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1969: Everywhere You Look, Things are Getting Groovy in the Grove

News from the Dec. 18, 1969, edition of the Lemon Grove Review.

A look back at Lemon Grove, 43 years ago this week.

Rock On: Gradually, over the decade, the Lemon Grove Review began to run news of rock groups and photographs of long-haired, mustachioed young men mainly because they were impossible to avoid. The pop culture genie was out of the bottle and there was no turning back.

The San Diego Arena featured It's a Beautiful Day, the six-member San Francisco rock group "with a deafening sound," along with The Iron Butterfly, a San Diego group performing its hits "In-a-gadda-da-vida" and "Heav-y."  Tickets were $3 to $5.50.

Folk rock superstars Crosby, Stills & Nash, late of Buffalo Springfield, headlined at Balboa Stadium followed by Canned Heat, the down-home blues group.  Tickets were $4 to $8.  Crosby's group had released its first album earlier in 1969, featuring its break-out hit, "Marrakech Express" that sent flaming youth to the Middle East in search of whatever. 

On the downtown Community Concourse at 8:30 p.m. were The Youngbloods, another San Francisco trio, performing their hit "Let's Get Together." Consigned to scheduling gulag at 4 p.m. was a local group, Sick and Tired, performing their signature number, "Sick, Sick, Sick."

Well, well, well were the Gas Girls, Jane Klein and Chrissy Smith, 18, who got a job pumping gas at the Gulf Station owned by Terry Nielsen and Dale Titewald at Buena Vista and Broadway. Garbed in mini skirts, go-go boots and cascades of hair, the girls warbled Christmas carols and pumped Gulftane while "lending a touch of beauty to the normally masculine atmosphere" as the photo caption proclaimed.

Moppets' Messages to Santa: The old pro, Review editor Max Goodwin, never missed a chance to boost the paper's circulation, especially during Christmas when kiddies' letters to Santa became a seasonal crowd-pleaser. Here's a sample from the end of the Sixties:

Michelle Kniffing, 7,  yearned for "Go Go boots and a Sno-Cone machine, and a way to grow long hair quickly."

Ricky Hudson, 8, pined for "a huge drum set, some record albums and a microphone."

Alan Hirko ached for "a guitar with a strap and a Beatles suit."

Joey pleaded for "a car that runs all by itself but don't tell my parents.  Also I don't want any more hair cuts for the rest of my life. Please help me, Santa."

Judi, Patti, Heidi, Buster, Becci and Scooter Bishop told all, ending with a chill blast of reality: "Judi and Patti promise to do better at paying attention. Heidi promises to stop drinking the bottle. Buster will stay out of the cupboards. The babies will stop spitting up. We know you bring toys to all the boys and girls in the world, so you can't carry lots for us because there are so many of us and now there is a war."

Don't You Know There's a War On: Lemon Grovian Michael Miranda, Noble Street, died in combat in Vietnam, while Bruce Keyes, LaCorta Street, flew his first solo training flight in a T34 Mentor at Pensacola, FL.

The Review listed 16 other local men training at bases nationwide for the Indo-China conflict. One by one, they died between 1969 and 1975 when Saigon fell to Uncle Ho.

Candle in the Wind: Marleedon Candles, 8127 Broadway, was under new management. The company was launched in 1962 as the nation's youth began to rediscover hand crafts, organic gardening and the joys of working for yourself, while rejecting all things corporate.

Mt. Miguel High School graduates Gary Craver and Larry Green, 18, raised family money to buy Marleedon Candles and revive the ancient art of handmade tapers. By hearkening back to the votive lights of ancient Thebes, Rome and Crete, the boys tripled their retail business and even started a wholesale line.

Big sellers were candles shaped like Buddha, Santa, swans, Tikis, Saguaro cacti, stars and elephants.  

Beef x 2: Char-Burger, which pioneered the  stop 'n go double drive-up window, the one-car length speaker and the single menu when In-N-Out Burger was but a figment, opened its doors at 7540 Broadway, the third "Char-B" in Southern California.

The first two Char-Burgers clocked cars at one every three minutes as two cooks turned out Char-Burgers (.45 cents) and Beefeaters (.75 cents) adorned with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and secret sauce enrobed in a sesame seed bun. The beef was "straight from the cow," lean, almost fat-free and, of course, charred to a fare-thee-well.

Char-Burger lives on, but, mysteriously, given its citywide predilection for fast food, not in Lemon Grove.

Ahead of Its Time: James Hardison's "Telespanish" column ran in most issues of the Review during the Sixties with each column teaching phrases pertinent to particular holidays.

The Music of Christmas: It was everywhere in the Lemon Grove. No church, school, club, public square, store or home lacked concerts, carols, choirs, musicians and nativity scenes with people dressed as the Holy Family replete with Wise Men and shepherds, and flanked by living livestock.  

There isn't space in this column to enumerate the outpouring of Christmas events that dominated our city in December, 1969 as the decade ended in violence at home and abroad.

Take care of each other, dear readers.

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