Our History

In late 1993 the first informal meeting of what would become the San Diego Fifty-Sixers took place. The group located itself at the League House in La Jolla where it met for the next two years. In conjunction with the Social Service League, the club co-sponsored Winter Wonderlands.
Two major changes took place in 1996. The club relocated that March from La Jolla to the Al Bahr Shrine. In December, the 56ers began its “Lighting Up Lives” program at Rady Children’s Hospital. This charitable effort involves setting up village displays for the young patients, their families, and the hospital staff. Club members solicited donations of buildings and accessories from supporting merchants that year, and annually we have returned to create exciting displays. In addition annual donations are made to local charities. We moved again in 2003; since then we have had a wonderful new home at Sharp Spectrum Center Court.
We have had special anniversary parties every five years. The initial celebration was held in November 1998 when a California buffet was professionally catered. Recognition was paid to both charter club members and our supporting retailers. The decade celebration took place in September 2003 at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. Again, the bounty of prizes was overwhelming, exceeded only by the wonderful friendships and incredible food. In 2008 we celebrated our teens with a 15-year party, again at Tom Ham’s, with a gift for everyone in attendance. The same locale hosted us most recently in 2013, our 20th anniversary.
From the outset one of the annual highlights has been visits to one another’s homes during the holidays. The wonderful camaraderie and seasonal goodies are exceeded only by the creative talents of our colleagues. There is no better place to learn about display and design techniques than from the innovative, talented members of our club.
Club meetings have featured a wide range of topics from landscaping to trains, from highlights of new releases to “how to” sessions by creative artisans. We have been blessed by a wide range of gifted speakers, including annual visits from D56 rep Lisa Johnson to introduce new releases. Some of the most interesting sessions have been presented by club members. “Show and tell” features have been both entertaining and informative. Through their affiliations with other organizations some of our club members have become veritable storehouses of information. As a result, our members are among the best informed in the nation.
Besides supporting the local economy, we have benefited as collectors from other sources. As members of the National Council of Clubs, we have been able to acquire pieces not available to the general public. Monthly lucky members leave with additions to their collections…prizes donated by generous retailers. And when the club’s annual Swap n Sell is held, both buyers and sellers feel that they are the beneficiaries of the opportunity.
The San Diego 56ers are governed by an evolving set of Bylaws. Originally adopted in 1994, there have been occasional amendments to “keep up with the times.” All members should have a copy. One of the major benefits of club membership is a monthly newsletter that is available both in print form and online. A club library, containing club records and a wide variety of related publications, is available for all to read and share.
Over the years, there have been hundreds of members, many of whom have contributed to the enjoyment and pleasure experienced by all of us. Special recognition has been made annually since 2009 when the Cheryle O’Connor Memorial Collector of the Year was first presented. Winners of this special recognition are as follows:
  • 2009 Jim Murphy
  • 2010 Bob Dallow
  • 2011 Jonathan Sage
  • 2012 Mary Marshall
  • 2013 Annie Dallow
  • 2014 Carol Orlando & Winnie Sage
There have been dozens of others who have contributed as committee chairpersons, officers, or in special roles. There could never be enough room to list them all. However, special recognition is owed to our club presidents who have assumed responsibility for the overall operation of the organization. A special “thank you” to each of the following:
  • 1994 – 95 Loraine Jackson
  • 1996 – 97 Carol Orlando
  • 1998 – 99 Brenda Larson
  • 2000 – 01 Winnie Sage
  • 2002         Nick Reid
  • 2003 – 04  Marge Bramfeld
  • 2005 – 06 Annie Dallow
  • 2007        Karen Boynton
  • 2008 – 09 Jonathan Sage
  • 2010 – 11 Lauren Murphy
  • 2011 – 12 Michele Brown
  • 2013 –      Betty Roberts