Kindergarten 1951

Relics from my kindergarten year (1950-1) at Lindo Park School, Lakeside, California.  Kindergarten was a time to learn to be away from home, to get along with other people and listen to the teacher, and my favorite parts: graham crackers and milk, and naps.  Seems ridiculous to have to mention but there was no homework as there is today.  It was a year of fun.  There were two classes – I was in Mrs. Lyon’s class and next door was Mrs. Westrick’s class.
kindergarten reportMom took the movies and they have those qualities of movies then – no sound, too light or too dark, moving too fast, heads cut off, and yet, brings back memories of those times.
The first video shows the playground activities.  I can recognize a few kids:  Louise Hayward, Susan Diamond, Celeste Harrison, and maybe Esther Thomas.  And Mrs. Westrick.   I’m in the red overalls, and that surprises me – I would have expected to have to wear a dress.  But you can see, pants are much more practical when you play on the bars!

mrs lyons kindergarten class 2

Dorothy Lyons and kindergarten class.

mrs lyons kindergarten class 1

Dorothy Lyons and kindergarten class.

One day Mom put one of our lambs into the family car and brought it to our kindergarten class for the kids to see.  Of course at the time I didn’t appreciate the effort this must have taken.
mrs lyons playground

The second video is our graduation day.  I do remember making the construction paper hats.  Both teachers are in this.  I can also see Dennis Busgen, Susan Diamond, Erin Macgillivray, Ken Walling, Ron Carlson, Esther Thomas, and I think, Pat Fazio.  I’m in the blue and white polka-dotted dress.

If you are in these videos, I’d love to hear from you.  And if you recognize anyone, we could add that to the post.

Pepper Trees

pepper tree leavesI could identify a lot of different trees as a child because we had so many varieties of fruit trees.  Easy to know their names.  But there was one tree that bore no edible fruit – and it was still my favorite.  The California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle).

backyard w pepper treesWe had two huge old pepper trees in the large chicken pens.  Their branches hung to the ground providing a fine play area and hiding place in the shade.  The big kids built tree houses in them which we younger folks eventually inherited – as soon as we could finally climb the thick branches.

We were mean to those trees – pounding nails into them to secure the boards or hang some trinket.  And the tree bled – a  thick, sticky white sap.  The smell of the sap and the leaves today takes me back 60 years to those tree forts.  Regrettably there are no photos of the structures but I can picture every detail in my mind.

Mom planted pepper trees along the driveway up to the house about 1950.  They are still there.
driveway pepper treespepper tree 5

In town, in Lindo Park there were big pepper trees in the 1950s – old then and some are still there.  Many times we played in those trees while the big boys played Little League.

Pepper trees, Lindo Park, Lakeside, California

Pepper trees, Lindo Park, Lakeside, California

Pepper trees are old, welcoming friends.


Mrs Hanson’s 3rd Grade Class 1954

Mrs. Vivian Hanson June 2014

Mrs. Vivian Hanson
June 2014

I had a most wonderful, unexpected encounter this last weekend.  I had gone to my hometown of Lakeside, California to celebrate Edna Kouns’ 100th birthday.  Hundreds of people there – lots of folks from my childhood.  Great party, but the special part was seeing my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Hanson.  She’s 94 now, healthy and sharp.  I know a few of my high school teachers are still alive, but it never occurred to me that some of the elementary teachers could also be.

She’s the only one of my early teachers that I’ve had a chance to thank.

This is our class photo – Lindo Park School, 1954.  I’ve put first names where I could, but I’m missing a few.  If you are in this photo or know someone who is, please contact me.

3rd grade Hanson 1Thanks, Mrs. Hanson.

Tomato Field

The story of our commercial tomato growing has been told here.  Now I’ve found some photos of the field of newly planted tomatoes – still under hot-caps.
tomato 1That’s Kephart’s house across Oak Drive (now Oak Creek Drive).  Toyon Hill Drive now starts about where that telephone pole is just left of center.  Dozens of houses there now.
tomato 2That’s Mrs. Brown’s house on the right – she has her laundry hung out.  That tall (and dead) eucalyptus tree in front of her place fell in a storm.  I can remember playing on the fallen tree – they made fine forts!




First Grade 1952

Miss Giddings’ 1st grade class at Lindo Park School, Lakeside, California, 1951-2:
1st grade photo a

My photo was cut out some time ago.  These are my classmates.  I’m not giving names because most are still living.  I’m in touch with several folks in this photo, and would love be in contact with all.

Miss Frances Giddings taught us to read – for that she will be high on my list of favorite teachers.

Birthday Parties 1948

I was quite surprised to find a newspaper clipping for my brother’s 7th birthday party.  And then one for his 8 year old friend.  I guess we were quite the social set in 1948!  Or more likely, there just wasn’t much news.

1949 tom party

The guest list should read Charles, Jerry, Walter, and Leslie Ann Kephart, etc.

Here’s the clipping for the Hayes’ twins party.

1949 hayes party

This hotbed of social life was Lakeside, California.  I was two years old, so it was not my scene.

School Records

moms scrapbooks

Mom’s scrapbooks

My brother recently discovered some of Mom’s scrapbooks in his storage room.  Neither one of us knew they existed and Mom perhaps thought they had been discarded – they’ve been boxed since at least 1984.  She made one for every year, but only a couple survived.

She saved our school records and our artistic masterpieces.  So now I have proof that I did get promoted from 7th to 8th grade.  The certificate was mimeographed and filled in by hand.  And signed by Mr. Whittinghill and Mr. Pruyne.

dlc cert of promotion

And I have a record from my beloved first grade teacher, Miss Giddings.

dlc 1st grade report

Thanks Mom for saving everything.  Wish we had all the scrapbooks she made.

Toomanytomatoes and Too Many Tomatoes

In the early 1950s we grew tomatoes commercially.  Here are two versions of that story, one from my brother who was just a kid then, and one from Dad, who had to put up with him.

Tom Linda Del Mar

Tom and Linda at Del Mar Race Track, California
Why would anyone name a horse Toomanytomatoes??

The favorite in the fourth race yesterday at Del Mar was Toomanytomatoes.  She went off at 5/2 ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith on the one mile turf course.  She was prepared by Mike Mitchell who is the all-time leading trainer at Del Mar.  It wasn’t enough.  Toomanytomatoes finished out of the money.  I didn’t bet on her because of a premonition based on a childhood experience.  Watching the race brought back memories of my first run-in with too many tomatoes – some 60 years ago.

In 1952 my father and Otto Eickhoff took our baseball/football field out of action by planting it in tomatoes.  Dad had the property and Otto had the farming experience. He was a good friend and the manager of the Guymon Peach Farm about 2 miles away.  When the tomatoes ripened they put my sister Jean and me in roadside stands to sell them.  One spot was along Magnolia Avenue near the Wagon Wheel restaurant and another was on Woodside Avenue closer to Lakeside.  There was no Highway 67 there back then and all traffic would pass right by us.  Apparently we did quite well and the following year Dad and Otto decided to really cash in by planting twice as many tomatoes.  But just when Jean and I were starting to do our sales magic a representative of the County Health Department stopped at our stand and cited us for not having access to bathroom facilities.  This “cease and desist” order eliminated both the sales outlet and the cheap labor upon which the tomato dynasty was based.  Not much more was picked from the field and Dad vowed to never again grow a tomato plant on the property.  Too many tomatoes finished out of the money.

tomatoesBut the neighborhood kids didn’t consider the farming effort as a complete waste.  We would choose teams, much like we did for baseball and football when we possessed the field, and held tomato wars in the rocks below Kepharts.  Everybody had a bucket and would load up in the tomato field.  One team would hide in the rocks and the other team would attack.  When that battle ended, meaning the buckets were all empty, we would reload and swap positions for the next engagement.  It was good fun but not clean fun.  No clear winner emerged and the war was only ended when the tomato field ran out of ammunition.  Naturally we were all disappointed when no ammunition was planted the next year – or, ever after.  Jerry Kephart, who anointed us all with nicknames (Strider, Bonehead, etc.) referred to me as “Tomato” from that point forward.
Tom “Tomato” Claycomb
August 5, 2013

Now here is Dad’s recollection of the Tomato Saga written in the 1980s.

Tomatoes on a Big Scale 1952 & 1953

In one our great get-rich scheme we planted 1000 tomato plants on Feb 1, 1952 on the front of our then 2 1/2 acre lot.  We being the Eickhoffs and the Claycombs.  All expenses and receipts were to be split.  We planted in curved rows so we could irrigate from one place in each row.  We hot capped all plants.  When we picked our first tomatoes the tomatoes2stores grabbed them up – the first local tomatoes on  a 5×6 pack we got some where around $14.00 per lug.  This price didn’t hold for long.  We sold many lugs of bulk tomatoes for 50 cents each.  We built a shade packing shed above the monkey cage.  Harriet and Flo sold to the store and along the road.  Otto hauled to the wholesale produce market in San Diego.  We made some money this first year.

The next year, 1953, we planted 2000 tomato plants on the adjoining, north 2 1/2 acres which we had bought.  We hired a Mexican National to work, named Leo, he slept in our old barracks shop building.    This year our luck with weather, prices did not hold for us – the tomatoes did not ripen early.  The prices were much lower and the vines deteriorated quite early.  We lost money this year.

free tomatoes

It was a good experience, lots of fun, but was our last attempt at tomatoes for profit.  Quite a bit of our profit was used for tomato fights.
Frank Claycomb

tomatoes cherry