If the city ever decides to erect a statue of Lemon Grove’s most prominent citizen, my vote would go to Dr. Amorita Treganza. June 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of our longtime resident, who passed away in 2002. A remarkable woman, she graced the Grove with her enormous talents for more than seven decades.
Treganza started big here, being crowned Miss Lemon Grove in 1928 at the tender age of 16. She only went up from there becoming a flamenco dancer, actress, teacher, philanthropist, and renowned children’s eye doctor. Here is a to more of her fascinating history.
This week, the Lemon Grove Historical Society is hosting a number of centennial events celebrating Treganza’s legacy. The first was a birthday party on Sunday afternoon at her former home, a modest Craftsman on Kempf Street. At this very joyous gathering of friends and family, a performance by a professional flamenco dance troupe was featured.
It was the kind of party Treganza would have loved—great conversations, good food, live music and dance, all on a picture-perfect day in the Grove. A number of people shared stories about the good doctor. Longtime friend Gary Elbert said “she made a great difference in my life.” Historical society president Helen Ofield spoke of Treganza’s “unconditional love for Lemon Grove.”
My favorite speaker was Grace Amorita Doyle, who read a piece she composed about her great-grandaunt. The homage to her ancestor was sweet and touching.
After the event, I thanked her for the poem. Grace was quick to remind me that it was an ode, not a poem. I believe it’s always a good day when one is correctly corrected by an 11-year-old.
The afternoon finished perfectly with Flamenco Sur. The quartet of two dancers, a singer/dancer and a guitar player were flawless in performance. Shouts of olé, heel clicking, hand clapping, and flamenco style guitar music filled the air in a distinct lemon groove. The spirit of our birthday girl seemed vibrant and alive as the show ended with the sun breaking through the clouds.
You can still get in on the celebrations for the first lady of Lemon Grove. Tuesday night, the winners of the will be honored during the City Council meeting at the Community Center.
And another birthday party is planned for Thursday as part of the historical society's , starting at 7 p.m. at the Cultural Center, 3205 Olive St.
The free event will include the presentation of a City Proclamation; a reminiscence by Treganza's son, former actor Robert Turnbull IV; a presentation by Helen Ofield on Treganza's life and times; and a centennial birthday cake with 100 candles, served with champagne. The evening is suitable for those 18 and older. For more information, call 619-460-4353.
It is very doubtful that Treganza would have ever wanted a statue of herself to even be considered. A great idea forwarded by the historical society is to name Civic Center Park for her, or collectively for the Treganza family.
Maybe the city could dedicate a memorial garden there in her honor, and plant some of her favorite amaryllis flowers. I think she would approve.