Capturing the History of Our City’s Leadership in Images

Former Mayor Michael Tellefson (Julie Lugo Cerra)

There is always a story in history! I would like to share one with you and then ask for your help. Many years ago, two city employees rescued some of Culver City’s historic assets. Both men worked on the second floor of the previous city hall, which is still remembered by many who walk through the ¾ façade entry on that site today at Culver Boulevard and Duquesne Avenue. While the aforementioned employees, Dale Jones (CAO) and Saverio Cerra (Engineering), were looking through a top floor storage space, they noticed boxes of saved items, including a collection of mounted photos. The images were Culver City’s elected officials starting in 1917, the year the city was incorporated. The list began with R.P. Davidson, the first chairman of the Board of Trustees (1917-18), Walter Edwards, V.R. Day, Mrs. V.R. Day (appointed to fill husband’s term), etc. Later, the remnants of this collection, which ended in 1960, was given to our Culver City Historical Society for safe keeping.

Over time, the plaques helped to broaden our knowledge of the early City Trustees, now City Councilmembers. With your help, we can update the wall of honor. We are beginning to receive some of the missing portraits. Please help if you can—if you have high-quality portraits or can let relatives or the individuals on this list know! Reach out to us via email or phone call. We have the resources to perma-plaque images to match the original plaques, some of which appear in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers.

From incorporation in 1917 to date, we need images of the following officials:

B.J. Higuera (1917)
Mrs. V.R. Day (1921), who finished her husband’s term
Dan F. Coombs (1920-29)
W. S. McNeir (1920)
Earl Bobier (1922-30)
David E. Clark (1926-32)
John F. Lehman (1932-40)
Phillip F. Stephon (1932-40)
Arthur Segrell (1934-38, 1942-6, 1946-50)
R. H. Segrell (1934-42)
Francis Robert Reeves (1938-40)
Ray L. Haskell (1940-44)
Walter H. Hahn (1944-45, recalled)
Robert C. LaComb (1944-45, recalled)
Thomas J. Carroll (1945, 1948-52)
William G. Douglas, Jr. (1946-50)
Edward T. Castle (1950-54)
Harlan J. Thompson (1952-54)
Joseph L. Sullivan (1952-56)
Ed Juline (1952-56)
Robert Unruhe (1956-60)
Raymond O’Neal (1958-62)
Garland F. Garrett (1960-64)
Gerald Margolis (1962-66)
Joe Lawless (1964-68)
Martin A. Lotz (1968-76)
John Carl Brogdon (1970-74)
Richard Pachtman (1970-78)
Dr. James Boulgarides (1972-80, 1988-96)
Richard Alexander (1974-90)
A. Ronald Perkins (1974-86)
Richard Ross Brundo (1976-88)
Paul Jacobs (1976-92)
Jozelle Smith (1986-94)
Steven Gourley (1988-96)
Ian Michael Balkman (1990-98)
Albert Vera (1992-2000, 2002-06)
Edward Wolkowitz (1994-2002)
Sandra Levin (1996-2000)
Richard Marcus (1996-2000)
David Hauptman (1998-2002)
Alan Corlin (2000-08)
Carol Gross (2000-08)
Steven J. Rose (2000-08)
Gary Silbiger (2002-10)
Scott Malsin (2006-10, 2010-11)
Christopher Armenta (2008-12)
Mehaul O’Leary (2008-16)
Andrew Weissman (2008-16)
Jeffrey Cooper (2010-18)
Meghan Sahli-Wells (2012-20)
Jim Clarke (2012-14, 2014-18)
Thomas Aujero Small (2016-20)
Goran Ericsson (2016-20)
Alex Fisch (2018-22)
Thomas Lee (2018-22)

Thank you for any help!

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The Rollerdrome Was My Neighbor

Lydia, c. 1956 (Lydia Spiegelman)

The Rollerdrome was my love. I lived only four houses from it on Bentley Avenue. I spent many, many hours meeting people and learning to skate. I took lessons every Saturday morning and had races with fellow skaters. My Friday nights were spent at the Rollerdrome with friends, going out afterward for a “Piece O’ Pizza” across the street. (Eating pizza at 11:00pm is certainly something I can’t do now!) All of my childhood memories are there. Wonderful times spending birthdays, and just going to have fun. I can still remember the Rollerdrome’s comforting smell. As I got older, going on dates and skating “couples only” was so fun and special, especially if a good skater asked you to skate. This magical place was my heaven and I loved every moment I spent there. I still have my skates, with the original case and decals on it, and plan to leave them to our Historical Society. Still like new with precision wheels, which was all the rage at that time. It made skating so much smoother.

I remember when they filmed The Fugitive at the Rollerdome. It was very exciting to see a T.V. show being made right in our neighborhood. I was so thrilled to see David Janssen in person. Handsome as ever!

My parents’ bedroom was in the front of our house and every summer they opened the windows to let some cool air in because we didn’t have air conditioning. I remember my dad used to say, “I can’t sleep over that organ!” We lived so close that we could hear the organ playing and could dance to it. It was a wonderful time and I knew it. A very special period in my life, as it was in so many other lives. To this day I love hearing organ music and it reminds me of that magical place. Memories are made of this.

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January 15 Installation of Officers

January 15, 2020 Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers

The Historical Society’s Winter General Membership Meeting will be an Installation of Officers for 2020-2022, including dinner catered by Holy Cow, on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, from 7:00 to 8:30pm in the Rotunda Room of Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City. This will be the installation of Hope Parrish’s second term as President as well as a thank-you to the outgoing Board and Committee chairs. The board slate is as follows:

Hope M. Parrish, President
Michelle Bernardin, Immediate Past President
Emelie Gerard, VP Development
TBD, VP Programs
Tami Eskridge, VP Museum/Archives
Caroline Wispe-Burns, Treasurer
TBD, Secretary

The Installing Officer will be City of Culver City Vice Mayor, Goran Eriksson.

Seating is limited and reservations must be made in advance. The price is $30 per person. Tickets can be purchased online through our web store.

For additional information, email info@CulverCityHistoricalSociety.org.

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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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