A look back at Lemon Grove, 63 years ago this week.
Tall in the Saddle: Lemon Grove's reputation as a haven for horse culture soared in 1949 with multiple equine events dotting the calendar. With 15,000 horsemen in San Diego County—1,500 of them in Lemon Grove—conversation turned to flanks and withers, tack and feed, and the relative merits of of one farrier over another.
More than 100 members of the Aztec Riders held a square dance in the old Newton barn on Central Avenue, pausing in their twirling and sashaying only to "partake of delectable home-made pies, cakes and coffee."
There was a guessing contest to win Martha Purdy's white cake baked "with an animal inside." Guests ran through the entire menagerie at the San Diego Zoo until Carol Johnson of the Rock 'n Ride troop said "kangaroo" and the cake was hers—accompanied by the "horse laugh of the evening."
The Aztec Riders also hosted a meeting of some 70 horse lovers in the Alvarado Canyon area to hear about new zoning regulations affecting horse ownership.
Young Grovian Bobbie Dorman, 14, beat out competitors at the San Diego Riding Club to star as the best junior girl rider in San Diego County at the State Champion Trials at the State Horsemen's Convention.
About 15 Grovians attended the Balboa Mounted Troop on its Sunday ride in Balboa Park followed by brunch in the Café Del Rey Morro.
When the San Diego County Horsemen's Association planned a dance and barbecue at the Wagon Wheel in Santee, Lemon Grove members vowed to sell at least 500 of the projected 1,500 tickets to the event, declaring themselves "true eager beavers" with their "shoulders to the wheel."
Eleven girl scouts met at the home of Mrs. Bud Krause, Washington Street, to plan their participation in an overnight ride from Mission Valley to El Cajon with the Palomar Riders. Others would attend the El Monte Trail Ride over a full weekend of camping and riding from San Diego to El Monte Park.
A stage coach race and demonstration by Lucky Lou Carson and his trick horse lured local riders to the Fallbrook Gymkhana at Live Oak Park. Lucky Lou Carson (actually Lou Caglia) and "Cisco Lady" were a fixture on the horse show and public school circuit. Cisco Lady could dance in circles, shake hands, back up and bow, nod yes or no to certain questions, and stand still for photo ops.
Horsey Come Home: The want ads in this issue of the Review beckoned buyers to Jamul, where $6,500 ($300 down) bought you a stable, pasture, barn, two-bedroom house, extra cottage and a garage on 40 acres with a creek and groves of wild oak trees.
A local seller offered a horse trailer that "rides like a breeze" for $300 cash.
Another seller on Skyline Drive offered a new, three-bedroom house on a big lot with "room for a horse," and if you had to buy furniture, you didn't have to make a down payment. Whoa!
A woman seeking housework offered to not only clean your house, but shovel out the horse stall.
A resident of Costabella offered to trade capette fryers, hens for roasting or stewing, and brown eggs for a palomino.
The Singing Cowboy: The Grove Theatre offered "Rider of the Whistling Pines" starring Gene Autry, billed as "the world's greatest cowboy and CHAMPION on the world's greatest horse."
Orvon Grover Autry (1907-1998) left telegraphy work in Oklahoma and took his guitar and singing chops to Hollywood, where he sprang to fame as a "singing cowboy." His signature song was "Back in the Saddle Again." The multi-millionaire made scores of movies and television shows, owned TV and radio stations, record companies, stables and race horses, restaurants and the L.A. Angels baseball team.
Veteran film cowboy Pat Buttram appeared with Autry in more than 40 films. Between 1945-1948, Buttram was a star at the Mission Rancho Horse Show & Rodeo at St. John of the Cross Church here in the Grove. With Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Trigger, he sang, told jokes, rode, signed autographs and hobnobbed with Father Daniel O'Donoghue, founder of the event. The Lemon Grove Historical Society will relive those glory days with a new exhibit in the Parsonage Museum, opening Sept. 29, that tells the story of how that great, annual fundraiser came to be.
The Autry picture was paired with another cowboy favorite, "Streets of Laredo," starring William Holden, William Bendix and McDonald Carey as three outlaws, who rescue Mona Freeman from a fate worse than death (being stuck in Laredo). The two Williams become Texas Rangers, while Carey continues a life of crime.
The film took its title from the "cowboy's lament," the famous song, "The Streets of Laredo." Larry McMurtry used the title for his 1993 novel. The original song is still a mainstay of the country and western repertoire.
Fred Ferguson Passes: The 95-year-old Lemon Grove horse breeder, who rode in silent movies with cowboy great William S. Hart, died in Los Angeles at his nephew's home. Born in 1857, he and his wife had been residents of Lemon Grove from its earliest days. He won many trophies in riding competitions.
The tantalizingly tiny mention in the Review leaves us desperate for more information. Dear readers, does anyone have anything to share about Fred Ferguson? Our archives are bereft of mention of what sounds like a very interesting Grove pioneer.