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Thursday, January 31, 2013

HAPPY 112th BIRTHDAY CLARK GABLE

CHERISHING OUR VALLEY          2013

The great old plantation Tara may be "gone with the wind" but the fame and glory of the San Fernando Valley's Clark Gable lives on.  Born on February 1st, 1901 in Cadiz, 112 years ago, Gable was the heart throb of the "greatest generation.


Oversize bust of Clark Gable by his friend, San Fernando Valley sculptor Henry Van Wolf. Bust is a gift to The Museum of the San Fernando Valley by Joe and LaDonna Van Wolf 2012.

DAY TWO - CALABASAS CREEK

CHERISHING OUR VALLEY      2013

       The fact that Calabasas Creek runs year round, made it from ancient times the natural settling place for Native Americans and the pioneers who came after them. Juan de Anza ordered his explorers to rest by the waterway to refresh his men and horses, the year of America's Declaration of Independence.
       During my visit, Calabasas Creek was alive with robins, blue jays, humming birds and one handsome California gold finch. Across the road mallard ducks only quacked when I approached them.

         In the distance one can see the first of many fences that prevent public access to Calabasas Creek as it streams gently towards an uninviting  concrete channel.

      As it reaches Calabasas Road, this constant water source for the San Fernando Valley, experiences the first of its concrete barriers. Here, part of the creek is diverted to form a decorative stream through Calabasas Creek Park across the road.

       Finally the main portion of Calabasas Creek is imprisoned in one of Southern California's many concrete washes.
       In one last breath of freedom, part of Calabasas Creek sounders through the Creek Park located just just before the entrance to the 101 freeway into Los Angeles.  I was the only visitor in the park at 12:30 pm.

        One my second day of walking Ventura Boulevard, I thought it appropriate to begin at Calabasas Creek Park, where the Spanish explorers of the De Anza expedition once camped, and in 1795 the first mention was made in the records of Franciscan monks.

Great oaks and sycamores still grace the banks of the creek that forms one of the two streams that form the Los Angeles River in Canoga Park.

HISTORY IS OFTEN HIDDEN RIGHT BEFORE US

CHERISHING OUR VALLEY          2013

     At the very outset of my attempt to retrace my walk across the San Fernando Valley along Ventura Boulevard, there is a freeway entrance sign that marks the western boundary of the City of Los Angeles. To make the location more interesting, a great California pepper tree marks the location where Calabasas Road meets Valley Circle Boulevard.
     A sign by the pepper trees (Schinus Molle) for sale in Treeland Nursery says "plant away from paving or sewers." Lots of Valley residents whose sidewalks have been upended or who have paid horrific sewer line bills, might wish they had seen this warning. But, despite the bully-some nature and messiness of our California peppers, I love them. When I was a boy, the great trunks and willow-looking branches of pepper trees were all over the Valley, especially at the edge of citrus orchards. On dry and very hot summer days, pepper trees always provided welcomed shade and an exotic aroma that seems to whisper, "You're in California!"

 A great California pepper tree greets arrivals from the north in Woodland Hills

       The Schinus Molle isn't a true pepper tree, that is if one demands a relationship to the black and red peppers that come from India. Never the less, they have an important connection of world history. Spanish explorers, while excited about cities of gold and great mines of gleaming silver, had an even bigger quest. That was for the valuable spices of India! (Nearly all of us know that it was the search for the Indies that got the unfortunate island Caribs referred to as "Indians.")
       Our California pepper trees aren't originally from California. They were initially cultivated by the Inca peoples of Peru. However, the dried red exterior of their berries can indeed be used as a pepper-like spice. And, when ground and added to East Indian pepper or cayenne they help to stretch their weight.
      Spanish Franciscan monks brought Inca pepper seeds to California as part of their medicine cabinets. In small amounts, not much more than enough to color boiling water, the shells of California pepper seeds/corns made a valued tea used to curb anxieties. Perhaps the holy Friars became anxious when they discovered that California pepper cords tended to poison pigs, ducks and chickens.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PATTY ANDREWS DIES

CHERISHING OUR VALLEY         2013

Sad news. The great Patty Andrews, the last of the famous WW II era "Andrews Sisters" died today at her Northridge home.

RALPH HERMAN SPEAKS OF TARZANA HISTORY

CHERISHING OUR VALLEY HISTORY          2013

 Bronze bookend - Adohr Farms - Collection of Ralph Herman 2013

       Among the wonderful treasures shown today by San Fernando Valley historian at the Porter Ranch Country Club, Ralph Herman, was this handsome bronze bookend featuring the Adohr Farms Dairy. In 1916, south of Ventura Boulevard at Lindley Avenue, Merritt Adamson opened Adohr Farms. Adamson honored his wife Rhoda, by naming their farm "Rhoda", his wife's name spelled backward. The dairyman built the historic Adamson House in Malabu. Urbanization gradually squeezed out the Valley's once popular dairies.

 Photograph of the Otis / Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Collection of Ralph Herman 2013.


Historian Ralph Herman shows rare Tarzan-related memorabilia - January 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DAY 1 - A NEW WALK ALONG VENTURA BOULEVARD

      Today, after several years of making promises to myself, I have begun my second walking journey along Ventura Boulevard through the San Fernando Valley. This year, to honor The Museum of the San Fernando Valley's inclusion of Hidden Hills as one of the communities we serve, I thought I would start at the  historic Boething Treeland Nursery just at the entrance of gated Hidden Hills.


The entrance to Hidden Hills - 2013 (click on image to enlarge it)

     Until we surrendered and bought an artificial Christmas tree, for several years my wife Janne and I purchased living trees from Treeland - that is, until our Tarzana home began to look at lot like Washington State. So it was a good omen that my walk's beginning should be at the classic old nursery.
      Walking through ferns and sago palms for me has always triggered fantasies of Jurassic Park. I always expect, even though its the wrong geologic era, to see sabre tooth cats and other fierce creatures peeking through the bamboo. The creatures below were as close as I got at Treeland.
      Saber tooth tiger on the back of a nursery delivery truck. 
      Saber tooth cats (not tigers) once roamed the marshy edges of the Los Angeles River and the banks of an unpredictable Toluca Lake. Since the Valley had no tar pits, those really scary prehistoric creatures left their fossils inconveniently downtown, for the Page Museum to display. (Just kidding, the Page Museum is absolutely terrific!)

Treeland is not a safe place for rodents or unwise birds, as this well fed and "fearsome" nursery cat proves.



      On the south east section of Treeland Nursery, you can view Calabasas Creek, one of the two waterways that form the Los Angeles River in Canoga Park.
       Perhaps, as the old time humorist and singer Tennessee Ernie Ford liked to say, "Iffen the good Lord's willen, and the creek (pronounced "crick") don't rise..." I'll show you, one day soon, the spot in Calabasas where this stream makes its dramatic appearance.

 "Por favor, no riegue los cactus y suculentas."  Please don't water the cactus or succulents. There are gentle reminders at Treeland that our native plants in the San Fernando Valley have their own rules for propagation.

 "5 Miles an Hour - Dust Damages Plant Material."       "Women Employee Parking Only"

      The hills of Calabasas mark the western most parts of the San Fernando Valley. The horned toads and scorpions that once made this area home are all but gone. Only an occasional lizard or rattle snake reminds us of the days before water was imported from the Sierras.


       Huge piles of mulch await their use for the plants of Treeland Nursery. Peeking over the 20 foot high mounds is the first street sign in the San Fernando Valley that marks the beginning of my walking adventure. Onward now, "Ad Ventura"




Please support our efforts to bring about a great Museum of history and culture for the greater San Fernando Valley.
The Museum of the San Fernando Valley
21031 Ventura Blvd., Suite 419
Woodland Hills, CA 91364-2230

THE MUSEUM’S TELEPHONE
1 (818) 347-9665

THE MUSEUM'S EMAILS
gerald.fecht@TheMuseumSFV.org
info@TheMuseumSFV.org
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THE MUSEUM’S WEBSITE
www.TheMuseumSFV.org

Friday, January 25, 2013

JANE - THE WOMAN WHO LOVED TARZAN

PRESERVING OUR VALLEY HERITAGE     2013

Dr. Jane Goodall wrote about Robin Maxwell's new book, "Jane - The Woman Who Loved Tarzan",
saying "Finally an honest portrayal of the only woman of whom I have been really, really jealous. What a wonderful idea to write this book. Now I am jealous all over again."

I have yet to read the book, but the idea of Jane's story is just too good to pass up.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SOME INSIGHTS INTO EARLY BURBANK




PRESERVING OUR VALLEY HERITAGE       2013

Burbank Ranch begun in 1867 - Home of Burbank's first mayor.
Gift to The Museum of the San Fernando Valley from Gary Fredburg 2013
(click on images to enlarge them) 
 
David Burbank was a dentist in an era where such a profession was both lucrative and challenging. He built his first practice in Maine and saw greater prospects in San Francisco. He moved to Los Angeles to the old Pueblo Plaza area and grew wealthy. When the opportunity arose, Burbank purchased two San Fernando Valley properties, Rancho San Rafael and Rancho La Providencia, which he combined and named for himself. Like his neighbors Issac Lankershim and Issac Van Nuys, Dr. Burbank and his wife Clara began the raising of sheep. Their ranch house stood on the land that is now the back lot of Warner Brothers Studio.                            David Burbank ( 1821 - 1895)  


San Fernando Road in Burbank - c. 1927

 Dedication of Burbank Airport - now Bob Hope Airport on April 26, 1930.

 The California Swim Stadium on Verdugo and California Avenues - sate unknown.

Fillbach Funeral Home - Burbank - date unknown.

Monday, January 21, 2013

THE LOS ANGELES CONVENTION THAT NOMINATED JOHN F. KENNEDY



PRESERVING OUR VALLEY'S HERITAGE       2013

In 1960, the San Fernando Valley was abuzz with excitement over the nomination of Senator John F. Kennedy for the Presidency of the United States. Los Angeles young people were thrilled when the vibrant young Senator accepted the invitation of students from USC to speak to them on their campus. 
These tickets to the convention sessions of July 1960 are a gift to the political archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley from Gary Fredburg - 2013. (click on images to enlarge them)

SCULPTOR CHARLES SHERMAN WORKS IN VAN NUYS

PRESERVING OUR VALLEY HERITAGE       2013

THE GENIUS OF CHARLES SHERMAN

One of the most important fine art sculptors living and working in the San Fernando Valley is Charles Sherman, whose studio is near the Van Nuys Airport. Sherman, who is a member of The Museum Community, studied art at UCLA and has developed his work through many teachers and mentors. He has an abiding interest in the application of art in religion and mythology. His study of the sacred writings of past cultures has led him to create exciting works based on the texts and calligraphy of the ancient world. 



 Charles Sherman stands with his Infinity Circle sculptures awaiting their next glazing phase.

 Infinity Circle, by Charles Sherman, awaits shipment to its new owner.



 Charles Sherman stands before ceramic infinity circles with statements from ancient texts.





Sunday, January 20, 2013

THE VALLEY'S FIRST EUROPEAN NAME

PRESERVING OUR VALLEY HERITAGE     2013


 Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos  - Holiday Card by Gerald Fecht 2012

     In the year 1791, a group of Spanish explorers climbed their way through what is now called the Sepulveda Pass and entered the San Fernando Valley. Within that expedition, led by Gaspar de PortolĂ„, was Franciscan friar Padre Juan Crespi. The adventurous Spaniards were seeking an inland route from Santa Monica Bay around the impassable jagged rocks of the Malibu coast.
     Father Crispi wrote in his journal: "We saw a very pleasant and spacious valley. We descended into it and stopped close to a watering place, which is a large pool. Near it we found a village of heathen, very friendly and docile. We gave this plain the name of Santa Catalina de Bononia de las Encinos. It has on the hills and its valleys many live oak and walnuts.
     The site where the PortolĂ„ Expedition stopped can be visited to this day. It is the beautiful Los Encinos Historical Monument on the northeast corner of Ventura and Balboa Boulevards. The native Tongva Village has long disappeared but the warm spring that quenched their thirst forms forms a charming pool at the site. Descendents of the ancient Tongva still reside throughout the Los Angeles area. Early Spanish colonists called the road that passed Los Encinos northward toward the Mission San Juan Buenaventura, El Camino Real. Today called Ventura Boulevard, it is one of the busiest highways in the United States.
     The California live oaks (los encinos) that inspired the first European title for the San Fernando Valley, though endangered still grow throughout the region. Alas, few people today know of the Italian nun who was the Valley's first patron saint.
     Saint Catherine of Bolognia (Bononia in Spanish) was born in 1413 near the oldest university in Europe - founded in 1088 AD. She was raised as the privileged child of an aristocratic family, but rejected her advantages to serve her religion as a Franciscan sister in the Poor Clares, followers of the beloved saints Clare and Francis of Assisi. Catherine spent her life in service to the poor, in study and the creation of works of art. Today, Santa Catalina de Bononia is invoked as the patron saint of artists and as the protector of California live oak trees.


JUST STEPS AWAY IN VAN NUYS

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

VAN NUYS STATE OFFICE BUILDING

PRESERVING OUR VALLEY HERITAGE                2013

When you go on The Museum's historic walking tour of Van Nuys with our very own Richard Hilton or Bronwyn Ralph, plan on taking a few minutes to visit the Van Nuys State Office Building at 6150 Van Nuys Blvd. (at Delano St.). It takes only moments to experience the absolutely wonderful interior of this complex.

Interior space of the Van Nuys State Building - Photo by Gerald Fecht 2013. (click on this image to enlarge it.)


Great seal of the State of California - exterior of the Van Nuys State Office building in Van Nuys. (click on this image to enlarge it.)

Huelll Howser passes - his CA history shows will be missed

Huell Howser, 67, an iconic figure in public television, passed away recently according to his assistant Ryan Morris said. The cause of death was not released.

"He was a wonderful man with real generosity — he kept alive a sense of the drama, beauty and poetry of California," said Kevin Starr, a USC history professor who formerly served as California's state librarian. "His sense of the state was incredible, positioning it as a place for everybody. Not just the elite, but for ranchers, farmers, workers. He showed truck-stop restaurants. Huell had an extraordinarily inclusive, democratic view of all things California. He emphasized the eccentricities, but never sacrificed showing the ordinary, simple side."


He did shows in the San Fernando Valley and had a segment at Campo de Cahuenga.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

OKULICK SCUPTURE IN DANGER

PRESERVING OUR VALLEY HERITAGE       2013

When the State of California office building was built in Van Nuys, the state contracted with John Okulick for a three dimensional sculpture for one of its entrance ways.  Okulick's work entitled "Multio Colored Geometric Shapes is today in significant disrepair. Too bad! 
Ugly gouges, easily viewed here, faded colors and even peeling mar this work. This sculpture is the first of San Fernando Valley works of art to be listed as "endangered" by your Museum. Perhaps, when art is commissioned by the state of California, or other tax-supported entities, maintenance and repairs should be considered.

Damaged sculpture "Multi Colored Geometric Shapes by John Okulick - Photo by Gerald Fecht for The Museum of the San Fernando Valley - 2013.  (click on image to enlarge it.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

TREASURES FROM BURBANK HIGH SCHOOL








The Museum of the San Fernando Valley
21031 Ventura Blvd., Suite 419
Woodland Hills, CA 91364-2230

THE MUSEUM’S TELEPHONE
1 (818) 347-9665

THE MUSEUM'S EMAILS
gerald.fecht@TheMuseumSFV.org
info@TheMuseumSFV.org
THE MUSEUM’S BLOG
THE MUSEUM’S WEBSITE
www.TheMuseumSFV.org

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

INVITATION TO BECOME A MUSEUM DOCENT



THE MUSEUM OF THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY is looking for docents interested in leading the North Hollywood AND Van Nuys Tours.  Training for both will begin soon, but we wanted to give interested people the opportunity to trail on THIS SATURDAY'S NoHo Tour.  You are not expected to handle any part of the tour this week, only to follow along for your education.

If you are interested, please contact Richard Hilton through responding to this email at
richard.hilton@themuseumsfv.org  
include your phone number, and Richard will contact you regarding coming along on the tour this Saturday, January 12th, 10:00a.m.-12:30p.m.  Happy New Year!!!

The first Lankershim Elementary School (1889).
NoHo 5 elemn School SMALL.jpg

The northwest corner of Van Nuys Blvd. and Sylvan Street (1912).
Van Nuys 1912 Shinners Bldg.jpg

Monday, January 7, 2013

WALK NORTH HOLLYWOOD HISTORY IN 2013

SELECT A DATE TODAY - RSVP  - (818) 347-9665 - WALK THE NO HO - NORTH HOLLYWOOD IN 2013

WALK VAN NUYS HISTORY IN THE YEAR 2013

CLICK ON THIS FLYER TO ENLARGE IT. RSVP FOR A WALK THROUGH VALLEY HISTORY TODAY.         (818) 347-9665      - Clearly - Slowly