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.