Grimaud Family – Island Icons

Written by Coronado Historical Association Volunteer Karen Scanlon

Grimaud’s Home Appliance.c.1946/1947. Courtesy of the Grimaud Family. 

This article was originally published in the January 2022 Issue of Coronado Magazine. To read this article and more from Coronado Magazine, click here or the button below.

The Coronado Historical Association’s “Island Icons” monthly column is the product of a special archival project conducted by CHA’s volunteers. True to its mission to serve as Coronado’s primary center for community history, CHA archives these special interviews with Coronado icons. These historical vignettes feature insights and personal memories from Island Icons who share their life experiences in Coronado, recording the personal histories that may be lost in the near future without this initiative.

“The Great Depression brought us here from Fargo, North Dakota in 1934,” said Coronado resident Maurice “Swede” Grim aud. His father Andrie Faure Grimaud had become one of 15 million unemployed Americans.

“Dad has worked at Cudahy Meat Factory,” Maurice continued, “until it shut down, and there was no other work. So mom, dad, sister, brother, grandparents, and I piled into the family car from Fargo to Coronado, slept out in the open, and the trip cost us just $40.45 for gas and oil.”

Seven Grimaud siblings inundated the island of Coronado in those early years. (Incidentally, sister Annette was the first baby born at the new Coronado Hospital.) Maurice remembers that at he time, there were many empty lots on the island and very little work.

The family rented a small house on the property of Joe Delasalas at Fourth Street and E Avenue, by the old Lamb’s Market. “It was hardly big enough for my family but it was all we had.”

“Dad started Grimaud Landscape Service in the early 30s; Ronald and I pitched in. Then in 1939 Dad bought a house at 461 Orange Avenue,” Maurice said. “Dad was not a well-educated man but fortunately he met our mother, Adeline, who was a high school graduate and could keep books and organize things.”

Few people are around today to remember Grimaud’s Appliance Store on Orange Avenue. “This was my dad’s dream to own and operate a business,” Maurice says. “But two months after opening the store, Dad died on Christmas Eve 1946 at age 46. He had a bad heart valve, his dream was short lived.” A touch of melancholy alters Maurice’s voice as he said, “Dad taught us by example, to work hard at whatever job and to do it right.”

The Gimauds had income property beside the appliance store. When the Forsyth brothers saw Andrie was building the store, they moved into the rental and opened The Mexican Village Restaurant. Maurice’s mother continued to collect rent from the property until the Forsyth brothers purchased it in the early 1950s for $145,000.

Maurice has fond memories of being a kid in Coronado. “There was a police officer called Pop Millar who would walk all the kids to the old theater and open up for free Saturday matinees. We’d see newsreels about the war, cartoons, and usually a Western. Pop even made the cover of Life Magazine.”

During World War II, everybody was encouraged to bring what metal could be spared; pots and pans, all of it melted to make airplanes. “We’d go ’round the block looking for all kinds of stuff. We also grew Victory Gardens, vegetables to share, and we all sat around the radio and listened to the President talk.”

As teens and young adults, the Grimauds did a lot of surfing. “we built our own boards,” recalled Maurice. Ron noticed a friend’s board lying on the beach, studied its curves, and the two headed for San Diego Lumber for blasa wood an glue. We eventually used fiberglass.”

In 1971, a now infamous situation occurred where some Coronado High School high school grads and elite swimmers-turned-entrepreneurs began swimming illicit packages across the border from Mexico. They involved a former high school teacher, and became know as ‘The Coronado Company.’

Interestingly, Maurices’s brother, Coronado Police Officer Dennis Grimaud was the first to tip off the Drug Enforcement Administration. Maurice remembers, “My friend, Ernie, had property in Imperial Beach. From his back bedroom window he could look into the kitchen of the apartment he had been renting to these fellows. Ernie was able to see that the table was covered with stacks of money, and called my brother who came down to have a look. Dennis chased these guys from the border to Oceanside.”

The Grimaud siblings all graduated Coronado High School. From there, Donna married a Naval officer; Ron became an engineer; Maurice and Lowell joined the U.S. Air Force; Dennis became a Coronado cop; Gary went to work for San Diego Gas and Electric (now retired); and Annette married a Marine.

Maurice shared that he had some harrowing Air Force experiences on “those giant Douglas C-124 airplanes.” He remembers landing on sloped, slippery runways in Alaska and another incident in Da Nang, Vietnam flying into the circular vortex of a jumbo aircraft on a parallel runway.

Maurice married his childhood sweetheart, Jackie Newton in 1957. They raised three children, and enjoy four grandchildren. Density has changed Maurice’s Coronado. No more fishing on Glorietta Bay, only golfing. No more streetcars running down Orange Avenue. No more ferry boats bumping their mooring poles or grunion hunting in the sloughs. But he is content on the home he built in 1990 on E Avenue. He leans into his chair, as if pondering his childhood and smiles.

This article was originally published in the January 2022 Issue of Coronado Magazine. To read this article and more from Coronado Magazine, click here or the button below.

More Photos of the Grimaud Family:

Maurice Grimaud with photo of Grimaud Appliance Store on Orange Avenue

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