A look back at Lemon Grove, 54 years ago this week.
The Family That Bowls Together: In a jubilant headline, "40 Lane Bowlero Starts Here," the Lemon Grove Review announced the town would become America's second site for the Bowlero franchise recently hailed in Life magazine for its fresh approach to an ancient sport traditionally played only by men.
"Bowling is no longer just for men—it's for youth and women's groups and is a wholesome family-type recreation, young and carefree," enthused Bowlero manager, the aptly named Beny Young, Jr.
Scheduled to open July 1, 1959, the $1.3 million center, designed by Paderewski & Mitchell on an 11-acre site at College Avenue and Broadway, would include a free day nursery, snack bar, restaurant, league room, state-of-the-art bowling equipment and special programs for women and children.
"We'll open early and close late to accommodate all schedules," said Bowlero Corp. president Jack Skirball, "We hope the people of Lemon Grove will be as happy to have us as we will be in becoming a part of this fine community.
Bowlero's first center opened in 1957 in Mission Valley with 56 lanes, the largest in the West, making the 10-pin version, with its weighty, five-finger balls and large, heavy pins, a far cry from the sport that entertained Egyptian pharoahs, the Roman legions and even Louis XIV. Today, in Balboa Park, you can see the bocce teams and the stately, white-clad players of lawn bowling, an import from the rolling downs of Britain.
League History Repeats Itself: Like their 2012 counterparts, the Lemon Grove All-Stars League of 1958 captured the District I championship when they defeated the Ocean Beach All-Stars 3-1. Eleven Western states and Hawaii competed in the tourney. Virtually every local business ponied up to buy new jackets for the boys as they represented the entire San Diego area. At this moment, as everyone in town knows, our 2012 champs are raising money so that parents can accompany them to Maine to see them compete in the World Series. Get out your checkbooks, pals.
Scott Bankrolls Incorporation: George Scott, founder of College Grove Shopping Center, donated $4,500 to the effort to incorporate Lemon Grove and further said he'd donate $1 for every $2 raised by the ministerial committee. Scott said that shopping centers do better when they are connected to strong communities—and that strength flowed from incorporation.
The committee had lost its 1955 bid, a defeat termed "overwhelming" by the San Diego Union. Au contraire, huffed Lemon Grove Review editor Max Goodwin, who wrote, "Just for the record the vote was 2,180 against and 1,607 for, a difference of 573 votes, hardly overwhelming."
Local ministers supported incorporation and banded together to sell their congregations more than 5,000 plastic keys at a $1 apiece. The 12-inch keys carried the Lemon Grove legend and had a built-in thermometer. Question, dear readers: Does anybody have one of these gizmos? The Lemon Grove Historical Society would like one for the archives.
Pioneer Driver's Perfect Record: For 52 years, I.H. Cass, Adams Street, racked up a flawless driving record by "giving everyone all the room they want." He was hailed on the front page of the Lemon Grove Review for courtesy and caution above and beyond the call of duty. Cass started driving in 1907 when gas was 2.25 cents a gallon and he was tearing up the countryside at 15 mph in a 1904 eight cylinder Apperson Jack Rabbit Touring Car that sat six, and a two cylinder 1907 Oldsmobile. Over his half-century of driving, Cass owned 17 autos. His three children, the late Eleanore Denlinger, Leo Victor Cass and Myrtle Jenkins, apparently were chips off the old block, learning at Papa's knee that a good driver is a safe driver.
Oh, where are they now, those gentle motorists who don't threaten you with mayhem on a simple trip to the store?
New Church in Town: First Baptist Church of Lemon Grove broke ground for its new, 3,000 square foot house of worship at Main and Burnell Streets. About 80 percent of the work was done by parish men—down to blacktopping the new parking lot. Church elder Earl Dial supervised construction of the church, which would accommodate some 800 worshippers.
Rogues' Rocks Wreak Havoc: Two local boys, ages 10 and 12, heaved rocks through 147 windows, causing $1,500 in damage at the new housing development underway at San Altos and Madera. In a departure from his normal legalese, Sheriff's Sergeant Bob Ryan termed the crime "Silica Porti Shatteritus", or "broken windows" to you. The lads were placed in the custody of their parents and a court date set with the developer. We can fathom breaking one window, long a rite of passage for aimless youth, but 147?
Heights of Nocturnal Dazzle: Marsi's Store for Women, 7863 Broadway, held its "greatest anniversary sale ever" and vowed to garb milady in a style to which she should rapidly become accustomed. A velvet-trimmed cashmere coat ($88) tossed over a beaded silk cocktail dress ($21.99) was just the thing should evenings ever cool down (they were 90 degrees in August, 1958). And what of the champagne satin lounging suit emblazoned with her initials ($12.99) and worn with rhinestone studded mules ($6.99)? So right for brunch on the patio while the wee bairns cavorted and hubby brought you that second cup of coffee...
Question, dear readers: Does anybody have anything from Marsi's? The Lemon Grove Historical Society is collecting fashions of a bygone time for a future retrospective.
On a more prosaic note, Food Basket, 3205 Imperial Avenue, offered a 4-piece Melmac dinnerware place setting for 49 cents, fryers for 33 cents a pound, two pounds of seedless grapes for 23 cents, and a tender, skinless, defatted, boneless ham for 89 cents a pound. That'll put the roses in her cheeks.