Raymond Starr, Book Reviews Editor
Legends of Lakeside.
By the Lakeside Historical Society. Lakeside: Lakeside Historical Society, 1985. Illustrations. Maps. 293 Pages.
Reviewed by Meredith Vezina, Director of the Mountain Empire Historical Society, Campo, California.
The Lakeside Historical Society has indeed “labored long and faithfully” in compiling the information found in their book. From the beginning, the reader is aware of a strong commitment by local residents in supporting the development and publication of this book. The text is sprinkled with personal photographs, documents, and ephemera which usually materialize when there is considerable interest and cooperation from within the community.
The Legends of Lakeside offers a wealth of information for those interested in the history of this picturesque rural community approximately twenty miles from downtown San Diego. From the days of the first white settlements to a bustling country town a century later, Lakeside’s heritage is covered from various perspectives.
The book is divided into seventeen chapters, each focusing on a central theme. Transportation, education, religion, water, and industry are but a few of the more general topics. Many chapters are further divided into subheadings thus highlighting the particular schools, churches, dams, etc. in the region. For the most part, the chapters are uneven with respect to style and content. Several of the chapters are quite interesting in that they are filled with tidbits of information which stimulate the reader’s imagination. For example, the history of the Lakeside Inn is fascinating. Built in 1887 by the El Cajon Land Company, the hotel was soon nicknamed the “Coronado of the Hills.” Cuisine at the inn was said to be outstanding. Fresh vegetables were supplied by the hotel’s 300 acre farm. “Eggs were fresh from their hennery, butter from their dairy, and squabs from the loft.” The presence of amenities such as livery service, “cement” tennis courts, golf links, lake, and an outdoor dining room; suggests that Victorian elegance was not confined to San Diego or Coronado.
The book is filled with many more equally intriguing glimpses into Lakeside’s past. Yet the main thread that could conceivably tie all the interesting yet disparate pieces together is missing. Regretfully, the book stops short of conveying a comprehensive picture of the community. In the end, most readers will want to know more. Is it possible that the Lakeside Historical Society intended such a reaction, a mechanism for generating continued expansion on the foundation they have laid?
Undoubtedly, area residents will and should enjoy this book because their history represents a personal connection to the events. For scholars, the text may fall short of their expectations. Nevertheless, the book will serve as a valuable reference tool, a catalyst for more intensive research.
Aside from its shortcomings, the Legends of Lakeside is a welcomed addition to the unique and colorful histories of the many small communities throughout rural San Diego County.