News from the Sept. 8, 1949 edition of the Lemon Grove Review when temperatures soared and tempers, too.
Hose 'Em Off: With the town sweltering in 92-degree heat, Ray Graham, editor of the Review, headlined the issue with this cartoon showing a father hosing off his little boy. Occasional folksy cartoons like this were often the sole artwork in the paper during the Graham years.
Put Out the Fire: In 1949 'Grovians relied on the U.S. Forestry Service for fire protection. Result: Things burned up as frantic residents toted hoses and buckets while the Forestry Service fought fires in thousands of square miles of back country.
Sept. 15 was the deadline for "Fire Petitions" urging the county to establish the Lemon Grove Fire Protection District. The local Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the effort to gather at least 1,000 signatures on petitions placed in Grove Pastry Shop, Lemon Grove Hardware, Lemon Grove Food Market, Skaggs Barber Shop and Sawyer's Drug Store.
Chamber president James Pearce got into a reported shouting match with local residents over the cost of fire protection:
"We're already paying $12 a year for refuse collection," huffed Marty Brodie (a figure that leaves modern 'Grovians slack-jawed).
"A house burned down on Central Avenue last weekend," declared Pearce. "Yours could be next. Why gamble your home against good fire protection?"
Pearce said the annual cost per household would be less than $12 in the first year and home insurance would drop in the third year because of local fire protection.
To Build a Better Bucket: Lemon Grove Hardware advertised a 59 cent bucket "better because it's galvanized." Not to be outdone, Ward & Maguire Lumber sold a 79 cent version with "a tough handle that won't break no matter the use."
With bucket brigades still the norm during fires, and in a town full of livestock, poultry and rabbitries, the better bucket was coin of the realm.
Hot on the Trail: In her weekly column "Ridin' By," Marge Ellison wrote, "Old Man Weather is an old meanie. There's a big demand for sunburn lotion, blister cure and muscle rub among the weekend riders who took overnight jaunts. The horses stood it alright…but riders were bucking' that heat and blistering sun…"
Ellison wrote of equestrian activities in The Big Lemon back when there were still at least 3,000 horses stabled in town. In three densely-packed columns she detailed everything from horse shows, to saddle repair classes, to farrier visits, to fundraisers like this one:
"The Crest Fire Association will hold a horse show Oct. 1 and 2 to raise funds for the fire department that guards 1,200 mountain homes in the Suncrest-La Cresta area."
Bread, Rising: Mrs. George Casteel, wife of the famed Big Lemon realtor and mapmaker, said her bread dough, covered in a tea towel and set on a south-facing window ledge, rose in just 15 minutes in the Indian Summer heat and was ready for baking.
This was back when the whole town smelled like a bakery in the early morning -- and not just because of the legendary Grove Pastry Shop -- but because women routinely baked bread in readiness for the day's menus.
Sweet Potatoes, Resting: With crops ripening fast in the intense heat of late August and early September, sweet potatoes needed special handling -- and this was front page news in the Review.
"Harvest your sweet potatoes and store at 70 to 80 degrees in newspaper lined baskets, field bins or apple boxes for 15 to 20 days in dimly-lighted area. After curing you may remove the potatoes to any farmer's warehouse until they are marketed."
In 1940s and 1950s, "Farm News" from the County Agricultural Extension Service was a must-read in the Grove.
Students, Fanning: Also front page news was the school bus schedule for local schools -- all three of them. Some 1,800 kiddies were wedged into Lemon Grove School (today, Lemon Grove Academy), Monterey Heights School and Vista La Mesa.
The two-column story detailed bus departures and arrivals, who got picked up and dropped when and where, with the first pickup at 7:30 a.m. and the last drop-off at 4:20 p.m. "west of the tracks."
School superintendent Byron Netzley advised parents to clothe children in "light cotton." One classroom activity involved making "large paper fans" for student use in those un-air-conditioned days.
Where the Birds Were: Antwonet "Trixie" Treganza, wife of the late architect Alberto Treganza (of Big Lemon fame), continued her weekly column, "Walks and Talks With Mother Nature." This week her topic was Mr. and Mrs. Goldfinch. Apparently, in 1949 you could spot goldfinches everywhere in the Grove. Try finding one today.
In endearing prose, Treganza extolled the life of the goldfinch: "As parents they are so tender and watchful over their little family, and as mates they are solicitous and devoted to each other, and so have a very charming home life. In undulating flight they sing a rapturous song of clear, sweet melody."
Coolest Spot in Town: Also front page news was editor Graham's gleeful dash through the subzero American Food Lockers, 8321 Imperial Avenue (near Lemon Grove Cafe on modern Lemon Grove Ave.).
"Take comfort," wrote Graham. "It's hot here, but hotter everywhere else in America."
And so it went 64 years ago when The Best Climate on Earth was under siege, but its residents hung tough knowing paradise was just around the corner.
About this column: Compiled by Helen Ofield, president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society, from newspapers archived at the H. Lee House Cultural Center. Each week, we take a peek at the past with some news and advertising highlights from a randomly chosen edition of the Lemon Grove Review. Ofield was awarded first place in 2013 and second place in 2012 in non-daily column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists.