1949: Dreamy Little Town

News from the January 27, 1949 edition of the Lemon Grove Review.

A look back at Lemon Grove 64 years ago. 

The horrors of World War II ended in May (Europe) and August (Japan), 1945, barely four years before the Review published this edition.  Packed with small concerns and social events, and personal accidents and illnesses, all innocently submitted to the paper by local residents, it was as though the war had never affected our bucolic little town. 

Yet, several hundred local men died in combat or survived wounds and imprisonment.  All of the local Japanese families were sent to the Poston, AZ concentration camp (later, welcomed back by their concerned neighbors, who had safeguarded their homes and possessions).  Local women were "Rosie the Riveters," nurses and WASPs.  Children planted Victory Gardens.  And numerous people, who came to Southern California for the war effort, married and stayed to raise families. 

It was this latter group that drove the expansion of Lemon Grove's business district, school district, housing, churches, social life, and, presciently, the gradual demise of the orchards and agricultural way of life during the post-war period. 

Between its inaugural year, 1948, and 1951, the Review chronicled the lives of local people in a cosy, social way.  It didn't grasp the dynamic forces in play in the nation and how they impacted big cities and tiny towns alike.  It didn't search out the significance behind the issues of the day, whether in the Cold War or on the home front 

Not until the old pro, Max Goodwin, became editor in 1952, would the Review become the award-winning, often muck-raking, weekly journal that captured Lemon Grove life vividly, unsparingly and lovingly. 

But in 1949, when doors were left unlocked, families knew each other and homogeneity reigned, folks talked to each other through the pages of the Review and hid little, to wit:

"Have you met Mr. and Mrs Arthur Barry and their daughter Carol, 7, at 1600 Skyline Drive?  They have just moved in."

"Leo Cass, truck driver at Ward & McGuire Lumber Company, injured his back and took the week off to rest and recuperate." 

"Johnny and Sue Mulkey, children of Rev. J. Morris Mulkey, First Baptist Church of Lemon Grove, had their tonsils and adenoids out on Jan. 21." 

"Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Jack, Jamul, were callers at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Aldridge, Florine Drive.  The Aldridges went to Jamul the next week to see the Jacks.  Mrs. Aldridge took a lemon pie." 

"Mr. and Mrs. A. Latchley cooked up a surprise for neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Blankford, San Miguel Avenue, when they showed up on Sunday with an entire roast leg of lamb." 

"Mrs. Ted Magnusson announced that her sister and husband, Mr. and Mrs. W. Johnson, Salt Lake City, had a difficult time getting back home due to stormy weather.  They were forced to buy chains for their car and stay overnight in Fillmore." 

"Men took over the PTA in the school cafeteria last Thursday…and enacted the part of ladies. They screamed for coffee and ate huge sandwiches. [Superintendent] Byron Netzeley gave them a lot of parliamentary law and in the end they resigned and went home." 

"Mrs. Russell Ray, Palm Avenue, spent the week in San Clemente with her two sisters on a horse." 

"Mr. H. Thirkell, Skyline Drive, returned from La Mesa Hospital on Jan. 23 after an operation." 

"A storm on Monday forced Mr. and Mrs. Ted Haaf and Mr. and Mrs. R. Issott to cancel their trip to Blythe.  They stayed home and cooked steaks instead." 

"The Theosophical Study Group of Lemon Grove discussed 'Human Mentality' at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. Lehman, Citronella Street." 

"Donna Millard, 6, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Millard, suffered a severe attack of pneumonia, but is better now." 

"Ronald Durham, 16, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Durham, Imperial Avenue, was rushed to La Mesa Hospital for an emergency appendectomy."

"Mrs. Stanley Blake of the Greeting Shop is still ill, but hopes to improve." 

"Mr. and Mrs. H. McCutcheon and their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Blake, were riding in the McCutcheons' Mercury Convertible when a goat ran across Massachusetts Avenue causing them to slam on their brakes.  John Hutchins, driving his truck behind them, hit the Mercury and scratched the fender.  Both vehicles were stopped when two dogs and some chickens chased after the goat." 

"The Southern California Milk Goat Association will meet in the Grange Hall, Ramona on Feb. 6.  Do not bring any goat meat to the potluck lunch.  Goat milk is acceptable."

"A big truck, loaded with hay, swerved to avoid hitting another truck on Imperial at Palm.  The hay trick careened into a soft shoulder and turned over on its side.  The other truck hit a telephone pole.  A large crowded watched until the hay truck was righted.  Nobody was hurt and most of the hay survived. 

"Mrs. Baxter's mother, Mrs. N. Sharpe, Kansas City, postponed her visit to the Baxters due to stormy weather."

"Mrs. L. Butler, Jr., was happily surprised Tuesday afternoon when four of her friends arrived from National City, bearing dainty gifts." 

"David Miller, 75, has a poor memory and was rescued by Sheriff's deputies three miles from his home." 

"A 13-year-old burglar robbed a grocery store on El Cajon Boulevard seven times, but lost on the eighth try when Sheriff Rigley nabbed him and turned him over to juvenile authorities." 

"The Denlingers' horse got out on Washington and trotted all the way to Imperial before they caught it." 

"George and Thelma Runslinger got food poisoning and chewed charcoal tablets to get rid of it.  They are feeling much better now." 

Boy Scout and Girl Scout news took up five densely-packed columns as each child and his/her accomplishment was itemized.  Churches, business men's and women's clubs, and a dozen other clubs held potlucks, picnics, fundraisers, book readings and you-name-it.   

Lemon Grove's pioneer businesses, going strong in 1949, were joined by dozens of others, from clothing boutiques to an art supply shop, to grocery stores, auto businesses, light industrial trades and more -- a signal that the prosperous 'Fifties were just a year away. 

Mason Feed & Supply, 8280 Imperial, established 1891 where Grove Pastry Shop is today, advertised  "Poultrymen:  Purina's Fryer financing is going better than ever.  We have an unlimited market for your birds…We are now authorized agents for Amblers Feeds.  Try their Rabbit Pellets for real results." 

In 1949 most people kept chickens and rabbits beyond, even, the big-time rabbit and poultry ranches in the south-central part of town. 

Hunter's Nursery, 3110 Sweetwater Road, established 1919, offered every kind of fruit tree, irrigation system, landscaping and garden supplies (still do).

Miller Dairy, 7953 Mt. Vernon, established 1926, and a consistent award winner, delivered milk, cream, butter, cottage cheese and half and half all made on site.

Ward & McGuire Lumber Company, 3580 Imperial, established in the 1930s, today is Ward Lumber Co.  In 1949 they offered a 2x4, a 6x6 and a 12x12 that actually were.

Grove Pastry Shop, 7815 Broadway (today, Panda Restaurant), established 1947, had Saturday specials: "Old fashioned lemon cake, cherry cream pie, do-nuts, coffee rolls, peanuts."

This was before the Swedish Ohlund family bought the bakery in 1955 and gave new meaning to the words "baked goods."

Avalon Cafe, 3307 Imperial (where the defunct Por Favor Restaurant still stands), established 1947, celebrated its second birthday with free pie and coffee.

Grove Theatre (established 1947) delivered the stuff that dreams are made of with double bills arriving three times a week on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays from the Hollywood studio system.  

 This week, in 1949, the movies were Belle Starr's Daughter, Coast Guard, Johnny Belinda, Mickey, Another Part of the Forest and Fighting Back.

 By 1949, the Big Lemon had been perched on its plinth near the entrance to its small town for nearly two decades.  Life was good.  But change was imminent. Stayed tuned, dear readers.

 About this column: Compiled by Helen Ofield, president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society, from newspapers archived at the H. Lee House Cultural Center. Each week, we take a peek at the past with some news and advertising highlights from a randomly chosen edition of the Lemon Grove Review. In 2012, Ofield was awarded second place in non-daily reporting and writing from the Society of Professional Journalists for the column.



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