Nov 2, 2022 4 min read

The Story Behind The Navy Ship Anchor On Ocean Avenue

Installation of anchor
The installation of the anchor on Commodore Sloat Elementary School by the National Guard. Courtesy of Ken Goldberg

A brief history on how a U.S. Navy ship anchor landed at one of Ingleside’s neighborhood schools.

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Sitting on the sloped lawn facing one of the neighborhood's bustling intersections, the large and angular blue ship anchor is displayed as if to raise the curiosity of passersby.

Why it’s there may not be surprising. It’s located on the property of Commodore Sloat Elementary School, the busy institution at the corner of Junipero Serra Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. After all, every commodore needs an anchor.

But how did it get there? Through the will of a Parent-Teacher Association member with help from the U.S. Navy and National Guard, The Ingleside Light found after digging up old news clips and conducting interviews.

'With A Powerful Force'

News clip
An article from the OMI News

"I declare to the inhabitants of California that although I come in arms with a powerful force, I do not come among them as enemy to California, but on the contrary I come as their best friend, as henceforward California will be a portion of the United States,” U.S. Navy Commodore John Drake Sloat stated when he arrived in California.

Sloat and the U.S. Navy Pacific Squadron anchored in Monterey Bay in 1846 in an event known in American history as “Sloat’s Landing.” Then Mexico’s territory, Sloat claimed it for the United States of America during the Mexican-American War.

Cities across California from Sacramento to Los Angeles have named streets, schools and neighborhoods after Sloat. San Francisco renamed Ocean House School, which had also been called Paul Revere School for a spell, after the military figure in 1922. The east-west boulevard, not far from the school, is also named after him, too.

The anchor as it is today. Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

Completing Sloat Elementary

In the 1970s, under the steady leadership of PTA member Sandra Goldberg, the school got a huge decoration matching a theme appropriate for its namesake. Especially for a school that had been renovated just two years before.

News clips show Goldberg acquired the 5,000 lb. anchor with help from the Navy and the 579th Engineer Battalion of the California Army National Guard.

“She wanted an anchor to complete the Commodore Sloat theme,” Ken Goldberg, Goldberg’s son and an optical physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told The Ingleside Light. (Goldberg has put a trove of photographs from the time online.)

The Navy formally donated the anchor to the school in November 1977. It was then trucked to a maintenance facility at Fort Funston in April 1978 where it was restored and painted. The National Guard transported it to the school in June 1979 where it was mounted on a base built by Sgt. Norman Barratt with assistance from the National Guard.

Goldberg’s photographs show that Cub Scouts painted the anchor blue.

At its dedication ceremony in June 1979, there was live music from the Aptos Middle School Band conducted by Jerome Anker and speeches from Goldberg, Sloat Principal Maureen Petiti, San Francisco Supervisor Quentin Kopp, San Francisco Supervisor Lee Dolson Jr. and Sgt. Barratt.

“That anchor exemplifies the physical attractiveness of Commodore Sloat,” Kopp told The Ingleside Light. “It has had an exciting effect on Commodore’s students.”

Goldberg said he hopes the school remains unchanged.

“Sloat himself seems to be an interesting person in our state's history, and it's nice to recognize him with the street name and the school's name,” Goldberg said.

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