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San Diego at Large

Immigrant Fights for His Liberty

July 09, 1985|TOM GORMAN

Arie DeJong, a successful North County businessman, is a Dutch immigrant who holds dear memories of arriving in New York City in 1949, leaning over the ship's railing and admiring the Statue of Liberty and all that it symbolized.

So when he got the chance a couple of years ago, DeJong (pronounced DeYoung) purchased for about $900 a 20-foot-high replica of the statue from Rube Nelson when Nelson closed his popular Country Corners grocery store in Escondido.

Nelson had used the model Statue of Liberty, along with plastic cows, fiberglass chickens and other country bric-a-brac, to decorate the front of his one-of-a-kind grocery store, which has since been demolished to make way for a supermarket.

Among his other business interests, DeJong owns a trash hauling company in Carlsbad and a recycling firm in Del Mar. Showing that he had a full understanding of American business, DeJong capitalized on the statue and his knowledge of the trash and recycling business by opening Liberty Recycling in San Marcos.

"The whole thing was very patriotic --having the replica of the Statue of Liberty and doing recycling," he beamed.

DeJong built a base for the statue, again modeling it after the real thing on Ellis Island. He replated the zinc surface, repaired the lady's chipped arm and fixed the gas-fired torch so it goes on and off automatically every night.

Then, to hear DeJong say it, City Hall began rearing its ugly head.

The sign--no matter how patriotic --has gotta go, City Hall says. Not only is it too big, it is too close to Mission Road.

"Don't take us wrong--we love the statue," said City Manager Rick Gittings. "But it's not only a statue. It's a commercial sign, and it doesn't meet our sign code provisions relative to size and placement."

DeJong replied: "Here we are, spending millions to refurbish the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, and we can't even keep a statue in San Marcos? School kids have come up to look at it. Tourists have had their pictures taken in front of it. It's a landmark. This is like being against mother's milk! How can the city deny anyone his Statue of Liberty and what it represents?"

Wonder if they have these problems in Holland . . .

Antique (House) Auction

Some people sell their homes through real estate brokers. Others plunk a "by owner" sign in the front yard and try to sell their homes themselves to save the commission.

Then there are Hal and Barbara Hallan of Del Mar, who are putting their home up for auction this Sunday during an afternoon affair complete with lemonade and cookies, music and 1880s costumes.

The couple are history buffs and preservationists; their home was built in 1884 by Col. Jacob Shell Taylor, a land speculator who bought 160 acres of oceanfront property and founded Del Mar.

The Hallans' home was one of 14 cottages built by Taylor to complement his Casa del Mar resort at the base of 10th Street in Del Mar. The hotel burned to the ground three years after it opened--coincidentally, about the same time business had taken a turn for the worse--but the cottages remained. Today, three are still standing.

The Hallans bought the house in 1979, continuing their habit of buying old but historically significant fixer-uppers. The couple refurbished the two-bedroom house, put in new wiring and plumbing, and restored the original fir floors. It has since received raves from the architectural industry.

The couple is moving to another old home in Mission Hills.

Why the auction? "The idea came out of the blue," she said. "My husband thought it was crazy, because it sounded like we were going into Chapter 11 (bankruptcy). But the Wall Street Journal said auctions are becoming the new way of selling homes Back East. So we'll see if it works out here."

The P.R. Double Take

Say what?

A press release from the El Cajon Valley Hospital begins, "Natural childbirth has been around since the 1930s . . . "

You mean the mothers of Socrates, Confucius, Moses, George Washington and Sitting Bull had spinal blocks or were gassed?

At the Thursday meeting of the Assn. of Water Reclamation Agencies in Carlsbad, someone will speak on "Electron Scrambling Method of Water Reclamation."

We think there are still seats available.

A Pair of Baby Booms

In closing, here are a couple of items from the Children's Department:

- Driving through Escondido the other day was a Chevrolet with one of those popular new yellow signs dangling from the back window, "Caution, Child in Car." A sticker on the bumper gave the same warning, suggesting the driver was very concerned about the welfare of his child inside. Maybe so, maybe not. The little girl, 4 or 5, was not only not strapped into her seat belt, she was standing up.

- Eastbound on Interstate 8 near Old Town was a white station wagon carrying a mother and four little children. There may be more on the way. The personalized license plate read: "NO PILL."

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