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Arie de Jong was a part of Escondido’s history


Well, it has happened again. The focus of my column is diverted once again by an event before I sit at the keyboard. By now you are aware of the passing of Arie de Jong a man who is as much a part of Escondido’s history as the grape vine that put Escondido on the map.
If I had but one word to describe Arie it would be entrepreneur a man who embodied the can do spirit that made America great. And, oh did he ever do it. I had the pleasure of knowing him and discussing potential projects for Escondido.
Perhaps ten years ago or so I met with Arie and Lyle Davis for coffee to see his proposal of a clock tower that he said could be placed in front of City Hall. This was about a twenty foot tall structure that would weigh over a ton. Yeah, Arie didn’t think small on any of his ventures. As we all looked at the renditions, etc. I mentioned that we would have to get permits for the project but no big deal At that point Arie grabbed my sleeve and said, “I don’t do paper work you do that”.
Lyle and I both laughed as we recalled Arie’s, uh shall we say, delay in “fixing up” an historic home on Richland Parkway in San Marcos. You see, when Arie wanted to do something he just did it. “Ask forgiveness not permission” was his motto. By the way, both of these projects were at no cost to Escondido or San Marcos The clock tower idea fell by the wayside but the Green Gables Wedding Estate is a beautiful thriving event venue in San Marcos.
It was some years ago when he spoke at The Rotary Club of Escondido recounting his family’s immigration to and life in the USA. It was supposed to be a one and done presentation following his book “The American Dream,’ From Poverty to Prosperity” the story of the de Jong Family, a copy of which I have signed by Arie de Jong “to my good friend Ed Gallo.”
As I said, it was to be at one meeting however, anyone who has ever had a discussion with Arie knows it takes more than just a few comments. It actually took three successive meetings for him to tell the de Jong story. If you are curious, that is three hours of riveting history of a family living the American dream. Anyone who has lived in Escondido over 30 years remembers the drive-through Hollandia Dairy at Felicita and Hwy 395 (Centre City Parkway).
Some years ago I had the pleasure to attend events at Melrose Ranch his home in Valley Center. This property has to be one of the most spectacular properties in San Diego County and another example of how Arie fixes up a property that has been neglected. He took me on a tour and history lesson of the main house then the converted dairy barn where each of the old stalls are now dining areas. I do not know if the herd is still there but he had 100 head of Texas longhorn steers grazing on the 100 plus acre estate. You have to see it to believe it. Just awesome. RIP Arie de Jong you will be missed. Another light gone out.
Now a bit of trivia. This was sent to me by longtime resident and Emmy Award winner Jerry Davis. One of the ships involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 was the USS Rio Escondido. Loaded with aviation fuel, it was shot up by the Cuban Air Force, exploded impressively and sank like a stone. I never knew Escondido had a namesake Navy vessel.
Newspaper editing has to be a difficult job but sometimes I wonder who monitors a reporter’s work. About a week ago in the U-T was an item regarding the homeless issue in San Diego City. The beginning cites “youths 18-24 years old.” Then in the fifth paragraph mentions “chronically homeless adults 16 to 25.” Huh?
Recently, a friend wrote that he rented a ‘65, 64 ½ Mustang. Who rents out a classic first production vehicle? In January, 1963 I attended the auto show in NYC where Ford had on display a new prototype two passenger vehicle named Mustang. Public opinion liked the design however, told Ford the preference was to have a four passenger more family oriented car. Alas, in April 1964 out rolled the new Ford Mustang and as is said the rest is history. Oh, and Cruisin’ Grand begins June 9.
Walter Hagen, who won and spent more than a million dollars during his career, was asked the secret of his success. He said, “You’re here for only a short visit, so don’t hurry, don’t worry, and be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Walter Hagen, Golf professional.
Wow, so many. GATO DA, DBLAZE, GURRFER, CEO JDS, V8NSIDE, RLL OUT, ICONCEO, LXS 4AV, MLR2007, OJB CO. Stay well folks and it appears Spring has finally sprung.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

One response to “Arie de Jong was a part of Escondido’s history”

  1. Stein says:

    I was also fortunate enough to spend some time with Arie at Melrose Ranch (where his “ask forgiveness not permission” got me in a bit of hot water-another story for another day). A bit of trivia about Arie that I remember-he kept a daily diary that he wrote in every day since he was 14 (if I remember that part correctly). Rows and rows of diaries, or yearly order, on the shelves in his office.

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