News from the Aug. 17 and 24 editions of the Lemon Grove Review.
A Tale of Two Festivals: Modern Lemon Grove Old Time Days was held in May for two days from the mid 1970s to 2003 when it had shrunk to one day and was invaded by warring gangs that effectively ended the festivity. The parades stepped off at 10 a.m. from St. John of the Cross parking lot, moved west on Broadway, south on Lemon Grove Avenue and ended in the Bank of America parking lot, where booths and games awaited.
Horsey groups, service clubs, bands, dignitaries, clowns, cars and floats dominated the largely adult parade.
Old Time Days culminated in an evening fireworks display, an element that was later eliminated due to budgetary stress. Miss Lemon Grove was crowned a month earlier so that she and her court could ride in the parade. Major funding for the parade came from EDCO, Cox and other area industries, as well as from booth rentals. Participants signed an agreement indemnifying the City.
By contrast, the Great Powow was held in late August, ran for three days, with parades beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Day One after eight hours of activity. The parades stepped off from Massachusetts and Broadway, moved east on Broadway, paused briefly to salute The Big Lemon, and ended at a big stage in the Grove Theatre parking lot at Lester and Imperial, with booths and activity running in from Grove Street, which also had a stabling area for the hundreds of participating horses.
The Powow Queen was crowned during Day One so that she and her court could ride in the parade that evening. The parade and the entire event prominently featured children.
There were no fireworks, the Lemon Grove PTA sponsored the parade, service clubs underwrote prizes and volunteerism ruled. Nobody signed anything except a registration form with their name, address, phone and type of entry. The Review breathlessly termed the parade "mammoth" and "a don't miss unless there is something wrong with you."
In other words, Lemon Grove was a different place in 1950. No excuse too flimsy for a public party. Awash in civic-minded local businesses riding the post WW II economic boom. Bursting with busy club activity. And, at the heart of the Powow, was the twin dynamo of the school district and the Broadway business district. For these two, it was all about kids and families.
The Big Parade: The 1950 parade came at you in four sections: Parade marshals on golden palominos ("just like Roy Rogers"), dignitaries on horse-drawn wagons, the Color Guard of the Deputy Sheriff, the Marine Corps Band, and Powow Queen Jackie Walters with maid of honor Patty Martin (garbed in party dresses donated by local specialty shops), followed by the school band and majorettes.
Then came four dozen floats interspersed with a dozen bands.
Then a couple dozen horse groups.
Then all those kids.
According to the Review, "the crowd went wild as every element passed by" and the whole parade lasted until 8:30 p.m. when street dancing began and lasted until 10:30 p.m.
The Organizers: In 1950, Arthur and Doris Chappelle were in charge of the parade. You called them at home, Homeland 6-8115, to register your entry. Mrs. T.A. Keeton chaired the PTA's sponsorship, a job involving round-the-clock planning. KSON interviewed Mr. Keeton, who said he made do with "cans of beans" for dinner in the days leading up to the Powow.
Marian Batchelder chaired the parade judges (Col. Carleton Burgess and Col. Jasper Prenn). Marian's husband, Clark Batchelder, had been the Emcee for years at the famous St. John of the Cross Horse Show & Rodeo.
Mrs. Byron Netzley, wife of school superintendent Byron Netzley, chaired the judges of the Children's Parade, an assemblage of nearly 1,000 youngsters with horses, bikes, trikes, pets, and kid-size floats they made themselves.
A brace of mother chaired individual Children's Parade components, from horses and pets, to go-carts and costumes, to teensy floats for tots.
Paul Cheatham, band director at Lemon Grove School, was in charge of music.
KSON broadcast live from the parade on Day One and again on Sunday afternoon.
The grand marshall was local lawyer Vroman Dorman, father of James Dorman, who became Lemon Grove's first mayor in 1977. Vroman's parade marshals was a who's who of town pioneers with names like Sonka, Bettencourt, Rheault, Cazare and West.
The Moppets' March: They had a special route all their own. They formed up at Lemon Grove School, marched along School Lane to Golden, left on Golden to Imperial, north on Imperial to North Avenue, crossed the railroad tracks, south on Main to Church and back to the school.
This remarkably circuitous route implies a huge audience spread out through the middle of town. The moppets were accompanied by parents and the Fire Department to ensure safety, especially while crossing the tracks, the latter unthinkable in our age of insurance costs, lawsuit issues and multiple trolleys.
The Winners: Space won't permit a full listing, but it seemed that almost everyone got a prize. Among the cutest were Oldest Rider (Burt Irwin, 87); Youngest Rider (Deeann Dewey, 5); Funniest Float (Drew's Fixit Shop); Nicest Student Band (St. John of the Cross Accordion Band); Best Pets (Allen McCune's skunk, Sherry Netzley's Bengal Tigers in a Cage -- her pet kittens -- and Janet Stewart's ribbon-bedecked chicken); Largest Organized Group (Girl Scouts and Brownies); Best Silver-Mounted Pair (Mr. and Mrs. Walter Church).
Fashion Forward: Here's a sign of the times. The best kiddie costume prize went to sisters Paula and Ellen Parella, respectively garbed as Lily Daché and Elsa Schiaparelli. You remember them, dear readers. In 1950, an elegant Daché hat, as part of Dior's "New Look," was coveted by every woman in America. As for Schiaparelli, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC recently displayed her couture creations from the 1940s and 1950s. Lemon Grove was on the cutting edge of fashion!
Putting the "P" in Powow: The last event on Day Three was a performance of "Indian Dances" by Myra Sonka's Dance Studio. As we noted last week, Myra was descended from the Sonkas, who arrived in town in 1907 from Bohemia, by way of Texas, San Francisco and San Diego. The family was notably entrepreneurial, patriotic and artistic. Myra's dance troupes entertained frequently in the Grove in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Generosity: Every parade entrant received a ticket to the Grove Theater to use by Sept. 1.
Wisdom of the Ages: The Aug. 24 edition of the Review featured only one filler:
A man may have authority over others, but he can never have their heart except by giving his own.
This fits the spirit of the 1950 Powow nicely.
And so it went in The Big Lemon in the heat of late summer when the world briefly stopped as the parade passed by.
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.