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1969: O, Little Town of Lemon Grove—The Last Christmas of the Decade is a Doozy

News from the Dec. 25, 1969, edition of the Lemon Grove Review.

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

Dear Readers,

We couldn't bear to depart the Sixties without one last look at the last edition of the decade—and it was worth every penny of the .10 cent newsstand price.

Tire, Spared: Emma Brewer, Alton Drive, was going to toss that old tire in a pre-Christmas garage cleanup, but was stopped by her son, Lee, who apparently carried the '60s we-are-one-with-Planet-Earth in his very marrow.

Lee took the tire and raised it to a level with Shakespeare by painting it red and green, adding a red satin bow and hanging it on the front door as the ultimate recycled symbol of Christmas cheer.

Then he photographed his mom, holding their pet dog, Chewy, whose territorial association with the tire had reportedly baptized it in readiness for its new role.

Reindeer, Sired: When Andy Grosch, Skyline Drive, tried to find Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the storage shed behind his house, he came up empty-handed. Fortunately, Mrs. Grosch had a substitute from her craft class—a three-foot, papier maché horse painted brown and silver and christened "Hoofy."

After painting Hoofy's nose red and attaching some old antlers, a cotton ball tail and reins adorned with glitter (the Grosch house was evidently a goldmine of spare parts), Andy ascended to the roof with his horse-sired reindeer, now christened "Roofy" to show that it carried the DNA of both Rudolph and Hoofy, and placed it next to the chimney.

All was well until the doorbell rang.  Neighborhood moppets had gathered to inspect Roofy and pronounced him—gasp—fake! Mrs. Grosch opened the door to find the five Deidrickson kids all talking at once.  

"They said it's really a horse and Santa will know and they're going to tell everyone," Mrs. Grosch said.

But she invited them in for cookies and milk and explained the desperate, clandestine effort to produce a test tube Rudolph, so to speak. Delighted by the story, the kids repaired to the sidewalk to admire Roofy and pronounce him "real."  

Presumably, Santa stopped by on Christmas Eve.

Pants on Fire: An unidentified man, Levi's aflame, fled his burning Chevy after a rude awakening. He'd been snoozing on the back seat, dropped his Marlboro on "my blue blanky" as he later told Sheriff's deputies and watched his car "go up like a torch" in the parking lot of Bowlero Bowling Alley, Broadway.  

But, wait, there's more.  There were fire bells in the night all over the Big Lemon during Christmas week.  

In the nothing-is-sacred department, a television shorted out at Monte Vista Lodge, the retirement home on Massachusetts Avenue, and burned out an entire room, a little Christmas tree, a wreath and a Nativity scene. 

But for passing merrymakers at 2 a.m., apartment residents on London Lane  would have been roasted like so many Christmas turkeys had not the revelers honked horns, blown whistles, yelled "fire" and thrown beer bottles at the windows. The inmates escaped unharmed from the building owned by the aptly named Harsh Investments, Portland, OR.

The biggest blaze occurred at Broadway Apartments, Massachusetts Avenue, when a faulty water heater blew up, sending the Lemon Grove Review editorial staff to new heights of purple prose:

"Remains of two cars offer mute testimony to the merciless power of the flames that ravaged the apartment garage in the wee hours while residents, heedless of the peril, slumbered on …"

"Charred timbers only hint at the raging fury of the flames that devoured three cars and their contents, leaving only a distant memory of what had once been perfectly good Fords …"

Dateline Bethlehem: Every Christmas during his 37-year tenure as editor of the Review, the old pro, Max Goodwin, ran the story of Jesus Christ on the front page as though it were being reported in newspapers of the time in the Holy Land. Here are some excerpts:

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:— … it appears that Joseph had failed to make any reservations for lodging. Reportedly, the 50-mile journey by donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for arduous for his wife, Mary, an expectant mother.  The low temperature of the night forced them into a stable where they made themselves as comfortable as possible on the straw ...

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Christ was born last night. They say he is a Kin g… It is a far cry from the golden pillars of Solomon's temple to the crude stalls of a cattle barn…

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Beginning the Year of Our Lord 1. The shepherds' dogs and sheep were overcome by a strange light last night the men reported.

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Several known spies and two sycophants of the court of King Herod furtively watched the stable [then] left presumably for Jerusalem.  King Herod is known to be extremely interested in the journeys of the Magi to Bethlehem …

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Eminent astrologers here admit to the presence of a new star … resulted from the conjunction of two great plants, Jupiter and Saturn.

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—This is what Caspar, one of the Wise Men, said of their belief: "The wisdom of the Magi is the greatest of all wisdoms on earth because it knows its own ignorance."

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Beginning The Year of Our Lord 1. Shopkeeper Shows Doubts About Jesus. "All the excitement has made more business for my shop but…I really believe this is just something arranged for more entertainment during taxpayer week … That light was just a falling meteor, you know how a story can grow … I have a spare room had I known in time this many people would show up ...

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Political commentators say it is understandable Herod should feel uneasy at the rise of a leader who will capture the imagination of a discouraged people. His reign has been unhappy due to pressure from Rome.  The Emperor Augustus controls about all in this part of the world that is worth taking...

BETHLEHEM, Dec. 25:—Astrologers See Tragedy, Sorrow for Holy Babe. Great tragedy will mark the future of the child born in Bethlehem say the country's foremost astrologers. He will live to be hailed in Jerusalem, but will later be betrayed by one close to Him. Crucifixion will be the manner of His death and He will undergo unspeakable suffering.

Essay, Persuasive: Derna Flecksteiner, 7, wrote, "I am trying to be a good little girl but I know I could do better if I had some handle bars, a banana seat, a new born thumbalina and a kerplunk. We will be open for you. I love you!"

And so it went on the Eve of Saint Nicholas when gifts imagined, unimagined, humble and glorious flew over and landed in the little town of Lemon Grove.

Mr. Cecil McCann December 25, 2012 at 05:17 AM
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