Fall 2020 Message

Dear Members and Friends,

Hope ParrishIt’s hard to believe that nine months have gone by since your Historical Society’s Archives and Resource Center (ARC) was last open to the public. We miss you! While Culver City (and Los Angeles County) slowly moves into next phases of reopening, Veterans Memorial Building remains closed to the public.

While we do not believe that we will permitted to reopen before the New Year, we felt it was time to share updates of the goings-on with your Society because we have found safe ways to stay busy in quarantine! The board continues to meet each month via Zoom. Since our January installation of the board, Mara (Sherman) Bommarito, long-time Culver City resident and CC High School 1976 graduate, has joined as secretary. Welcome, Mara!

Dennis Parrish, VP of Programs (and my dad), had been working on the programs for the 2020 General Meetings when the pandemic put a halt in plans to host these presentations to the public in-person. Unfortunately, Dennis will be stepping down at the end of 2020. He has created so many programs over the years, which we know many of you have attended and enjoyed. This position is essential to the Society, highlighting local history and its residents. If you love research and are interested in Culver City’s history, this might be for you. Drop us an email and let’s chat!

The pandemic has forced us to reassess how we reach our members and friends, including how we deliver our programs, the print newsletter, and these email blasts. We continue to discuss steps to adjust and evolve, including moving to a digital newsletter. Printed newsletters will not go away entirely, but maybe mailed on an annual basis. If you have strong feelings on this, please email us. We want to hear from you!

In our Spring newsletter we announced plans to moderately increase membership dues in 2021. Because we have all felt the effects of the pandemic in our own personal ways, the Board felt that this was not the time raise dues, and so will continue at the same rates through 2021. If you are able, we encourage and appreciate you joining or renewing your membership online, and you can also help by shopping our online store. (We have great holiday gifts!) We can’t do this without you.

As we continue to grow our collection through generous donations, our volunteers have continued to carefully enter them into our database. With so many wonderful new items I wrote an article for our website with fun photos. We continue to plan for an ARC reopening as soon as it is safe to do so, and we cannot wait to welcome you back! If you have considered volunteering, there many opportunities to help.

On behalf of the board I would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the first responders, front-line and essential workers, our CCUSD teachers, and our city employees for all the hard work and dedication that they continue to give through these extremely hard times. To any of you who have lost loved ones during this trying time, you have our deepest sympathies.

As we move into the holidays, please continue to follow health guidelines and safe practices. We will get through this one day at a time, together.

With continued best wishes,

Hope Parrish, President

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Marking Our Diverse History

Charles Reyes Lugo, my father, was the youngest of eight children born to Mercurial and Rita Reyes Lugo on the local Lugo Ranch. My little brother and I could count on visits annually to the LA County Museum to visit the early Californio exhibits that included a portrait of ancestors like Don Antonio Maria Lugo, from whom there is a direct line. The Lugo family is recognized by the Pobladores as Early Californio settlers. As descendants, we developed a sense of pride in our Spanish history, which was enhanced by Culver City’s La Ballona Days that began in the 1950s. We were not limited to just one line in our ancestry, however.

Even in the early days, this land became what I call “an oasis within the urban metropolis.” And how do we know this? Local directories in early years listed names that were Asian, English, German, Spanish, etc. Although we celebrate our Hispanic history, Culver City developed from a rich, broader heritage. And what kind of food do we enjoy? We all know the names of a favorite taco stand, but then there are Italian restaurants, and Japanese and Chinese along with many others. We clearly know that we don’t have to limit our experiences by heritage!

Although I enjoyed visiting relatives on the Lugo Ranch as a child, it was not until my parents’ later years that I learned more about my father and his experiences on the ranch where he was born. He not only worked in the fields, and at the Lugo Ranch Stand, he also went to school and delivered fresh vegetables to locals. Included in their customer base were many Asian families who invited people like my father, a young delivery boy at the time, to sit at their tables and enjoy their food, where he became a chopsticks pro!   

In his later years, Daddy began to share more stories about his youth. It came in very handy, especially when he was joining us for dinner. I kept chopsticks on hand and I will never forget the great memories made by a grandpa teaching his little granddaughter how to use them, as he told stories of growing up on a portion of Rancho La Ballona, which became Culver City.

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That’s Entertainment

It was 1974 and I was 14 years old. I was visiting a security guard named Ken Hollywood, at MGM’s East Gate. He handed me a pencil and paper, saying “Two fellas will be coming out soon that you will want to meet!” And that was it.

Growing up in Culver City, I spent almost all my time on the back lots, either being chased, or just hanging out, watching as TV shows and movies got filmed. We were sharing stories together at this gate when, lo and behold, a Rolls Royce driven by Fred Astaire slowly rolled to a stop. Ken waved to Fred as we approached him with paper in hand. He graciously signed his name, shook my hand, and drove off.

When I thought things couldn’t get better, an old Chevy Impala appeared. I was not even thinking this was a star since his car was no better than my dad’s, but I did a double take and couldn’t believe my eyes — it was Gene Kelly! He yelled out to me, “Let me pull over so we can talk.”

“What was your favorite movie of all time to be part of?” I excitedly asked.

“I’m gonna surprise you,” Mr. Kelly responded. “It’s not a musical.”

After a long pause he said, “The Three Musketeers.”

“That’s my favorite, too!” I exclaimed.

“All the athletic preparation needed to make it look real was more difficult than almost any of my dance numbers,” he added.

“I love that show. You look like you were born with a sword in your hand,” I said. “You’re very athletic, and I can’t help but admire your skill.”

He then shared his love of baseball. The Pirates were his team.

I told him, “When it rains we sneak into the backlot and dance on the same cobblestone street where you performed Singing in the Rain. Well, mostly we just splash and sing.”

I was probably blushing as I giggled, and then he smiled that wonderful, iconic smile.

Donald blogs at phantomofthebacklots.com.

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Spring 2020 President’s Message

Dear Members and Friends:

Spring is on its way! I want to introduce to you our 2020-2022 Board. If you missed the installation, the food was delicious and the evening was outstanding. I can’t thank Vice Mayor Göran Eriksson enough for his wonderful words that he spoke while installing us all. Yes, I am here for another two years at which time I must pass the torch, as I will be termed out. Emelie Gerard has moved into a new position. She is now our VP of Development, which involves fundraising, organizing the Founder’s Day Picnic, and purchasing new items for our store. I am excited to see what she comes up with.

Dennis Parrish (my amazing Dad) has taken on the position of VP of Programs. Some of you may remember the great programs he presented to us in the past. I cannot wait to see his next Program! Tami Eskridge is BACK…and she will now be our new VP of the Museum and Archives. With the many great donations we have received, I am looking forward to working with her on new exhibits for your enjoyment. Also, Carolyn Wispe-Burns will continue to be our Treasurer. Michelle Bernardin, our immediate Past President, has also been editing this newsletter. Let us know if you’d like to relieve her and join our team!

I can happily report that these dedicated committee chairs will be continuing in their current positions:
Denice Renteria – Costumes Chair
Andrew Weissman – Government Liaison
Julie Lugo Cerra – Historic Sites
Jeanne Conklin – Membership Chair
Michael Laase – Parliamentarian
Kevin Lachoff – Photographer
Mark Morris – Videographer

I cannot thank our Wednesday volunteers enough for their hard work and dedication to get the museum digitized! We continue to make huge gains, and it is through the generous support from you, our members, and the amazing people that I have just mentioned.

Thanks to you all, and I look forward to seeing you at our next General Program to see what Dad has in store for us!

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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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