Anniversaries for Lakeside: Lindo Park School turns 70 and Skateboard Park turns 5, Local Pearl survivor passes

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Photo by Gary E. Mitrovich. Lindo Park School principal Nina Drammissi (center, with microphone) addresses her students, staff and guests at the 70th anniversary celebration held on April 25, 2019. The school has faced Lindo Lake on Lakeshore Drive since 1949.

Lindo Park School turns 70

“As evidenced by Lakeside’s new Lindo Park School,” reported The Lakeside Star on April 21, 1949, “public education in this community has come a long way from the days when school was held in an open horse shed, and in private homes.” The front page of that issue was dedicated to the opening of the town’s newest grammar school: Lindo Park, whichis still going strong as an integral and respected part of the community. Students, staff, and even a few alumni were on hand to celebrate its 70th Anniversary on April 25, 2019.

Principal Nina Drammissi hosted the event in front of the school, the exact same location as the opening ceremony 70 years before. The lawn was crowded with students, staff and guests. Uniformed Safety Patrol members raised the flag on the same flagpole that has stood in front of the main office since 1949. The National Anthem was sung expertly by Junior Miss Lakeside Zoe Douglas, and the kindergarteners preformed some patriotic songs for the event. The entire school was in attendance.

Superintendent Tony Johnsen was also in attendance, as were the school board members and many guests. Groups represented included the Lakeside Optimists, the Lakeside Kiwanis Club, and the Lakeside Historical Society, who presented to the school a copy of the original 1949 Lakeside Star newspaper that chronicled the grand opening.

One of the guests was alumni Rex Meanor, who went to the school from 1957 to 1964.

“I have fond memories of Lindo Park School,” he said. “I can still remember all my teachers from K-6. I still see many of the kids I grew up with to this day.”

Meanor’s sister Norene and his brother Ray also attended the school. Billy Ortiz was another local alumnus at the celebration.

“This school played a big part of who I am today,” he said. “I remember being here as a child from 1964 through 1969, everything from the grass stadium bowl to the baseball backstop, the concrete playground, playing marbles or dodgeball – it was all amazing fun memories.”

The school originally cost $139,000 and was built by the Riha Construction Company. It boasted “a modern clock and signal system, complete with fire alarm stations and signal horns.” The school was built to eliminate the crowded conditions at the other Lakeside elementary schools. The Lakeside schools’ enrollment was 611 back then; Lindo Park nearly equals that number today, with about 540 students attending this year.

Here’s to another 70 (or more) great school years ahead for Lindo Park School.

Skateboard Park turns 5 years old

Lakeside celebrated another anniversary in April – the Lakeside Skatepark turned five!

Of course, only the park itself turned five; the idea for the facility started back around 2010. It would be another four years after that before a site was located, agreed upon, permitted, financed, designed and finally opened for use. It was the first County skatepark in San Diego.

East County native Mark Johnson supports the park as well, not only as a local businessman but as a longtime skater for over 30 years himself. He owns and operates the Local Skate Shop on Woodside Avenue in Lakeside, which he opened right after the skatepark opened.

“It’s really cool to see it grow,” Johnson said, adding he has been some of his earlier customers grow up and graduate.

Though many folks had a hand in the creation process, the three people most often identified with the park are Jerry Mosier, Ralph Goodrich and Terry Burke-Eiserling. These three and many others were in attendance at the anniversary celebration.

Goodrich recalled they looked all over Lakeside before settling upon the location on the southwest corner of Lindo Lake Park.

“Lakeside has never been known for its sidewalks,” he said. “We wanted to keep the skateboarders off the walls and out of the streets. I feel good knowing there’s a place for the kids to come.”

Burke-Eiserling is often the “face” of the park, attending events, educating and advocating the assets of the facility. She also hangs around the park and has gotten to know many of the regular users. The youth know her too – they call her Miss Terry. One of her favorite things to hear is, “Miss Terry – watch me!”

“There are great young people here,” said Burke-Eiserling, “and lots of good recreation. They all get along. They are not on their phones – friendships are built here. It’s just a wonderful place for me to see.”

When she speaks about the park, it is clear to see just how much Burke-Eiserling cares. She gets a little emotional, her voice cracks just a bit and her eyes moisten. It is obvious the Lakeside Skatepark does as much for her as it does for the youth it serves.

Local Pearl survivor passes

Pearl Harbor survivor and Lakeside resident Adam Romero passed away on April 12, 2019. He was 98 years old.

Romero was born in New Mexico in 1920. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1940 and received his training at NTC in San Diego. He was assigned to the USS Dobbin, anchored at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He was on the Dobbin when the Japanese attacked the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

“I was wide awake,” Romero told this reporter in a 2017 interview. The Dobbin had been nested aside five destroyers. “One of the bombs hit us and knocked out our propellers. Luckily, that hit wasn’t right in the center of it (the ship).”

What went through his mind at the time of the attack?

“Well, you know, I was so young. I wasn’t afraid. Now I was doing something I was in the Navy to do.”

Romero eventually participated in the raid on Tokyo near the end of the war, serving in Admiral Halsey’s task force group.

Retiring from the Navy in 1960, Romero spent the next 47 years in his second career as a realtor. He had a little “hole in the wall” office on Lexington Avenue in El Cajon.

Widowed, he married his current wife, Garnet, in June 1994. They spent the next 25 years together. The two attended the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor together in December 2016.

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