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Zoro Gardens

1935-1936 California Pacific Exposition
Photo # ut2855

*a grain of salt should pepper your faith in the following. It all came from local newspapers.

May 2, 1935: It is reported that a Mrs. Perforilla Klackercan has heard, over her backyard fence, that there are going to be “real nudists” at the 1935 Exposition

May 2, 1935: An old man named Adolph dressed only in long hair and a long beard is seen helping with the construction of the stage and undressing room in a canyon in Balboa Park. Named Zoro Gardens after a bogus Sun God, the Gardens is located adjacent to the Historical Society’s current building. Adolph later becomes King Adolph of the Nudists.

May 16, 1935: 50 representatives from nature cults in Indiana, New York, Germany and Switzerland were reportedly on their way to San Diego.

May 20, 1935: Zorine Queen of the Nudists arrives in San Diego. Complains about the sun. She says it wasn’t as sunny at the Worlds Fair in Chicago where she claims to have been inside a theater or inside a jail.

May 28, 1935: District Attorney Thomas Whalen okays the Nudist show after making a personal inspection. Zorine declares she won’t wear “burlesque bits” of clothing, “I am a nudist, she says.”

May 29, 1935: California-Pacific Exposition opens.

June 10, 1935: Time Magazine reports that nudist colony spectators can pay 25 cents to stare at the nudists and then go off among the trees and join them. Time also notes that many “thrifty peeping-toms” took in the whole show through the knot holes in the surrounding fence.

June 10, 1935: Amateur nudists throughout the California demand that the District Attorney investigate the Nudists in Zoro Gardens as frauds. The District Attorney declines. The next day Queen Zorine says the California Nudists really “burn her up.” The Colony threatens a counter-suit. “They’re Sunday nudists,” King Adolph roars.

June 10, 1935: Mae West visits Gold Gulch, the mining camp display next door to the Nudists. “I’m sorry I didn’t know the fleet was coming in tomorrow as I certainly would have come down there-I am very patriotic that way,” Mae was quoted as saying.

July 9, 1935: Gold Gulch Gertie, clad only in a smile, rode through Gold Gulch on a burro imitating Lady Godiva. She was arrested. Later, she was acquitted and rode again under police supervision.

July 1935: Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson is invited to tea with Queen Zorine. After some anticipation in the local press, Sister Aimee spurns the nudists. Later McPherson claims her crowds were bigger than the Nudist’s crowd.

September 2, 1935: Nudists applauded for their dignity. One writer claims the Nudists have “a lot more dignity, and no less apparel than some other attractions.”

September 25, 1935: Zorine leaves the Nudist Colony after some internal strife and declares that she will open a nudist colony near San Diego that will make Southern California “the Nudist Capitol of the World.” Prior to opening the colony she intends to tour the U.S. and preach nudity to the clothes-bound masses.

October 10, 1935: Ruth Cubitt, nudist from Grand Rapids or Chicago or Indiana or Mission Hills, is appointed Queen of the Nudists to replace Zorine.

November 11, 1935: 1935 Exposition closes.

January 23, 1936: Groups including the San Diego Council of Catholic Women, the Women’s Civic Center and the San Diego Braille Club protest plans to re-open the Zoro Gardens Nudist Colony during the 1936 Exposition. “We protest with the utmost vehemence against a repetition of these offenses against decency.”

January 26, 1936: The City Manager announces there would be no “indecent” shows in Balboa Park during the new Exposition. It is also announced that the Nudist Colony would consist of a play of lights on beautiful figures.

January 29, 1936: The City Council declines to stop the Nudist Colony from operating. The Council declared that violations of public morals would be determined by the police.

February 10, 1936: Dr. Walter John Sherman, pastor of the First Methodist Church declares that there would be no nudism if (civic leader) George Marston had been the head of the Exposition.

February 12, 1936: Second season of the California-Pacific Exposition begins.

February 16, 1936: Tanya Cubitt, sister of Queen of the Nudists, Ruth Cubitt, is quoted as saying “I just love to knit.” The paper reports that she forgot to bring her knitting that day.

February 29, 1936 Ruth Cubitt announces that she is a candidate for re-election as Queen of the Nudists.

March 26, 1936: Tanya Cubitt is crowned Queen of the Nudists after beating out her sister, Ruth Cubitt and nudist, Mary Pomeroy. After a competition that included a tree-sitting contest, Tanya declares that she will deal harshly with any subversive movements within the Colony.

1936: The Nudist line-up for 1936 includes George Barr, muscle-bound physical director; Prince Arlo, young archery enthusiast and nudist; Jay and Fay nudist twins; Susanne from Belguim; Sonia from California; and Lucille, who posed as Mona Lisa in Chicago. Also among the nudists were the Cubitt sisters: Queen Tanya, former Queen Ruth, Dianne who used to roam the sand dunes of Indiana, and perhaps another Cubitt sister. According to the 1936 San Diego Directory, four Cubitts sisters and their mother lived on Jackdaw St. in Mission Hills. The directory noted that the sisters professions were hairdresser, stenographer, clerk and waiter.

April 9, 1936: Sally Rand, famous fan and bubble dancer arrives in San Diego and declines to meet with Queen Tanya. “The nude is my business suit,” she says. “I never appear socially in it. Besides, I am opposed to nudism.” While Sally Rand’s performances were very popular, Rand was bruised with pebbles, her bubble was popped once, and her behind was almost burned with a cigarette.

June 8, 1936: Queen Tanya interviewed about the crowds who pay to see her nude says, “one of those psychologists would have a picnic down here.”

June 1936: Nudist, dove dancer (doves were her only clothing), and bubble dancer, Rosita Royce arrives in San Diego claiming Sally Rand stole her balloon or bubble dance. It was also announced that Miss Royce would spend her leisure time at Zoro Gardens.

August 25, 1936: Zorine, first San Diego Queen of the Nudists, shows up in a Hamburg, New York courtroom. After being arrested Zorine and her troupe offer to perform in court so the Judge can decide if their act is indecent for himself.

August 27, 1936: Nudist colony closes after an argument with Exposition officials about finances.

September 1, 1936: San Diego Fire Department extinguishes rubbish fire at Zoro Gardens.

September 9, 1936: Exposition closes.

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