1971: Clarion Call

News from the Jan. 14, 1971 edition of the Lemon Grove Review when notable locals heeded calls to service, glory and ignominy.

Hawaii State Senator Eureka Forbes and Bob Turnbull, The Preacher of Waikiki Beach.
Hawaii State Senator Eureka Forbes and Bob Turnbull, The Preacher of Waikiki Beach.

The Chaplain of Waikiki:  Amid tropical trade winds, golden sunlight, swaying palms and azure sky, Bob Turnbull found his natural home.  The former star of "Dragstrip Riot," featured player in "Hawaii 5-0" and "Tora Tora Tora," confrère of Dennis Hopper, Hollywood gossip columnist for the Review, and award-winning thespian said goodbye to all that and got right with God.

Turnbull had grown up in Lemon Grove and hailed from a distinguished family:  mother Dr. Amorita Treganza, the famed children's optometrist; father Robert Turnbull III, Warner Brothers' Foley expert; grandfather Alberto Treganza, famed architect and "Big Lemon" designer; great great grandmother Jeska Burnett, the silent screen star, to cite just a few in the bloodline.

Increasingly disenchanted with tinsel town, where inmates with mud besmirched vied for roles in movies only a mother could love, Turnbull penned "Will the Old Bob Turnbull Please Drop Dead," which immediately went into a second printing.  

Turnbull became a volunteer youth director at a Lutheran church in North Hollywood, then chaplain of the Honolulu Police Department and director of an outreach group for troubled Wahini teens.  After forming the Penthouse Church of Waikiki Beach in a high-rise overlooking sand and surf, Turnbull had a eureka moment.

"That's where the people were.  They weren't coming to church--so I took the church to them," recalled the personable pastor, still tanned and handsome in his golden years.

Turnbull ran the gauntlet past state and city ordinances prohibiting surf side worship and got permission to set up shop on the silver sands of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon.  He put out the clarion call to heedless heathens via -- what else -- local rock stations.  Some 400 people showed up on the beach for the first "Sun and Soul Talk Beach Service" in 1970 (see photo).

No less than Hawaii Governor John Burns and Hawaii State Senator Eureka Forbes presented him with a senate resolution proclaiming him The Chaplain of Waikiki Beach (see photo).  There he was for a decade, ministering to thousands as the surf ebbed and flowed.  Today, La Quinta-based Turnbull Ministries, helmed by Bob and Yvonne Turnbull, continues to "take the church to the people" with nationwide speaking engagements primarily directed at stabilizing marriages in an uncertain world.

The Wheelchair Preacher:  The Rev. Allen Lee was stricken with polio in 1938, but responded well to treatment at Warm Springs, GA, site of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation founded by polio victim President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  

By 1940, Lee was back at Luther Theological Seminary, albeit wheelchair-bound, and graduated in 1941 to started a decades-long career with the American Lutheran Church.  He was ordained in 1959, the first cleric in a wheelchair, and in 1961 was installed as a Preaching Evangelist for the ALC.

In January, 1971 Lee preached at Lemon Grove Lutheran Church on Skyline Drive and held a book signing of his memoir, "My Soul More Bent," which detailed his struggle with polio.  Beyond brave, this preacher man.

The California Ten:  The boys were natty in white slacks, white socks and white patent loafers.  The girls were perky in white-striped pleated skirts, ankle socks and Mary Jane shoes.  They sang so sweetly at their home base, First Baptist Church of Lemon Grove, that national tours were assured.

"The Californians" became the the darling of military installations and churches.  By 1971 they had logged 35,000 miles and 250 concerts, and launched their first album, which debuted at Foothills Bible Bookstore in La Mesa.  Where are the alumni of this group, an heir to the sharp singer choruses so loved by Abraham Lincoln?

Immortal Twirling:  Karen Eyler, 10, La Corta Street, made off with eight trophies in the Sun Carnival Baton Twirling Competition at El Paso, TX and secured her place in the Majorette Hall of Fame as the youngest twirler ever to win the New Year's Junior Perpetual Sweepstakes, Advanced Sweepstakes for all ages, Miss Sun Carnival Majorette and, earlier, Miss San Diego County Champion.

But, then, it was all part of growing up in the Best Climate on Earth (see photo).

Push This Button:  Helix High School, not content to languish in the Stone Age of mimeograph machines, ink-stained hands and tissue thin copies, installed a new duplicator capable of producing 100 copies from a single original.  Caveat:  The machine was five feet long, two feet wide, four feet tall and weighed 500 pounds. 

Rites of Passage:  In January, 1971 in Lemon Grove, seven families produced babies, 10 couples announced their engagements, four couples renewed their marriage vows, six people died and were memorialized in four local churches, three people became missionaries, two churches got new pastors and three young men were arrested for peddling dope.

Downhill into the BBQ:  Adelaide Mae MacPherson, late of Louisiana, arrived in The Big Lemon by train with her pig, PooPoo, in a crate sometime in November, 1970.  Why they let a plump porker from Palmetto (pop. 164) into the Pullman is anyone's guess.  

Adelaide's goal was to further fatten the portly PooPoo on the ranch of Silas MacPherson, her cousin by marriage, whose spread in Jamul was said to contain more swine than Huey Long's private club.  Silas, reported a gleeful Lemon Grove Review reporter, picked up Adelaide in his 1939 Packard, stopped by Mason Feed on Broadway at Sweetwater Road to pick up extra sacks of pig feed, then zoomed eastward to the Land of Heavyset Farm Creatures. 

The potbellied PooPoo rapidly bulked up to 700 pounds and displayed adipose tissue so succulent as to banish all thought of trophies in the county fair.  Lo, when the ax fell on PooPoo late in January, 1971 Adelaide found the neighbors lined up at the door for pork loin, pork leg, pork shoulder, back bacon, tenderloins, fresh shanks, cutlets, chops and tag ends for sausage.

The hills were alive with the sound of barbecuing, begging the question, couldn't Adelaide have done this back in Palmetto and saved on train fare?

Turns out she owed Silas two grand for paying her gambling debts at the Bayou Casino in Shreveport, a watering hole long since extinct, much like PooPoo.

Wisdom of the Ages:  To fill your chuckle needs, dear readers, we close with some classic fillers from the Review:

      Giant anteaters in South America have a keen sense of smell 40 times better than that of humans.

        Folk singer Burl Ives is 61 and Peru became a republic in 1821.

        Sugar was scarce in Europe in the 17th century, but teeth still rotted.

        Avoid excessive oleaginous cooking substances lest your house burn down.

And so it went in the 'Grove 43 years ago when the Preacher Man, the piggy, the babies, the wedded, the re-wedded, the choir and the little twirler defied the odds and heeded the clarion call of fleeting fame.  


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