Oceanside Historical Society
305 North Nevada Street
Oceanside, CA 92054
P.O. Box 125
Oceanside, CA 92049-0125
Phone: (760) 722-4786
PROUD PARTNER OF MAINSTREET OCEANSIDE
The Oceanside Historical Society is dedicated to recognizing and honoring Black History and the contributions of Black-owned businesses, both past and present.
We are actively seeking the assistance of residents, civic leaders, churches, and organizations in identifying individuals who have owned or currently own Black-owned businesses. We urge you to join us in this effort to identify individuals who have played a vital role in the history of our city and to acknowledge the importance of their role as Black business owners. By participating in this project, you will help the Oceanside Historical Society celebrate and document the rich history of Black-owned businesses in our community.
Our goal is to document Black History stories, locations, experiences, businesses and collect photographs to preserve their legacies.
Charles Etta Reece was born in 1913 in Texas to Thomas and Stella Reece. They moved their family, which eventually grew to six daughters and two sons, to Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1915.
During a visit with a friend, Charles Etta came to Oceanside in the late 1930s, while attending the University of Arizona. She fell in love with Oceanside and soon fell in love and married local resident John Callen Mann, whom she married in 1938. She is believed to be just the third black woman to live in Oceanside.
The couple lived in a home at 112 South Tremont Street in downtown Oceanside, but Charles Etta recounted in a 1978 interview that they were pressured to leave because neighbors did not want a black family living there. They bought a home at 214 San Diego Street in Eastside, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood.
Charles Etta worked as a cook in the Casa Blanca restaurant in downtown Oceanside and then began to cater food out of her home. In 1948 she had a small building erected next to her residence and there opened a restaurant, the first black-owned storefront in Oceanside. It became a popular social gathering spot for black residents who started to arrive during and after World War II.
After her first husband died, Charlesetta remarried to Wesley Allen, pastor of a black church in Eastside.
Charlesetta helped to found and was the first president of the North County NACCP and established a club for girls which became the Oceanside Girls Club. She sold her baked goods to help raise money for these organizations and mentored youth in her neighborhood. She was awarded the San Diego Sojourner Truth Award in 1969.
At the time of incorporation in 1888, the town of Oceanside had a population of around 500 residents. Three years later, the number had dwindled to just 342. Life was hard in a small town and perhaps because of the lack of opportunity there were few people of color. In fact, at the most, Oceanside had just one to two Black residents at a time for nearly three decades. These men held what would be considered “menial” positions, shining shoes, or as a porter. Men such as Alfred Frye or “Johnny the porter” (last name unknown).
Charles William Fletcher Tapsico arrived in Oceanside as early as 1914. Born in 1878 in Ohio, he served his country in the Spanish American war in the Ohio infantry.
What brought Tapsico to Oceanside is unknown, but he quickly made a name for himself when he helped to put out a substantial fire which nearly claimed the lives of two people.
The local newspaper reported that “several of the firemen worked without flinching and especial praise should be given to the colored man, Charles Tapsico.” It would be the last time the newspaper referred to him by his color.
Perhaps because of his quick thinking and selfless act he endeared himself to Oceanside residents. But Tapsico also offered a valuable vocation, that of an auto mechanic. Autos became mass produced in 1913 (just one year prior) and with their popularity and demand, so the need for mechanics or technicians with the appropriate skills to maintain them. Tapsico was employed at the Mission Garage, a prominent service and repair station in downtown Oceanside.
When Charles married his wife Anna Farrell, a native of the West Indies, in October of 1915, their marriage was announced in the newspaper just as any “white” marriage would be so noted. Anna was likely just the second black woman to live in Oceanside.
The Tapsicos lived on Second Street (present day Mission Avenue). Their three children were the first black children to be born in Oceanside. They apparently attended the Episcopal Church on Hill Street/Coast Highway, as at least one of their children were baptized there, and no black churches existed in Oceanside until two decades later.
Tapsico would be credited with assisting in two other fires in the downtown area, one of which the Blade said: “Special mention should be made of Charles Tapsico who worked like a Trojan. The heat was intense…” (He also assisted in helping two women from drowning in 1915.)
Just as the day-to-day events of residents were shared in the local newspaper in a column called “Personals” Tapsico was also included among them. He was an avid bowler, and the newspaper often noted his score, sharing that his was the highest score in July 1917.
The Tapsicos lived their lives seemingly accepted in this small town. It is worth noting that Charles Tapisco was also called to testify at a trial; had his name published, along with others, as having donated to the Red Cross in support of World War I and he owned stock in the local bank!
A simple notation in the paper in 1921 announced that the Tapsicos were leaving for Los Angeles. It is unknown why they left but they made history with the birth of their children and are forever part of Oceanside history.
Benella Irene Gunnells was born 1932 in Arkansas to Fred and Florence Gunnels. She married Manuel Oliver in 1955 and the couple came to Oceanside in 1958, from Virginia, where Manuel was first enlisted with the Marines in 1954 at the Quantico Marine Base.
While in stationed in Oceanside, the couple lived in Sterling Homes military housing. Manuel and Benella would later purchase a home in that same area, on Bush Street.
Manuel was deployed, serving in the Vietnam War and earned several awards and medals, retiring after 20 years of service. Manuel then went to work at the Oceanside Post Office, retiring with 21 years of service. Manuel Oliver retired with 41 years of service to our U.S. government.
Benella Oliver was hired by the Oceanside Union School District in 1962. Her first teaching assignment was at Laurel Elementary School, in the Eastside neighborhood area. Benella completed her post graduate studies at San Diego State University and National University.
Benella was employed at Laurel Elementary school for 20 years. In 1983 she transferred from Laurel Elementary to Jefferson Junior High school, teaching there until 1993.
Mrs. Oliver continued forward with her career at Jefferson Jr. High school, as a school counselor, retiring from the Oceanside Union School District in 1995, after 32 years of service.
Manual and Benella Oliver were members of the First Baptist Church in Carlsbad and taught a Sunday School bible class together, during their retirement years. They were awarded the John Schiveley Award, for their gift of teaching.
In addition, to her many years of dedication to her students, Benella Oliver was among the founding members of the North County African American Association.
Contributed by daughter
7-11 (George Oakley 2 locations)
Adele’s Afro Beauty Salon
Astou African Braiding and Beauty Supply
Bliss Tea and Treats
Buchanon & Associates
CFC Learning Centers
Charles Etta’s restaurant
Clutch Cuts CMC Furniture
Creative Stylz Barber & Beauty Salon
Cynthia’s Artistic Expressions
DJs House of Style
Felix’s BBQ With Soul
GEBS Discount TV Hospital
Gina and Sian Records and Tapes
Hass Team Realty
Indulgence Beauty Shop
Jay’s Board Shop
Jimmy’s Barber shop
Joe Morrison’s Auto Repair
Learn to Rip Surf Lessons
Life of Liberty
Marie’s International Beauty Salon
Moonlight and Sage
Papa Shy’s BBQ
Pearl’s Beauty Salon
Progressive Barber Shop
Progressive Beauty Salon
Progressive Café and Coffee
Shadow Ridge Spirits Company
Speak Fire Publishing
Splitz Second Shooting
Shore Shot Shooting Simulator
Talk of the Town Beauty Salon
Tony & Sons Handyman Service
Unisex House of Style Barber Shop
Wahine Beauty Salon
Waisted Body Bar
Williams Washing Machine and Appliance Repair
Williams Shoe Repair
Zodiac Solutions, LLC
As a black business owner downtown Oceanside, I started inquiring about our history in Oceanside. Quickly I realized that it’s our responsibility to make sure we are documenting our history with the Historical Society. We strive to create a space for all of us to document and tell our stories, past and present, through the Oceanside Historical Society. If we don’t do this now, we lose a pivotal generation of our legacy.
The call to action is to document the details of black businesses in Oceanside, including pictures and video.
Please submit these details to the Oceanside Historical Society so we can preserve and document them.
Bliss Tea and Treats
301 Mission Ave #101A
Oceanside, CA 92054