It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Boris Karloff, move over. Ditto, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price. Mt. Miguel High School band parents, half-crazed with fundraising fever, transformed the school gym into a week-long chamber of horrors guaranteed to scare the pants off even the most hardened Hallowe'en fan.
For $2 you got into a hearse for the drive in stygian gloom through the gym past the maniac meat grinder, Frankenstein ("It's alive, it's ALIVE!-- ha, ha, ha, HAH!), ghosts, toothy masks, headsman, dragon, hunchbacks, and other worthies, all backed by blood-curdling sound effects, to arrive at our favorite, the fanged entrance to the Haunted Catacombs.
"A bloody torso goes in here," thundered Dean Immel, catacomb maître d' and one of 32 parents who designed and assembled this stunning adjunct to the "graves of academe."
Those standing in line -- and patrons apparently numbered in the thousands -- waiting to push the panic button, were entertained with a free Dracula movie.
The Review outdid itself with this empurpled prose:
Coldly a laugh echoes through the halls, the damp walls making the blood-drenched laughter all the more chilling. Here and there a glimmer of light illuminates the stained walls and fog curling ominously, hiding pitfalls..."
This, so we could go to May Time Band Review and knock 'em dead.
Neck and Neck: High on the to-do list for would-be spooks was KyXy's Dracula look-alike contest, stipulating "paste-white skin, well-developed fangs and count-like attire." At press time, three 'Grove students were in a dead heat for the coveted Kicksy T-shirt and brand new fangs. But Bobby Martinelli, with his "fresh blood capsules" ready to explode all over Sam Bass's microphone, was the odds-on favorite to win.
Hounds at Midnight: The normally warm and fuzzy San Diego County Humane Society tossed a hair-raiser involving Ugliest Dog, Best Bomb Sniffer, Best Singer and Best Dog Photo. The judges -- Jerry Bishop (Ch. 8), Bob Dale (Ch. 39) and Jack White (Ch. 10) -- vowed to select winners before the midnight hour struck.
We're dying to know who won best singer given the plethora of operatic pooches in these precincts, who would benefit from a trip to the slammer. Wrote the old pro, Review editor Max Goodwin, "May they find a spot for that 'singing' dog on the shores of hell."
The Undead Wed: Molly Sue Tennison, San Miguel Avenue, wed Darryl Cruikshank, La Mesa, in a Hallowe'en themed ceremony in her parents' backyard. Tennison pére garbed as Frankenstein (big, square head, neck stitching, shapeless suit) and Tennison mère garbed as a Gypsy Hag (kerchief, gold earrings, warty nose) flanked the toothy couple as they were joined in "unholy matrimony" to the strains of "oooh-ooooh-aaaAAAAH!" on a tape recorder.
Molly wore a flowing white Bride-of-Dracula gown, red veil and long incisors. Darryl was natty in a black cape, droopy black mustache, and even longer incisors. Attendants, good sports, all, were garbed in grey netting and spider webs. Hoot owls adorned the trellis wherein stood the grave pastor (no word on his I.D.) flanked by piles of pumpkins.
Inexplicably, Molly's grandma was disguised as a dill pickle and her grandpa as a big enchilada.
After nups penned by the undead couple, guests hacked their way through a five-tier pumpkin wedding cake topped with zombie statuettes.
Wish we'd been there.
Plop Pie: We are not kidding. This recipe for disaster with its awful name headlined Ruth McDaniel's "Common Sense Cooking" column in the Review.
You took a pound of dates and stewed them into an impenetrable mass, added flour, brown sugar and two eggs, then rendered unto Dracula the things that were Dracula's by plopping the goop into a graham cracker crust, chilling to morgue-like temps and serving -- who? Your worst enemy? That cousin with the white socks from Podunk, who arrives every Thanksgiving?
Quoth the Raven: Fittingly, the Review's "About Your Health" column focused on narcolepsy and cataplexy, but rendered these ailments into prose so densely wound with run-on sentences as to raise the ghosts of Edgar Allen Poe and Ernest Hemingway from their respective tombs, to wit:
The first symptoms of excessive daily sleepiness, or narcolepsy, may start slowly, then increase until the sufferer may fall asleep while smoking a cigarette, driving a car, tending an infant or sitting at a meeting, all tending to stigmatize the person as inattentive, lazy, irresponsible, or a social bore, almost as much as the polar opposite, cataplexy, can stigmatize the victim as a raving maniac hallucinating, suffering from terrifying nightmares and going through routine daily chores with no recollection of having done so.
Medical supervision is recommended.
No Treats: The Lemon Grove School Board was over in less than an hour after band director Harry Weisgerber reported that enrollment in the instrumental music program was through the roof, but that fundraising would eschew "junk food" in favor of healthy snacks. Shades of things to come.
But Plenty of Tricks: Broadway businesses burglarized by bounders bearing saws and crowbars ascended into the stratosphere despite new, alleyway security lighting paid for by the business owners.
All American Upholstery lost $5,000 in tools and merchandise when crooks smashed open the back door and removed the security bar.
Mr. Kent's lost money from the Coke machine after the bums broke the lock on the back door.
Pelikan Pub was almost a victim, but the perp couldn't saw a hole in the rear door big enough to crawl through.
A TV repair shop lost $2,500 worth of stereos and TVs, some awaiting pickup by owners.
Sheriff's deputies said the area was patrolled frequently.
The Real Deal: Lemon Grove Kiwanis held is annual Apple Days at Central and Imperial all day during Oct. 24 - 27. You bought a box of 100 for $15, or 50 for $7.50, all in support of youth programs. This beat goes on unabated into the 21st century.
And so it went in The Big Lemon during Hallowe'en week when you couldn't tell shrieks of horror from shrieks of laughter from shrieks for help.
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.