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1970: Longing for the Little Mermaid

News from the Jan. 22, 1970, edition of the Lemon Grove Review.

A look back at Lemon Grove, 42 years ago this week.

Grovians Fight Back: Members of the Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce and the Old Time Days Committee joined forces to attend meetings of the County Planning Commission to "make known the desires of the people." Worn out by the commission's "failure to better conditions in Lemon Grove," Jim Dorman, chair of the new committee called for a mass meeting of citizens to take action without delay.

The catalyst? The commission had promised to fix streets, map out sidewalks and develop a public park in Lemon Grove, but again put off the projects in favor of those in Alpine.

"Even if we had a proposal, the commission would be supervisory and we would do all the work," Dorman said.

Those were the days when being at the back of the line drove Grovians to mount four efforts to gain cityhood.

Bear Flag Leaves Grove for Vietnam: When Gary Halvorson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Halvorson, Deborah Place, was stationed at Phu Loi, 17 miles from Saigon, he wanted a touch of the Golden State nearby. He requested a state flag that had flown over the state Capitol. Sen. Wadie Deddeh hand delivered the flag to the Halvorsons, who then shipped it to Vietnam. Gary, a 1965 Mount Miguel High School graduate, flew it over his office.  

Said Deddeh, "These youngsters are giving too much of themselves not to be heard when they request something."

When Eels Came to the Grove: Sigrid Norby and Nanny Christensen opened their new Danish restaurant, "The Little Mermaid," 7874 Broadway (near the Food Factory), with a boffo menu of Danish specialties like Algelé med Flodepe (eels in aspic), Kogt Laks (boiled salmon), Fiskebudding (fish pudding), Ingefaerpolse (ginger sausage), Sylte (headcheese), Syltede Krydrede Stikkelsbaer (spiced gooseberries), and, of course, Danish pastries, washed down with Rodvinstoddy med Cognac (red wine toddy with brandy—one would flatten a longshoreman) or the infamous "Black Dane" (kahlua, aquavit and plenty of ice cubes)  The remarkable menu was offered from morgenmad (breakfast) at 6 a.m. to aften maltid (dinner) from 5 p.m. onward.  

At the grand opening, Norby and Christensen offered boutonnières to men and little bouquets to women, as well as free cucumber salad. Prices ranged from 90 cents to a princely $5, but if you paid an extra 50 cents you could take home a serving of Frickadeller (pork balls in mustard).  

Note:  We aren't sure how long The Little Mermaid stayed in business.  But with their cute logo (the famous Little Mermaid statue in the Copenhagen harbor), the even cuter waitresses (lace aprons, beehive hairdos) and the frilly curtains in the window, we wish they were here now.

Why Do Kids Put Beans in Their Ears? For the same reason Bobby Necker, New Jersey Street, put his pet mouse in the coin return chute of the pay phone on Broadway. When he reopened the chute, "Kenny" had vanished. Panicked, Bobby inserted a nickel and reported to the operator, Alberta Meeker, that the phone "ate my mouse."  

In 40 years of responding to pleas for help, Meeker had finally drawn an Academy Award-winning request.  She wrote up a report while suggesting to the frantic Bobby that Kenny might "just be hiding."  But, no, Kenny was lost in the belly of the Pacific Telephone Company until 4:15 p.m. when a repairman arrived to dismantle the phone.

According to Meeker's log book, boy and mouse were reunited at 4:20 p.m.  No word on the reaction of Bobby's parents when he didn't come home for three hours.

Truth and Beauty: The new Lemon Grove College of Beauty, 3135 Imperial, didn't fool around. If you wanted to make it in the cosmetology big leagues, you had to "truthfully answer yes" to such questions as "Does badly done makeup annoy you?" "Does botched hair color drive you mad?" and "Do you favor good grooming or can you put up with sloppy looks?"  Answer no to any of these and you'd miss out on "an exciting and profitable career" at the only "Pivot Point Accredited School of Beauty" in the county.

Patrons got "bargain rates" and all work was done by students.

From The Band to Beethoven: For $5 a ticket you could hear either. The Band, the iconic 1960s ensemble that took the land by storm with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," played outdoors at the Community Concourse (today's Civic Theatre-City Hall complex).

On the same night, inside the Civic Theatre, conductor Zoltan Rozsnyai was warming up the San Diego Symphony for a rousing evening of Beethoven with French violinist Christian Ferras. The Band's drummer Levon Helm, guitarist Robby Robertson, bassist Rick Danko, keyboardist Richard Manuel and organist Garth Hudson were in mufti (string ties, bowler hats, black suits) while Hungarian expat Rozsnyai was in his trademark tux and red bow tie.

Padres' Pick: The San Diego Padres picked John DeMott, Harris Street, as their public address announcer on KCBQ announced the station manager Eddie Leishman. DeMott, formerly of KIVA-TV, Yuma, was a 10-year radio veteran and a member of the San Diego Sportswriters-Sportscasters Association. He served on the committee that persuaded the Padres to locate their spring training in Yuma.

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