A look back at Lemon Grove, 39 years ago this week:
A Whale of a Fourth: Shamu, a two-ton nephew of his Uncle Sam, hurled himself 15 feet into the air and rang the Liberty Bell with his nose. This showstopper capped Sea World's new extravaganza, "Yankee Doodle Whale," designed to commemorate the nation's birthday.
Before ringing the bell, Shamu carried "Paul Revere" on a watery midnight ride around his million-gallon, salt-water tank, rejected the moniker "Prince of Wales" in favor of "John Hancock" (you had to be there to fathom this), dove to the bottom of the tank with "John Paul Jones" on his back, and saluted "George Washington." The performers were authentically costumed down to powdered wigs and buckled shoes (removed before riding on Shamu).
Monster Farewell: William Bartholomew worked for 23 years as head of maintenance in the Lemon Grove School District and oversaw the construction of six new schools. On the day he retired, school superintendent Robert Sutton presented him with "The Monster," a six-foot concoction of worn-out machinery, bits of old furniture, broken plumbing, nuts and bolts, and you-name-it welded together by grateful co-workers to form—get this—a bird bath.
It was the least they could do for the man who'd saved the district gazillions through clever repairs, recycling, and rigorous comparison shopping. No word on how Bartholomew got the monster home, or what Mrs. Bartholomew's reaction was, or whether any birds took the plunge.
Big Sundae on Sunday: The Ace Drive-In Movie Theatre, newly reoriented to "better family fare" after months of G-men blowing each other in half, announced that every Sunday kiddies under 12 would receive "nice, big sundaes" free of charge. Even better, the ice cream was made from Miller Dairy milk, Lemon Grove's very own and a frequent gold medalist at the San Diego County Fair. How could they lose with this delicious double bill?
To publicize the event, Dawn, Debbie, John and Cindy Cardile, children of the Ace's manager, were seen devouring sundaes while hanging out the windows of a snazzy Chevy.
Pot Smuggler Denies All: Helix High School has had its share of errant teachers over the years who've sullied the Groves of Academe with behavior more adolescent than that of their young charges.
In 1971, English teacher Charles Kahan was suspended for apparently smuggling marijuana into the U.S. during a jaunt to Arizona with El Cajon buddy Jerry Bordeaux. Border agents spotted "individuals" loading 1,000 pounds of pot from a light plane into the back of Bordeaux's camper. Kahan claimed he was just along for the ride. But the Helix governing board suspended him without pay while the courts resolved the case.
Two years later, after two indictments and two releases, community outrage had reached a boiling point. Kahan had actually returned to teaching after the first release, but the second was the last straw. Rather than pay him months of back pay, the board fired him. Yet, Kahan had the right to appeal. Such is the Education Code. Stay tuned. We'll revisit 1973 in a future column.
Goodbye to All That: Bob Turnbull, son of Dr. Amorita Treganza and an actor turned preacher, released a new book, "Jesus Has a Man in Waikiki," describing his transition from Hollywood playboy to man of the cloth ("the Chaplain of Waikiki").
Turnbull attended Lemon Grove schools and Helix High before moving on to a TV and film career. Among his credits are Tora Tora Tora, in which he played a desk sergeant who didn't get the message that the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor, and multiple roles in TV series like Petticoat Junction, Hawaii Five-0, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ironside, My Three Sons, Combat, Captain Z-Ro, and others. There is a "collector version" of "Jesus Has a Man in Waikiki" still available at Amazon.com.
The Pi Tape Chronicles: In our May 28 column we focused on events in 1963, among them the dawn of the pi tape manufactured in Lemon Grove. Ten years later, the owners, Larry Hadley and Leo Cochran, had moved into a new building on North Avenue.
Business was booming as the innovative pair turned out pi tapes, ranging from $23 to $1,000 apiece depending on size, and capable of measuring the circumference of round objects without complex calculations, whether that object was on the moon or in Spring Valley.
The company hired locally, but its reach was global, even stellar, as pi tapes were used by NASA on various voyages into outer space.