O. U. Miracle

A Name Engraved in History

Walk the neighborhoods of Oceanside and you will find the sidewalks marked with the curious name “O.U. Miracle”.  Many downtown sidewalks and curbs are engraved with this interesting name and many people may wonder what, if any meaning it holds, or who is this Miracle. 

Orville Ullman Miracle’s parents were creative in thinking up their son’s name.  Their beloved son’s initials lovingly proclaimed his birth to the world … and I can’t help but think Mrs. Miracle must have held her precious baby and whispered in his ear, “Oh You Miracle!” Little did they know but that this name would be used as a marketing tool second to none. 

Born in 1871 in Neenah, Winnebago County, Wisconsin to James and Mary Miracle, Orville began a career in the cement business in about 1901. He later established the Miracle Pressed Stone Company, manufacturing and selling “Miracle Concrete Blocks” across the upper Midwest.

However, it was his cement business that brought him the most success. He traveled from Iowa to South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and even Montana, pouring cement for roads, sidewalks and curbing for cities and townships.

Miracle’s association with Oceanside began in 1927 when he was the low bidder on the contracts to improve streets throughout downtown and the ocean front. He laid miles of concrete sidewalks throughout Oceanside that have long outlasted other cement walks poured decades after.

Office of O.U. Miracle at 1933 South Hill Street (now Coast Highway)

In 1938 South Oceanside became the home of “Miracle Village”. Miracle purchased nearly all of the Tolle Tract in South Oceanside, along with other lots which included either side of Vista Way from Hill Street to east of Moreno Street. He advertised his “Oh You Miracle Tract” around the southland and began building single family homes and selling them from his office at 1932 South Hill Street. The San Diego Union reported that Miracle sold lots “cafeteria style” – prices were placed on the lots, no middlemen, and buyers simply picked out their lot and brought the price tag to his office to complete the purchase.

Postcard advertisement for Miracle Village

Miracle built a house at 2022 South Freeman Street where he and his wife Grace made their home. Growing up, Robert Morton, lived next door to Mr. and Mrs. Miracle. He shared with me that Miracle built the home for his mother Charlotte Morton and it was the last empty lot on the block at the time. Other neighbors included Dr. and Mrs. George Totlon, Bob and Johnson, Rudy and Jane Sonneman, and Harold and Alma Davis.

Charlotte Morton and children in front of their home at 2018 South Freeman Street in “Miracle Village” South Oceanside

O. U. Miracle’s unusual name brought attention from many columnists across the country, including “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” in 1934. In fact, O. U. Miracle appeared in a feature or advertisement in newspapers in nearly every state of the US between 1901 and 1949. His name was so familiar that a letter from South Africa simply addressed to “O.U. Miracle, USA” was delivered to him.          

Ad in The Los Angeles Times, Sunday, June 19, 1938

Described as an “ardent civic worker”, Miracle was also politically involved in the City and community affairs.  He was involved in the Elks and Rotary clubs as well as the South Oceanside Improvement Club.  O.U. died October 9, 1949 at the Oceanside Hospital at the age of 78.  Up until his death he remained interested in the development of Oceanside.

Next time you walk through downtown, pause at each “little Miracle” you pass. It is a unique reminder of an Oceanside entrepreneur who left his mark on Oceanside in a very permanent way.

6 thoughts on “O. U. Miracle

  1. We walked over miles of these in our daily summer treks to the pier and along Hill. Thank you for this history. By the way, I am also interested in the history of Pier Golf, the amusement center at the foot of the pier. I’m especially interested in an early post card of that venue that featured my brother and a friend on bicycles in front of the establishment. So far, I have not located the post card online.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article. My mom worked for Dr. Tolton in the early 1950’s. I believe his dental office was in a room in his house or directly next door in an adjacent house. I believe his wife’s name was Elmira.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My family (grandpa, my dad and uncle) who were all in the building trades, bought a number of lots in the South Oceanside Miracle tract, building our childhood homes on some and selling others as spec homes. I have a 1946 photo of our lot under early construction if you’re interested in having a copy. I think of O.U. Miracle often, as I read his name on Oceanside sidewalks for 30 years until I left town. Next time I come to town, I think I’ll take a rubbing of his stamp! Thanks for your work putting this article together! This kind of knowledge ties our generations together with a most unlikely thread, an early developer’s catchy name. O.U. Miracle and his workers’ great workmanship endures, and your story gives us the person behind the legacy. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s so awesome-yes, would love to have to see a copy of the photo! We have so few house photos in our collection at the Oceanside Historical Society. Thank you for reading and following- and thanks for sharing your memories
      Kristi

      Like

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