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Uncovering the 'Lemon Grove Hometown News'

Local paper provided residents with all the talk of the town.

In our four previous columns, we traced the history of the Lemon Grove Review from 1948 to 1999. The tale unleashed affectionate comments from former Lemon Grovians. 

Mary Beth (Meryl) Folk recalled selling classified ads in 1961 at the tender age of nine for crusty Max Goodwin, then editor of the Review. Mary Beth was aiding her mother, Clara Folk, in this task, but since Mary Beth sounded like 39, not nine, on the phone, she got the job. Clara, after all, was busy at Clown School over at SDSU and subsequently appeared in Lemon Grove's Old Time Days parades as Clara the Clown.  

Another, Andy Corvalles, recalled sticking notes on Max Goodwin's office door, pleading for "free papers" to resell in his neighborhood. This odd bit of entrepreneurialism went nowhere and with it, 11-year-old Andy's dream of owning a Corvette.

We also learned from Pete Smith, archivist and historian at the Lemon Grove Historical Society, that there was yet another paper called Lemon Grove Homeland News. Dismayed at missing this bit of history, we hasten to share the revelation with you, dear readers.

We gazed at the yellowing, fraying front page of the Feb. 24, 1949 edition and sure enough, the banner read "Lemon Grove Homeland News—Successor to Lemon Grove News and Lemon Grove-Encanto News-Beacon." Published by H.C. Reed and edited by Robert Curran at 3442 N. Main St., Lemon Grove, it was a full-size newspaper awash in ads and chitchat. Moreover, above the banner is the line "The paper that has helped build Lemon Grove since 1932."

But, wait, there's more. The lead story was the dedication of the new St. John of the Cross School and Convent by Bishop Charles Buddy, head of the diocese. Irony of ironies, the backstory to this event is recounted in a brand new exhibit in the Parsonage Museum that just opened Sept. 29!  

In order to raise funds for the parish school, the dynamo priest, Msgr. Daniel O'Donoghue ("Father Danny") launched a blockbuster horse show in 1941, the year Pearl Harbor was bombed, catapulting America into World War II. The combination of war effort, patriotism, faith, concern for kids as their relatives and teachers headed for the front lines, and love of horses—the latter a huge part of Lemon Grove's history—drove the horse show to heights of success.

With an annual attendance of 10,000 fans, a beautiful horse ring, nationally renowned and home-grown competitors, visits by Hollywood stars, a midway, a fabulous pit barbecue, dedicated volunteers and the irresistible charm of Father Danny, the horse show raised the funds to build not only the parish school, but the convent, too.

At the dedication, 40 priests and 45 uns joined Bishop Buddy, Catholic War Veterans, Spanish Civil War Veterans (Whoa!  We had Lincoln Brigade members here, too?) and the Boy and Girl Scouts to raise the flags amid song and prayer. In a preview of the remarkable music programs to come at St. John's, a children's choir sang and presented baskets of flowers.

In the Lemon Grove Homeland News, social news went on for pages and no detail, however personal, was spared:

Friends of the D. W. Stanleys "will be interested to know they have a baby girl born Feb. 17 heavier than expected."

Gary Greenlee, son of the Frank Greenlees, Golden Avenue, "has been ill with a cold."

Antwonet "Trixie" Treganza fell and broke "something" and was confined to her Kempf Street home after X-rays.

Janis Yankey, Colfax Drive, turned three, while her neighbor Shirley Graham, 1691 Colfax, "has been ill for the past week."  

Mrs. J.A. Parson, 2124 Berry, "is improving steadily from her state."

The Andersons on Golden Avenue entertained 40 at a card party and served tuna casserole, spaghetti with potato chip crust (we aren't kidding), crackers with peanut butter, cottage cheese, coffee and macaroons.

The sisters Elizabeth Scharer and Josephine DeHoff, 8029 Palm St., entertained three guests from Cleveland who were touring Hot Springs, Ark., Phoenix, Ariz., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Lemon Grove.  "We are sick of Cleveland," said one guest, a Miss Mame Pfaff.

Mrs. L. G. Boeing, Barlett Drive, racked up a double header by celebrating her birthday and giving birth at the same time while guests sang "Happy Birthday" followed by a lullaby. The floral arrangement featured a baby in a cradle, silver dancing shoes and the words, "You're only young once."

The paper was rife with hilarious editing bloopers:

"Mrs. David Hentigan, hostess chairman of the Forward Club Juniors, is stuffed with Easter seals that will go out later."  

"La Mesa Rotarians had their wives for dinner."

This bacchanale also featured an acrobat-ballet dancer who tap danced on roller skates, a steel guitarist who sang the "Sow Song," evidently to stony silence from the wives. The singer, Dr. "Andy" Anderson, noted their "lack of enthusiasm." Capping the program was Ted Angell with his amazing card tricks and running commentary "country bumpkin" style. 

On the education front, the Lemon Grove PTA gave $100 to the junior high school for encyclopedias.Over 200 people attended the Lemon Grove Pack 8 Cub Scouts dinner at the First Congregational Church (where Civic Center Park is today) catered by Avalon Café (where Por Favor now stands empty).  

Over 100 attended the Forward Club's tea in the famous clubhouse on Main Street to hear the Schubert Club of Grossmont High School sing. Chess champion Olga Higgins displayed her paintings in Blake's Greeting Shop on Broadway. Mrs. Mason's second graders in the old grammar school threw a party for their parents and read "Our Best Stories" aloud.

The ads were fetching. Comanche Bowl, 7573 El Cajon Blvd., urged you to "bowl to strike it rich and maybe get a date."  

Evelyn Wigton's Style Shop on Broadway offered the "wonder-undie, Suspants, worn with or without stockings and perfect for those who almost need a girdle." Since that would be most of us, we join the cry to bring back Suspants. 

Drew Motor advertised the "Fashion Car of the Year—the Gold Medal-Winning 1949 Ford. Ask your Ford Dealer for a ride in this genuinely post-war car." The art work featured women in Dior's "New Look" outfits.

We liked this ad in "Special Notices":

"We know the person that took the metal mustache cup and holder from our show room floor. Give it back now or we will prosecute. No action will be taken if it is brought back NOW. Trader's Mart, 316 El Cajon Blvd. Ph. H4-7095."

"Another piece of the puzzle," as Pete Smith would say.  And yet another indication of how hometown papers never shut down, they just get reabsorbed and regurgitated, and the revelations and the chuckles go on.

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