A look back at Lemon Grove, 44 years ago this week.
Student Protest: Flanked by 10 bodyguards and six police officers, ex-Alabama governor and famed segregationist George Wallace campaigned at Lemon Grove's VFW while six former Mount Miguel High students picketed outside.
Lemon Grove's first-ever demonstration was a mild affair. The “well behaved” students, “ramrodded by pretty, pert Paula Hollaway” of Lemon Grove, carried signs reading, “Would you want your daughter to marry George Wallace?” “George Wallace is absurd” and “Don't legalize hate—don't vote for George Wallace.”
Inside the VFW, Wallace exhorted some 200 people to register for his American Independent Party so that he could get on the California ballot as a presidential candidate in 1968. He faulted Supreme Court rulings, poverty programs and loss of constitutional freedoms for a “racial atmosphere.”
Holloway, a San Diego State College scholarship music major, said, “I work with students for the Urban League and teach catechism at St. John of the Cross, and I've found the greatest single element the less fortunate need is love.”
When Wallace emerged from the VFW, she gave him a flower and told him he should “love the Negroes” as she did him. He gave her a kiss on the cheek as a Wallace relative, Mrs. Jewell Simon, Mallard Street, looked on.
Said Simon, “Related or not, I like what he stands for.”
Lemon Grove realtor Dan Thren said, “I wanted to hear what he had to say.”
Joan Van Zele, Golden Avenue, came to “pay respects” as a former classmate at the University of Alabama.
Wallace also campaigned in El Cajon, Chula Vista, Escondido, Vista, and Mission Valley.
High School Politics: As Helix High goes, so goes the nation, asserted the campus GOP club as presidential politics moved into high gear.
A poll of 10 percent of Helix students showed 52 votes for Richard Nixon, 43 for Michigan's Gov. George Romney, 42 for California's Gov. Ronald Reagan, 28 for Illinois Sen. Charles Percy, 17 for the 1964 GOP nominee Barry Goldwater and 16 for New York City Mayor John Lindsay. Receiving two or more write-in votes were Sen. Everett Dirksen, former movie star Shirley Temple Black and Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge.
The Helix Democratic Club hewed to Lyndon Baines Johnson as the party's 1968 standard bearer, though several students held out for Martin Luther King, Jr.
Trustees Boycott Communist: In a 2-1 vote on Dec. 9, the three-member Grossmont College Board of Trustees moved to boycott a speech by Communist Party leader William Taylor at a noon event sponsored by the Student Open Forum Club in the “free speech’ area outside the campus library.
Ironically, the free speech area was designated at the same meeting on Dec. 9 to allow student picketing and protests without first receiving faculty and administrative approval. Communist speakers were not prohibited by college policy, but several had been denied permission to speak over the past two years. Taylor, a World War II veteran, had spoken at high schools in the Los Angeles area to “impressionable youth.”
Snow Day: Snow fell on Lemon Grove on Dec. 13 for the first time since Dec. 12, 1934, when flurries were widespread in East County. Local welder Paul Tilton reported a chilly 40 degrees at 7 a.m. outside his shop—low enough to make “welding a cozy activity.”
Turkey 'N Tires: B.F. Goodrich, 7285 Broadway, offered yuletide shoppers a free turkey with purchase of two “custom long milers” for $39.90, or four standard shocks for $29.95.
“Faster starts! Safer Stops! From the straight-talk tire people!” proclaimed the ad.
Light Up the Grove: Dec. 18 was the deadline to enter the Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce's Christmas home lighting contest. Chamber president Frank Shugrue said SDG&E would supply first, second and third place trophies and local stores would award merchandise gifts.
In 1967, there were more than 100 entries.
Letters to Santa: For years the Lemon Grove Review printed moppets' pleas to the right jolly old elf.
A well-organized Michael Arias wrote, “Please bring me a Base Station, a Matchbox King-Size X-16 and a Dodge tractor with twin tippers. My sister is too small to write but she wants Matchboxes 27, 5, 36, 65, 72, 22.” (Really? And she's only two!)
The slightly desperate Dianna asserted, “I am a VERY GOOD GIRL. Please bring a soft Cuddles doll and a bike. I can ride one, too. I have hot chocolate for you. Please get here!"
Tammy Anderson, Golden Avenue, was consumed with doubt: “I wish I could see you because I never have. But I like you and I love Christmas and I love December and I want a chain for my bike and a midget and a stuffed cat and that is all. I hope this happens.”
Pint-sized cold warrior Mark Fragoso, Troy Street, yearned for “a bb gun, a tank, a hunting knife, a tent, tinker toys and a bomb.” Whoa!
Future prosecutors Davey and Karen issued a joint plea: “We are really good. We are better behaved than those kids next door. We would like an action-highway, an Incredible Edibles set, a walking doll and a play oven. Thank you very much.”
Keith walked on the wild side: “Please bring me a giant Creepy Crawler, a Spiderman suit, Captain Action, Johnny Astro, two walkie-talkies and a freight factory. By the way how is Rudolf and the other reindeers and how are you? Your friend forever, Keith.”
Compiled by Helen Ofield, president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society, from newspapers archived at the H. Lee House Cultural Center.