Winter 2015 Message

President’s Message
by Michelle Bernardin, President

Michelle Bernardin, PresidentDear Members,

I hope this note finds you and your family enjoying the wonderful delights and scents of the holidays.

Your Historical Society had a busy 2014, and we continue to acquire more wonderful pieces of our city’s history, catalogue the beautiful costumes collection with the help of awesome volunteers, and celebrate a few movie anniversary milestones! You will see a few photos on the back page from our October General Meeting, which featured noted author Aljean Harmetz, her reflections on the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, and a surprise visit from a very wicked witch. Our upcoming January General Meeting will highlight another movie from that grand year of 1939, Gone with the Wind, and our own Marc Wanamaker. I look forward to seeing you there!

An area that I hope we can continue to build on and grow is in the area of content for our website. I announced in our Fall 2014 newsletter that we re-launched our website ( with a new look and new features. Because our organization is over 30 years old, some of our newsletters were printed before the time of Microsoft Word. We want to put as many of those articles on the web, so they can be searched by historians, history buffs, and students alike. This is where we need your help! From wherever you sit at your computer, we can send you a PDF of an article that we need retyped in Word. You type, send it back to us, and we will then put it up on the web! If you would like to assist us with this ongoing project, please email me directly at

Speaking of our newsletter, as you will read below, Judy Stangler has resigned her post as the Society’s longtime editor. I want to personally thank her for 17 years of service. While I have not been with the Historical Society nearly as long, I have truly appreciated her breadth of and enthusiastic zest for our city’s history.

To close, I send you my very best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year, and as always, thank you for supporting your Culver City Historical Society!

“Meet Me At The ARC”!

News from the Costume Chair
by Sharon Shore, Costume Chair

Visitors to the ARC are in for a treat from the golden age of musicals!

IMAGE.CostumesOur costume display features a one-piece worn in Meet Me in St. Louis, a film made by MGM in 1944.  This romantic musical starring Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien portrays the story of a family who lived in St. Louis in 1904 just before the opening of The Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair.The film, which depicted a forward-looking and exciting time of expansion in United States history, was made during a dark period with the nation involved in World War II.  Directed by Vincent Minnelli, the film was very successful and won many awards and accolades.  It has been designated as culturally significant by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry.

Dress Styles Reflect Optimistic Spirit Of The Early 1900s

Western dress styles in 1904 reflected a spirit of exuberance and opulence with wide brimmed hats supporting huge arrangements of flowers and feathers, as well as elaborate “day” and “afternoon dresses made of gathered and pleated cotton voile emphasizing tiny waists and mono bosom bodices.  The peach-colored dress in our display reflects the period style of the “day” dress with contrasting turquoise trim, a tightly cinched waist and puffed sleeves.  It has a high collar with yoke-like design below made up of rows of applied trim at the bodice.  The gathered skirt and sleeves are embellished with rows of ruffles.

The costume design for Meet Me in St. Louis dress is attributed to Irene Sharaff and worn by Jean Francis (as noted on the costume’s sewn-in label).  The attributions are recorded in original provenance notes in the archives but are not confirmed by other sources at this time.

Historic Information Welcomed

The Culver City Historical Society is fortunate to have had this dress included in the MGM collection and would welcome additional information about the dress as used in the film to add to our meager provenance notes.  If you happen to have such information, please send it to the attention of the Costume Committee Chair, Culver City Historical Society (see email and US mail address on the last page of the newsletter).

Costume Care Tip For Fall

Family keepsakes and or family heirloom collections often include a textile which is too fragile to store with the rest of the collection or one considered important enough to warrant special treatment. It might be a grandmother’s wedding veil or a boy scout uniform and the value it holds is usually not defined by dollars alone (or not at all). One of the most important considerations for storing these textiles is the wrapping used inside the box, drawer, bag or other container chosen.  The best wrapping consists of archival white tissue paper in sheet form.  Unlike white tissue gift wrapping paper, the archival tissue paper costs around $1.00 per sheet, depending on quantity purchased and source.  It is manufactured to be chemically non-reactive in contact with textiles and has no brightening or other additives.  It is soft, semi-transparent and often referred to as “acid free” (actually it usually falls somewhere around 6.0 to 7.0 on a pH meter) and UNbuffered. A second type of archival tissue paper is “buffered” but for chemical reasons beyond the appropriate boundaries of this column, it is not safe for use with most textiles.

Fall 2012 ARC Update

by Julie Lugo Cerra, Vice President, Museum/ARC and City Historian

A Busy Summer At The Arc

First, let us say that this simmer has not been without its challenges, but we are now very “cool” in many ways! We are back in business with air conditioning in “the West Wing” which is so important for our collection and our volunteers, alike.

This summer, we hosted many visitors, including youngsters from the Parks & Recreation Community Services (PRCS) camp program on August 1. CCHS Board members Jeanne Conklin and Joy Jacobs helped to make them feel welcome, sharing historical information about the Society and the city’s heritage.

A Variety Of Costume & Photo Displays

We have had a lot of foot traffic to see our summer exhibit. The LA84 Olympic display is on loan from founding member Pat Clapp. We even have her uniform from her time at the UCLA’s gymnastics venue where she volunteered.

Costume Chair Sharon Shore’s choice of costumes was very well received, especially the bodysuit worn by Esther Williams in Neptune’s Daughter – and watch for an Esther Williams “presence” at the entry to the plunge.

Look for some great oversize movie photos in the hall in the Veterans Memorial Building. We have been working on this display with Susan Obrow – thanks, Susan!

The Fiesta La Ballona exhibit included a princess dress from the early days of the Fiesta, along with other early items including some great photos, buttons, trophies, and even a young boy’s shirt on loan from Cathy Zermeno.

Display & File Cases Add Structure To Presentations

Organization in small spaces is never easy, but we are really making headway with the presentation of our wonderful collections. Special thanks to Bill Barnett who searched for, found and graciously donated many flat files, which are now numbered and being loaded with many prized items. President Louise has been vigilant finding other display options, including a glass display case. We are getting ready to load our new winged files as well.

Society Videotapes Noted Archeologist Charles Rozaire

At a special ARC event on September 18, we had the opportunity to videotape one of our most noteworthy members, Dr. Charles Rozaire, who grew up in Culver City and attended Culver Grammar School with friends like Virgie (Tinger) Eskridge. Charles, a noted archaeologist and anthropologist, offered keen insight into our early inhabitants from a professional perspective, and especially enjoyed talking about growing up in the city, near prominent city officials such as Mike Tellefson, Bill Douglas and others. Special thanks to all who attended and helped – notably our own photo/video guy Kevin Lachoff. The guest of honor was accompanied by media expert and friend Michael David McGuire, who came in from NY to transport Charles to our picnic and for this interview.

New Culver City Expo Line Station Profiled

Culver City is covered in the summer edition of Metro Motion – for the opening of our Expo Line station. Go to to view the summer edition – you may recognize many familiar faces and local spots.

Archives and Resource Center Plays Various Roles For Community

Prior to the Fiesta, I enjoyed speaking at local service clubs, like the Exchange and Rotary clubs. They loved the photos of “the olden days” and they were good sports with my Fiesta Trivia Quiz. Fiesta weekend, we visited with many delighted and delightful guests. It was great to see the old “Pokey”, refurbished by the Rotarians!

In advance of the city’s 95th Anniversary, legendary Oscar-winning icon, Margaret O’Brien donated a number of her personal photos to our collection. We will be pleased to enjoy them on a special exhibit at the Archives.

A Big “Thank You” To Our Wonderful Volunteers!

The Archives is changing due to the hard work of our volunteers like Sharon Shore, Bill Barnett, Joy Jacobs, Steve Rose, Lydia Spiegelman, Martha Sigall, Cathy Zermeno, Tami Eskridge, Jeanne Conklin, Carol Schwab, Jerry Sallus, Linda Forman, and of course president Louise. Some work out front, and others in the background, but a huge thanks to all!

Summer 2012 Costumes Message

News from the Costume Chair
by Sharon Shore, Costume Chair

Rare Esther Williams Costume

Summer 2012 Costumes MessageWhen you stop by the ARC this summer be sure to see the body suit worn by Esther Williams in the film Neptune’s Daughter, produced by MGM in 1949.

This might be the one and only opportunity we have to display this spectacular but very fragile costume made of delicate gold elasticized net studded with gold sequins.  Due to the inherently unstable chemical makeup of most stretchy pre-polyester era fabrics, the net is dry and somewhat brittle overall. In order to protect the suit from further deterioration during the current display period, it is loosely fitted on a partial torso form and gently draped within the display case.

However, when worn by Esther Williams, the suit would have fit “like a glove” right down to the tips of her toes, as illustrated in our copy of a color drawing by the famous costume illustrator Walter Plunkett.

“Bathing Beauty” Wear

Also included in the summer costume display is an emerald green one-piece swim-like costume embellished with a white starfish made of glass studs and sequins.  Although the film attribution for the costume is unknown, it is another reminder of the glamorous “bathing beauty” films made in the 1940s and ‘50s.

A Dress Fit For A Fiesta “Princess”

From the same era, made in 1951 by Rosalie Utterback, is one of the Historical Society’s collection of six Fiesta La Ballona dresses displayed on a mannequin on the center platform in the museum.  The dress would have been worn by a “Princess” attendant in the Fiesta Queen’s court and features a skirt with several deep layers of flounce.  The fitted lace-covered bodice with short cap sleeves and point at the center front waist is exemplary of a popular 1950s cocktail dress style.

Costume Care Tip For Summer

Make time to empty and vacuum out boxes, drawers and bins of your costume and textile collection before the summer arrives.  Those insects most likely to cause damage to your collection – namely moths, carpet beetles and silver fish – thrive in dark undisturbed spaces (such as the lowest drawer in a chest where wool sweaters might be stashed during the summer).

Often a gentle shake and refolding of each item after cleaning out drawers, boxes or bins, will be enough to encourage the pesky few to leave the premises.  The clean-out will also reveal any seriously entrenched infestation, hopefully before structural damage has occurred.

If an infestation is serious, you might want to consider seeking the advice and/or help of a professional collections manager, museum conservation staff, etc.