Neighbors were from Jamul to Boulevard and everyone had to work hard to survive.  They didn’t get to see each other very often.  Usually on the 4th of July, other holidays, funerals, or the end of school year everyone would gather.   They all had one thing in common - they all lived on old Highway 94 - their main artery to civilization.

They would all congregate at someone’s home or at the schoolhouse, and bring lots of food.  During the day there would be horse racing or games, a potluck, then a dance until midnight.  The children would be put to bed in the wagons or on a bench.   At midnight they would make coffee in a great big iron kettle, eat again and dance until dawn.  Anyone who could play an instrument got into the band.  Both, Gary Meyers and Frank Hartley of Potrero. mentioned in their interview with Edgar Hastings (9), about the great food the women prepared.  It consisted of  fried chicken, roast pork and especially coconut cake and gooseberry pie.   These people knew how to throw a party.   Can you imagine what obstacles they had to overcome just to get there and why they didn’t want the party to end? 

Dorothy Clark Schmid (5) in her book says “During  the earliest years of settlement, Jamul, with its larger population, drew people from the Dulzura area to social gatherings.  Mary Marron Donohoe recalls happy occasions when a wagon load of young people would ride to Jamul to attend all night dances.  The dances broke up shortly before dawn and got the boys home in time for morning chores.  With the arrival of more settlers in Dulzura, dances were held in the local schoolhouse.”  In 1912 the Clark’s enlarged a lemon packing house and built a dance floor and had the grand opening on the July 4th.  They had  a barbecue, fireworks and danced until dawn on the best dance floor this side of San Diego.  They danced the two step, waltzes and a Spanish dance tune now and then.

According to Ella McCain (4) “Those old timers liked a good time as well as the present generation.  Christmas, 1874, the widow Fuquay’s two sons, Thomas and Joe drove two four-horse teams over the mountain road between Round Potrero Road to Cottonwood and gave the Shecklers a surprise party.”  Many people attended.

According to his diary (6), Sam Cameron of Campo liked the parties too:

July 4, 86 “I was at a grand dance and pick nick at Potrero. Celebrated on the 5, 4th fell on Sunday”

July 4, 87 “the 4th of July, the glorious 4th.  I live to see it once again.  Warm, 99 in the shade Monday.  I am celebrating the 4th by resting today, getting ready for the dance to night at Peter McCains place”

June 30, 1988 “Dance last night in the school house in the Motiquwhat Valley.  Had quite a dance.”

July 5, 88 “I went to the dance at Poterero last night. It was a pretty good dance.  There was lots of girls and we kept it going all night till brode day light.  The dance was in Tom Fuquays house.  No one started a fight so got along fine. All is well    that ends well”

Dec. 25th, 1988 “Christmas day.  It is a very nice day.  The storm has cleered off and gone with the past.  There was a big dance at Pete McCains house last night, but I did not get there.  Once again I missed a good dance.  A man can not take in all the good things.  He would be a hog if he tried to.  I put on a cleen pare of socks and shaved.  I feel about as well as if I had went to the dance.  What must be will be and what wont be will never come to pass.”   

July 4, 89  “A dance in the new school house at Clover Flat., and I was there.  Had as big a time as evey body.  It was a very good dance. Kept the ball rolling till brode day light”

Aug 15, 89  “A dance last night at Grigsbys place.  It was a surprise dance.  We had a pretty good time and all the water melons we could eat.  We kept the ball rolling till the rusters crowed in the morning”

Jan 4, 1890 “There was a big dance New Years night at the Potrero School House.  It was a Neck tie dance.  I took it all in.” 

June 24, 90 “There seams to be a change in the people here of late.  They have quit talking about and fighting with each other and gone to dancing, so it seams” 

June 29, 1891 “On the 24th I was at a dance in Tecarte.  It was the first Mexican dance I have been to since I was a kid.  It was a bulley dance.”

          There is a lot more, but you get the idea.  People were willing to travel these dangerous roads to get together with their neighbors and have some fun.  Campo, Tecate, Jamul and Dulzura  had their share of dances, but Potrero seemed to be a central location.


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