The Chamber Turned 100 and Honored Community Service

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In early March, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce celebrated its first 100 years of support for local businesses while recognizing its many members and volunteers in the business community, and also installing a new chair. It was a wonderful event that included live music, and it was a real treat to see everyone dressed up in person, rather than virtually.

For the gala and centennial celebration, Culver City Historical Society President Hope Parrish created a timeline of the Chamber’s accomplishments – from the first meeting minutes to the latest city proclamation. Business directories were on display, along with awards and photos of ribbon cuttings throughout the years. 

The Chamber’s Legacy of Service Award, voted on by the community and Chamber members, highlights a member who goes above and beyond in the community. This year’s nominees were Ed Wolkowitz, Jeff Cooper, Michael Hackman, and Hope.

The Historical Society was well-represented with a table full of family, officers, and members to showing support to both our Society and president.

We listened in anticipation to Culver City Chamber President & CEO Colin Diaz as he listed all the accomplishments, service clubs, time, and projects this person has been involved in over the years. Then he said, “You may have seen some of their work tonight.” We were overjoyed to hear Hope’s name called, knowing all her work and efforts over the years had been recognized.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been speechless!” Hope stated as she received the award.

Congratulations to the Chamber on 100 years, to all the award recipients, to Colin and his team, and to my mentor and friend, Hope.

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Spring 2022 Message



Hello Members, Friends, and Neighbors,

As we spring forward and turn another corner with Covid, it is my hope that 2022 brings us more opportunities to be in-person again. Over the last two years, our community has faced many challenges, but hopefully we are moving toward the other side.

We continue our growth with new members, donations, and volunteers! I am so pleased to announce we have a new Costumes Chair, Valerie Meyer! Valerie, a fellow Culver City High School grad, recently retired, having worked as a home economics teacher for many years, and Secretary Mara suggested she could be perfect. Without hesitation, Valerie said YES! Under former chair Denice Renteria’s guidance, Valerie and our intern Madisen Matsuura jumped in and began the process of changing out our costume display on view (see photo on page 3).

Donations come in many fashions. Our former Society President Stu Freeman recently donated in the memory of his lovely sister, Sandra. We would also like to thank Karim Sahli and Meghan Sahli-Wells for their generous gift this year. Steve Auer, our friend and former lot manager at Culver Studios, retired and donated a 16mm print of Thomas Ince’s tour of the Studios in 1921.

After recently celebrating the centennial of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, we learned our friend and colleague Chamber President Colin Diaz announced that he and his family are moving to Arizona. We thank Colin for his support of the Society’s work and send best wishes on his new journey.

I would also like to thank Jim Shanman of the Culver City Walk & Rollers, Mark Lipman of Vagabond Books, Justin Jampol of the Wende Museum, and the Culver City Education Foundation for including us in their recent events.

Our Open Sundays have been bustling with energy! If you also find your Sunday afternoon is open, please stop by and join us!

Best wishes and thanks to you all,

Hope

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The Archives Come Alive Again

The first official use of the historic movie backdrops obtained by the Culver City Historical Society from the Motion Picture Art Directors Guild occurred this past summer in a very public manner.

Musical theater workshops are held year-round at Vets Auditorium by dee-Lightful Productions, Culver City’s own theater education program for kids ages 7-17. Involving weeks of work, two plays were presented last summer, presented to large public audiences who very likely had not experienced live performance in several months due to the pandemic.

The season’s inaugural production, “Honk!,” enjoyed added production value when it was performed in front of the Historical Society’s 30-foot landscape backdrop.

Dolores Aguanno, program director of dee-Lightful Productions, produces the workshops.  She was overjoyed at the enhancement to their stage setting and noted that the visual quality of the backdrop made all the kids more enthusiastic about the show.

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Winter 2022 Message

Hello Members, Friends, and Neighbors,

Here we are, December 2021, saying goodbye to another year! For me, 2021 in comparison to 2020 was so much better and I hope we continue on this path.

2021 was productive for your Historical Society. We are thrilled to have Madisen Matsuura join our Culver City High School internship program. Abigail Cregor and Madisen have been researching and updating exhibits, giving history a fresh look through the eyes of our local youth.

Mark Morris has done it again; he fixed our internet problem! We have gone from slow, a step above dial-up, to a much faster internet service. This upgrade has made researching for all of us fun again! Thank you, Mark and Ken

We reopened to the public with enormous success! We had the Culver City High School class of 1971 reunion as guests, spending time and sharing stories. We also successfully collaborated with Jim Shanman and the Culver City Walk and Rollers, hosting a walking tour of downtown.

October brought back our first in-person program in the beautifully updated Rotunda Room. Marc Wannamaker shared his new book, Hollywood’s Trains & Trolleys. If you missed the program, we are selling his book at the museum, and the program is on our YouTube channel.

Our Museum Committee continues to go through boxes of donated items. A reminder for those who may have free time and love digging into the past, become a volunteer and join us.

In closing, I want to thank all of you, and especially our volunteers, for the dedication and support that you give to our Culver City Historical Society. We are so grateful for the growth that we have had and it’s all because of you!

I want to wish each of you a joyful holiday season and a bright and happy 2022!

Hope

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The P.E. Camp

The first line of my father’s 2010 obituary reads, “Fred Heredia was born at the Pacific Electric Railway camp for track laborers in downtown Culver City in1938.”When I wrote that line, I assumed everyone in Culver City knew about the “PE Camp,” which was housing provided by the Pacific Electric to Mexican and Mexican American employees and their families. I have since learned that the wooden, barrack-like buildings of the camp were essentially “invisible” to the residents of Culver City at the time and that the stories of the “traqueros” (track laborers) who lived in the PE Camp with their families are on the verge of being forgotten.

Four generations of my family, including my great-grandparents, grandparents, father, aunts, uncle, and a first cousin, lived in the PE Camp over a30-year period from at least 1920 through1950. My father didn’t talk much about the camp, but he loved talking about Culver City. He told me about selling newspapers to “studio people” at the age of six in front of the Backstage on Culver Boulevard, and of my Uncle Ruben playing with Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer in La Ballona Creek.

What my father didn’t tell me was how it felt living in poverty right around the corner from the glitz and glamour of the movie studios. He didn’t tell me about the dirt floors or outdoor communal restrooms and showers in the camp, or that his family didn’t have a Christmas tree or presents until they were given plastic stockings with fruit by the Culver City Fire Department.

Despite the hardships, my father loved Culver City until the day he died. He would be astounded to learn that anyone was interested in the PE Camp and would be especially grateful to the Culver City Historical Society for helping to preserve the history of the traquero families and their contributions to the growth of Culver City.

Editor’s Note: Please visit the Society’s YouTube channel to watch our interview with Amanda and her aunt Rosie Soto.

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