A look back at Lemon Grove, 48 years ago this week.
Woman of the Year: Dr. Amorita Treganza, the famed children's eye doctor, was crowned San Diego's Woman of the Year in a ceremony held by the President's Council of Women's Service Clubs at the Hotel Del Coronado. Awardees were selected for achievement in business or profession and services to the community.
Dr. Treganza treated many patients who could not afford vision care. She flew hundreds of medical missions into Baja California with the Flying Samaritans, headed the Crossroads Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Alcoholic Women, was the first woman president of the San Diego Girls Club, was a board member of the Lemon Grove and San Diego Chambers of Commerce, chaired the March of Dimes, donated an annual scholarship to her alma mater, Grossmont High School, and promoted cultural exchange between Alta and Baja California. At Christmas and Easter, she and her husband, ophthalmologist Dr. Lloyd Adams, took food, toys and medicine to Mexican orphanages and villages.
Dr. Treganza was named San Diego's Goodwill Ambassador by San Diego Mayor Charles Dail in 1961 and was the first woman to head a national medical association, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
She was the 1928 Miss Lemon Grove, a leading light in the Lemon Grove Historical Society, and founder of the Society's annual third-grade history essay competition in Lemon Grove schools.
Today her optometry offices at 7898 Broadway are run by her protegés, Drs. Carl and Melissa Hilliard, as the San Diego Center for Vision Care.
May was a typically busy month for Dr. Treganza. She spoke to the Women's Society for World Service about her Flying Samaritan activities and was honorary parade marshal for the Antique Car Parade along Broadway. Sponsored by the Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce, the parade heralded Old Fashioned Days and featured 50 vintage cars from 1913 to 1938. She rode in a 1915 Studebaker driven by Clarence Scheidle, a local businessman.
Kiddie Perp Walk: The Matheson triplets were famished. When they saw an open window on Ensenada Street, they hopped inside and proceeded to empty the refrigerator.
Tomatoes, salami, milk, bread, leftover pizza and bottles of Orange Crush hit the spot. One, Herbie, tucked a half gallon of ice cream under his zippered windbreaker. Between them, the eight-year-old triplets had $3.80 and planned to leave $1 on the kitchen table in return for the feast.
All went well until the homeowner, Mrs. Shirley Anne Hallen, showed up and started screaming. As Sheriff's deputies loaded the little thieves into a squad car, one deputy noticed the bulge under Herbie's windbreaker.
“We were going to eat it on the way to jail,” said Herbie. Huey produced a pilfered package of Oreos, while Hal virtuously observed that they'd left the milk behind.
No word on whether the pint-size perps reposed in Juvenile Hall, whether Mrs. Hallen got her $1, or whether the parental Mathesons grounded the triplets or just fled town under cover of darkness.
But what was it about the Hallen's fridge? And was the back door never locked? Doors sometimes weren't in those days, especially for Miller Dairy deliveries—Bill Miller recalls opening kitchen doors and depositing milk and cream straight into the fridges of countless local homes.
Again, Mrs. Hallen was out when an encyclopedia salesman came calling. Finding the back door open and seized with hunger pangs, he repaired to the kitchen and devoured a peanut butter sandwich and milk topped off with a helping of ice cream.
Mrs. Hallen returned and started screaming. By now, she had this down to a science. While she called the cops, the young man, Jerry Lee Botham, apologized and offered her a free encyclopedia. She would have none of it, so he fled only to be nabbed a block away by Sheriff's deputies.
Botham, an inmate of the Sand 'N Sea Motel, said he thought he'd heard someone say, “Come in,” when he knocked on the Hallen's front door. Finding it locked, he went around to the back. This not entirely implausible excuse netted him an overnighter in the slammer, especially when deputies found a key to a San Diego hotel room in his pocket. He'd skipped without paying the bill.
South Pacific Sells Out: The Mount Miguel High Drama Club performed the musical South Pacific and turned away 1,000 people at the first four performances. But rather than wash those patrons right out of their hair, the students gave two more performances and grossed nearly $4,000 for the club at $1.10 per ticket.
Play Politics: 1964 was an election year and the town was awash in candidates and issues. Harry Weisberger, music teacher and director of the champion Lemon Grove Junior High Band, led the local campaign by the California Teachers Association to secure 1 million signatures for their ballot initiative to raise $140 million for schools (Translation: 17 cents per child statewide).
Lionel Van Deerlin and Dick Wilson squared off in the 37th Congressional District. Wilson called him a “Congressional errand boy and borderline communist,” while Van Deerlin questioned Wilson's mental acuity, opining that “brain vitamins” were needed. All this to the Lemon Grove Men's Club meeting at the Horseshoe Tavern.
John Dail, running for 77th Assembly District, opened his campaign headquarters at 7898 Broadway. He vowed to cut taxes and eliminate waste.
The ubiquitous Henry Boney, running for 2nd District Supervisor, scored when he brought the 2,000-member California Grocers Convention to San Diego. Boney called for more tourism dollars and “conventions—more, more, more.” His opponent, Herman Snodgrass, also vowed to cut those pesky taxes and eliminate all that waste.
Attorney Earl Smart, Golden Avenue, was named local chair of the Nelson Rockefeller for President campaign. Proclaiming him “synonymous with leadership,” Smart urged California GOP voters to choose Rockefeller over Goldwater in the June 2 primary.
Legal, But Not Tender: Under “Legal Notices” Cyrus Pennick declared, “I am not responsible for debts incurred by my ex-wife, Hetty Pennick, and will not now, nor will I ever, pay the cost of her bills, whether due or overdue or shortly to be incurred in the past, present or future, now and forever more.”
Presumably Hetty got the biblical finality of this message. But we are left reading between the lines, wondering how she blew it and on what.