1966: The Ant's Ankles

News from the last edition of 1966 when the Lemon Grove Review surpassed even its own standards for idiosyncratic, often hilarious, and frequently unusual news from the home of the Big Lemon

Cheery, seven months old (aka Charles Jefferson Masterson) was Lemon Grove's New Year's Babe of 1967.
Cheery, seven months old (aka Charles Jefferson Masterson) was Lemon Grove's New Year's Babe of 1967.

Cheery Hails the New Year:  "Cheery," seven months old (actually Charles Jefferson Masterson, Nichals Street), was chosen New Year's Babe of 1967 by the old pro, Max Goodwin, editor of the Review, who never missed a beat to up readership.

Sporting a party hat, noisemaker, two lower teeth and a clean diaper, Cheery headlined the Review's full-page "Happy New Year" greeting to readers and urged all to subscribe.  We bet that page made it into Cheery's personal Hall of Fame.

Slim Jim Signs Off:  Mabel Waske, a waitress in a Lemon Grove cafe, bid farewell to her 33-year-old gelding, Slim Jim, earlier in December when he was laid to rest in San Diego Pet Cemetery, the local Forest Lawn for the hoofed, furred and feathered of the county.

Slim Jim was given to Waske as a famished, mistreated yearling and spent the next 30 years amid adoring fans in the Waske backyard on Marian Street in the Vista La Mesa neighborhood.  "The Old Man," as he was also named, had long since left his scrawny appearance behind and was even entered in local horse shows.

At 22, when he didn't get around much any more, Waske bought him a girlfriend, Abby,  who was still a cutie at 21 (probably lied about her age).  The inseparable pair prompted an outpouring of poetry from 'Grove horse lovers like this one from Johnny Michaels, 15:

     Slim Jim was starving but now he's a chub,

     He looked like a scarecrow, but now he's a tub,

     Abby loves Jim whether skinny or fat,

     Just stay here forever and she'll be where you're at.

When Slim Jim went to That Big Stable in the Sky, Abby"s "heart was broken," said Waske.  "She'll die soon and be buried next to Jim.  We have already made arrangements.  They are the ant's ankles, those two."

In 1966 a horse funeral set you back $500 not including the tombstone and perpetual plot maintenance.  Thus did 'Grovians open their wallets as the old year ended to make sure Jim and Abby made it to the Promised Land in style.  In January, 1967 the duo would be immortalized in the pages of Western Country Magazine by one, Lynn Warden, Englewood Drive, an insurance agent with a soft spot for an old horse.

Remember, dear readers, this was a town that once had a horse for every man, woman and child (l,500 horses and 1,500 people in 1915) and still has a working stable (Apollo Stables on Mt. Vernon).

Pooch Poop Plugs Pipe:  'Grovians also loved dogs and still do.  But in 1966 Plover, the Pete Perkinses' peppy pet peke pooped on the Potters' posies leaving a trail of evidence wider than the Missouri.

Mamie Potter was piqued, to put it mildly.  Hubby Fred had planted the prize-winning pompoms, pansies, primroses and peonies for the 1967 Del Mar Fair and was peeved at the pet's flagrant fertilizing of his prize posies.

"¢&≥$#£≠," he was heard to utter at the midnight hour.

Worse, Plover plugged the Potters' irrigation system with his incontinent exudations.  Sensing ceaseless strife and possible impounding of the heedless Plover, Pete Perkins offered to rebuild the Potters' piping and pour concrete under the fence to prevent Plover from "pekeing" into Potterland, as it were.

Case closed--and just in time for Christmas, as Max Goodwin noted,

Bob Mack's Backyard Hooch:  The unassuming bungalow on San Miguel Avenue gave no hint of the shenanigans within.  Only when the door to the garage blew off was the truth laid bare:  Bob Mack was an upholsterer by day and a bootlegger by night.

As Max Goodwin gleefully reported -- and is there a better story than that which stars white lightning in a residential neighborhood? -- "Mack emerged blackened by the explosion, rubber-gloved hands dripping with rotgut, and his neighbors peering out their front doors in alarm."

After deputies had scoured the premises for bombs -- they found only galvanized tubs full of gin and a bunch of exploded bottles that once contained "Mack's Best Bourbon," a brew guaranteed to flatten a longshoreman -- they departed after citing Mack for zip as nobody could figure out what to charge him with.

"I was only getting ready for New Year's," said a contrite Mack.

Beauty on a Budget:  Just as the Lemon Grove of 2013 sports more nail salons, barbers and hair-do shops per square block, so did the Lemon Grove of 1966 exhibit a predilection for make-over emporia that raised The New You to a level with Cleopatra.

Slimette Salon, North Avenue, offered ten 90-minute gyroducing treatments for $25.  "If you aren't slim at the end, neither are we," intoned the bewildering prose.

Mynette's Hair Fashions, 7570 Broadway, offered wiglets for $15 and falls for $20, but if you brought in a hank of your own human hair, you got a 25 percent discount off an entire wig guaranteed to "make you look alluring because now you have hair."

Vivian's Beauty Shop, 6929 North Avenue, offered the inexplicable:  A free shampoo with a shampoo and set.  Was one possible without the other?  Call home if you know.

Lemon Grove College of Beauty, 3135 Imperial, asserted "You, too, could look better than you do even when you've given up."  There is nothing like this type of encouragement to drive a girl right in the front door for a do-over.

But our favorite is Marie's Style 'N Set on Broadway:  "Don't be bald, come hither and we'll give your 'egghead' the once over for $10."  

Who wrote this stuff?  They could have written for late-night TV.

Wisdom of the Ages:  The Review's fillers never fail to disappoint -- and in 1966 the chuckles continued to the last day of the calendar, to wit:

     The trouble with everything that comes down from the distant past is that it's old.

     Dogs are actors by instinct and hams from birth.

     A waiter's job is bleak:  You can slave for 20 years and you're still behind the nut salad.

     Make sure you get the best start on your possible delay.

     Americans love popcorn buttered or plain and consumed 32 quarts per person in 1966, sending the movie snack to the New York Stock Exchange.

And so it went 47 years ago when beauty, the beasts and the brew boosted, if boosting were needed, our town's reputation as one of America's most unique and lovable communities.  (And if you're wondering what an ant's ankle is, there isn't one.  That was a phrase in the colloquially-rich 1920s, signifying all that was utterly hip and cool.)

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.  In 2013 she received third place in the "History" category from the San Diego Press Club.


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