Notes From Your City Historian: Winter 2010

Julie Lugo Cerra - Culver City Historical Societyby Julie Lugo Cerra

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY RESEARCHED!

Some time ago, CCHS member Bill Hahn shared a special holiday memory from his youth. He remembered a big “shoe” in downtown Culver City in the mid-1930s, where kids got a “sock full of candy” handed out by Santa. He even recalled riding with “neighbors in their 1934 new Chevy car,” on a foggy night, and that the program was at 7:00 pm.

Other than a headline he found, he was a little unsure of the details. So, recently, Bill came into the ARC, put on a pair of white cotton gloves, and went through some bound copies of 1934 issues of the Evening Star News. Bill caused quite a flurry of excitement as he found articles to substantiate this wonderful childhood memory.

On December 17, 1934, a front page article was headlined with “Officers to be Hosts at Xmas event.” It went on to read “preparations are now underway for a huge Christmas party to be given to children 12 years of age and under, by members of the Culver City Police Department on Saturday, December 22 at 7pm.”

The source was given as Police Chief Cecil T. Truschel. It continued to state that more than 1,000 stockings had been stuffed for distribution for the event staged at “The Christmas Shoe” at Washington Boulevard and Delmas Terrace. Further, “a huge Santa Claus will stand inside the shoe and personally distribute the gifts.”

In the following day’s issue, the Evening Star News continued with added information that the Christmas “shoe” had been landscaped and the shoe’s windows “have panes of green and red cellophane in keeping with the spirit of the holidays.” The city planned to keep the shoe lighted until after the first of the year.

LAUREL & HARDY & “BABES IN TOYLAND”

OK, this is the “Heart of Screenland” and we all remember a few nursery rhymes – so one must be “the old woman who lived in a shoe.” The old woman’s “shoe” became a set for the Laurel and Hardy movie, Babes in Toyland, made right here in Culver City at the Hal Roach Studios. Later, the movie was also referred to as The March of the Wooden Soldiers.

Poor “Little Bo Peep” was going to marry that evil “Silas Barnaby” to keep “Mother Peep” from being evicted from her shoe. Of course, “Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee” would never have won out if the wooden soldiers had not come to the rescue.

For a little added interest, you many remember that our city received some woodcarvings by Robert Gragg, a local studio worker, and the collection, which the Society has shown in part, included a “Babes in Toyland” setup.

For a special holiday treat, note the Meralta Theatre Xmas Party photo – hope you are having as much fun during these holidays!

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