David Crosthwaite (b. 1953 in Chula Vista) is a descendant of the earliest San Diego pioneer, Philip Crosthwaite and Californios Maria Josefa Lopez. Together they had eleven children. Notably, Maria Josefa was the great granddaughter of a leather jacket soldier who came with Father Serra to Alta California during the Sacred Expedition of 1769.
David’s Paternal Side: Alfonso William Crosthwaite
David’a Californio side stems through his paternal ancestors. David’s father Alfonso William Crosthwaite was born 1924 in San Diego. Although born in the United States, Alfonso grew up on the family ranch in El Descanso, Baja California. He was drafted into the army during World War II and served in the South Pacific, including New Guinea and the Philippines. During that time, he contracted malaria and returned home to the ranch where he spent about a year recovering.
Thereafter, Alfonso worked for Convair General Dynamics. He became a machinist at Plant # 19 located at Pacific Highway in San Diego. Although he never received a high school education, he was able to hold that position for about 40 years.
Alfonso’s father was Alfredo Crosthwaite McAleer, born 1898 in San Diego. The McAleer name was Scottish. Alfredo spoke English, Spanish and Russian. (Russian because a settlement existed about 15 miles away from the El Descanso ranch in the Guadalupe Valley and Alfredo befriended them.)
Alfredo married Lucia Cota, originally from El Rosario, Baja California.Together they had Beatrice who was a long-time Chula Vista resident until her passing in the 1990s. Alfredo himself was a life long rancher who grew oats and barley. He also ran cattle and raised goats, chickens and pigs.
Alfredo’s grandfather was Philip Crosthwaite — a well-known pioneer of San Diego. After holding many political positions in town, Philip bought La Mission San Miguel, a mission in Baja California established by the Jesuits. He took his 10 children to the ranch and his descendants held onto the land grant until the present day. David himself owns a ranch with the house that Alfredo built.
David’s Maternal Side: Gloria Garcia
David’s mother was Gloria Garcia. Born 1928 in Tijuana, she came over from Tijuana when she got married in 1951. She met Alfonso in Tijuana through mutual ranching friends. Her father was Tomas Garcia (b. 1898 in San Diego) and after attending school in San Ysidro, he became a farmer. Tomas married Francisca Valdera (b. 1898 in Atlan, Jalisco) and they had four daughters. Although at first the couple lived at the ranch, Tomas wanted his daughters to have an education, so he Boarded up the ranch and bought a house in Tijuana.
David’s parents, Alfonso and Gloria, moved to San Ysidro and had three children altogether. David then lived most of his life in San Ysidro and would go back and forth between the South Bay and Tijuana throughout his childhood in order to visit his grandparents. He grew up speaking Spanish in the home and English at school.
David attended Sunset Elementary, Southwest Junior High, then Mar Vista High School. After high school, David went to Southwestern College for a few years and remembers the Chicano movement. In 1971 and 1972 he took courses in Chicano Studies and joined a few boycotts and protests against different products, such as Coors and Gallo Wine. He was a supporter of the United Farm Workers.
Work at SDG&E
In 1973, he found work at SDG&E, at fist digging ditches for gas services. David remembered how the laborers at SDG&E were predominantly Latinos. When he showed up the first week to work, he noticed that some men would have their years of service marked on their hardhats: in eighteen to twenty-two years they had never moved from that position. David hoped there would be more opportunity for him because he had a high school degree and some college. Over time, he became a helper on the electric crew and then in 1977 became an apprentice lineman. He spent 26 years as a journeyman lineman and then transferred to management. David retired after 42 years of service in October 2015.
When David’s father passed away in the year 2000, he inherited his grandfather, Alfredo’s, house, which still exists on “Kilometer 79” of the Old Highway known as Tijuana/Ensenda. There, he still raises horses and pigs.
David also has been a lowrider for many years. Although his father, Alfonso was not a lowrider, David remembers him as having a very nice cruiser. Lowriding was something that people grew up with in San Ysidro. The club David remembers was the Coachmen. Currently, he is part of the Pachuco Car Club and owns three lowrider vehicles: a 1936 Oldsmobile, 1946 Chevy Fleetline and a 1940 Chevy Coup.
(Interview September 6, 2016)