The Evolution of Girls Basketball in Culver City Through a Player’s Eyes

Girls basketball photo from Culver City High School yearbook with names to the left. I recognize at least 4 girls who played for Parks and Rec back in grade school. (Maureen Fleming)

When I was growing up, the mandatory school dress code for girls was dresses. It was hard to play sports in a dress and patent leather shoes on the playground blacktop. But where there was a will, there was a way.

My friends, Marisa and Tami, and I would spend our recess watching the boys play basketball from the sidelines, itching for the chance to catch a stray ball and pass it back. Sure, foursquare and tetherball were fun, but basketball looked amazing!

Our classmate, Tito, offered to teach us some pointers on shooting and defense at recess. As we showed ability, the boys started letting us play with them.   

Since girls were sporting jammed fingers and skinned knees, one of the teachers ruled that “Girls could not play basketball at recess anymore.” Back to the sidelines. My mother, a feminist for the time, called the school, put her foot down, and we were back on the court!

Article (full) from CC High School’s newspaper, Centaurian.(Maureen Fleming)

The next year, there was a meeting after school for girls interested in playing basketball for Culver City Parks and Recreation—the first year it would be offered to girls! A courageous gal named Marilyn, with no experience whatsoever, volunteered to coach us.

In 1972, maybe in response to Title IX, they added flag football. Marisa, Tami, and I played for La Ballona. We lost our first game to Vets, so Marilyn enlisted the help of Marisa’s older brother. He taught us three plays. He would secretly call plays out from the sidelines in Japanese. “Ichi!” “Ni!” “San!” And we would execute them perfectly. We won every game after that with those three organized plays and a lot of determination. Apparently, girls playing football was big news because our picture was in the Los Angeles Times!

Basketball was offered in Phys Ed at Culver Junior High; however, some teachers made the girls play using the “3 Bounce Rule.” You could dribble the ball three times and then you had to shoot or pass, even if you had a clear path to the basket. This was frustrating! While we never expected to play on a boys team, we felt that we could play with the same rules (and if Ms. Huerta was your PE teacher, you did). I have always maintained that the “3 Bounce Rule” partially contributed to modern-day feminism!

Los Angeles Times
article on Culver City’s “powder puff” girls football, November 1972. (Maureen
Fleming)

When we entered high school, CCHS was forming their first Girls Basketball team! Excerpts from a 1976 Centaurian newspaper article stated that girls basketball has proven to be a ground breaker in women’s athletics. We made it to CIF but not into the Olympian. We would have to wait for our senior year in 1978 to get a picture in the yearbook.

Since then, girls basketball at Culver City High School and all over the world has soared in popularity, coaching, and ability. As an adult, I coached girls’ athletics through Parks and Rec. We’ve come a long way! Thank goodness for all the Titos and boys on the schoolyard, big brothers, dads, all pioneer coaches, and our moms for sticking up for us all those years ago. 

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Marking #14

Rollerdome, exterior (Culver City Historical Society)

As a founding member of our Culver City Historical Society, it is hard to express the depth of my great pride as we plan the marking of Historic Site #14, the Rollerdrome.

The Rollerdrome opened in 1928 on land annexed to Culver City in 1924, first inhabited by Tongva Native Americans. It could accommodate more than 200 people and became an important fixture in our social scene. The site of the Rollerdrome became Tellefson Park, built and named during the U.S. Bicentennial celebration in 1976. Michael Tellefson served Culver City as city attorney, mayor, and chief administrative officer. If you lived on Irving Place, you might have known the Tellefsons.

Rollerdome, interior (Culver City Historical Society)

As a researcher, I can honestly say that residents and visitors who spent time at the Rollerdrome always have wonderful stories to tell—from the dress code (no jeans), to their birthday parties and skating competitions! We have gathered detailed information and memories from notable residents like Virgie Eskridge, Ethel Ashby, Jean Barker, and many others—like the Rollerdrome’s organ, which became a reality in 1929, a few years after it opened. Most even remember the name of Mr. Osterloh, the organist who played music for “Couples Skate,” “Singles Skate,” and “All Skate.”

A kind donor parted with his sister’s skates, an amazing gift to our society, still housed in the original case! The skates bring back memories to the delight of many visitors! We will make sure it is on display again as we mark the site.

We have been working with our wonderful city staff, headed by City Manager John Nachbar, and our Parks and Recreation staff, headed by Corey Lakin and Patrick Reynolds. We look forward to unveiling the marker before the year’s end (before some planned upgrades to the playground) and hope you join us for the celebration. Check back here and on social media for the big announcement!

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Fall 2019 Message

Dear Members and Friends:

Hope ParrishMy very best wishes to all of you as we approach fall and 2020!  We have had a great year! 

As the Society continues to grow, we are involved with local and citywide events, requiring volunteers. Life is busy, and I know this firsthand. But for the Society to continue to be viable, we need you! I know many of you would consider this opportunity but think, “I don’t know our city’s history. How can I be of any help?” Well, it’s simple – you start by showing up, and we promise to share our knowledge about our city so you can pass it on to others. If you love Culver City as much as we do, I encourage you to join us.

This is also election time for our 2020-2022 Board.  We have a few openings that are vital to our Society:

  • VP, Development: This position manages merchandise sold online and in our Archives store, and develops ideas for events and fundraising, including the Founder’s Day Picnic. This is a voting position. 
  • VP, Museum and Archives: This position works with the collection and displays in the museum and manages the open hours each month. This is a voting position.
  • VP, Programs: This position selects program topics that are presented at the quarterly General Meetings. This is a voting position.
  • Communications Chair: This position keeps the Historical Society’s good name out in the press through releases and our quarterly print newsletter. (Social media and InDesign knowledge are NOT a requirement.) Non-voting position.
  • Volunteering: Choose your own adventure! We participate in about six events each year that require a friendly face handing out swag. 

These positions are exciting and can be shaped by you. I have personally found my time volunteering to be rewarding, as have our current and previous board members. As the Society’s president, I am asking you to consider these positions. If the Historical Society is to continue to grow and operate in the years to come, we need you!

Please feel free to call me if you would like to know more.  

Thank you!

Hope
Cell: (310) 880-6335

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Getting Ready to Mark History!

I admit I am feeling a little nostalgic! I remember a call from my mom, shortly after my dad,

City Hall, Pictured in the 1950s. (Historic Site No.1)

Captain Charles Reyes Lugo, retired from CCPD in 1979. After reading about the formation of a Culver City Historical Society, she realized that his Lugo family history could be a benefit to keeping him active with community service. I promised to take him to the first meeting of our Historical Society at the home of Fire Chief John Kearney and his wife Mildred.

Soon after that first meeting, Dad became our first Historic Sites Chair and the Society began a program of marking historic sites at least 50 years old. We celebrated marking our first site in 1981, the 1928 City Hall (where City Hall stands today), ten years prior to the adoption of our city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. In the 1980s, the City of Culver City acted to fund a survey of historic structures. A Historic Preservation Advisory Committee formed and the final document, completed by 30th Street Architects, was adopted by our City Council in 1991. A Cultural Affairs Commission was appointed by the council in 2000, which folded Historic Preservation and Art in Public Places together. In 2004, oval city plaques were ordered and installed on historic structures designated by the city as “Landmark” or “Significant.” The National Register has also recognized structures in our city.

City Hall with Street Sweepers (Julie Lugo Cerra)

Our historic plaques are traditionally bronze, mounted in concrete or affixed to the structure. The Society fundraising pays for these narrative markers. I encourage you to visit our website — culvercityhistoricalsociety.org/historic-sites — then go outside and explore the 13 sites we have marked. We are thrilled to mark our 14th site later this year, The Rollerdrome. We will also be mounting an exhibit in the Culver City Historical Society Archives to celebrate and share items, such as an original pair of roller skates. Announcements will go out soon! Join the fun!

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Summer 2019 Message

Hope ParrishSummer Greetings to our newest members and to our loyal lifetime and annual members who support us each year! We had a busy Spring!

In April, the Historical Society began work on a new collaboration with Culver City High School. We joined the Wende Museum and other local business at the Student Career Day. Our plan is to begin a volunteer internship program with our local students who have a desire to learn about Culver City history and preservation. We have lots of interest, which is exciting!

I hope everyone enjoyed the April General Meeting and Program, “From Barney Fife to Beats: Culver City’s 40 Acres Backlot.” Standing room only, we were taken back in time with Steve Bingen and Mark Wanamaker.

Steve Newton has our thanks for the time and care he put into a wonderful display of Culver City Car Club memorabilia at the ARC. Our visitors enjoyed it while we opened during the Exchange Club Car Show.

Special thanks to the Culver City Council for recognizing our work during May’s Historic Preservation month. We had a great show of support from our members and volunteers to accept a City proclamation.

Did you “Spring clean?” Cleaned out a closet, garage, or attic? Came across something related to Culver City’s historic past? A photo, business card, menu, or matchbook from a business that is no longer here? Let’s see what you got! Your Historical Society can be the new home of your Culver City treasures, preserving and displaying them for future guests to view. Send a photo and brief description of your treasures to info@culvercityhistoricalsociety.org. We want to continue our growth and be a rich source of research for our community.

I look forward to seeing you!
Hope

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