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1974 in Lemon Grove: Art, Music, Beauty and Murder

News from the February, 1974 issues of the Lemon Grove Review.

1974 in Lemon Grove: Art, Music, Beauty and Murder 1974 in Lemon Grove: Art, Music, Beauty and Murder 1974 in Lemon Grove: Art, Music, Beauty and Murder

A look back Lemon Grove 39 years ago. 

The town filled February with an impressive array of cultural events punctuated by Act II in the Case of the Murdered Songstress.

En Plein Air:  Florence Sayward donated her gold-framed "Still Life With Roses" -- an oil on canvas of roses in a china bowl -- to St. John of the Cross Church for use as the grand prize in the annual fashion show of the Catholic Daughters Court of Teresa of Avila. 

Mrs. Sayward was one of many gifted landscape and still life painters whose art flourished in the best climate on earth from the 19th century to modern times. 

Clapham's Kids:  The town's premier music teacher, Lee Clapham, presented more than 40 students in his 17th Annual Midwinter Recital at Lemon Grove Junior High. 

The free, public event showcased piano and guitar virtuosi, culminating in a performance by 'Grove wunderkind, Ron Baldwin, of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu in C-sharp minor.  Many will recognize the middle passage as the melody of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," something Chopin had not envisioned in 1834. 

Confab of Stars:  'Grovians flocked to El Cajon for the 1974 Forum of the Foothills Lecture Series featuring Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Jack Anderson, "Population Bomb" author Dr. Paul Ehrlich, political comedian James Boren and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Wilson Riles. 

A family of four got in for $12, while the childless paid just $6. 

Billboard Warbler:  Fresh from her tour of Europe and Israel, composer-pianist-vocalist  Gloria Roe performed at First Baptist Church, 2910 Main Street. Sunday services were packed to hear Roe sing "Gloria," her original song that made Billboard Magazine's top 10 solos.   

Roe had performed for Presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon and devoted her career to inspiring youth through music. 

Fido Loves Mozart (true):  The Lemon Grove-Spring Valley Dog Club offered lessons in how to calm down Fido, Rex and Fluffy by playing Mozart's music during training sessions, dinner and beddy-bye.  Apparently, a pooch ceased leaping, drooling, barking and chewing when Wolfgang's violins soared. 

Where is that dog club now?  We could use their counsel to quell the cries of countless canines in the Big Lemon. 

Curtain Up:  For $2 ($1.50 for seniors and students) you could see "Catch Me If You Can" performed by the Lamplighter Theater, 8053 University Avenue, the popular local ensemble that brought plays of all kinds to regional audiences for seven decades. 

When their home in the Ben Polak Fine Arts Center was demolished in 2006, it was curtains for the troupe.  But, as of February, 2013 it's lights up once more as the Lamplighters move in to La Mesa Village Station, 5915 Severin Drive.  Stay tuned. 

Eggs Skavoc:  That's Ernie Kovacs' recipe for fried eggs (his name spelled backwards).  The life and times of this brilliant comedian was offered in free screenings of the fascinating documentary, "Kovacs," at College Grove Shopping Center Community Hall.   

Kovacs was an innovative, influential performer during the 1950s Golden Age of Television, inspiring every TV comedian from Rowan & Martin to David Letterman and Conan O'Brian.  He died in 1962, age 43, after driving his car into a power pole while lighting his trademark cigar. 

The Case of the Murdered Songstress, Part Deux:  Last week we reviewed the 1974 mystery murder of barfly and songstress Bridget O'Connor of red dress fame.  Subsequent issues of the Lemon Grove Review lamented the dirth of clues leading to anyone who might know anything about her final hours. 

The Coroner ruled that strangulation and/or a beating ended the life of the 30-something Grand Rapids native found in a ditch by Sweetwater Road.  Evidently Bridget rarely frequented Blue Book establishments and wasn't even in the phone book.  Her beat-up Datsun was registered in another name and her tattered pocketbook held 56 cents, a lipstick, compact and an expired Michigan driver's license. 

So.  What happened?  Was she on the lam from something or somebody?  Did she find out what the boys in the back room wanted once too often?  Was she only a cat in a chicken wire cage?  We'll ransack subsequent issues to see whether intrepid gumshoes wrestled the case to a fall and found justice for poor Bridget, the gal in the cheap red dress.

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