My friend's mother says Dennis Hopper is from La Mesa and he worked at Jack In The Box. She says she has a friend who went to school with him. Could this possibly be true?
-- Easy Rider, La Mesa
Dennis Hopper has to be from somewhere. Why not La Mesa? Well, he's not from La Mesa, he's from Kansas. But he did move to Lemon Grove when he was about 13. Jay and Margie Hopper and little Dennis lived at 3224 Massachusetts, a block or so south of Broadway. The address still exists, but their house has been torn down to make room for one of those nifty stucco fourplexes. During Dennis's tenure, there were actually lemon groves in Lemon Grove. Pa Hopper worked as a clerk at the post office. Dennis went to Lemon Grove Junior High and then to Grossmont High School until Helix High opened in 1952. He graduated from Helix in 1954. Somewhere in those years, he did fry burgers at a Jack In The Box, according to Box corporate lore. He's admitted in interviews that he spent more time at the Old Globe and the La Jolla Playhouse than he did in school. And he must have ripped off his gown and mortarboard and split for L.A. right after graduation ceremonies. By the end of '55, he'd already made two movies, including Rebel Without a Cause, and had several TV parts.