Susan Hannifin-MacNab played on the boys Little League teams in Scripps Ranch before there were any girlsâ€™ teams. (courtesy photo)
‘Original Scripps Ranch Kids’
Fifty years ago, the San Diego City Council adopted the Scripps Miramar Ranch master plan, expediting development of the former E.W. Scripps estate. At the time, only a handful of families lived amid the vast stretch of chaparral.
This July also marks the 50th birthday of Susan Hannifin-MacNab, now a social worker who was raised in a Scripps Ranch household built in the wake of the approved master plan. She fondly remembers the community in its infancy. Even though there were few paved roads, only one elementary school and no formal churches, she describes her childhood as “magical.”
“All the homes there just popped up in the early to mid-’70s,” said Hannifin-MacNab, who grew up with her older brother Patrick on a double cul-de-sac where Vista La Cuesta Drive meets Vista La Cuesta Court. “Holy moly, there were kids everywhere.”
As a member of this unique cohort she calls “the original Scripps Ranch kids,” Hannifin-MacNab is still close with many of the neighbors and classmates she grew up with. This summer, as she reaches the half-century mark, she has reflected upon the impact the fledgling community had upon a pioneering generation of children here.
“I have stayed in touch,” she said. “I’m a social worker, so I’m all about connections and communities. That’s just how I operate. It was instilled a long time ago on these very streets.”
There were certain hardships living in a rapidly growing suburb that often raced to catch up with its youth. But Hannifin-MacNab described growing up in Scripps Ranch as “ideal.” Many others agree.
“It was a young boy’s dream back then. If we crossed to the south side of Pomerado Road we were
in wilderness,” said Paul Manoguerra, a former neighbor of Hannifin’s who grew up on Tribuna Avenue with two sisters. They all attended the only public school at the time, Miramar Ranch Elementary, which opened in a temporary building with just four teachers.
Paul’s father Tony remembers the wilderness spilling over into the brand-new subdivision along the southern flank of Scripps Ranch.
“We saw a lot of wildlife when we first moved in,” he said. “There were lots of tarantulas and scorpions. Deer would come up to our back fence.”
Paul recalled a rattlesnake in the backyard the first week the Manoguerras moved in.
“There were plenty of snakes, lizards, crawdads, frogs, all kinds of stuff like that. We heard coyotes howling at night, especially in the summer,” he said.
In the summer, Hannifin-MacNab remembers front doors always being open down her street.
“Kids goofed around, walked on stilts and ran in and out of each other’s houses. We all became one big extended family,” she said.
Hannifin-MacNab said Rob Martin was the best friend of her brother, Patrick. She said they “got into all sorts of mischief,” bringing home bugs and sections of beehives dripping with honey. The two boys met in third grade and were in Cub Scouts together.
“My best memory was riding bikes to Miramar Lake to fish,” Martin said. “There was an old dam on the other side of Pomerado. We would go catch crawdads there, then use them for bait to catch bass.”
Martin and Hannifin spent up to 12 hours a day fishing, riding bikes and searching for salamanders and horned toads.
“We finally came home when we got hungry or when the streetlights came on,” Martin said.
Nils and Josette Persson came to Scripps Ranch in 1976. Nils remembers the day very well.
“I literally turned eight when we moved in and my babysitter took me to see ‘Herbie the Love Bug.’ – the second film, ‘Herbie Rides Again,’” he said.
Stacy Warner Rivera claims she knew practically every family in southern Scripps Ranch when she grew up there in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“When Jerabek Elementary opened, we got to know everybody, and everybody knew us,” she said.
The cohesion of the neighborhood kept children honest.
“You couldn’t get away with anything because everybody knew you,” Rivera said. “If I got in trouble, my mom knew before I got home from school because another mom would call her immediately.”
Susan Hannifin-MacNab played Little League baseball with boys in the early 1980s. There was no alternative.
“There were no girls’ sports teams in Scripps Ranch at the time, so I let her play on my son’s Little League team,” Tony Manoguerra said. “She was probably one of the best players on the team.”
For most of the kids living in Scripps Ranch in the 1980s, there was no middle school or high school. Many went to Wangenheim Middle School or Mira Mesa High School in Mira Mesa. Some chose to attend a magnet program at Gompers Middle School in southeast San Diego.
“My mom was one of the main people to push this,” Nils Persson said. “We caught a 6:45 a.m. bus to Gompers. I did that from seventh through ninth grade.”
The Hannifin kids also attended the magnet school. So did the Manoguerras. Paul Manoguerra recalled that the bus rides to and from Gompers, which was just south of the 94 freeway, were “rather lengthy.”
“But I really enjoyed going there,” he said.
Paul’s father, Tony, said he was supportive of the magnet school program at Gompers.
“We wanted our children to grow up in contact with people from different backgrounds. Plus, the kids got an excellent education there,” he said.
Part II, coming in the August issue: The Scripps Ranch Kids grow up.