A look back at Lemon Grove, 49 years ago this week:
Top Dog: Shamva the Lion Dog, an unusual Grovian, won Best of Breed in the Rhodesian ridgeback category and Best in the Hound Group at the Harbor Cities Kennel Club Dog Show in June. Shamva was owned by Christine Mann, 10, and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Mann, San Miguel Avenue.
Shamva took home a silver bowl, silver plate and silver cup, plus a silver medallion from the Ridgeback Club.
"Shamva won against 572 hounds from 16 breeds and is one of four ridgebacks in the nation to win top hound,” said a jubilant Mrs. Mann. “Their common name is African lion dog, because the Hottentots trained them to hunt lions."
Shamva was born in Alpine, raised in Lemon Grove, led a silver-plated life, and wouldn't know a lion if she'd tripped over one.
For the record, "Hottentot" isn't an actual tribal designation, but a pejorative European nickname for almost any African tribe. The correct name is Khoikhoi ("real people") for the nomadic tribe that emigrated from Botswana to South Africa sometime in the fifth century A.D. and became fearless lion hunters. Apparently, there is a sound in the Khoikhoi language that emerges to the European ear as "hottentot."
Underdog: "Oblivion for unincorporated communities--disgusting!" declared Assemblyman Frank Lanterman (R-La Cañada) when he resigned in outrage from the Assembly Committee on Municipal and County Government.
At issue were four bills, passed with Gov. Pat Brown's blessing, that affected the borders of Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and other unincorporated areas statewide. Here's how small towns were trampled, local history and folklore ignored, and a sense of place and unity held for ransom:
AB1662 created Local Agency Formation Commissions in each of 59 counties. The commissions could approve or disapprove any proposal to incorporate a new city or a special district.
Worse, SB 861 created a Local Annexation Commission in every county to approve or disapprove annexation of territory (except school district territory). This is why incorporated La Mesa and San Diego were able to snag chunks of unincorporated and politically helpless Lemon Grove, and why the Lemon Grove School District still includes a school in La Mesa (Vista La Mesa Academy on Violet Street).
SB 856 rubbed salt in the wound by creating nine regional planning districts to "coordinate local planning activities." Though billed as "advisory," these districts were ruled by counties and incorporated cities, leaving the planning dreams of towns like Lemon Grove in the dust and their territory prey to the growth ambitions of their larger, incorporated neighbors.
AB 1663 cut to the quick by creating the mysterious Coordinating Council on Urban Policy staffed by 18 members hand-picked by Gov. Brown. Their task was to "investigate urban problems, develop long-range policies and advise the governor." Translation: Reinforce the above three bills so that cities could slice off territories, increase their tax bases, grow their industrially zoned areas and let the good times roll.
These bills are why Lemon Grove began its long march to incorporation, finally winning cityhood in 1977 on the fourth roll of the dice–fought virtually every step of the way by more powerful neighbors.
Service clubs, historical societies and local chambers of commerce statewide opposed the bills. Lemon Grove, with a population of 26,000 in 1963 and a chamber of commerce representing some 200 local businesses, sent a barrage of telegrams protesting the bills. You know the rest of the story, dear readers. We're there.
Here's a nasty footnote to the carnage of 1963: AB 2018 failed to pass, thank goodness, as it would have allowed collusion between any two cities yearning to annex the same territory. City A could cut a deal with City B to determine areas of future growth in either city. hen City A would stand back and help City B nab the desired territory and vice versa. Do you hear the distant clank of armor as in medieval times when two Lords of the Manor carved up land and decided who got which village and how many serfs?
Dogged: Tim Fetters, owner of Pal’s Café, the popular watering hole on Lemon Grove Avenue (near modern Antique Row Café) was a three-time loser all in one week. His $8,000 racehorse, Gasser, broke down in mid-race at Caliente and had to be put down. His Vista Street home was looted of rare coins, medallions and diamond jewelry. Then he lost three teeth at the dentist.
"This just hasn't been a good week," said Tim in the understatement of the year.
Good Dog, Tagged: Hubert Chapin Lathan, La Presa Street, was a Marine Corps veteran who still carried shell fragments in his body from Guam in 1944. He'd spent six years in hospitals, had 13 operations, and suffered from acute sinus headaches and other pains. He'd run out of money for doctors and couldn't get a prescription for the painkiller Percodan. So he made a bad choice. He used the narcotic registry number of a physician to phone in a prescription to a Spring Valley pharmacy. The alert pharmacy called the doctor.
Lathan, an accounting auditor, married and father of a toddler, was given three years' probation. He apologized to the doctor and the pharmacy, and said he wasn't a drug addict, just "a guy in pain."
This heartbreaker was tucked away among church announcements on page 3 of the Lemon Grove Review and is an example of the brief, telling stories that the old pro, Max Goodwin, used to print.
Guard Dog, Unleashed: Christian Citizens for Moral Action of Lemon Grove was condemned by the Southern California-Arizona Methodist Conference for distributing handbills at local schools, containing salacious material from the controversial 1960 edition of the "Dictionary of American Slang" edited by Drs. Robert Chapman and Barbara Ann Kipfer.
Long a hot-button issue for guardians of national morals, the dictionary included words for sexual orientation, assorted copulation and related topics. Outraged neighbors and parents, "and at least one student," found the handbills on windshields, shrubs and parking lots at Lemon Grove schools. Some parents delivered their copies to the Lemon Grove Review.
Their outrage was not at the dictionary, but at Christian Citizens for isolating only the most inflammatory terms and printing them for students' viewing. The Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy called the group "... dirty-minded with no sense of responsibility to young people and no respect for the truth."
He pointed out that the handbills could be seen by children of any age and that children were fascinated by sexual references, including those in the Bible. Bishop Kennedy opined that "most adults outgrow such a fascination except such people as call themselves Christian Citizens for Moral Action."
When the dictionary first emerged in 1940, it was hailed for its comprehensive look at American slang. The dictionary was updated every decade into the 1990s as linguistic references developed in response to technology, changing social mores and other forces.
Numerous books have been written for more than a century on the merits or lack thereof of censorship in public schools and book banning in public libraries. Think of the unvarnished portraits and dialogue in "Huckleberry Finn" and "The Grapes of Wrath," which caused them to be banned in Boston and elsewhere. Yet, they live on among the great books of world literature.