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Preserving Lemon Grove’s Collective Memories

The Historical Society opened its 35th season of “History Alive” with a barnburner.

The audience was the star Thursday night at the H. Lee House for the 35th season opener of the Lemon Grove Historical Society’s “History Alive” series. A full house gathered to share stories about the Grove’s rich past. Everyone who spoke related a memory about his or her experience in our city. A videographer, Rob Stuckey, captured the entire evening for posterity.

There was an incredible amount of history, dating back to 1933, in that room. The stories were fascinating, and each one seemed to trigger another person's memory to add to the mix.

Here are some things we learned about Lemon Grove (that I never knew):
- When Mt. Miguel High School was built on a former pasture, it was nicknamed Cowpie High.
- You could explore the Grove by renting a horse at Big Chief Riding Stable.
- Miller’s Dairy was the fly capital of the town every summer.
- Lemon Grove had the first female school principal in the county, Ilse Hanning—and she was at the meeting last night.

People told stories that were humorous, historical, and poignant. We heard about the teacher who used to snack from his student’s lunches. More than one speaker mentioned the rural nature of the Grove, with its lack of sidewalks, streetlights, and stoplights, in the city’s not too distant past. Many also mentioned our long history of cultural diversity.

87-year-old Richard Patterson had a great story about Polly’s Pond, which is now the Home Depot site. When Patterson was in school, at lunchtime on warm days he and his friends would bike to the pond for an au natural swim. When they returned to school, everyone knew where they had been due to the distinct (read: stinky) pond odor they carried with them.

Refreshments following the program included lemon bars and lemonade...what else?

Thank you, , for holding on to our city’s stories. Two repeat performances to share more stories of the Grove have been scheduled for next March and June.

Helen Ofield September 07, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Corky Lang was also asked to share a memoir, which he did with characteristic élan, noting that he played "Will Troxell" in last season's melodrama--and found himself last evening sitting near the real Will Troxell's great granddaughter! In the back of the hall was Sally Rae Harris, who will join us Oct. 4 for a fireside chat and beaucoup memories of growing up in LG--and whom do we owe thanks for booking Sally? Why, Corky Lang.
Marianne West September 13, 2012 at 02:56 PM
As a newcomer to Lemon Grove, it is so much fun to hear about the past of this city. There is a part of me wishing some of these stories could still happen today - love to have less traffic and for kids to be able to ride their bikes all over town. At least chickens are still running around all over the place, at least in my neighborhood. Thank you all for organizing and participating!

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