A look back at Lemon Grove, 48 years ago this week.
The Seat Belt Cometh: Marcia Manu, Miss Lemon Grove 1964, helped to advertise Lemon Grove's first auto seat belt clinic at Glenn Winchell's Shell Station, on Broadway at Buena Vista.
The Lemon Grove Jaycees installed seat belts at $5 per passenger. But if you brought your $1 coupon, you got a discount on two or more seat belts.
Neurologist Dr. Hunter Shelden, Pasadena, devised the retractable seat belt in the 1950s after dealing with multiple head injuries in emergency rooms. Ahead of his time, Shelden also proposed the passive restraint airbag, recessed steering wheels, door locks and reinforced car roofs.
The safety belt idea stretches back to 1885 when Edward Claghorn patented a belt for painters and firemen, who had to be raised and lowered at increasingly tall buildings. But it was Ralph Nader and his famous 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, who made seat belts de rigueur.
School District Wooed: Not only was Lemon Grove courted by cities eager to annex its land, its school district got a similar pitch— and it was an inside job.
The Lemon Grove Community Study Committee suggested the district either merge with La Mesa and gain four high schools or merge with Spring Valley and gain two. Districts had to present their merger options to the County Committee on School District Reorganization by April, said Lemon Grove School Superintendent Byron Netzley. Ultimately the La Mesa and Spring Valley districts merged, but Lemon Grove became its own unified school district with two high schools, one in La Mesa (Helix) and one in Spring Valley (Mount Miguel).
Con Man Tells All: Bill Mills, ex-outlaw and veteran of the Oklahoma and Texas prison systems, was scheduled to speak at the First Baptist Church on Main Street about the revelations that prompted him to write his magnum opus, “Twenty-Five Years Behind Bars.”
“I was a bum that took it on the lam after committing 32 types of crimes,” said Mills in the parlance of Mickey Spillane.
Apparently, all 32 involved thievery on an Olympian level: banks, boats, bars, businesses, homes, pocket-picking, second story jobs, auto theft, bike theft, purse snatching, dog napping, card tricks, palming dollar bills—you name it—Mills had done it, though never while packing heat.
He got his comeuppance while robbing a roadside fruit stand outside Tulsa when the feisty owner whacked him with a turnip and called the cops.
Mills was set to appear at the church in his trademark black-and-white striped prison uniform, a pattern earlier made famous by French couturier, Coco Chanel. She, of course, wore hers on the Riviera.
Midnight Rambler: At the midnight hour, Jack Friedman, Jaynia Place, was nicking nine pins at Bowlero on Broadway, little knowing that his 1963 Rambler parked outside had attracted the attention of a young, blonde, spiffily attired 17-year-old of dubious intent.
“What do you think you're doing?” demanded Jack, who had stepped outside for a smoke.
“I'm trying to start your car,” politely responded the youth, offering him a match.
We quote this dialogue exactly as rendered in the Lemon Grove Review, by the way.
“Get out,” roared Jack. “You're going over!”
Jack seized him by the arm and marched him toward Bowlero. As the youth moaned in pain. Jack relaxed his grip--and voilà! The would-be Rambler robber, resplendent in cream jacket with brown stripes and two-toned saddle shoes, fled into the night. Sheriff's deputies found the car's ignition wire loose from the switch. No word on how Jack got back up the hill to Jaynia Place.
Miles of Sofa: The midwinter 10-day sale at McMahan's Furniture, 7696 Broadway, featured an 18-foot sectional sofa for $188 and a 12-foot “banquet room style” dining table with two leaves and 14 chairs.
“Bring a truck or use ours,” they wisely advised.
From Bach to Baez: The area's historical love of music was in fine fettle that week:
Violinists Mary Russo and Michael Black performed the Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor at Grossmont High School ($2 at the door).
Lee Clapham, Lemon Grove's preeminent music teacher, showcased his piano and accordion students in a midwinter concert at Lemon Grove Junior High (free).
Famed folk singer Joan Baez performed at SDSU ($3 per ticket).
Lemon Grove Job's Daughters held a luncheon at which girls who'd reached age 20 warbled a medley of patriotic songs (bring a covered dish).
The Lemon Grove Women's Club meeting in their historic Main Street clubhouse featured a history of Grossmont Community Concerts by Mrs. Fred Ward and a performance of “light classical numbers” by Mrs. Stanley Foster, late of the Buffalo Civic Symphony (bring cookies).