A look back at Lemon Grove 53 years ago.
What was it about early March in the Big Lemon at the dawn of the 'Sixties? Even as it celebrated growth and progress, the town went bonkers with weird trends, nutty sale pitches, offers too good to be true and come-ons worthy of Ripley's Believe It or Not. The old pro, Max Goodwin, editor of the Review, missed nary a beat in covering (and cashing in on) the fun.
Got Binospecs? At the height of the 3-D glasses craze in the 1950s, some genius in Hong Kong manufactured Binospecs, the hilarious, adjustable, plastic eye glass-binoculars that moved away from your face with the flick of a knob. Their outer space, nerdy techie look made them a hit with moppets from coast to coast. Be seen in Binospecs and fame was assured.
Max Goodwin offered free Binospecs with a new $2.50 annual subscription to the Review, one of hundreds of come-ons he would push over the years to build readership. His comforting ad copy made it safe for grown-ups to look like nitwits:
"You wear Binospecs like eye glasses and focus them like field glasses. Wear 'em everywhere. Football games. Outings. Theater. Even dances. Lots of fun! The newest rage with teenagers and adults, too."
Today, Binospecs in the original box sell on Ebay for $5.95 to $9.95.
The Word from Max: Goodwin stopped at nothing to promote the Review, ascending even unto celestial regions to draw parallels with the heavenly host.
"Next to the Bible, your local newspaper has the greatest family appeal. It is read and reread…clipped, saved and referred to over and over…" he wrote.
But since the path to reader loyalty led less through the sanctuary than through the kitchen, Max offered new subscribers four burgers for 85 cents and a free Frosty at Dee Gee's Drive-In No. 2, 7292 Broadway.
The Chuck Roast Wars: Lent hadn't yet hit and the town was awash in beef only recently parted from the hoof.
"Fresh chuck roast only 39 cents a pound!" sang Piggly Wiggly, 7825 Broadway.
"Good chuck roast only 49 cents a pound!" proclaimed Knight's Market, 1505 Skyline.
"Better chuck roast 35 cents a pound!" appealed Don Diego Market, 7702 Broadway.
"We'll cook your chuck roast dinner only $1.75" wooed Avalon Cafe, 3307 Imperial.
But Broadway Market one-upped competitors by offering 100 pairs of free roller-skates -- one pair with purchase of two pounds of chuck roast at 60 cents a pound.
San Patrizio: At St. John of the Cross, male chefs prepared to celebrate St. Patrick's Day Italian style. None of your corned beef and cabbage. Chefs Alberto Perucci, Stefano Di Spampinato and Freddie Sozanni demonstrated their cooking chops by whipping up Chuck Roast Bolognese, Fettucine Alfredo and Chicken Cacciatore while the womenfolk gazed in wonderment.
Freebies for Milady: Lemon Grove Dept. Store, 7846 Broadway, offered milady a free Easter outfit (suit, hat, gloves, bag, slip, hose, jewelry) if she filled out a coupon in the store. They also gave away a "free, quality house dress" every Friday at 8 p.m.
The same emporium also offered a huge trade-in sale. You brought in your old clothes regardless of condition, in exchange for brand new duds. A $3.98 Hawaiian shirt cost $2.98 after the trade-in, while polished cotton slacks cleaned your clock at 79 cents a pair. Your cast-offs went to the newly-opened Goodwill Enterprises on Broadway.
Leslie's Hair Salon offered a free $4.95 permanent wave if you brought a friend with you, who paid for hers.
Mrs. Jessie Butler slipped on the lettuce at Food Basket and sued for $7,500. But the market offered her six months of free, weekly groceries not to exceed $50 a week. She went for it. Case closed.
Kustom Kitchen, 7328 Broadway, offered wives a "nearly free" room addition if they came in person (hubby could come, too, but couldn't initiate the deal) to select the room of choice. No down payment. No payments for four years. No interest. Bottom line: $478.
Kustom Kitchen vanished from the pages of the 1960 Review, felled, no doubt, by an excess of generosity.
Dough: Little Virginia Lee DeFrate sold 707 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, sending Lemon Grove Troop 380 to the local Mt. Rushmore of cookie sales and her parents' garage to freedom at last from boxes and boxes and boxes…
We Know It When We See It: The local anti-obscenity crusade moved into high gear when Lemon Grove postmaster Francis "Frenchy" Faucher said "any article, photo or advertisement creating a desire" was deemed obscene under the new moral code for the U.S. Post Office.
We pondered some of the Review's racier car ads with their bathing suit clad models posed at the wheels of Fords and Chevies presumably to "create a desire" in the buyer. These, in contrast to Max Goodwin's fulminations against "filth purveyors" bent on warping the minds of local innocenti, showed the dichotomy between the business of America (sanctified) and how to turn a profit (anything goes).
When There Were Lemons: In a major front-page story, the Review hailed six decades of "spectacular homeland progress," from 1897, when there lemons everywhere, to 1960 when the same orchard scene had been replaced by Lemon Grove's central business district (see photos). Broadway, which ended at the railroad tracks in WW II, had been extended east to Sweetwater Road a scant 18 years earlier.
There were 28,000 people residing within the Lemon Grove School District boundaries. Some 1,000 homes were being built in the San Altos area, with another 3,000 set for construction, a fact that drew a five-member Yugoslavian delegation of housing researchers to town to watch large-scale neighborhood construction in action.
Among them were engineer Daniel Hinic, Belgrade; Slobodan Jovicic of the Zagreb Architectural Institute; and Abdullah Kadic of the Sarajevo Technical Construction School. They observed that Yugoslavia hadn't recovered from WW II bombings that destroyed almost all of its housing stock even as the post war population boomed. With insufficient housing, a dearth of schools and high construction costs at home, the Yugoslavs wanted to see how America turned out high quality, low cost housing for the masses.
But, in one of the sadder stories in this edition, involving housing, the Denby family's plight captured our attention:
Legal But Not Tender: Henry and Rosemary Denby ran a Legal Notice declaring that they shouldn't be evicted from their home for non payment of taxes because their mortgage included the taxes, a fact apparently disputed by their bank, which hadn't paid any tax to the county for three years. The Denbys asserted their right to remain in residence while the bank and county worked out "their mistake which was not our doing as we paid our mortgage on time. We declare that we will not be put out of our home."
Oops. Somebody didn't read the fine print. No word on how this ended.
Make Your Own Prison: Star Lumber Company explained how to create an entry hall in a tiny house with only a front door opening straight into the living room:
Take 2x2-inch cedar boards and space them upright 2 inches apart to make an open wood grill. Then use shorter pieces to make decorative separators and extend the structure 4 feet in from the front door. To avoid a "prison look" where guests have to peer through "bars" to find the living room, install colorful tile or carpeting underfoot to help guide them along for 3 or 4 feet.
In case they get lost. And, voilà!
Wisdom of the Ages: The Review's fillers continued to offer crucial facts in case you didn't get the memo.
West Coast loggers are known for their colorful expletives and resourceful invention of new words. 'Candy Kid' was the boss's pet or mamma's boy.
Begonias are harder to raise than carrots.
Getting relatives to leave is like eating soup with a fork.
A rolling stone should be stopped.
Death lays its cards on the table. It comes for you once, then you never have to worry about it again.
About this column: Compiled by Helen Ofield, president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society, from newspapers archived at the H. Lee House Cultural Center. Each week, we take a peek at the past with some news and advertising highlights from a randomly chosen edition of the Lemon Grove Review. In 2012, Ofield was awarded second prize in non-daily reporting and writing by the Society of Professional Journalists for the column.