http://imperialbeach.patch.com/articles/new-book-explores-beach-culture-conservation-in-california-and-mexico

Arts

New Book Explores Beach Culture, Conservation in California and Mexico

Serge Dedina, who can be found catching IB waves a few days a week, has a new book out that is a passport to a world of surf culture and the preservation of coastal habitats in California and Baja California.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | January 28, 2011

In “Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias,” Serge Dedina tells the real-life story of struggles, blockades and the loss of rich biodiverse land in California and the Baja California peninsula.

“Wild Sea” will host a book-launch party at the Tijuana Estuary Training Center Saturday from 6-8 p.m.

Dedina’s passion for the land started as a kid growing up in Imperial Beach, surfing the Tijuana Sloughs. Making his way up and down the coast for most of his life, this book chronicles surf culture, the elimination of native habitats, and the evolution of organized grassroots efforts to preserve what is left of one of the world’s largest and most diverse coastal ecosystems.

It is a journey into Magdalena Bay, the habitat of precious gray whale breeding habitats, sensitive fisheries and the quickly disappearing sea turtle and includes the stories of surfers, birdwatchers, fishermen, scientists, surfers and environmentalists, who all come together for a common cause.

The book gives a shoreline a view of the history of great wave riders and their evolution from surfers to activists.

It’s also a first-hand account of battles won and lost against poachers, politicians, private companies and government agencies.

Dedina holds nothing back in his judgment of bureaucratic and corporate interests that he believes can pose a threat to these habitats as they search for fossil fuels or mega tourism hotspots. He documents the damage done and pleas for global community involvement.

With strong conviction, Dedina takes a look at problems the region faces today and the decades-long struggle to fight river and ocean pollution from both sides of the border.

Dedina became a co-founder and Executive Director of WiLDCOAST in 2000. Collaborating with Mexico’s government officials, biological specialists and environmental groups, WiLDCOAST expanded its vision in Mexico, creating Costasalvaje in Ensenada. Globally his organization and its partners fight together to protect what is left of the wild sea.

“Wild Sea” is a fantastic read for all ages.

Serge Dedina writes a weekly column for Imperial Beach Patch titled “Southwest Surf.”

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http://imperialbeach.patch.com/articles/community-reacts-as-council-votes-to-install-fence-around-skate-park

Sports, The Neighborhood Files, Government

Community Reacts as Council Votes to Install Fence Around Skate Park

Those on both sides of the subject came out for Wednesday’s meeting as the City Council voted unanimously to build a fence around the Skate Park’s perimeter.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | January 27, 2011

 Opened in November 2010, Imperial Beach’s new Skate Park is causing contention with neighborhood residents.

After receiving complaints from locals, the City Council unanimously voted to direct city staff to search for bids to place an 8- to 10-foot fence around the perimeter of Sports Park’s newest popular hangout for kids of all ages.

City Manager Gary Brown said several problems have emerged at the Recreation Center since the skate park opened, such as littering, illegal activities, noise, and users of the park not wearing protective gear and not adhering to the sunrise-to-sunset hours. Another point of contention is the use of bicycles and scooters on-site.

“As a first step to get a handle on these issues is the idea of putting a fence around the park,” Brown said.

Brown estimated the cost of this project to be approximately $150,000, though Councilman Jim King said that in this economy he believes the fence can be completed at a much lower cost.

Bob Miller, a resident of Fifth Street near the park, collected 14 signatures of complaint from residents of the neighborhood directly adjacent to the park. He said he rode by the park on the way to City Hall and noticed about 25 skaters at the park, half an hour after the park’s closing time.

“I don’t see any solution to this unless you place the fence,” he said. “I don’t see how you can start enforcement.”

Resident Chris Bragg, son of Councilwoman Lorie Bragg, requested the council revise the rules to include the use of scooters at the park, with his son and son’s best friend standing by his side. He said they had traveled to many other skate parks in Southern California and that the percentage of scooter users at the IB Skate Park was comparatively small.

“We noticed that Imperial Beach is one of the only skate parks that prohibits the use of scooters,” said Chris Bragg. “I don’t believe that the use of scooters will be an issue of wear and tear on the park or its longevity. We are making this request for about a dozen of the kids in the community.”

Tim O’Neill, whose mother lives near the park, said he promoted and helped fund the park, but that the noise and complaints are not exaggerated. He said at first he was against the fence, but the once-quiet neighborhood is now often disturbed into the early morning hours.

“My mom said the noise from other activities held at the park does not compare to the noise level of the grinding of skateboards at 7 o’ clock on Sunday morning,” he said. “If you can’t keep the kids off the park after it has closed, you need a fence.”

He said that everyone needs to understand that the Skate Park is very small for the number of users and creates the environment of skaters just hanging around. 

Enforcement of helmet laws is also a necessity but the city and Sheriff’s Department should be careful not to discourage skaters from coming to the park, he said.

“The whole point of the skate park is to get kids off the streets,” he said. “If you enforce them to have to be completely padded up, you are going to send them back to the streets.”

Mary Ann Shultz said she has a bird’s eye view of the park from her home and that hours of use sometimes range from 7 a.m. to about 2 a.m.. She suggested that hours be changed to open around 9 a.m. and enforced to close at sunset.

“We have had to move part of our living to the back of our house,” she said. “I am fully in support of putting up a fence. The issue will always be the noise.”

Mayor Janney called the need for a fence a very costly disappointment to the city. He said he went to the skate park prior to the meeting and, of the more than two dozen skaters there, none was using any kind of protective gear. A fence or enforcement wouldn’t be needed if skaters followed the rules, he said.

“I really think we have to move forward here,” Janney said. “The cost is something here that really bothers me. If we have to make rules to make this park work for Imperial Beach, so be it.”

He went on to say that the city would consider closing the park temporarily if necessary.

Council member Lorrie Bragg said when she went to the park there were bikers, skaters, scooters and parents there and good community interaction going on. She said she opposed the fence, but after traveling around to other skate parks in the region, she found most of them have fences.

“I can see the reasoning behind it,” she said. “It’s protection. It also enables our public safety to get in easier to talk to offenders and council them. To the residents of Fifth Street, my utmost, sincerest apology. I guess we are just victims of our own success.”

Bragg’s grandson, Chris Bragg Jr., a sixth-grader at Imperial Beach Elementary School, said if they are going to build a fence, it should be taller than the one in front of the Sports Park today.

“I don’t really see the point of the fence because the fence that they have at the Rec Center now, people can climb that fence no problem,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit bigger, and it’s not going to keep the noise out of the park.”

His father, Chris Bragg Sr., said the council should proceed cautiously. Noise seems to be the major concern of the nearby community, but the community also worked hard for years to create the skate park, he said. 

“I think their hope is that by building this fence and by policing the activity more it will create less usage and that’s the goal or method to reduce noise levels,” he said. “And in an attempt to reduce noise levels, we’re defeating our main goal, which is taking kids off the streets.”

Councilman King called the fence a good idea for the park and suggested the use of cameras for surveillance during closed hours.

“It is something I might consider; for one it might just promote good behavior,” King said. “A controlled access by the Recreation Center, I think, is a good approach.”

Councilman Ed Spriggs said that the fence is only 90 percent of the solution and is essential but the other percentage lies on enforcement of the issue.

Janney asked city staff to give it a top priority and to move as expeditiously as possible considering the stress to the neighborhood. Rules and regulations will be reviewed as the process moves forward.

“In this case, we have a problem,” said Janney. “We owe it to that neighborhood, as well as the people that use the park there, to move forward as rapidly as possible.”

http://imperialbeach.patch.com/articles/imperial-beach-closer-to-leash-free-dog-beach

The City Council agreed Wednesday to formally explore the idea and to establish potential sites and rules.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | January 27, 2011

Imperial Beach dogs and their owners got a few paws closer to an off-leash dog beach Wednesday from north of Palm Avenue to Carnation Avenue.

On Tuesday, the City Council directed city staff to move forward in identifying and analyzing the possibility of a leash-free park following a presentation by IB Yappy President Jessica Dykes and member Debbie Goelz.

“I am supportive of doing this,” said Mayor Jim Janney. “We have some open space areas that might be able to accommodate this.”

Debbie Goelz, who started her efforts two years ago, said there are more than 1,200 dogs registered in Imperial Beach and an unknown number of unregistered dogs.

Goelz said having to drive farther from their home to north Coronado or Ocean Beach for a leash-free shoreline is a big constraint on a dog owner’s life and that more than 700 signatures collected by IB Yappy clearly show the desire and need of local residents.

It is currently legal to have your dog on the beach with a leash north of Palm Avenue or south of Imperial Beach Boulevard. No members of the public signed up for public comment to speak in opposition to a leash-free dog beach.

“Dogs that are given exercise and socialization are not aggressive or destructive,” said Goelz. “A dog park would give residents more than a place for dogs to run, it would also be a great place for people to meet, visit and connect and a great place to teach children about care and respect for pets.”

Goelz gave several discussed alternatives for leash-free dog park areas.

North beach between Palm and Carnation was suggested for the off-season but leaves eight months of the year off-limits, she said.

A portion of Veterans Park could be divided for small and large dogs and available for use year-round.

“The area could generate revenue,” she said “for uses such as dog shows, dog training classes during the day and evening without impacting other activities, bringing yet another positive draw to Imperial Beach.”

Another area discussed is the beach south of Imperial Beach Boulevard, though a fence may be required to keep the dogs away from the birds.

“The birds are free to fly; the dogs aren’t,” Goelz said.  

President Jessica Dykes said she was there to represent all the residents who could not be there. She said IB Yappy’s Facebook group collects comments from Imperial Beach residents—and their dogs—and provided the council with comments from the Facebook site.

Facebook (dog member) Corbin Sanchez said he is “sick and tired of trying to play with his friends and getting their leashes tangled.”

“The biggest issue is driving,” said Dykes. “People do not want to drive to Coronado, Balboa Park or to Hillcrest just to take their dogs to run free. Go to our Facebook site and see what your voters are saying about Imperial Beach wanting a dog park.”

Councilwoman Lorie Bragg said this issue keeps returning to council over the years.

“To me it is significant that there is a huge desire in this community for this type of facility,” she said. “I definitely think that there are areas in the city that we can look at.”

Councilman Ed Spriggs said people privately approached him with this issue. While going door-to-door campaigning last fall, one of the major things he learned about Imperial Beach is that just about everybody had two to three dogs.

“The dog is the first one to answer the door,” said Spriggs. “It is obvious to me that this is something that we need to look into and give our public answer.”

Spriggs said it is important to engage the sponsors to think about forming regulation and organization of dog owners and community members, a group in charge of policing the area making sure it is not a burden on the neighbors or causes extra cost to the city.

“If it can be self-policed and self-managed by dog owners; it would be wonderful,” said Spriggs. “That is an issue worth exploring.”

After a consensus of council, Janney asked city staff to look at prospects and report back what can be done for the people of Imperial Beach and their four-legged friends. 

http://lemongrove.patch.com/articles/teenage-binge-drinking-every-parents-nightmare

Schools, Volunteers in the News, Arts

Teenage Binge Drinking: Every Parent’s Nightmare

Helix High School SADD club members and Straight Up Reality Improv teach parents the dangers of the current trend of teenage binge drinking.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | January 23, 2011

Students from Helix Charter High School gave parents and community members a slap of reality in a live theatrical performance on teenage binge drinking and its consequences Friday night.

No subject was taboo. Students spoke openly about drinking games, drugs, sex, rape and death. People watched in awe as the teenagers powerfully demonstrated the drinking culture local teens face every day.

A shout to “Beer Bong!” sent young teenagers to the middle of the living room as they built a pyramid, grabbing beer bottles, forcing an unwilling young girl to drink.

“Freeze!”

In Starlight Theatre freeze-frame style, the cast stood silent as Garrett Mills, 17, vice president of Helix Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), stepped away to address the audience.

“This is a beer bong. They don’t have parties without them. This is their way of getting drunk really fast,” Mills said. “They can drink two to three beers at a time. Go to the Home Depot and ask if they have a tube and a funnel. They will know it is for the beer bong special.”

Back into action, the teens forced two bottles of beer into the young girl. They also demonstrated high-level drinking games such as High-Low and Keg Stand. Descriptive characters told stories of the result of peer pressure, unsafe sex, gang rape and teenage pregnancy. And they did not stop there.

Friday night’s performances, Reality Party for Parents … Exposing Underage and Binge Drinking Culture, were the result of two months of work between La Mesa’s Helix High SADD Chapter and Straight Up Reality Improv.

Straight Up’s program director Katherine Kasmir directed the play and DCH Honda of Lemon Grove sponsored the event. For five hours, the young cast performed every half hour for a group of around 10 audience members.

The SADD Advisor, Helix High School teacher Cheryl Tyler, said she was proud of the group of 28 and their decision to perform a play on this important subject.

“It was the kids that came up with the idea of drink binging parties,” Tyler said. “They heard it at conference, have seen it in their community and wanted to bring the message home to Helix.”

Straight Up’s Reality Improve and Social Change Theatre works through improvisation and other dramatic techniques to explore social issues and examine alternative solutions.

Kasmir said Straight Up started reality theater for parents four years ago. She said the goal is to engage young people in trying to change what is going on in their community. Involving students in the decisions of what is important to them has made the program successful, she said.

“What came out over and over again was that parties are out of control,” she said. “The levels of drinking and the kinds of things happening at this level are really concerning to young people. Everything here is what I heard, and put in the script, and adapted with students’ ideas drawn from what they see and know. This script brings out what is really going on locally in their community.”

In the play, common pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol are combined—most of it coming from their parents’ medicine cabinets and bars. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol has become a common way of hiding drinking from parents. Social networking is used as a quick way to get a party out of control and can have the result of inviting “the older creepy guy” to take advantage of the drunken young teenage girls.

The play addressed how many parents host parties, believing it is a rite of passage and under control since it is confined to the home, justifying their actions “because teenagers are going to do it anyway.” Kasmir played the mother of a 16-year-old and tried to justify the party at her house. She learned a quick lesson about La Mesa’s social host ordinance, which came with a stiff fine of $1,000 when a police officer crashed the party.  

Mallory Orr, 17, and the president of Helix SADD, said students can only talk to their friends so much about these parties and their consequences.

“This event is really important because we are reaching out to the parents,” Orr said. “Parents have the influence over the students so they are not able to go out and just do anything they want. Now, they go to these binge drinking parties and pass out and where so many other bad things happen.”

Helix SADD Treasurer Natasha Shuster, 17, said she has cut ties with her best friend from kindergarten because of these parties and the drugs. She said it was a tough choice but she cannot be hanging out with people displaying this type of behavior.

“It is important to expose the drinking culture of teenagers because it doesn’t only affect them, it affects the people around them,” Shuster said. “I haven’t spoken to my best friend since last December. I made the choice. If her parents knew what she was doing every weekend, I think she would be a better person, in better shape and we would still be friends.”

Alexis Jenkins, 16, secretary of Helix SADD, said parents “think” they know what is going on. “They don’t really believe what’s really going on until they see it firsthand, happening,” she said. “It makes it more real to them, and then parents that wouldn’t much talk to their kids start talking more.”

After the show, the audience went to an open conference so parents could speak openly and ask questions about what they saw and heard. Tyler and a panel of students, tutors, police officers and counselors gave frank answers to parents’ concerned questions.

Discussions were personal and almost everyone had a story to tell and a question to ask. Every question led to a similar conclusion. Be informed of what your teenagers are doing and keep an open path of communication between parents, children, friends, their parents and their school.

Jenn Osborn, who handles community relations for Helix Charter High School, said the event offered the parents and the community a realistic portrayal of a universal problem of teenage binging parties.

“This is really important,” Osborn said. “Parents do not know what is going on. They cannot effectively talk to their children when they do not know what to talk about.”

Mills said this simulation party is important because he sees the effects firsthand on the lives of friends and students he knows.

“I see how unhappy they are. It’s ruining their lives, and I don’t want to see them get hurt,” he said. “The decisions they are making now as teenagers is affecting their futures, their lives. They are going to look back 10 years from now and say, ‘Why did I do this?’ I just don’t want that to happen. This is a great way to get their parents to know what their teenagers are actually doing in these parties.”

http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/sadd-reality-hits-home-parents-get-peek-into-teen-binge-drinking-party-culture#c

Schools

Helix Charter High School students give series of skits at La Mesa Senior Center depicting drunken party while parents are away. Discussion followed.

By Albert Fulcher and Ken Stone | Email the authors | January 22, 2011

Teenagers chugged beer upside down and through homemade bongs, played liquor games with cards and pingpong balls, passed out on the floor, confessed to sexual shame.  They were acting a parent’s nightmare.

But the scenes were all too real.

Students from Helix Charter High School gave parents and community members a rowdy and chilling slap of reality in a series of 15-minute skits Friday night at the La Mesa Adult Enrichment Center—outfitted to look like a standard living room, kitchen and backyard.

No subject was taboo. Students spoke openly about drinking games, drugs, sex, rape and death. People watched in awe as teenagers powerfully demonstrated the drinking culture local teens face every day.

A shout of “Beer Bong!” sent youngsters to the middle of the living room as they built a pyramid, grabbing beer bottles, forcing an unwilling young girl to drink.

“Freeze!”

In Starlight Theatre freeze-frame styl,e the cast stood silent as Garrett Mills, 17, vice president of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) at Helix stepped away to address the audience.

“This is a Beer Bong. They don’t have parties without them. This is their way of getting drunk really fast,” Garrett said. “They can drink two to three beers at a time. Go to the Home Depot and ask if they have a tube and a funnel. They will know it is for the beer bong special.”

Back into action, the teens forced two bottles of beer into the young girl. They also demonstrated high-level drinking games such as High-Low and Keg Stand. Descriptive characters told stories of the result of peer pressure, unsafe sex, gang rape and teenage pregnancy. And they did not stop there.

Friday night’s performances—“Reality Party for Parents … Exposing underage and binge drinking culture”—were the result of two months of work involving La Mesa’s Helix High SADD Chapter and Straight Up Reality Improv.

Katherine Kasmir, Straight Up’s program director,  directed the play and DCH Honda of Lemon Grove sponsored the event. For five hours, the young cast performed every half-hour for groups of around 10.

Helix  math teacher Cheryl Tyler, the school’s SADD adviser,  said she was proud of the group of 28 and their decision to perform a play on this important subject.

“It was the kids that came up with the idea of drink binging parties, said Tyler. “They heard it at conference, have seen it in their community and wanted to bring the message home to Helix.”

Straight Up’s Reality Improve and Social Change Theatre works through improvisation and other dramatic techniques to explore social issues and examine alternative solutions.

Kasmir said Straight Up started reality theater for parents four years ago. She said the goal is to engage young people in trying to change what is going on in their community. Involving students in the decisions of what is important to them has made the program successful, she said.

“What came out over and over again was that parties are out of control,” she said. “The levels of drinking and the kinds of things happening at this level are really concerning to young people. Everything here is what I heard, and put in the script, and adapted with students’ ideas drawn from what they see and know. This script brings out what is really going on locally in their community.”

In the skits, common pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol are combined—most of it coming from their parents’ medicine cabinets and bars. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol has become a common way of hiding drinking from parents.

Social networking—Twitter and Facebook, for example—is used as a quick way to get a party out of control and can have the result of inviting “the older creepy guy” to take advantage of the drunken young teenage girls.

The play addressed how many parents host parties, thinking it’s a rite of passage and under control since it is confined to the home, justifying their actions “because teenagers are going to do it anyway.”  

Kasmir played the mother of a 16-year-old and tried to justify the party at her house. She learned a quick lesson bout La Mesa’s “social host” ordinance, which came with a stiff fine of $1,000 when a policeman  (Scott Hildebrand, Helix’s actual school resource officer) crashed the party.  

Mallory Orr, 17 and the president Helix SADD, said students can only talk to their friends so much about these parties and their consequences.

“This event is really important because we are reaching out to the parents,”  Mallory said. “Parents have the influence over the students so they are not able to go out and just do anything they want. Now, they go to these binge drinking parties and pass out and where so many other bad things happen.”

Helix SADD Treasurer Natasha Shuster, 17, said she has cut ties with her best friend from kindergarten because of these parties and the drugs. She said it was a tough choice but she cannot be hanging out with people displaying this type of behavior.

“It is important to expose the drinking culture of teenagers because it doesn’t only affect them, it affects the people around them,” Natasha said.

“I haven’t spoken to my best friend since last December. I made the choice. If her parents knew what she was doing every weekend, I think she would be a better person, in better shape and we would still be friends.”

Alexis Jenkins, 16, secretary of Helix SADD, said parents “think” they know what is going on.

“They don’t really believe what’s really going on until they see it firsthand, happening,” she said. “It makes it more real to them, and then parents that wouldn’t much talk to their kids start talking more.”

After the 15-minute shows, small audiences moved to another part of the senior center where cookies were served and discussions were frank. Parents could speak openly and ask questions about what they saw and heard. Tyler and a panel of students, tutors and counselors gave honest answers to parents’ concerned questions. 

Helix High executive director Rani Goyal attended as well.

Discussions were personal and almost everyone had a story to tell and a question to ask. Every question led to a similar conclusion. Be informed of what your teenagers are doing and keep an open path of communication between parents, children, friends, their parents and their school.

Jenn Osborn, who handles community relations for Helix Charter High School, said the event offered the parents and the community a realistic portrayal of a universal problem of teenage binging parties.

“This is really important,” Osborn said. “Parents do not know what is going on. They cannot effectively talk to their children when they do not know what to talk about.”

One of the young actors, junior Mills, said this simulation party is important because he sees the effects firsthand on the lives of friends and students.

“I see how unhappy they are. It’s ruining their lives and I don’t want to see them get hurt,” he said. “The decisions they are making now as teenagers is affecting their futures, their lives. They are going to look back 10 years from now and say why did I do this?

“I just don’t want that to happen. This is a great way to get their parent to know what their teenagers are actually doing in these parties.”

Said one woman at the 4 p.m. debriefing: “I’m a little overwhelmed with this experience. I wish I could call a million people to be here.”

http://lemongrove.patch.com/articles/lemon-grove-lips-mystify-and-amuse-2

The Neighborhood Files

Lemon Grove Lips Mystify and Amuse

Lips landmark rich in history, but still has a mystery.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | January 10, 2011

Lemon Grove possesses nearly a century and a half of rich history, with much to be proud of, including the “Best Climate on Earth.”

Two historical events took place in 1977. Lemon Grove was incorporated as a general law city and unknowingly, a young artist created one of the city’s most beloved landmarks, the Lemon Grove “Lips.”

The lips have a history, but much of what is known about this landmark is shrouded in secrecy.

The luscious red lips, painted on a mouth-shaped rock, is located on High Street. It cannot be missed as it sends a kiss to every passerby on the busy state Route 94, at the Lemon Grove Avenue exit. Many regional residents and tourists see this piece of rock art every day.  

Helen Ofield of the Lemon Grove Historical Society calls it “Marilyn’s Lips,” in homage to late screen siren Marilyn Monroe. Ofield said the lips were just one of Lemon Grove’s unusually interesting landmarks with an intriguing history.

In the beginning, it was just a young artist’s vision of lips on a rock. Wanting everyone to see what he saw, 17-year-old Steven Garcia painted the first coat, following the natural formation of the rock. “Lips” was born into Lemon Grove history.

During the time Lemon Grove was evolving into a city, a dispute over land changed the boundaries between Lemon Grove and La Mesa. Geographically, the new boundaries placed the 33-year-old monument in the possession of La Mesa.

But make no mistake, they are Lemon Grove’s lips. Residents of the city decided that the lips were there to stay, and as a community adopted the artist’s prank into the rich culture of this small city.

Garcia maintained the lips until he left Lemon Grove more than 20 years ago. Ofield said anonymous people in town have maintained and protect the landmark since. “We call them our freelancers,” she said. “None of the volunteers have wanted to be known.”

Some artists’ renditions were a little different from the original, but eventually it came back to just the great big set of plump red lips. Now, it is just as fresh as the first day that Garcia painted it.

Through the years, the lips have required maintenance. Necessary, not only to keep the big lips bright red, but to remove the graffiti added by those who consistently try to deface the rock.

Ofield said another young Lemon Grove artist is maintaining the lips on a regular basis now. Following the tradition of previous freelancers, the artist wishes to remain unknown. With the increase of gang graffiti on the lips, she said that this anonymous tradition is worth keeping.

“The Lemon Grove Lips have a little fairy godmother very close by,” said Ofield. “That’s all anyone needs to know.”

There is the history of the lips, but the whereabouts of the original artist and the current caretaker remain a mystery, for Lemon Grove’s “Lips” are sealed.

Do you have memories or photos of the Lips rock from years past? Tell us in the comments.

http://lemongrove.patch.com/articles/retired-lemon-grove-doctor-still-doing-house-calls#c

Volunteers in the News, The Neighborhood Files

Retired Lemon Grove Doctor Still Doing House Calls

Dr. Simon Brumbaugh gives the Lemon Grove Historical Society a “house call” on history.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | January 8, 2011

A warm fireplace and affectionate smiles welcomed Dr. Simon Brumbaugh at Lemon Grove’s beautiful H. Lee House Cultural Center on Thursday night. Brumbaugh started the evening with a joke about a girl that teased him about his name when he was younger, and had the crowd laughing and crying through the evening.

Brumbaugh started practice in 1952, and  retired at age 65. He still worked two half-days a week after retirement, and now, at age 86, still conducts recruit physicals downtown for the military. Like his father before him, he still made house calls when he was working as a family physician.

Brumbaugh said he came from long way from his family’s origins in Pennsylvania. He first saw San Diego in 1944, after he joined the U.S. Navy.

“I wrote home and told my parents I didn’t like San Diego,” he said. “It was the Norfolk, Virginia of the west coast. All there were was sailors, and you all know in Norfolk there were signs in yards that said,  ‘Dogs and sailors, stay off the grass.’”

 After the Navy, in 1946, he went back to college for pre-med studies. At that time, his mother was ill and was advised to move to a better climate. Over Christmas break, he drove his parents to Phoenix. The city had no transportation in place for him to commute to college, so they traveled further and landed in San Diego. He said that his father wrote him later telling him they were purchasing two-an-a-half acres of land in this little town called Lemon Grove and would be coming back to sell the family home and move out West permanently.

“I was so excited, I called my sister, and later that night I read it to my dormitory roommates,” said Brumbaugh. “I turned the letter over and told them, whatever you do, don’t tell this to anyone in our hometown.”

He went home for the weekend and one of his father’s patients said, “Simon, I hear your father just bought a lemon grove in California.”

“That was a mistake,” said Brumbaugh.

He said when his father went back to Pennsylvania to sell the house and settle his medical practice that he had a lot of bucks owed on the books. “But no one paid him,” he said. “They knew he was rich because he had just bought a lemon grove.”

Brumbaugh finished pre-med in 1947 at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He traveled between Philadelphia and San Diego, also taking classes at San Diego State University in the summertime.

“I spent four years in Philadelphia and three summers here,” he said. “I asked myself, why am I going back to Philadelphia?”

His final decision to move to San Diego came when he was looking for internships. In Philadelphia, hospital internships were unpaid. “I looked up San Diego County hospital and they were paying $69 a month!” he said. “So I decided, I better come to San Diego.”

Brumbaugh said he met a girl named Mary Lou at a Halloween party in Philadelphia in 1949. They dated and became very good friends. While staying the summer in San Diego he got a letter from Mary Lou saying she was going to the beach with some other guy.

“I told my mother, I think I need to fly back to Philadelphia,” he said. “My mother gave me her diamond engagement ring, in case I wanted it.”

Brumbaugh said they could not announce their engagement until Mary Lou finished her nursing training. Marriage was prohibited in nursing training schools in those days. After her training, they announced their engagement and she went to work for $175 a month.

“She said I married her for her money,” Brumbaugh said.

They married in December 1950.They drove to California and he started his internship with San Diego County Hospital. Mary Lou was hired and paid $232 a month.

Brumbaugh said his mother’s doctor, Dr. Wesley Herbert, offered him a job, but needed someone immediately. Brumbaugh had too much internship time left before getting his medical license and thought that working in Lemon Grove was a chance gone by.

After his internship, Brumbaugh worked in Julian, Ramona, Clairemont and Imperial Beach, before Herbert asked him again to work in Lemon Grove. It was 1957.

“I finally received my medical license by Railway Express on July 4,” he said. “And Dr. Herbert left the following day for a 30-day vacation. Here I was, right out of internship, in a new office, a new town. He told me, ‘ The nurse knows what to do and the lab tech knows what to do, so you’ll be all right.’”

Brumbaugh said in those days they were charging $4 for an office visit and $1 for a shot.

Herbert’s main hospital was Paradise Valley. Brumbaugh got on the staff of Mercy Hospital and two little hospitals downtown, Quintard and Balboa (not Navy), and a little converted hotel in La Mesa called La Mesa Community Hospital.

Herbert and Brumbaugh expanded to a 13-doctor office, and built Lemon Grove’s first medical building, which today is City Hall and the Sheriff’s substation. They later expanded their office and moved to newly-developing Rancho San Diego.

Overhead on the business side was so high, that six younger specialists decided to leave the practice. “So, the six young guys left and left us six old guys working two offices,” he said. “It was then that the practice was removed from Lemon Grove.”

Brumbaugh said many patients followed him. The city bought the building to use for city hall and the sheriff’s department. Shortly afterward, Scripps Clinic bought their thriving practice and made it their east county clinic.

Brumbaugh had many tales of his years of working in Lemon Grove.

He told a story of a young man from Helix High School with a broken ankle. He said he put a cast on it, but the young man wanted to walk on it, so he put a walking heel on the cast and told him to take it easy and to come back next week.

“When he came back the next week the cast was shattered. So I doubled up the plaster and made a bigger cast and he came back the next week and it was shattered again,” he said.

He said he put on the strongest casting material available at the time, supposedly having the strength of rock, he came back and the cast was shattered again. Brumbaugh asked his patient, “Dennis, what have you been doing to these casts?”

Dennis told him that he was rehearsing at the Old Globe Theater every night and he had to jump off a platform.

It was actor Dennis Hopper.

In his early years of internship and practice, Brumbaugh dealt with the polio epidemic in the early 50s. He talked about the ward of iron lungs at San Diego County, where all polio patients went. He and his wife were part of the massive effort to get people vaccinated when Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine.

Brumbaugh also spoke about his father, who grew up on a farm and was a doctor in Pennsylvania. His father graduated from medical school in 1910, but never practiced medicine in California. Instead, he worked on his property in Lemon Grove, planting fruit trees, growing strawberries and raising parakeets.

“He was a real horse and buggy doctor,” Brumbaugh said of his father. “My mother always told me he would go out into town and have to return home and change horses, because the horse was too tired. He delivered about three thousand babies in homes.”

Brumbaugh built his home next to his father’s house in Lemon Grove. The family has seven daughters, seven granddaughters and seven grandsons.

“ You delivered my son in 1965,” said Loretta Kennison, Lemon Grove resident since 1946. “I offered to trade him for one of your girls, because I already had a son. It didn’t work out.”

One of Brumbaugh’s daughters, Jo Ann Zawacki of La Mesa, followed in her mother’s footprints and has been a nurse since 1977; she is currently the orthopedic nurse specialist at Sharp Coronado Hospital. She said what she remembered most from her father’s medical practice was the “unusual patient.”

“We had a dog, it got hit by a car and broke its leg and my father said okay, let’s take him down to the office,” she said. “We would go to the office, X-ray the dog, put a plaster cast on its leg, and bring him back home.”

“I never told Herbert that,” said Brumbaugh.

Dona Lynn Clabby, a Lemon Grove resident since 1955, said Brumbaugh represents the family, and the family structure of what Lemon Grove was like during that time.

“I know why you stand so tall and straight,” said Clabby. “You are a happy man.”

Brumbaugh said, “Well as you can see, I am surrounded by a happy family.”

Helen Ofield of the Lemon Grove Historical Society said she was very excited about having the “doctor in the house” and was astonished by the amazingly full house. The Lemon Grove Historical Society is one of the sponsors of the free “History Alive” lecture series.

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