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1952: Town on the March

News from the January 31, 1952 edition of the Lemon Grove Review

A look back at Lemon Grove 61 years ago.

The Fringe Fights Back:  Lemon Grove was called a "fringe area" on the border of San Diego. But, despite this pejorative, a lack of mortgage money and San Diego's refusal to extend sewer and other services outside the city limits, Lemon Grove again led the unincorporated areas of the county in new building construction as it had every year since 1946.

So declared the county's 1951 Building Inspection Division.  Big Lemon neighborhoods saw 781 new dwelling units valued at $7,841,952.  In 1950, the town led with 1,158 units valued at $8,148,167.   Orchard lands were sprouting homes and the "sea of lemon trees" dotted with stately homes that once made Lemon Grove the "Pasadena of San Diego County" was fading into history.

To Be or Not To Be:  "How Shall We Meet This Threat" shouted the Lemon Grove Review.  Meaning the demand by the California League of Municipalities that unincorporated communities like Lemon Grove "annex, incorporate, or else!" 

The threat of annexation was declared by the League's board of directors at its meeting in the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel.  Why should cities pay tax subsidies for services to the peasantry huddled in rural enclaves far from the madding crowd? 

"Hooey," huffed the Review.  "…a progressive community like Lemon Grove provides its own fire protection and sanitation district. Our many building permits support the sheriff's office and justice of the peace. 

"The League proposes a bill for the next session of the legislature requiring communities of a certain population size to either annex to the nearest city, or incorporate." 

The Review urged all unincorporated communities to band together to fend off the threat "to the rights of people to live as they desire."  The paper would fight the annexation threat for the next 25 years until the town incorporated in 1977. 

New School in Town:  In a sign of burgeoning population, the district's fifth school, San Miguel Elementary, 7069 San Miguel Avenue, opened its doors on Feb. 4 to 300 pupils, K-5.  Six classrooms, a kindergarten, multi-purpose room, cafeteria kitchen, offices, health room and teachers' workroom were housed in "the latest in architectural design and school planning." 

The Review extolled the school's "view of both the mountains and the Pacific," "beautiful color scheme," "modern lines," and "low maintenance" design. 

The cafeteria, "serving hot, nourishing lunches," opened Feb. 11.  Playground equipment was en route.  A school bus would serve the school, though "many boys and girls are within walking distance of their classrooms." 

Principal Robert E. Sutton helmed a nine-member faculty, including Ruth LeMasters, Mary Coulter, Dorothy Sistie, Lula Fielder, Dorothy Roberts, Joyce Lyttle, Hazel Jensen, John Strawn and Cedric Stammerjohn.  The secretary was Marion Bartchelder.

Across town, Vista La Mesa School got a new auditorium and a new cafeteria.  Ruth Pfister, the district's high priestess of nutrition, appointed Frieda Perkins and Imago Burgreen to cook and serve meals to 200 pupils.   

At Golden Avenue School, its first ever school newspaper was issued with reporters from every class contributing.  Their essay competition, "How Can Lemon Grove Be Improved for Children," netted responses like petting zoo, more circuses, a big ice cream sundae shop, free toys, roller skating rink and, of course, a swimming pool.  The latter was an issue for years and prompted much club fundraising. 

Club Circuit:  Mrs. Amer C. Stolp, president of the California Federation of Women's Clubs stopped by the Lemon Grove Woman's Club (built 1912 and still standing on Olive Street) to deliver her aptly titled speech, "Vision Unlimited."

Lemon Grove Kiwanis planned its first annual auction with all proceeds supporting a two-way radio alarm for the department "to save taxpayer money" and the Kiwanis Youth Fund. 

The Business Women's League collected over 100 pints of blood for the Red Cross to send to U.S. troops in Korea. 

The Chamber of Commerce held its first Community Banquet in Friendship Hall, Main Street, on the campus of First Congregational Church (today, the Hall is the Civic Center Park parking lot).  The honoree was Anthony F. Sonka of Sonka Bros' General Store fame (today, Grove Pastry Shop). 

Girls Scouts sold cookies, Boy Scouts picked up trash, Campfire Girls knitted socks for Korean orphans and the Lemon Grove Neighborhood Club gave classes in nursing and cooking. 

Lemon Grove Republican Women debated Lemon Grove Democratic Women on the relative merits of the Truman administration and the "I Like Ike" campaign began. 

Deadly Menace:  Polio was a huge scare in the 1950s until the Salk vaccine saved lives and limbs.  Every store in Lemon Grove had a donation jar on the counter and ran ads urging locals to give to the March of Dimes.  Spring was when the polio virus peaked, so the Review began its ad campaign in January.

Deadly Menace Part Deux:  Back in the day, everybody smoked and everybody died.  The first article linking tobacco to lung cancer appeared in May, 1950 and the battle was joined.  Yet cigarette ads continued to dominate magazines and newspapers alike, including the Review.  This issue featured Grand Ole Opry star, Red Foley, as the purveyor of "mild, rich-tastin' cigarettes. 

Wisdom of the Ages:  The Review's fillers were famous for their unconscious hilarity, to wit: 

Branches of shrubs that have been bent or broken in storms may be held firmly in place with cellohane tape. 

Run out of meatballs?  Try mashing potatoes, stewed tomatoes and macaroni for a quick pick-me-up. 

If you paint a church steeple from the bottom up, you will have to wait overnight for it to dry before you come down.

And our favorite: 

To prevent children from locking themselves in a room, remove the doorknob and lock, door hinges and door, and shield the opening with a drape.


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