The town was awash in medical events as forward-thinking Lemon Grovians sought to protect themselves and others from a range of diseases. A look back at Lemon Grove, 60 years ago this week:
X Factor: The Chestmobile came to Lindley's Pharmacy on Broadway after announcements in schools, churches, clubs, stores and the Lemon Grove Review urged anyone age 15 and older to be X-rayed for tuberculosis.
Parents had to sign permission slips for their children and pregnant women could not be X-rayed. There were no lead shields in those days to protect internal organs, and studies were still being done on how the radiation affected individuals.
The San Diego County Tuberculosis and Health Association sponsored the event. The PTA handled the morning shift, while the Business Women's League covered the afternoon. At issue was a "small pandemic" of TB, polio and influenza in the wake of WW II when people who had never traveled to distant shores were suddenly fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers and sharing a variety of pathogens—and bringing them home.
The U.S. goal was to match Britain's record of reducing TB cases to 50 in 100,000. Lemon Grove had one day in which to reach as many of its qualified residents as possible.
As every schoolchild knows, German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-ray in 1895. Why X? Röntgen realized he'd discovered a new type of radiation without a name, so he called it "X", a name that stuck.
The first X-ray was an image of the very cooperative Mrs. Röntgen's left hand showing a large wedding ring. Her reaction?
"I have seen my death," she said.
Also in 1895, Thomas Edison began developing the fluoroscope that became the standard for medical X-rays. Early in the 20th century, when medical X-rays began in England the dosage was so strong that skin diseases developed, leading to amputation. But, as history shows, intensive testing, studies and inventions lead to the safe procedures that have saved the lives of millions.
And TB? We can thank Nobel laureate Robert Koch for identifying the disease in 1892, the year the name "Lemon Grove" showed up in the county records as a place.
In the 1950s, public reaction to mass X-raying of populations was mixed. In those Cold War days, X-rays had military uses (still do) and were linked to bombs, Russian spies, Martians and government invasion of privacy. Today, outside of medical uses, the X-ray we all know so well occurs at airports when you, your bags, kids, grandma and shoes are scanned as potential hazards to all mankind.
But the X-ray remains one of the greatest achievements of late Victorian and 20th century science—one we now take for granted.
The War at Home: Mrs. L.D. Newton, local chair of the Red Cross, and her committee set up tables on Broadway to collect funds for regional blood banks. With the Korean War raging, the Red Cross needed money for some 160,000 pints of whole blood flown to Seoul and 60,000 pints flown to Japan.
Thousands of units of blood plasma were flown almost daily to the war zone, where, ultimately, nearly 170,000 U.S. soldiers were wounded, killed in action or missing in action.
The blood was Type O, which can be given to everyone, as battle conditions don't permit cross matching.
Over at the First Congregational Church on Main Street, Agnes Osgood and her committee were making quilts for Korean orphans and contributing to the 11,000 care packages sent by the Red Cross for prisoners of war.
First Aid at the Firehouse: The Red Cross also urged anybody age 21 and older to sign up for the 22-hour first aid course starting that week at the fire station on Central Avenue at School Lane.
The course ran from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and was taught by local sixth grade teacher Rolland Purves in association with the Adult Education Division of Grossmont High School.
You got a First Aid card and a chance to "save your neighbor before it's too late."
Dr. Easter Bunny: The Fifth Annual Kids' Easter Bunny Party at the Grove Theatre on Imperial Avenue emphasized more than chocolate eggs. The event took on polio, too.
Starting at the 9 a.m. screening of cartoons, kids and parents could donate to Easter Seals and receive coupons from local stores. If you gave $5 you got five coupons worth $1 each.
Ed Maullesseaux, local coordinator for the San Diego Society for Crippled Children, got Easter candy donated for the kiddies and arranged for the Lemon Grove Grammar School to distribute coupons, too.
Easter Seals unveiled its famous lily logo in1952, and Lemon Grove was among the first communities to display the symbol that year. Founded in 1919, the organization continues to address crippling diseases like polio and multiple sclerosis, as well as autism, disabilities caused by accidents, and birth defects.
March of Dimes: The Lemon Grove Business Women's League held a fried-chicken dinner to raise funds for the anti-polio March of Dimes campaign. President Franklin Roosevelt, a famous polio victim, started the March of Dimes in 1938, and soon there chapters in thousands of U.S. communities, including Lemon Grove.
In 1951 Mrs. Wayne Johnson led that chapter for the Business Women's League.
Kiwanians on the March: Lemon Grove Kiwanis held an auction to raise funds for a two-way radio fire alarm system for the Lemon Grove Fire Department. The event began with a parade of fire trucks, the Lemon Grove School majorette corps and band, area dignitaries in green and yellow hats, and the Lion's Club float holding a guy dressed in a lion suit up Imperial Avenue to the Big Lemon, where auctioneer Ray Wright exhorted the crowd to bid on items donated by local merchants.
Those were the days.
Cure-Alls: Along with reports on sound medical science, the Lemon Grove Review carried ads for an array of remedies, such as Creomulsion (coughs), Ben-Gay and Doan's Pills (aches and pains), Mentholatum (nasal congestion) and Musterole (chest congestion).
Then came Dr. Peter Fahrney's $1, 11-ounce bottle of "Dr. Peter's Lozogo," an herbal remedy guaranteed to cure constipation. The ad said you'd get a "warm feeling in the stomach." With a 14 percent alcohol content, no wonder.
Lozogo bottles, dating from 1922, sell for $6 on eBay.
"Black Leaf 40," a widely-used, poisonous, tobacco byproduct, rid poultry of lice. Farmers used to make it at home by boiling tobacco leaves in water and sulfuric acid (same stuff used in car batteries).
Should Farmer John accidentally ingest his brew, the antidote was an emetic of mustard, magnesia, raw eggs, lime water, milk, flour and water.
Sounds like you could die either way.