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1964: Barbers, Birds and a Booming Economy

News from the Jan. 30, 1964, edition of the Lemon Grove Review.

A look back at Lemon Grove, 48 years ago this week.

Razor's Edge: Mass picketing came to Lemon Grove when members of the Journeymen Barbers International Union of America AFL-CIO, marched outside Oscar's Barbershop, 3143 Imperial Ave., next to Food Basket.

Oscar Gibbon said 10 picketers protested in front of his shop, nearly shutting down the place.The barbers were battling to get a six-day work week in San Diego County.

“We snip and shave for six days and on the seventh day we rest,” said Patrick Birch, the west coast union representative.  

Birch said they weren't trying to unionize Gibbon's shop, but their signs read, “This barber shop UNFAIR to barbers. Open Sunday.”

Warned Birch: “When the picketing hurts enough this will be a six-day shop.”

Barber Jim Van Norden said, “I've cut hair 60 hours this week and I'm tired, but I volunteered to picket all day.”

In barber logic, most people worked Monday to Friday and school children could only come in on Saturday. The resut was that many barbers worked Tuesday through Saturday and took Sunday and Monday off, or Tuesday through Sunday with Monday off.  Many didn't want to join the union as they expected to own their own shops and didn't want the hassle of a “closed” shop.  

As Gibbon pointed out, “There are a lot of good, unemployed barbers who can't work in a union shop because they don't want to pay dues.”

When the Good Times Rolled: Nothing but good times ahead predicted the aptly named Charles Victory, vice president of Bank of America, in his speech to the Lemon Grove Men's Club.  

Grovians deposited $26 million in local banks and were enthusiastic shoppers, contributing to the 117.7 economic index for the county. In relation to its 25,000 population, Lemon Grove was “affluent,” said Victory.

He said farm produce from Lemon Grove, which still had some orchards, strawberry fields and large truck garden operations, should be sold locally instead of shipped to Los Angeles, then shipped back. The two-way trek boosted the cost of produce and diminished their nutrient value. To make his point, Victory presented the Men's Club with a 1905 photograph of rural Lemon Grove and urged everyone to “buy locally.”

Ah, Victory. Ahead of his time. 

Book Lover on Trial: School teacher Helen Tuve, Kempf Street, owed $244 in library fines going back to 1961. Her 16-year-old daughter defended her mother in court, blaming ill health, losing books in her cluttered house, and the post office for not delivering the library's notices in May, June, July or August.  One book, To Have and To Hold by American novelist Mary Johnston, was overdue by six months.  

In a witty riposte, Municipal Court Judge Roger Ruffin said, “You had it and you held it for too long.”

Tuve was placed on three years probation until all fines were paid.

Finders, Keepers: Joe Trico's pickup truck burned up outside Trico Floors, North Avenue, leaving only a pair of spectacles and a set of upper dentures behind. Joe suspected an inebriated knight of the road had been sleeping it off inside the truck and forgot the peepers and choppers while scrambling to safety.

“I'll give him a reward if he returns for his goods,” said a forebearing Joe. We bet the sheriff had a reward for him, too.

The Silver Beaver: Some 2,000 Boy Scout families cheered when telephone repairman Ray Heiserman, Cameron Drive, received the Silver Beaver for “outstanding service to boyhood” at the annual dinner at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  

As a 15-year scoutmaster for Troop 108 at the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove (today, the Parsonage Museum), Heiserman held a Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow and had served in every scouting capacity from Cub Master to Explorer advisor. He and his wife, Lois (the first woman to serve on the Lemon Grove City Council), raised three sons, including an Eagle Scout and two Boy Scouts.

Side note: The Heisermans donated the 75-pound oak “Phoneto” wall phone to the Parsonage Museum, where it is displayed in the Sonka Bros. Store exhibit. They had lugged it from Iowa to California and we thank them anew for sharing this milestone in communications history.

Krebs' Canaries Crowned: Frank Krebs, 7070 Broadway, had bred championship Hartz Mountain song canaries in town since 1908. In the January German Roller Contest at Paramount, CA, four of his warblers swept the field with six ribbons and two of the coveted Roller Trophies. One canary, dubbed “Caruso” by Krebs, won first prize.  

“They were judged only for singing,” said Krebs. “And Caruso was the best.”

For the opera-challenged, Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) was the globally famous Italian tenor, whose performances at the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala, and his 78 rpm recordings, regularly sold out. So Krebs' little champ was moving in good company.

Footnote: Bird breeders and bird watchers abounded in Lemon Grove in the first half of the 20th century. Does anybody remember Jensen's Bird Farm established in 1921 on Adams Street at Washington Street? How about Antwonet Treganza's weekly birding column in the San Diego Union, “Walks and Talks with Mother Nature” during the 1930s? She was the wife of “Big Lemon” designer, Alberto Treganza.

Sonya February 01, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Love Helen's columns about LG history! We were thrilled to see this about my father in law Ray Heiserman, and our boys enjoyed it as well. Keep these coming! Sonya Heiserman
James Lough February 09, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Wonderful story. It is like a time capsule for each time period covered.

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