San Diego Hysterical Society



Mr. San Diego 1909

by Betty Lou Fjord


The 1909 Mr. San Diego contest brought out many hopefuls, all vying to have their stature in the community measured up.

Little Willie Small stands tall
- Willie Small just measures up -

Not only was stature in the community measured, actual physical stature was also part of the judging. This was a hold-over from the earlier days of the contest when it was known as San Diego's "Tallest of the Tall."

A backlash from the "We're Big People Trapped in Small Bodies" political action committee played an important part in the 1909 event. A small person never having won the title, charges of height discrimination were voiced.

Windimer Balboa was certainly the favorite for the title, given the prominence of the family in San Diego. He was also 6' 5" tall. The WBPTSB PAC however so influenced the judges that Willie Small at only 5' 0" won the title. Although he was only a street car conductor (on the #11 trolley line along Adams Avenue) he did have some standing in the music community. He wrote arrangements for Mozart classics which he would play on the trolley's bell.


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