A look back at Lemon Grove, 53 years ago this week.
Sit, Stay: Also shop, work, play. This issue of the Review featured 12 pages of ads and the exhortation, "It Pays to Shop at Home!" This message cited free parking, a variety of shops, competitive prices and "nice people who want your trade" as prime reasons to buy locally.
Editor Max Goodwin noted, "We have more wealth tied up in our schools than in any other single possession in our community."
The combination of retail prosperity, homegrown businesses and generous volunteerism made for healthy schools with a plethora of award-winning science, music, journalism and math programs, and high-achieving students. Goodwin covered it all with more the four dozen articles on school activities in this issue alone.
The Lemon Grove School District is still the biggest employer in town, albeit one facing tough times. But the Historical Society can attest to the herculean efforts of teachers and administration. In our "traveling history" visits to local schools last week, we found alert youngsters eager to learn and fun to be with.
Putnam Touts Matadors: Mrs. Dwight Putnam (Rosemary) was sworn in as president of the Mount Miguel High School PTA. Standing in front of the school's towering redwood "matador" statue, she praised the Matador Marching band, which, just hours earlier, had won yet another trophy in the annual Maytime Band Review in National City. Putnam vowed a "vigorous fundraising campaign" for school programs.
Her officer slate included Mrs. George Cremer (Wilma) of Lee House fame, Mrs. Clif Gomes (Alice), a teacher, Mrs. Alf Holmberg (Alta) of the Lemon Grove School District's cafeteria staff, and other women who were a collective force in the Lemon Grove-Spring Valley communities.
The redwood "Mat" was carved by Gene Blome for display at the Del Mar Fair and purchased for $600 by the class of 1958. Unidentified students from a rival school pulled down the nine-foot statue and chopped it into pieces. A cement version was installed later.
Does anyone have the dates of these two events? Rosemary Putnam has been the driving force behind the Friends of the Lemon Grove Library for nearly 30 years and founded the local chapter of the American Field Service, which promoted international student exchange (the Putnams hosted countless students over the years).
You've Come a Long Way, Babee: "Cutee Doree," a 17-year-old Mount Miguel High School senior, won the "Fairest of the Fair and Miss Con-Tour Beauty Contest" staged at Michael's Steak House on Broadway by the Lemon Grove Kiwanis Club.
Doree Radici's height, weight and measurements—data apparently critical to a free press, if not the free world—gave her the winning nod.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Radici of Dupont Drive then competed for queen of the San Diego County Fair.
For the record, she came in third behind "a redhead from Ramona and a blonde from Kearny Mesa." Third wasn't so bad when you consider that Doree was spared further recitation of the relative merits of her flanks, withers and glutes.
In the mid-1990s, not long after her first election to the Lemon Grove City Council, Mayor Mary Sessom called for gender parity in the local beauty contest, asserting that bathing suits should be eliminated and the event opened to young men and young women. Though pooh-poohed at the time, her suggestion was prescient. Elizabeth McBrayer, Miss Lemon Grove of 2004, overhauled the contest to eliminate bathing suits and emphasize academic scholarship and public service.
Today, though open only to girls and young women, the Grove Scholarship Pageants is a model for similar events throughout California and McBrayer a frequent consultant.
Thank you, Mayor, and thank you, Elizabeth!
(And, hey, yes, we are well aware that young women, past and present, are thrilled to be chosen for beauty of face and form, never mind the brain within—but we like the spiffy modern version of the tired, old con-tour game.)
Mr. Helix Water District: Harry Griffen had represented Lemon Grove on the Helix Irrigation District Board since 1951. In 1959, he was elected president of the countywide Irrigation District Officers Association, a group of five water districts established in 1929 to oversee finances and infrastructure. As more water districts were formed, the quarterly meetings took on a "semi social atmosphere," said Griffen.
Known for his take-no-prisoners approach to organization, Griffen vowed to return to a workshop style and tackle the problems facing modern water districts, notably supply and demand. Meetings drew an average of 200 attendees, indicative of the critical importance of water in arid Southern California. Griffen became a tireless advocate for a reliable, clean water supply and good management.
Today, thanks to Pamela Griffen, the Harry Griffen Archive in the Lemon Grove Historical Society contains invaluable historical documents, photographs and ephemera related to the growth of the Helix Water District. We gladly share these materials with the water district, and vice versa.
Actor Turns Scribe: Helix High alumnus Bob Turnbull, son of Dr. Amorita Treganza (Miss Lemon Grove, 1928; noted children's optometrist) and grandson of "Big Lemon" designer, Alberto Treganza, matched his acting career with journalism duties as a columnist for the Lemon Grove Review and the international magazine DIG. He was also assistant editor for college athletics at the Los Angeles Times and a contributor to the San Diego Union.
For DIG, Turnbull's column, "Party-Time," covered fads, fashions, dances, parties and trends worldwide. If you dug something, you could find it in DIG. If you were dig-challenged, Turnbull could set you on the path to cooldom. The April, 1959 issue of DIG featured heartthrob Ricky Nelson on the cover.
Turnbull's column, "Hollywood Highlights," in this issue of the Lemon Grove Review, covered his huge farewell party for a friend, La Jolla High alumnus Jim Fox, a special effects technician for CBS. Fox had been drafted and over 400 Hollywood pals showed up for the send-off held at one of billionaire Doris Duke's former mansions.
With Sal Mineo on drums, Jim Mitchum on bongos, and Jericho Brown, Rod McKuen and others warbling current hits, the crowd danced "in a ballroom as big as a basketball court." Guests included Marlon Brando, Joan Blackman, Troy Donahue, Dennis Hopper, June Blair and other up-and-comers.
Today, Bob and Yvonne Turnbull run Turnbull Ministries at La Quinta, CA. The former "preacher of Waikiki" had a notable stage, television and film career.
65 MPH: Captain Gautsche of the CHP warned motorists yearning to breathe free that 65 mph wouldn't become law until Jan. 1, 1960. He said motorists were already exceeding 65 and "some even act offended when officers explain it isn't in effect yet."
Mystifyingly, the CHP welcomed 65 mph "because of the favorable effect it would have on law enforcement and traffic safety."
Have we slipped a cog or is there a screw loose here somewhere? In this age of 80 to 85 mph traffic on any freeway, augmented by blinding halogen lights, we think back to that noble 1974 study by the Highway Safety Research Institute, which proved, chapter and verse, the relationship between speed and the number of dead and injured motorists. But what do we know?