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~ ESCONDIDO REFLECTIONS

Some ripples to go with the Reflections this week

 

 

This week, the reflections, some brief, are on a variety of mostly unre­lated topics.

***

Can there ever be humor in a politi­cal contest? That’s one way to take the contest of 42 years ago, in 1974, for the California Senate seat in the 38th District, which included Escondido. Another way to take it is deviousness.

So, who was the Democrat oppos­ing John Stull? The name was Jonnie Stahl! How about that? A little hu­mor or a little deviousness to confuse the voters? Stull and Stahl; John and Jonnie. Any similarity? Just a coinci­dence? What do you think?

Was there a motive in the Democrat­ic Party nominating a person whose name could be taken for that of the incumbent, especially when spoken? Probably, but party officials denied it.

Unless you had attended a debate between the candidates or had seen their pictures in the paper, you might not have known that Jonnie Stahl was a woman. Her given name was Regina Stahl, but she said she had been called Jonnie since she was 10!

No matter. John Stull was re-elected handily.

***

The Escondido Junior Chamber of Commerce was an active civic organi­zation in the 1950s.

It may be difficult to visualize Grand Avenue without its tree-lined median when it was a wider, unencumbered street — wide enough to permit a pa­rade with its marching bands to weave down the thoroughfare.

But, yes, Grand Avenue was the scene for several years as the route for the Jaycee-sponsored annual Christ­mas parade. Parade units gathered near City Hall at Grand Avenue’s eastern intersection with Valley Bou­levard and entertained spectators as they marched to the dispersal point around Escondido Boulevard.

When the median was constructed, the parade route was moved to Broad­way, starting around Escondido High School and moving south to Grape Day Park.

In the early days, the Jaycees fi­nanced purchase of the parade tro­phies through sponsorship of an annu­al carnival. Now, put on your thinking cap and imagine — if you can — the northwest corner of what then was Ohio Avenue (now Valley Parkway) and Escondido Boulevard as a vacant, dirt-covered lot. Yes, that’s the corner now that houses the Fatburger restau­rant and the movie complex.

That’s where the carnival was held. Jaycee members manned the ticket booths for the various games and rides in return for a percentage of the take. Those were the days! (I was a Jaycee member at the time.)

***

Escondido had never had one of its young women selected as the Fairest of the Fair — until 1957. The Fairest of the Fair was that poised and mature young woman selected from among the representatives of the several com­munities in San Diego County to reign as “queen” over the county fair at Del Mar. She served as co-host with the iconic Don Diego.

It was in 1957 that the elegant Miss Ellen Emig won the Miss Escondido competition, paving the way to her becoming the Fairest of the Fair. (The Miss Escondido competition that year was sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The Jaycee committee chairman was George Cordry, sports editor of the former Daily Times Ad­vocate.)

***

A football bowl game in Escondido? Yes, that’s what the Junior Chamber of Commerce labeled it — the Avo­cado Bowl — when it sponsored such an event in the late 1950s. It was the brainchild of an entrepreneur Jaycee member named Harry Hinton. Harry was a one-man dynamo, handling about every aspect of the “gala” him­self.

Harry lined up the football teams from the Marine Corps Recruit De­pot in San Diego and the University of Northern Arizona (Flagstaff) as the participants. He arranged lodging for the Arizona team at the old Oakvale Lodge, on the opposite side of Lake Wohlford from the general store. He didn’t have to worry about housing for the MCRD team, as they stayed at their quarters in San Diego. Harry even arranged for the Escondido Po­lice Motorcycle Drill Team to perform at half-time.

MCRD won the game. Harry tried to get approval from the NCAA to sanc­tion an annual Avocado Bowl game. The request was denied, as expected. And, that was the story of Escondido’s first, last and only football bowl game.

***

Playing on your high school foot­ball team leaves you with lifelong memories. For the San Pasqual High School team of 1972, 44 years ago, it must be bitter-sweet memories — be­cause they lost every game of a nine- game schedule! And they scored only one touchdown all season! By Bernie Wolfe.

But, there’s an “explanation” here. That was the very first year of San Pasqual’s existence. And there were no senior students. The school opened with freshmen, sophomores and ju­niors. The sophomores and juniors had been freshmen and sophomores the previous year at Escondido and Orange Glen high schools and who then were considered to live within the boundaries of the new school.

So, the varsity team, with no se­niors, only sophomores and juniors with no varsity experience, had to brave a season in which losing 70-0 was commonplace.

If Bernie Wolfe is not in the San Pasqual High School football Hall of Fame for that singular season, he should be. Heck, the whole team should be. It was a matter of pride.

***

It’s Little League World Series time again. It was 1981, 35 years ago, that the first and only Escondido team, the National League, reached the World Series at Williamsport, PA. What a thrill it must have been for those 11 and 12-year-olds, who had won the Western Region tournament at San Bernardino for the right to fly across country 2,800 miles to central Penn­sylvania.

***

The Olympic Games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was in 1984, 32 years ago, that the Games were held in Los Angeles and when the route of the Olympic torch relay came along Escondido’s Centre City Parkway.

Where were you standing that night? I, along with another hundred or so eager spectators, was on the grassy median at the intersection of Country Club Drive. It was about 11 pm and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

***

Ron Kenney was a reporter and editor for the former Daily Times- Advocate from 1952 to 1979 and was a copy editor on the editorial pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune from 1985 to 1997.


One response to “~ ESCONDIDO REFLECTIONS”

  1. Peter Stahl says:

    Jonnie Breyer Stahl, political activist and educator, died on October 17th, 2019, at her home in San Mateo, California. She was 89.

    Born Regina “Jeannie” Breyer in McKeesport, Pennsylvania in 1930, she was the youngest of three daughters of Helen (Reiter) and Louis Breyer. Her father, an immigrant from Hungary, died when she was three, and the family struggled financially during the Depression years. She nonetheless was admitted to prestigious Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, and later moved with her sisters to New York City to attend the High School of Music & Art as a flutist. Admitted to Swarthmore but unable to afford it, she instead attended Penn State, graduating in 1953.

    She began a career as a technical secretary, working in the Physics Department at Columbia University, then moving across the country to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. There she met a shy nuclear physicist, Ralph Stahl; the two were married in 1955.

    A year later they were both hired by a new company, General Atomic, whose campus was being built north of La Jolla. The couple found it impossible to buy a house nearby because of systematic discrimination against Jews by La Jolla real estate brokers. Years later, Jonnie provided key details to a study documenting the practice, “The Flaw in the Jewel.”

    In 1960, however, they were able to buy a house in a new development near the nascent UC San Diego campus in La Jolla, which the family called home for the next 45 years. The house was often filled with wonderful aromas of Jonnie’s Hungarian-tinged cooking. It was a veritable zoo with many pet mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. And, for a time, it was the home of a Sabbath school Jonnie improvised for local Jewish children, taught by university students, and visited by luminaries such as Isaac Bashevis Singer.

    With three young children at home, Jonnie left the professional world, and became active in the PTA, League of Women Voters, Democratic Club, and other volunteer organizations. In the early 1970s she earned a teaching credential and taught at several elementary schools in the San Diego Unified district.

    In 1974 she was recruited to run for California state senate as a Democrat in a heavily Republican district. Her opponent, conservative incumbent John Stull, protested that she was hoping to win because of name confusion. But the Los Angeles Times saw a different angle, calling the race “Maude vs. Archie Bunker.” Jonnie ran an energetic, issues-oriented campaign on a shoestring budget, and the family pitched in, taking her signature orange station wagon to events from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona border. She lost the general election, but it was closer than the party registration predicted.

    Over the following years, Jonnie remained very active politically while trying her hand at real estate, editing, and stints on the Health Systems Agency and civil Grand Jury. She and Ralph spent time at an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and traveled together. After Ralph’s death in 2004, she moved to The Stratford residences in San Mateo, and continued following the arts and current events.

    She leaves sons Daniel and Peter, daughter Elizabeth Korevaar, and six grandchildren. Donations in Jonnie’s name may be made to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology or EMILY’s List.

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