A look back at Lemon Grove, 16 years ago this week:
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Were They: They couldn't sleep and wouldn't sleep 'til the Lemon Grove Review came and told them they shouldn't sleep—until they'd read the Review's "Voters' Guide for the Perplexed."
The 1996 ballot was a typical California affair, confronting voters with no less than 14 propositions and dozens of candidates. The Review carried attack ads from candidates obscure and (in)famous, all accusing each other of extortion and taking special interest money, as well as ads from local businesses urging residents to vote, and an editorial invitation to dash to "Election De-Central" at the El Cajon Community Center to watch the election returns, devour shared munchies and quaff free drinks.
But the paper's principal goal was to spell out the pros and cons of the 14 propositions, which ranged from coping with youthful offenders, fixing the state's water supply, legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage from $4.25/hour to $5/hour, and limiting campaign contributions, to a plethora of lawsuits, attorney-client privilege and insurance initiatives, to the perennial issue of health care. The Review staff performed Trojan service, captioning each explanation with "Likely Intent," "Possible Impacts," "Big Spenders" and "Endorsements."
Among the proposition endorsers were rich lawyer William Lerach, then former governor Jerry Brown, and the always-mysterious "Californians Against Flawed Reform" with its deeper-than-the Marianas-Trench pockets. Among the big spenders were these familiar entities: WalMart, AARP, Calpirg and George Soros.
Seeking to lighten the load of civic duty, the Review posed "10 Questions Nobody Else Asked the Candidates." Among these were favorite movie, sport, book; which Biblical character do you identify with; if America is numero uno, which country is numero dos; and our favorite, state the meaning of life in 25 words or less. Apparently 14 good sports responded and we quote three for no other reason except the answers were cute.
Jerry Jones (running for Lemon Grove School Board) liked "Empire of the Sun," auto racing, and User's Guide to Windows, FA Flight Regulations, and the preliminary school board budget. He identified with Noah (whoa!). England was numero dos because "they have all the money." The meaning of life meant "To work and struggle and leave something behind—in my case, my children."
Ernest Pero (running for Lemon Grove School Board) liked "Blues Brothers," football and bowling, and To Kill a Mockingbird, The 10-Minute Manager and A Time to Kill. He identified with nobody in the Bible (whoa!). Canada was numero dos because "it has never known discrimination." The meaning of life meant "To close my eyes at night and know I've been as just and fair as I can be.”
Bruce Johnson (running for Grossmont High School Board) like "E.T.", didn't play any sports, books were "none of your business" and every other question netted "no comment," "no answer" and "don't have any idea."
Of the 14 candidates, 11 read heavy-duty techie books, budgets and management techniques, and three identified with Noah, three with King Solomon and three with Job (wow, what does that say about running for and holding office?). Eleven said Canada, the UK and Australia were numero dos.
What does this mean, we hear you cry. A devotion to the ex-Mother Country? The (British) Empire strikes back?
Where's the Beef: Ron's Country Store, 9573 Jamacha Blvd., urged everyone to vote and then stop by and purchase 50 pounds of beef, pork, chicken, sausage, salami, bacon, franks and bologna for $69.95.
Legal But Not Tender: The Review proclaimed "Save Money! Place your legal notice in the Review: 469-0101." One notice served two people for defaulting on a Deed of Trust worth $90,452.45 in the San Altos area. One defendant was named, ironically, Calamerice McMillion.
Halloween Nighmares: In a special section honoring Halloween, the Review asked its regular columnists to describe their brushes with death. Yikes.
Suzanne Riddle-Haslinger recalled being stuck on the train tracks in a rain storm when her car died. She was 16 and terror-stricken as the train bore down. She managed to start the car and roll forward as the force of rushing train literally blew her several yards further. Since then she has never driven in the rain.
Betty Jo Tucker recalled a near-fatal hemorrhage after a tonsillectomy at about age 10. She was saved by a registered nurse who made house calls. Since then she has loved ice cream for its soothing chill on a sore throat.
Mistie Shaw's van was totaled by a runaway horse on a steep road in Alpine one cold night. The horse died, but Mistie walked away to the amazement of the police and firemen, who speedily arrived on scene. Since then she has cherished the story of the Good Samaritan—they were few and far between that night.
Steve Saint, editor of the Review, wrote a hair-raising account of a hike that took nearly 24 hours— and a Good Samaritan with a car—to reach ancient Jericho on the West Bank in Palestine. The trek involved crawling across an aqueduct, a trench and a wadi to reach a rock near a waterfall. Saint was stabbed by a three-inch cactus spike and nearly slipped into the torrent but for an overhead branch above the bramble that had trapped him in the wilderness. After pulling free, he and his brother walked for hours back to the Jericho highway, where the Good Samaritan picked them up.
Since then, wrote Saint, "Death has taught me how precious life is."
Take care of each other, dear readers.