To all the fools in Clairemont, Happy April!

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Bill Swank outside the Buena Vista Garden Apartments on Cowley Way in 1955 with East Clairemont in the distance.

Did you know the east side of Morena Boulevard has been rezoned for a trailer park from Balboa to Milton? DeFalco’s will build a new grocery store at the bottom of Clairemont Drive. The Padres are going to win the World Series.

How many know about the biggest trick ever played in Clairemont?

22-year-old Cameron Crowe, disguised as Dave Cameron, attended Clairemont High School in the late 1970s and wrote a book, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” which became the classic coming-of-age movie for the Seventies.

Who was Cameron?

A counterfeit student? An aberration? A fraud? A narc?

Why did he choose Clairemont High School to play his prank?

He successfully pissed off a lot of his classmates and they don’t want to talk about him. He created a generation of Clairemont doper surfers who all claim to be the inspiration for Spicoli, the “Surf’s up, dude” underachiever, that launched Sean Penn’s career. The movie also introduced several other young and previously unknown actors to theater audiences.

The Clairemont High School Library has a full collection of “Calumet” yearbooks and bound volumes of the school newspaper, “The Arrow.” A picture of graduating senior Lorraine Cameron appears on page 137 of the “1979 Calumet,” but there is no image of Dave Cameron. He reportedly was enrolled in Pam Ramsey’s journalism class, but his name doesn’t appear on any articles or among the students listed as “Arrow” staff. Something’s fishy.

Librarian Marla O’Connell joked, “I have people who come looking for information about Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend, Kendra Wilkinson, but you’re the first looking for Cameron Crowe.” As an afterthought, she added, “Our track team wears Fast Times at Clairemont High t-shirts.”

Jim Fletcher has taught at Clairemont for 29 years. He graduated from CHS in 1975 and did some student teaching at his alma mater in 1979. He didn’t know Dave Cameron, but does know Pam Ramsey, the retired journalism teacher. “She knew he was working on a book and so did the principal, Bill Burrows. It would never happen today; too many liability issues and other problems.”

Fletcher continued, “Although the movie gave the impression high school was all sex and drugs, it really was a period of great academic success and motivated teachers. Clairemont produced many students who went on to four year colleges and have led successful lives.”

Although my search for Cameron Crowe may have been fruitless (and senseless), I did find a character with the same “CC” initials who is a hero at Clairemont High School. Disguised as school mascot Charlie Chieftain, this Charlie is a real person.

His secret identity is Erik Jacobsen and he lives in Missouri. Like Jim Fletcher, he graduated from Clairemont in 1975. Jacobsen is one of those individuals who is the glue that keeps organizations from falling apart. He identifies himself as the “unofficial archivist” of Clairemont memorabilia. He operates a website known as clairemont-high-school-calumet-yearbooks.com that contains yearbooks and copies of “The Arrow.” He is also responsible for the “Clairemont High Memorials” Facebook page that provides short biographies of former CHS students and teachers who are deceased.

On their website, the first C.H.S. graduation Class of 1960 expressed great appreciation to Mr. Jacobsen for his efforts to find lost classmates to attend their 50th reunion. It turns out the former “Arrow” reporter experienced several major health crises in 2008. Today, he is grateful to be alive to have the time and the ability to help others.

Clairemont High School was a stepping stone for Cameron Crowe, but Erik Jacobsen treats Clairemont High School as an important link between friends. His unsung efforts are far more significant to our community than Cameron Crowe’s cameo crop dust over 35 years ago.

In related news, the Clairemont Hills Kiwanis Club will sponsor their third annual “Fast Times 5K” race at DeAnza Cove on April 18, 2015. Proceeds from this event help fund the Clairemont Mesa Educational Foundation which provides financial support to the nineteen public schools in Clairemont.

Squaremont salutes people like Erik Jacobsen and the Kiwanians who make a difference in Clairemont.

Email: Bill@ClairemontTimes.com

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