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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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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