Woodbury’s News stand was a fixture on Main Ave for many years. A combination bookstore/newsstand and U.S. Post Office, it sold everything from magazines and stationery to cigars. The history of Woodbury’s is a small window into early Fallbrook town life. In the years before mail was delivered to homes, a crush of people would descend upon Woodbury’s every evening to collect their mail.
Fallbrook’s longest serving postmaster, Bert Woodbury was a popular, sometimes high-spirited man. When ladies complained about unruly crowds in the lobby, Woodbury wrote blunt, humorous notices published in the local newspaper deriding men’s rude behaviors and chastising the patrons on how to be more considerate of others when calling for their mail. Eventually, Bert closed the lobby at the peak time, while he and an employee sorted the mail. Men congregated good naturedly out on the porch. The small crowd, waiting to line up at Woodbury’s window, often stretched next door to the steps of Rex Reader’s Fallbrook Mercantile, talking and joking. Rex called them the Josher’s Club.
Bert Woodbury was the long-time secretary of the Fallbrook Confirmed Bachelors Club, a whimsical group that occasionally met to lampoon each other and to lament the fallen (those who had married since the last meeting). Bert himself did not marry until he was 57 years old.
Woodbury’s News Stand was competing with Hardy’s Drug Store just a few doors away. Both sold stationery, gifts and household items. Hardy had the Pharmacy to draw customers, Woodbury had the Post Office. Hardy stocked pills and health items, Woodbury had books, magazines and tobacco. Both shops promised low prices and friendly service.
Bert Woodbury was an avid sportsman. He played men’s baseball on the Fallbrook team in contests against neighboring towns. He was an active member of the Fallbrook Rifle Club. Bert went fishing with his friends every chance he could get away. The anglers headed for the fishing barges in Oceanside and La Jolla or freshwater destinations like Sycamore Canyon.
Woodbury was a deacon of the Fallbrook Masonic Lodge. Plus, he served as secretary for the Odd Fellows Lodge for more than 20 years.
Bert Woodbury had been born in 1868 at Eden Prairie, Minnesota. One of the earliest residents of West Fallbrook, Bert and his parents came to buy property during the land rush a few years after the town had been surveyed in 1885.
Although he had trained in Minnesota as a mechanic, Bert initially worked in Fallbrook as a ranch hand on E.J. Johnson’s ostrich farm south of town. After he sought and received the appointment as Fallbrook’s postmaster in September 1910, Woodbury moved the post office into the news stand and tobacco shop that he opened.
Bert’s older sister, Laura, was married to George Westfall, the operator of the Fallbrook hardware store and of the Naples Hotel. Westfall, originally from Ohio, had met Laura Woodbury in Minnesota when he worked there as a younger man before coming to California. Westfall would later be elected a San Diego County Supervisor.
Bert Woodbury met Gladys Tubbs in Los Angeles. He and Gladys were married in 1926 at the Westfall home in a private ceremony. The Woodburys had two children, Mary and Robert, who grew up around the Woodbury’s shop and home on Main Ave. In addition to working alongside Bert, Gladys added dressmaking and clothing alterations to their newsstand/giftshop business. A new postmaster moved the Post Office up the street in 1936. Woodbury finally retired in 1945, selling his shop and the building to ceramic artist Robyn Sikking. It then became known as Robyn’s Gift shop.
Bert Woodbury passed away at age 82 in 1951. Gladys lived on until 1982. They are buried together in the Woodbury lot in the Fallbrook Odd Fellows cemetery.