Roar of the Greasepaint: The Heartland Players mounted "Caught in the Villain's Web" in the Women's Club, 2010 Main Street, where the historic hall, stage and stage door live on today. Curtain at 8:15 p.m. Tickets $1 or two. A cast of dozens.
Bill Thornton played Cyril Bothingwell, the villain who taxed the patience of innumerable saints. Bob Turnbull played Malvern Larkfield, the hero who pined for angelic nurse Felicity Fair, while his rich, mean mom tried to force an engagement with trite, shallow Nelly Hargrave.
Thornton played theaters all over the West Coast and was about to reprise his star turn as the town drunk in "Angel of Pawn Street" at the Old Globe.
Turnbull, son of famed eye doctor Amorita Treganza, went on to a stage, film and TV career after numerous performances in Lemon Grove, where his mother had co-founded the Lemon Grove Players in the 1930s.
Goodwin's Gang: The old pro, Max Goodwin, celebrated his sixth anniversary as editor of the Review with this edition, Vol. 6, No. 1. Partying by the presses were postmaster Frenchy Faucher, linotype operator Glen Sempel, ad girl Loretta Deeds, photographer Hal Lenox, associate editor Jerry Dougherty, secretary Mary Curl, and other slaves working for peanuts in the service of the First Amendment.
Since 1951 Goodwin had doubled paid circulation ($2.50 a year) through a ceaseless onslaught of contests and deals with local businesses. He focused intensively on schools, road, sanitation, fire protection and planning -- speaking of which…
The Train Left the Station: With everybody on board. Cityhood, while not explicitly mentioned, was waiting in the wings when the Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce drove its call for master planning straight into the offices of the Homeland Judicial Courtroom, where attorney Luther Hussey chaired a meeting of feisty inmates of The Big Lemon.
Arguably, this was the start of the drive for cityhood, dear readers. A who's who of 'Grove leaders showed up to plead for these all-too familiar elements of the General Plans to come:
Streets and Highway
Transportation and transit
Public services and facilities (sewer, water, trash, utilities, etc.
Before the 1950s were out, Lemon Grove became a freeway stop (on the 94) and got a community center, its first public park and local fire protection. The town also got the first of four ballot measures urging voters to approve cityhood, ultimately seizing the brass ring in 1977 (as the whole world knows).
Sewers of the 'Grove: One-fifth of the Spring Valley Sewer District was in east Lemon Grove and the coming election required property owners in that area to vote up or down for a new sewer district.
At the time they had no sewers. If they voted no, they'd be fined big time: homeowners $1,500 to $2,000 and business property owners $3,000 to $4,000. Thus did local engineer, contractor and real estate broker Roy Nielsen summon residents to the Lemon Grove Youth Center (a block south of Piggly Wiggly on Imperial) on Aug. 28, 1953 to get the inside story of a sticky mess.
"Tell the neighbors," wrote Nielsen in his quarter-page ad in the Review. "Cancel all other doings for Friday night--be there, it's urgent."
No More Bandaids: A state and federal grant of $1.2 million bankrolled a new hospital for the area, winning big against 141 contenders for the dough. With but a single hospital bed per 2,000 residents, the Grossmont Hospital District made its case in spades.
Of course, the voters had to approve an $800K bond to get the grant, but they went for it two-to-one.
Class Struggle: The scenario is unchanged today. Local Democrat Party peasantry poo-poohed Republican Party peerage's $100 a plate soirée at the Kona Kai, where lobster thermidor, prime rib, shrimp cocktail and elaborate parfaits awaited the faithful.
"What! $100 and no Finger Bowl?" yelped the Review's headline over a shot of the aforementioned peasantry holed up in the Avalon Cafe (later Por Favor; now the new pet food store), where $1.25 got you liver 'n onions.
But the tables have turned. Now, no self-respecting Dem would party for under $1,000 a plate--and $5K is a more accurate average. Yet the cries about haves and have-nots continue.
Big Deals on B'way: The business district proclaimed "the biggest shopping weekends" EVER during September. Deep discounts, giveaways, two-for-ones and a free-for-all atmosphere awaited shoppers, especially the primary prey, the Lady of the House.
She got a free bud vase just for showing up at McMahan's Furniture; free cotton candy for her kiddies at Davis Market on Olive and Broadway; free cleaning fluid at Standard Station on Buena Vista; free root beer at Richie's Drive-In; free lemonade at the Chamber of Commerce underwritten by Tony Sonka; two bags of carrots if you bought a third at Hammerstein's on Massachusetts; 75 per cent off a shirt if you bought another at half-price at Gauldin's Haberdashery on Imperial (how did this guy stay in business?); and free movie tickets to Grove Theatre if you drew the lucky number at the Review's offices right next door to the theatre.
Commies at Bay: The Grove Theatre showed boffo flicks like Walk East on Beacon Street (1952) based on J. Edgar Hoover's tales of Commie spies; Guilty of Treason (1949) with Charles Bickford as the tortured Cardinal Mindszenty; My Son John (1953), an over-the-top anti-communist melodrama; Diplomatic Courier (1952), the cliff-hanger Cold War spy film with an all-star cast (Tyrone Power, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Patricia Neal and others).
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, with Stalin's purges in full swing and after the Iron Curtain fell with a thud across Eastern Europe, Hollywood turned out dozens of anti-communist films, many of which have become film noir classics. Say what you will, treason was great box office.
Korea Festered: The Review ran a remarkable photo of a prisoner exchange at Panmunjom. With a U.S. Army helicopter in the background, a South Korean soldier carries a wounded comrade, newly released from a North Korean prison, to a waiting U.S. plane bound for the 36th ROK Hospital at Seoul. A line of soldiers waits to board the helicopter, presumably to return for more released POWs.
The armistice ending the Korean War was actually signed a month earlier on July 27, 1953, but the winding down, as the demilitarized zone became real, remained a painful, sometimes deadly, process for soldiers of both nations.
Doves and Ducks En Garde: Dove season opened Sept. 1 throughout California. From a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour before sunset you could shoot as many as you wished. The Outing Bureau of the Automobile Club reported "vast concentrations" of doves at Porterville, Blythe, Indio and Holtville.
Google dove recipes and you'll find oodles, along with plucking instructions, dating back to assorted Roman bacchanalia.
Ducks could be shot between Oct. 16 - Nov. 18 and Dec. 8 - Jan. 10, 1954. We rest our case on the subject of duck recipes as there are zillions going back to the Egyptians. But we liked the ad by Michael's Pub & Grill, 7828 Broadway, offering "great chops, steaks and our new peace (sic) de resistance, duck à l'orange!"
And so it went at summer's end 60 years ago when 'Grovians shopped, cavorted, fought, fired and planned for the long haul through the rest of the 20th century.
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.