting some great guys. We never see a Navy uniformed man today and most of the civilians have no idea of how a uniformed sailor looks. That is sad, to me!

  2. J.C.Faison says:

    Had a locker there while attending Corpsman school in 1969.Great place.

  3. Mark polloni says:

    DO ANY of you San diego SAILORS remember ” IRON HORSE ” clothing store ???? Subsid of 7 SEAS…1970 .I bought my first set of FLAIRS (CIVIES ) and the shoes and shirt to go with it….I was trying to make a move on a blonde at the BARBARY COAST………………

    • miles goodman says:

      I joined Seven Seas in 1953 and became President and General Manager in 1968. My predecessor was sincere in his efforts to provide the serviceman a “home away from home” and was very concerned about the ethics of the company. With several hundred employees we had some excellent talent but also hired ( and we hope) quickly fired any abusive personnel.

      The SD Redevelopment agency was extremely hostile to any business that catered to the Military and I was told by the director in the mid 70s that he “would rather see wild flowers growing on empty lots than to see Seven Seas in business.( Quote was published in the San Diego Reader .}

      He lived to see that!

      I was keen on fair prices, no interest on credit accounts and excellent service.
      Miles Goodman mgood182003@gmail.com

      • Robert Milby Sgt. USMC says:

        Well I’d like to thank the Seven Seas Club both in San Diego and Long Beach. I was a seagoing Marine 1961-63 ( USS Princeton LPH-5. You were the only place I could get quality civilian clothes store them for liberty and get my uniform clean. You were a life saver.
        I got out of the Marine Corps in 1967 and then reenlisted 1968 had to got to the Seven Seas Club in San Diego to buy some used Marine Corps uniforms because of a base shortage.
        Those were the days, great memories, Thanks
        Would like to get any pictures

      • miles goodman says:

        Thought I could transfer my scan. I failed but, there is hope. My son is visiting in a few days so I’m sure to receive the help I need.

        Sgt. please send me your e mail address so I can forward the pictures you wrote about.
        Mine is mgood182003@gmail.com.
        Thanks,
        miles

      • Gary Lykins says:

        I went through Navy boot camp in San Diego in 1960, when I got out of boot camp I spent a lot of time at the Seven Seas, it was great. My buddies and I would stop at the US Grant Hotel and pick up a pint of US Grant vodka (cheap, a little over a dollar as I remember) then head to the locker club to change into civvies. I was a 17 year old kid from Colorado. I bought some tailored blues with a dragon embroidered on the inside, it was cool.

        Got my one and only tattoo at Tiger Bob’s, the only reason I remember the name was the huge tattoo of a tiger on his back. Mine was a discreet sailor girl on my upper arm. Still have it. When I finally went to sea, I left my locker at the Seven Seas full of empty US Grant vodka bottles and empty Nesbit Orange bottles, made a great screwdriver. Fond memories of that place. I was stationed on the USS Towers DDG-9, that we put in commission in Bremerton, Washington. My ship has been sunk for target practice since then. The world moves on, but it was a heck of a ride.
        I was listening to the song Sailor by a German lady on youtube. It was one I listened to a lot back in 1961, at any rate, memories caused me to goggle The Seven Seas Locker Club. It was great.

    • miles godman says:

      The Iron Horse was conceived as a forward apparel look. It was designed to be first with new styles and trends. When the right manager ran the place, it did well. I regretted that we did not expand the concept but our moves at 7 Seas were defensive as the City slowly condemned parts of Broadway.
      miles goodman ( former GM of 7 Seas)

      • John says:

        Remember the clip joint jewelry store where the salesman used to hang outside the front door. They had a picture in their window of a Chief Torpedoman who had about 50 years in. A great place to be cheated. I think it was off limits.

      • miles goodman says:

        I agree that “side walk solicitation” was a terrible stain on Broadway. Seven Seas fought that type of business but “free speech” won.

        Incidentally, Seven Seas truly did everything to maintain a solid, healthy business that catered and served, where possible. That is the truth.

        miles

      • John says:

        do you remember any of the following places: the bowling alley across from the train station, a chain of restaurants in downtown that were open 24/7, the movie theatres on the plaza, Bradleys, and the Spreckles or Balboa theatre. How about Doc Webs.

  4. jason says:

    I have a men’s clothing store in downtown san diego and I’m looking for more info about the 7 seas if anyone can point me in the right direction. Would love to pay homage to this once great establishment.

  5. I remember the 7 Seas locker club well, I had a locker there for my civvies. They had everything a sailor could need. The locker room was huge with a very large shower room with unlimited hot water. San Diego was memorable for me. Some weekends started off with vampire liberty, 50 cent movies that never closed,
    50 cent breakfast of one egg, toast and coffee. This was in the early 60’s and a lot of fun for a kid of 17.

    • David Rider says:

      Thanks for reminding me of ‘vampire liberty.’ I went nights to Basic Electricity and Electronics School, NTC, San Diego. I kept a locker at 7-Seas for about two years, till Admiral Zumwalt changed our lives.

  6. Francis Hanlon USN Retired says:

    looking for info on the Neptune lockert club on 5th ave about a block off of Broadway, My dad was in the Navy with the owner….I had a locker there . we paid by the month had it until I made E5 and at that time E4 and below could not have civies on board ship I was station on the USS Duluth LPD 6 at 32nd st.. In the early 70’s fun times

  7. harley130 says:

    I had a locker there in the middle sixties, was a great launching point for many a drunken night. We even would stumble back into the club and go to the locker room and pass out on the benches along with several other sailors. I even joined the weight lifting portion of even so that I could work out with several of my buddies.
    I was in Diego in June of 13 and looked for the location myself, could find anything and at the time did not know the address. Downtown as sure changed since the sixties, with all the Navy piers closed it a tourist town now.

    • I.R. Berry says:

      I bought a set of custom made blues there back in the 60s. They were great

      • miles goodman says:

        Glad to hear from you. Seven Seas carried the famous (at the time) Sea Farer blues and they were sharp. Another one manufactured locally was private branded and made very well in a nearby uniform plant. Incidentally it was an extremely low mark up product and a break even sale.

  8. Frank Gomez says:

    Wow ! Do I remember the Seven Seas Locker Club! Joined the Navy at
    seventeen and did my boot camp at NTC San Diego. 1954!

  9. J.E. Ganser says:

    Boot camp in Aug 1965. Graduated in Sept and left NTC for boot leave. Immediately stopped at Seven Seas and had blues tailored. Zippered jumper and belled 13 button trousers. Served on a can out of Pearl. Made STG2. Had those tailored duds for the next 4 yrs. In fact, still have them. We couldn’t have civvies onboard ship back then. Don’t remember a place like Seven Seas in Pearl. Seven Seas did a great job and they were fast and reasonable. Too bad the Navy isn’t what it used to be. Too woosy now.

    • Charlie Spevak says:

      I was in boot Camp in Aug of’65 Co# 404. Served aboard Lyman K. Swenson DD-729. Stg3 Home Port San Diego.

  10. Walter Hoar says:

    The Seven Seas was a great place in the early 1960s. Got my uniform tailored and bought some civies, but most of all stopped on the way back to the USS Sperry and had a piece of cherry pie and coffee for $0.25, which left me with ten cents for the ride on the Nickle snatcher.

    • Odie Tresner, BMC, Ret. says:

      Was on the USS Nereus from 58/62. Made BM 3 bout a year before being transferred to APA.

  11. Greg Dallie says:

    Went to NTC San Diego March 1965. Lots of memories of the Seven Seas. I had my first set of Gabardine dress blues tailored there with a huge flare on the 13 button pants. Also had them add liberty cuffs. Lots of vendors outside trying to sell you diamond rings for you girl friends back home. There was also a locker club across Rosecrans Ave. in front of NTC main gate with a burger joint next to it. Those where the days.

  12. John Nyman says:

    Ah yes Broadway in general.and Seven Seas in particular bring back a lot of memories-good and bad. I arrived in San Diego in September of 1971 from Great Lakes. Like a lot of single sailors who were away from home for the first time, downtown was a.big.draw. Once you learned the ropes it could be fun but you could get clipped fast if you weren’t careful. Even if you wore civvies, your short.hair told everyone you were a sailor. Good places were the YMCA and the USO. Seven Seas wasn’t bad if if you didn’t let them talk you into something like a credit card. Locker Clubs declined when all.sailors were allowed to have civvies. Some of them folded in the late 70s and 80s when San Diego built more office buildings and change Broadway’s image from a sailor hangout to.a professional downtownI think the last one to go was the 4.0 that was in.the Hotel San Diego.Even Horton Plaza got cleaned up. When I left San Diego in.1997 all.the old places were gone. Just about the only Navy stuff in downtown is Braoadway Pier and maybe the Supply Center

    .

    • miles goodman says:

      101 Locker club closed in the mid to late 60’s. They were excellent competitors and a clean operation. Severn Seas prohibited any of its concessionaires from sidewalk solicitation or lobby vendors. Credit was extended with 6 payments and there never was a service charge or interest.
      The City of San Diego always had, I believe, a “hate hate” relationship with stores serving the military. AND THAT IS BASED ON 36 YEARS AT SEVEN SEAS.

  13. Dennis Smith says:

    Does anyone remember the 101 Locker club across the way (same side)?

    • miles goodman says:

      101 Locker club was a clean operation owned by a gentleman, Alan Richman, I believe. His hors and services were abbreviated but he was an excellent competitor.
      Seven Seas, believe it or not, was started by an immigrant, very young man who worked very hard to establish a clean, service minded business that had in its formative years, very rising young men who later were very influential in their dedicated fields from attorneys, accountants, Federal Judge, and its most famous attorney, the man whose experience with Seven Seas led to his establishing FedMart, later Price Club and ultimately, Costco. That was Sol Price. Mandel Weiss, another Seven Seas stockholder, contributed millions to UCSD to erect the Weiss auditorium.
      The city of S D, I know and believe, always hostile to the Broadway merchants despite its honorable intentions and superior business ethics. We who lived and grew in S D were always viewed as 2nd class merchants because of our customer’s. Navy Commanders and above were welcome. Those below, the workers, were always considered by our city as……………………..

      • pat marshall says:

        hi miles. boy do i remember the 7 seas and the rest of broady.they were great days. t-town.oh my god. still hit sd once a year during fleet week. stay out at pt. loma. the dolphin motel. do i miss those days.67-70. would like your email so i can connect with you when i come to sd

      • Herb Rowland says:

        Thank you Miles. I’m responding to your earlier post, in which you said you could buy Seafarer blues at the Seven Seas. That company now has so little institutional memory that they don’t know that they made blues back in the early to mid-sixties. I contacted the company a couple of years ago out of curiosity, as I could have sworn, and rightly so, that they did, and they said they only make dungos now and had recently lost the contract with the Navy for those. Unless my memory has completely failed me, I bought at least one set of those spiffy, tight-fitting blues sometime between 1963 and 1965, when I was on the Kitty Hawk. The Seven Seas was a magic place for sailors back in those days. Fate has kept me away from San Diego ever since August of ’65, when my tour of active duty ended, but I would have loved to see that place again.

  14. pat mccaffrey says:

    boy, do i remember the 7 seas. it was the last stop before going back aboard either at the foot of bdwy or anchored out. it was always quite a sight about 3 in the am. some guys would be sleeping, others puking and fistfighting, finishing off a night of culture in tijuana. anyone remember the last bus from t-town. mom would not of approved. i wish we could all go back for a night or two. any one remember the burlesque theater across from the plaza, packed with guys on their first liberty from bootcamp?

    • John Nyman says:

      The strip club I remember was the PussyCat. I think it was on Fifth Avenue. All gone for the sake of big business.

      • miles goodman says:

        The “new” San Diego has attained the dream of tourism. I know that the Traditional businessmen of downtown did not encourage Navy business and we had little standing in the elegant clubs as we dealt with the military. Even today some 30 years after we closed, some members of s plant club I belong refers to lower Broadway in a derogatory way as LOWER Broadway. I found our customers were pleasant, young and terrific guys. We had almost zero shop lifting from Navy. Some civilians were not very honest!
        miles

    • pat marshall says:

      i remember it all. was stationed in sd from.67 to .70. still go out to sd from pa. oncem a year during fleet week. as you get older you miss those days.

      • miles goodman says:

        I make my sentimental journey weekly. Driving Hwy 5, I take immense pride in seeing No. Island and the pair of carriers lining No. Island. It is a beautiful sight.

        miles goodman

  15. R.M. Spears says:

    sounded like a pretty neat place. Wish I could have seen it.

  16. David Malone says:

    I was in San Diego in the late ’70s…. ’77 – ’80. I remember seeing the Seven Seas Club… but you could tell from its appearance that it was on its last legs. The place never looked busy, but you could tell that it had been a hot spot in years past. The fact that I was able to change into civvies aboard ship before liberty told the whole story of why the club was on the other side of its hey day. I’ve been back to San Diego a couple of times for ship’s reunions since (USS Buchanan DDG-14 anyone?). The downtown area has completely changed from what I remember of it. What was once a Navy downtown area is now a touristy gas light district. The old tuna canneries you passed while gagging on the bus from 32nd street to downtown has been replaced by a huge tourist trap called Seaport Village. Personally, I pine for the old days when I could get into a movie theater downtown for $2.00 where they showed three movies non-stop, geared to the tastes of sailors and marines. Give me the Seven Seas club over any of those swanky, overpriced seafood restaurants out on Shelter Island any day!

    • miles goodman says:

      Thanks for the positive comments.
      Our customers were the best group of credit risk in the country. Obviously, we had a small percentage of bad accounts. My predecessor, the founder of the company, died unexpectedly of bladder cancer and I, totally unprepared, became General Manager.

      We had a solid company and tried very hard to make a profit and operate on low margin.
      I felt close to the job and appreciated the Navy. I served from April 1945, the date of my enlistment, until as a reserve the Navy offered us a special tour. As a crew member on the CV 3, the Saratoga, I had my choice of standing 1/2 mile on the Bikini island test site of the atom bomb test or transferring off. I transferred off and served on 4 other ships (APA’s ) until the reserves were sent home.

      As the years passed, my memories of the service years became more important to me. I never forgot what it was like to be a Seaman! Obviously, I tried to create a better locker club and personalized the shopping experience. WE never abused a Navy man knowingly. Obviously, we hired on occasion the wrong guy but, when we as a company we were made aware, would dump the guy.

      By the way, if any of you guys served on the Saratoga maybe you remember the heads with trough’s of running sea water and 1 x 3 ‘s that served as toilet seats when you collected a pair from off the deck. That’s the truth!

      miles

      miles

    • pat marshall says:

      i feel the same david. go to sd once a year and can’t stand how downtown has changed.thank god i was part of the good times

    • Kevin R Murray says:

      Touristy? You should Newport, RI. Tin Can town. Navy pulled out the destroyers. Beautiful housing now like a barren landscape. It was the last hope for the Forrestal and the Saratoga to be museum ships. Last time I was up there, the Navy turned into a base for salvage ships. Newport itself is a freakin’ resort now. Thames St. is all “Gentrified”. They did some landfilling and cruise ships pull in now. Our locker club, gone. I even think the Y is gone. Last time up there I drove around and couldn’t find it. Quonset Point, homeport for our ASW carriers? Like God scrapped it from the earth. Davisville, once the home of the Seabees? Only the base theater remains. Maybe to be used as some kind of monument.

      • patrick mccaffrey says:

        Kevin, was on the forrest sherman (DD931) in 62-63. do you remember a bar called “jimmy o’sheas”. he didn’y have barstools. if you couldnt stand jimmy would cut you off. it was near the Y i think.

  17. Robert G. "Bob" Corder says:

    I remember the “Seven Seas” well, even though I did not have a locker there. I had a locker at the Serviceman’s YMCA right across the street from Seven Seas and also worked out there in the weight room. I was there in 1955-56, but when I went back in the 1989, the Seven Seas was gone, along with a lot of other establishments. Spreckles Theater, where I used to watch movies, was still there but it seemed to have been turned into a performing arts theater. I really enjoyed “Diego” while I was stationed there, and was sad to see that Broadway been transformed quite a bit when I went back. At least the Serviceman’s YMCA was still there (and it was when I again visited in 1998). It, too, has probably bitten the dust by now. Oh well, change is the only thing that is constant!

    • miles says:

      The enlisted man has changed! When Admiral Zumwalt adopted different standards as for example,wear what you want to inspection it implied “Liberation”, I believe the Navy I knew and respected, was forever gone.

      Personally, I do not believe that his changes of the Navy made for a better sailor than existed prior to his reign..

  18. John Moran says:

    I worked at the 7 Seas warehouse for a few months in the late 60s when it moved from south of Broadway to north of Broadway. I made $1.30 per hour (before taxes) and got 2 holidays, one paid. However, I think I got a winter holiday bonus of something like $10 from the owner, Mr. Kitaen.

    Catering to enlisted sailor’s tastes, they stocked some pretty amazing stuff at the warehouse, but some good stuff too–I used my employee discount to buy a pair of Seafarer dungarees that lasted forever.

    I thought the clothing outlet that opened in the late 60s was called “The Freight Elevator.”

    IMHO, the best things south of Broadway that are gone now were San Diego Hardware and Wong’s Nanking Cafe.

    I can’t say anything about how good or bad the Navy was in the 60s, but I earned a couple of weeks of sea pay as part of a multi-service exercise on the USNS Comfort a few years ago and was impressed with the people and the whole operation.

  19. miles goodman says:

    This is my second reply the first having mysteriously disappeared before completion. Your memories are amazingly accurate. Having remembered Mr. Kitaen by name and spelling deserves an award.
    My predecessor was an amazing man and difficult to follow. He, in addition to fine business instincts, was cursed with a city’s administration that wanted Broadway to be “cleaned”. The redevelopment move was a clever, legal maneuver that encouraged the extermination of Navy business. This redesigning of the area to be “Navy free” was a hidden agenda. It was no secret that the Navy dollar was prized, but dealing with the common sailor was considered a “low class” business. This view dominated pre ww11 thinking in San Diego. Many thought that my wife who worked as a young seamstress altering sailor’s uniforms, was needlessly subjecting herself to associating with a less than admirable crowd. Little changed after the war and the Navy business was on a par of income from pimping.

    Seven Seas was a profit making organization that provided needed services for a group of young group of sailors that were fairly treated and given a semblance of a “home away” from home. Believe it or not, when I became GM I took a third of the salary of the founder, repaid the enormous buy out to the founder’s legal team an widow, and struggled for years to maintain the Company. I always regretted leaving my lazy man’s job that I left working for the County of SD.
    Economically, it was a terrible move. I could have had a great retirement being overpaid as a Assistant Probation Officer with many days sick leave, vacation, use of a car and a worry free job. Being head of Seven Seas was a 24 hour worry. Dealing with the City government took my full time worry. It was wasted years and I regret my move into the business world.

    By the way, the Freight Elevator was my “baby”. When I became the GM I was faced by a challenge from our company attorney who, in my opinion, took an unfair advantage of the untimely death of my predecessor. We had an enormous inventory that was impossible to recoup costs so I did the next best thing. I sold the overstock merchandise at very low prices and was willing to take 10 cents of the dollar. The Freight Elevator was a “disposal” business and suffered because the cat and mouse game played by the now defunct “Redevelopment Corp.” The worries were totally on my side and my shoulders. Guess what my feelings are toward the City?

    In summation, my predecessor was a totally successful American immigrant success story. He gathered the young, untried professionals to join him and made them and his immediate family quite comfortable. This could not be said for my struggle against the City forces starting in 1972 when San Diego city took on private property owners with Eminent Domain. I could go on endlessly and I should have stopped earlier.

  20. Don says:

    I remember Seven Sea’s from 1968. I had my blues trimmed, my neckerchief rolled and used it as my way-station for my civilian clothes. I’ll miss it. It would have been good to save it as an historical property, but that part of town is in the high-rent district and development overtook the landmark.

    • pat marshall says:

      hi don. i was in the navy in sd in 68 too. i was on the ussjerome county lsr 848.i still come to sd from pa. for fleet week and stay at the dolphin motal in pt loma.i miss the way things were but i thank god i was part of that time in sd

  21. Radioman 2nd says:

    When I went to Radioman “A” School at NTC in 1967 I got a locker at the Seven Seas right off the bat. From NTC I took the bus on Burnett Avenue that blended into the Pacific Highway that in the fullness of time dropped me at the square in the middle of downtown where the buses q’ued up. It was a long ride to Seven Seas to get into civvies. Later I discovered a locker club right outside the gate at NTC on Burnett Avenue and switched my locker to there. While I was still in “A” School during the summer of ’67 BUPERS authorized sailors below E5 to keep civvies on NTC. I see references to Admiral Zumwalt and 1970 as the switch over. But I can guarantee you we had civvies on NTC in 1967. A room on the ground floor of each barracks was designated as the group locker. It kept freaky hours. You had to be there at 1600 to pick them up and check them back in the next morning at chow time. I bailed out of the locker club at that point. Where that locker club used to be on Burnett Avenue is a Smog Inspection station and a store for large women who need big sizes. We would have loved that 50 years ago. We would have settled for any woman — Large, XL or XXXL.

  22. Dave Pratt says:

    I visited the 7-Seas during boot camp liberty in 1962 (Company 550) and came back later after leave while I was at the transient barracks for two weeks at 32nd Street. No civvies allowed on base so I rented civvies at the 7-Seas for walking up and down Broadway and a trip to TJ. Those were the days. Retired after 22 years as a CPO and highly recommend this to anyone looking for direction and an adventure.

  23. Frank Gomez says:

    Haze grey and underway !

  24. John Nyman says:

    Hey Frank, how are you? It’s me your ol’ shipmate Nyman!

  25. George E. Lord says:

    The Seven Seas, what a great place that was. San Diego owes so very much of it’s heritage to the Navy but instead of celebrating that part of their heritage they seem to want to hide it like it never existed. The Seven Seas was a very important part of my time in the Navy from when I was in boot camp (Co336 Chief Petty Officer Carpenter) in 1966 until I got out in 1975. And yes even then there was indeed a lot of hostility toward the enlisted men. (Of course during this time, Vietnam and all that, our news organizations had the American people convinced we were lower than horse manure) But we were always treated with respect and dignity at the Seven Seas. Thank you Miles Goodman you were and still are greatly appreciated. By the way, my father also loved the Seven Seas.

    • miles goodman says:

      Thank you very much.
      I enlisted just before my eighteenth birthday and proudly served aboard the USS Saratoga CV3 until it was decommissioned. As you know it was deliberately sunk in July 1946 as part of the test of an atom bomb. I always regretted its destruction.

      I was seventeen when my mother an I arrived in San Diego. I was amazed at the number of sailors walking four abreast on each side of Broadway. There was a continuous stream day and night and no place to rest except at the all night cafes. Little did I know I would be one of them.

      Edward Kitaen, ran a small tailor shop in the basement right off a pool hall. His tailors altered the ill fitting uniforms and sold the sleek “Seafarer” uniforms. Though young he was married with three children so he never served. When the war ended he formed a partnership with some of the young professionals of San Diego. The Seven Seas Enterprise was born and the first opened May 1,1948. The locker club was clean, on Broadway and stocked many of the needs of the Navy man. The Tailor shop, and a little later, the cleaning plant were opened along with the civilian clothing, barbershop. Services were provided and expanded. It was so very successful and by 1953 there were three stores on Broadway and each and every one was busy.

      Edward, the founder, confessed sadly to me, years later, that the downtown merchandise never accepted a business dealing with the Navy. Civilian customers were prized, not Navy customers Though officially the powers were seemingly proud of the Navy, the undercurrent persisted and the business community regarded the business as second rate as the customers were “just sailors “.

      Years later, in fact about two years ago I attended a club party and the conversation turned to the old days in San Diego. A PhD recounted his distaste for the “lower Broadway” merchants that dealt with sailors. No one knew of my association with the Seven Seas and the people at the party; none had ever served, but they agreed and held in distain, both the sailor business and its customers, Old prejudices linger years later particularly those that never served.

      If you would like a little known fact about some of the early investors I will be glad to continue.
      Take care,
      miles

      • milesgoodman says:

        Thanks and will try to find some that might help refresh your memory.
        miles

      • Herb Rowland says:

        I tried to post this a few days ago but don’t see it and am trying again. I was glad to find confirmation of my recollection that the Seven Seas sold Seafarer blues. I called the company a couple of years ago to ask about it and spoke to a fellow who said that they had only been making dungarees for many years (and had recently lost the Navy contract for those) and that he didn’t know whether they had made blues or not. It’s been over fifty years since I was on the Kitty Hawk in San Diego, but I could swear I bought a set of Seafarer blues at the Seven Seas.

  26. Bob says:

    Miles, Do you have any pictures of the inside of the Seven Seas Club?
    Does anyone have pictures of Sully’s in Long Beach
    As for the community supporting the Navy or Marines we knew how they felt.
    As in combat it was all about your team mates and those that were willing to stand by us.
    I know the locker clubs must have made a great profit and that is good, you gave us what we needed and I’ll never forget that. Thanks

  27. Michael King says:

    My dad worked at the Columbia Locker Club in Downtown San Diego after returning from European TOO in WWII. He used to bring a sailor or two home with him for a home-cooked meal, courtesy of my mom. Two guys who used to come over and sing for us were Dean Jones and Randy Sparks, both of whom became famous entertainers later in life.

    Those, as my dad used to say, were the good old days. They don’t have days like those any more

    • miles goodman says:

      It is rare to see a serviceman in San Diego. The absence of the uniformed Sailor or Marine is something I miss. As you know, servicemen always were found in San Diego but no longer. After two hundred years, it is still strange to drive in the downtown area and never once see a uniform. The transfer of the Training Center out of SanDiego was essentially the end of an era that lived for over two hundred years and symbolized strength and security.

      I miss the symbols that uniformed personnel gave.

      miles

      • John Nyman says:

        I remember those days too, but the Navy and Marines are still a big part of San Diego. I live in Illinois now and once in awhile I go to Great Lakes. You don’t see a lot of sailors walking the scriptures on Boot liberty either. Things change and that’s progress. We have our memories and I treasure them.

  28. Katy Schamp says:

    My first job was at the Manhattan Sandwich Shoppe inside Seven Seas. I LOVED that job. I was 16.

  29. Katy says:

    My first job was at the Manhattan Sandwich Shoppe inside Seven Seas 1975-1976. Best job I ever had. I miss the old downtown San Diego.

  30. Katy says:

    Miles – do you remember the names of any of the managers at the First and Broadway Seven Seas in the ’75-’76 time frame? I remember one, Lynn Gaskins, I think. And I was friends with a lot of the guys in the tailor shop too, but can’t remember anyone’s names,

    • miles goodman says:

      I have less time to return because of my wife’s need for special care.
      Lynn Gaskins was an extraordinary person. He was very bright, easy to talk with and an excellent manager. I can’t remember the details or what happened to him. The closing years of the company were extremely painful.

      The constant disruptions brought about by the City, the tremendous money needed to have the company survive and lastly paying rents in the newly designated Redevelopment area quickly wiped the Seven Seas out of existence. Rents escalated from $2,700 a month to $12,000 a month and the Navy’s presence severely declined. The streets were quiet and foot traffic totally disappeared. I never could have imagined the deserted streets nor the absence of the Navy man. NTC was closed. The era of two hundred years ended.

  31. miles goodman says:

    Thanks,

    miles

  32. Bobby Bryant says:

    corpsman school, spring of ’57…..stationed at Balboa until Feb. of 59…….many nights and memories of Seven Seas, and Tony’s Pizza……..country boy from E Tex, had to chase the too strong pepperoni, with cheese, and hide the dark beer from shore patrol with coca cola…..lived in Old Town and worked at General Atomic, after discharge, but had to fight off the expenses and get back to the boondocks…….

  33. Bobby Bryant says:

    really glad I found this site…………………

  34. Michael Parkman says:

    So many good memories so long ago. There were 4 of us from Hospital Corps School at Balboa Hospital. It was 1969 or 1970 we headed out to Mission Beach for a weekend of whatever. I remember changing into civi’s at the Seven Seas Locker Club. I was really impressed with the locker club and how the staff made us welcome. I paid a quarter for a shave with a Remington electric razor and was amazed how smooth my face felt. One of us was 21 and went to a bar and after a short time came out stating there are no straight people in there. Next we made it to the beach and after the sun went down we passed a wine bottle until we fell asleep. That night we got a ride back to our Company from a couple of very unhappy MP’s. Does anyone remember that model of Remington electric razor. I believe I would like to get one.
    I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments.

  35. L Green says:

    I too recall the Seven Seas … I was down there off and on between 1957 and 1960.

  36. johnny says:

    l remember the seven seas club

  37. Earl L Osborn says:

    My father was an AD2 coming out of the 7 Seas (1954) after changing clothes and found a young Wave from North Island looking at his motorcycle. A few months later, my parents were married ! Then in the early 1970’s I had a uniform tailored there. And it was the only place I could get my OM rating hat pin.

  38. William Lucas says:

    Service School Command Sep 1955. Had locker 7 Seas. Have been back to San Diego many times and wondered what happened to it. I also attended Navy School Imperial Beach Jan – Apr 1956.

    • Patrick Connors says:

      I still have a brass machinery repairman hat insignia i purchased at Seven Seas in 1972 It is in my Shadow Box. You can’t get the brass ones anymore. I visited San Diego last years after 40 years. I hardly recognize 32nd St., I was on the Jason. Downtown is all gone, Seven Seas, the bars I used to go to. I used to take the bus on Saturday afternoon and hit all the dumps like Patrick’s, Green’s etc. Seven Seas was a fine store.

  39. Paul Sauvola says:

    I had a locker at The Seven Seas when I returned home from Vietnam in 1970. Was a cool place to get your civvies dry cleaned or grab a bite at the counter restaurant. Then 71 or72 civvies were allowed on board ship and that was the demise of the locker club system. They certainly provided a much need service for many years.

  40. Had my 1st set of Gaberdines made here back in 67′, were awesome…wish I still had them, was on the USS Prairie AD-15 on a San Diego pier at the time…

  41. Tim says:

    Visited SD and went to check out Broadway St a few years back. The YMCA that use to cater to Sailors and Marines years ago has definitely new clientele these days, the old smoke filled pool hall room now is a fitness/ workout room, lol, times have changed, I much prefer the former over the latter 😎

  42. Gary Hanna says:

    I remember the 7 Seas very well. I got out of boot camp in fall of 63. Next on to the USS ST. PAUL CA 73. It was at North Island. It cost 25 cents to take the boat out there. They used to call it the nickel snatcher, but it cost 25 cents in 63 . After time on the PAUL and M M A school, came back to San Diego to report to the USS CANBERRA CAG 2. It was at North Island too.
    With Viet Nam starting up, we were not in San Diego much. I did tours in 65,66 & 67.
    I am always looking got old shipmates.


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