Who’s Who in Clairemont: 2018

Who's Who in Clairemont, 2018 (Photo by Bill Swank)

It has become traditional for the first Squaremont column of the New Year to be “Who’s Who in Clairemont.”

Criteria for eligibility are simple and straightforward: Live in Clairemont and send an email about the column. Former residents and, under special circumstances, outsiders can be honored on a case-by-case basis.

Years ago, former San Diego Padres pitcher Eddie Erautt shared his scrapbooks with me and said, “A lot of pitchers don’t include articles about the games they lost. My wife made these scrapbooks. Every game I pitched is in there and I lost a lot of games. You’ve gotta take the bad with the good.”

That principal is incorporated in the eligibility requirements for “Who’s Who in Clairemont.” The list includes the good and the bad.

Once again, (with ruffles and flourishes), Squaremont is proud to announce “Who’s Who in Clairemont” for 2018.

David Engelhart (Captain, USN retired) sent an email about the “75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor” (December 2016). “Great article,” but the USS Missouri “was BB63, not BB67.” In the Navy (and at The Clairemont Times), the captain is always right. “BB67,” authorized before WWII to become the USS Montana, was never built which makes Montana the only state (48 at the time) not to have a battleship with a “BB” hull number.

Patricia Rolla wanted the name of the store at the Clairemont Quad (Village) that is now the site of the Rite Aid drug store. Originally, it was a W.T. Grant department store. There was another W.T. Grant in the Balboa Mesa Shopping Center at Balboa and Genesee which became Melvyn’s and is currently Kohl’s. Patti added that they purchased her husband’s wedding band at the Quad store in 1974.

Jim Willis sent a wonderful story about how Fallbrook Lane near the Serbian Orthodox Church got its name. As happens in San Diego County, the subdivision was laid out without regard to topography which made access difficult. All the neighbors donated 20 feet of their property and an alley was made into a street. The Bay Park streets that continue north across Clairemont drive are named after cities: Chicago, Denver, Erie and Frankfort. Jim wrote, “Since it was between Erie Street and Frankfort Street and it was just two blocks long and my mother- in-law lived in Fallbrook, the name Fallbrook Lane was suggested and approved by all owners and the city.  That is how the street was named.”

GREY HILL (So Cal Architecture Group on Facebook) I do not have a Facebook account and eventually was finally able to figure out that GREY HILL is actually Gesele Rey-Hill of Bay Park. Her interest was in mid-century modern construction at the original Clairemont Square. I wrote back that I am neither an expert nor a fan of “mid-century modern architecture.” I suspect Frank Lloyd Nabisco was Clairemont’s primary architect in the 1950s.

William Blakeslee, Dan Whelan and Curtis Nygard all responded to “Clairemont’s Long Forgotten Little League Ballfields” (April 2017). These guys all had great Clairemont Little League memories. William wrote with great respect and affection for his Little League coach, Jim Harkness. Dan provided detailed information about the ballparks at the North Clairemont Square and Curtis had pictures and stories. He even made two trips to my home to deliver them. Based on the positive reaction to the April column, a lengthy follow-up article featuring William, Curtis and Dan appeared in the May issue of the newspaper. I don’t know much about Facebook, but a Clairemont Facebook account picked up on the story and many people shared their Little League memories.

Nhu Van sent e-mail confirmation for her invitation to the Buddhist Mother’s Day celebration at the Dinh Thanh temple on September 17, 2017.

Stephen Parker owns the Historic Hawthorn Inn at First and Hawthorn in Banker’s Hill. He was requesting permission from Sam Ames to make a print of the Prohibition Era prescription that was featured in “Charles Cass: Bay Park’s Fearless G-Man” (June 2017). Sam granted permission and the image is presumed to be on display in the Hawthorn Inn.

Sunny Vee also enjoyed the article about Charles Cass and wondered if Cass Street in Pacific Beach (with all the saloons) was named for the former prohibition officer. From my research, that street was named after Lewis Cass, Territorial Governor of Michigan and, later, Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson. Charles Cass was a likely relative of the early American patriot. Sunny’s sense of irony is appreciated

Andy Castagnola wanted to know if I knew anything about his relative, George Castagnola, who played with Lou Gehrig and the Larrupin’ Lous. After the 1927 season, Gehrig barnstormed with Babe Ruth and the Bustin’ Babes. Years ago, I did research for another man whose father also played for the Larrupin’ Lous in Santa Barbara, but couldn’t find it. Over the course of the past year, others contacted me at my Clairemont Times e-mail account to ask various baseball questions.

Gary White of Lucerne Valley (north of San Bernardino) sent an email on June 27, 2017 about the forgotten Little League ballfields article from April. As a young boy, he lived at 2936 Fairfield Street on the corner of Clairemont Drive. He wrote, “Actually, that first little league field was directly below our house, right where the Field Court cul-de-sac houses are now located. The house at 2921 Field Court basically straddles the spot where the infield was located.  I remember this vividly because of all the excitement of game days, buying popcorn and candy from the snack shack, watching games from our back porch, and combing the pickleweed embankments looking for stray baseballs.”

Thanks, Gary, because the location of that ballpark was the biggest mystery for me. You confirmed it was exactly where I remembered it being in 1955. He’ll send a picture if he can find one.

Rebecca Moffatt wrote that she is a “recent transplant” to San Diego. “Loved the article (“Clairemont’s Greatest Pickup Bar,” September 2017). Wish there was a Moonglow still here in Clairemont. Keep writing cool articles like this and I’ll keep reading.”

Nicholas Cretelle sent an email about the Moonglow (Moonglo) article to complain that it, “resembled reporting during the 2016 Presidential [sic] election – no fact checking! The Moonglow was located in the area now occupied by the hardware store. That would be the Northeast [sic] corner of Clairemont Drive and Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. Not at the Southwest [sic] corner as erroneously reported.”

Of course, Mr. Cretelle is correct. I apologize to any other reader who was equally outraged by my egregious error, but, frankly, I have difficulty connecting the dots between the location of a former Clairemont watering hole and any similarity to the coverage during the contentious 2016 presidential campaign. Unintentional mistakes have appeared in this column, but you will not find “fake news” in Squaremont!

Mark McCloskey wrote, “I just read your article on the Moonglo et al and it was incredible.” He related memories of his Dad playing in a band at the Moonglo and also drinking Shirley Temples with his younger brother, Ralph, in a booth at the Stardust while their father talked to friends at the bar. They all got their haircuts at “the Quad” barber shop. The barbers were Don and Con.

Michael Boehmke sent a well-written and reasonable e-mail about the serious parking problems caused by the Buddhist Dinh Thanh temple at the corner of Clairemont Drive and Gila Avenue. He noted that the temple only has two designated parking spots and cannot understand how the city could allow this to happen in a residential neighborhood. He also addressed the problems created by the bike lanes on Clairemont Drive and added traffic on narrow streets to access the 50 new homes on the former Stevenson Elementary School site. Mike is frustrated that his concerns have fallen on deaf ears at city hall.

Takaoki Fujiwara wants me to represent his company, Hankyu Hanksin Holdings Group, in the United States and Canada. Hankyu Hanksin specializes in transportation, retailing, real estate, entertainment and media. Does this mean they want to carry “Squaremont” in their Japanese newspapers?

Señor Chango is a North Clairemont Landmark (Photo by Bill Swank)

Señor Chango appears on this year’s “Who’s Who” list, because, for eight years, motorists have seen him climbing a truncated Clairemont palm tree and asked, “Who’s that?”

As you are driving north on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard before it descends into San Clemente Canyon, you can’t miss this mischievous metal gorilla. Juan Nunez, an eclectic art collector and co-owner of Nunez Landscaping Company, bought the unusual sculpture in Popotla, a small Baja fishing village south of Rosarito. His brother, Miguel Nunez, explained how their father just shakes his head and says, “What did Juan get now?”

Squaremont salutes the Brothers Nunez of North Clairemont for their sense of humor and for creating a local landmark. They played Little League at Clairemont Hilltoppers and their sons are anxious for the 2018 season to start.


To read all the Squaremont columns visit: https://clairemonttimes.com/category/squaremont/

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