2019 Who’s Who in Clairemont

“Who’s Who in Clairemont” has a modest history. In 2015, a call for nominations resulted in… nothing.

“Squaremont” was still a relatively new column at that time. It had not yet captured a base of loyal fans and readers.

To give “Who’s Who in Clairemont” a little start-up traction in 2015, a decision was made to honor those citizens who had taken the time to send an e-mail about my “Squaremont” column. During the entire year, I only heard from five people, all male.

That year, I had contacted a Clairemont woman in reference to another matter. She replied that she was too busy to address my questions. Because she was kind enough to respond at all, I decided to included her in the inaugural class of “Who’s Who in Clairemont.”

After all, we live in an enlightened age of quotas, balance and inclusion.

Even before #MeToo, the Clairemont Times has always been dedicated to equal rights and equal opportunity for women. Hopefully, the 2015 distinction looks good in her resume, biography and curriculum vitae.

The following wonderful people sent e-mail in 2018 and are honored in “Who’s Who in Clairemont – 2019.”

January 19, 2018: Suzanna N sent an e-mail to announce that a new Little Free Library was installed on Ogalala Avenue and Neosho Place in North Clairemont.

January 29, 2018: Patti Vickery commented about the fun she had dancing at the Moonglo back in the 1970s.

April 3, 2018: Jack Carpenter responded to a request for photographs of Oscar’s Drive-In and the Clairemont Theatre. He remembered taking his kids to the movies and his feet stuck to the floor from spilled sodas and dropped candy. Jack does a 75-slide PowerPoint presentation on the history of Clairemont. He has lived in Clairemont for 55 years. We will get together for a future column about mid-century modern architecture.

April 12, 2018: Roger McCollough complimented the “Deadball Nine” column. He likes San Diego history.

(I got the idea for “Deadball Nine” in 2004 while doing research on the early history of baseball in San Diego. My article was rejected by San Diego Magazine and the Union-Tribune. Fortunately, Chris O’Connell liked it and wanted a baseball story for the opening of the 2018 season in April. Barely 100 people read it online. In October, the San Diego Press Club awarded “Deadball Nine” first place in sports writing for non-daily newspapers. Thanks, Roger, Chris and the Press Club.)

April 18, 2018: Also, in response to the request for photos of Oscar’s Drive-In and the Clairemont Theater, Charles Saxton shared his memory about the theater. “It was old and burgundy on the inside with brown seats with a single walk way down the middle.”

May 2, 2018: William Blakeslee commented on the Clairemont Bowl column. He remembered the first time his father took him bowling in January 1962. He hit the pins only twice in two games. “All the rest were gutter balls. I got better years later.”

William continued, “I rode my bike through the alley (the garage area) of the Buena Vista Gardens apartments on my way to the Clairemont Bowl. No traffic and maybe a more peaceful ride. I even had my hair cut a few times when the bowling center had a barber shop. One of the house pros, the late Betty Kraft, helped me with my bowling. She changed my approach and the release of the bowling ball. I owe so much gratitude to her. My game improved tremendously thanks to her.”

May 8, 2018: Don Gardner sent two lengthy e-mails about Oscar’s Drive-In. They read like a script from “American Graffiti” with hot rods, beautiful girls, goofing off on his job at a local gas station and cruising over to Oscar’s.

“One night, these two guys pulled into the Shell station in a 1966 light metallic green Mustang fastback. They got gas and hung around. We talked for a few hours. They saw the sign for S&H Green Stamps. Instead of me giving them just a few, I proceeded to roll out a couple hundred which I placed on the Mustang as a racing stripe. Yes, I was fired the next night, but made two lifelong best friends: Danial Michaelis and Bob Gillmer.”

They spent a lot of time at Oscar’s. Dan had a Studebaker wagon and a record player. He’d park in the back lot with the music blaring. Don listed the names of all his friends, their girlfriends and a carhop at Oscar’s named Vera with a beautiful blond daughter named Linda. Linda and Dan Michaelis got married. Bob Gillmer introduced Don to Sue Dennis. “WOW…have been married to her for over 49 years.”

“Oscar’s, Clairemont Mesa Boulevard… if it wasn’t for that place, I would hate to see what my life would be like. So funny how little things can make a big difference in your life. Then there was Maynard’s by the sea in Pacific Beach, but that’s another story.”

June 28, 2018: The subject of an e-mail from Nicholas Garneau was, “Marriage proposal around the Moon for 145 million dollars.” I didn’t open the e-mail, but according to google, Garneau is a French marriage proposal planner who will fly you and your sweetheart around the moon so you can propose in style. “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra will be playing in your earphones.

July 2, 2018: Nice e-mail from Jerry Selness about the Hilltoppers Little League story. Through correspondence, I learned that Jerry played on a 1957 La Mesa Colt League championship team. Many of his teammates are experiencing health problems, but they stay in touch with one another. Great stuff.

August 9, 2018: Apparently in response to my August column about high school reunions, Janet Kiley wanted something written about the 40th reunion for her Madison High School Class of 1978. She called me “a Clairemont legend and well-known writer.” Janet clearly understands the importance of offering honey when asking a favor, but I was unable to write about this nostalgic Warhawks soirée. I’m sure they had a good time.

August 20, 2018: The “High School Reunions” column even prompted an e-mail from my savant brother. It contained a seemingly straight forward quotation from Winston Churchill, but – considering the source – I knew it held a negative, abstruse significance for me.

August 23, 2018: Pete Gorrie, La Jolla High School Class of 1960 liked the reunion stories and wrote that they “stimulated a lot of memories.” Pete sent several subsequent e-mails including what is apparently an essay on the meaning of Christmas. His friends have also sent e-mail endorsing his writings.

August 29, 2018: Very nice e-mail from Susan C. Martinko-Rosen. As a youngster, she and her sisters were not allowed play with two neighborhood girls who were “way too wild.” One of those girls became “a national celebrity.” She remembers buying “my ciggies out of a machine” at Sonny’s Liquor at the Quad. She also worked five years at Baskin Robbins before it moved to Balboa Mesa. It’s fun to hear from readers with happy memories of growing up in Clairemont.

October 11, 2018: An online marketing executive named Phil realized that my column is not ranked on a list of the most searched Google inquiries. For a fee, he was willing to help get “Squaremont” on that list. Ha! Ha!

October 12, 2018: A man was willing to provide a home for the two dogs mentioned in my October column about the mobile homeless in Clairemont. I replied that if I saw the homeless man, I would pass on the offer. Instinctively, I knew he would turn it down. Why would a homeless man give away his loyal friends? I’m sure the man meant well by his feckless offer.

(60 years ago, I ironically remember a history professor at SDSU telling our class there was a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals before there was a similar organization to protect children. The British Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 1866. It wasn’t until 1875 that the first organization to protect children, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was formed.)

October 22, 2018: The wife of the homeless family living in their car with two children including an autistic son sent e-mail to advise that “Dreams for Change” had approved them for three months rent and a security deposit. Thank you, Dreams for Change.

November 1, 2018: Ronn Rohe sent an e-mail titled “2018 Citizen Nomination.” Ronn considers my January column to be about the Clairemont Citizen of the Year. He nominated JoAnn Ferguson of Balboa Bluffs. “Her late husband organized and coached various Little Leagues over the years. She is an avid walker and keeps an eye on the neighborhood, can always be counted on to help someone in need and be the voice of reason in otherwise ruckus HOA meetings.” Thanks, Ronn. JoAnn sounds like a tremendous woman.

November 21, 2018: I ran into Carol McDowell at Costco. She liked the Clairemont Theatre story and laughed about getting a call from the theater manager one Saturday afternoon. She had dropped off her FIVE boys and apparently, they got a little rambunctious. They were raising hell during the movie including running across the stage, so Carol had to go get them.

In December, several Clairemont Times readers contacted me to purchase my book, Christmas in San Diego. It was nice to meet them in person. I hope they enjoyed the book and had a Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year!


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