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Verdugo Views: Woman’s memories abound about local neighborhood decades ago

Verdugo Views: Woman’s memories abound about local neighborhood decades ago
Some of the children who played together in the Windsor Road and Wing Street neighborhood in the 1960s and '70s gathered for a photo in the Ackermans' family room on Wing Street. (Courtesy of Mary Baldwin)

Mary Baldwin, who was born in Glendale in 1955, has vivid memories of growing up in a tight-knit neighborhood where Wing Street meets East Windsor Road.

The many families living there were "our neighbors and our friends. Most families had at least four or five kids. The people behind us had eight children. We only had five," she said in an email.

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Most everyone was a transplant from "back East," Baldwin wrote in a series of emails regarding her idyllic youth in the 1960s and into the 1970s.

"Our best friends were the Ackermans, they had five kids, too, so we were even." They "were our best friends, our godparents and our vacation buddies," she added.

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In those days, Wing was not a busy street, so that's where they played hide and seek and had water balloon fights.

They rode their bikes on the blocks between Windsor Road and Maple Street. Sometimes they strung their bikes, wagons and carts together with a huge rope and took all the kids on a massive street parade.

"If someone got a new washer or refrigerator, we played in the box for a week until it was destroyed," Baldwin said.

They had many summer barbecues and neighborhood plays and even a Miss Wing Street pageant.

"We entertained the parents with neighborhood plays, and our own Beatles concerts — lip [synching] to our favorite group,'' she added.

One family worked for a studio, so the children watched home movies (of themselves) and Disney movies on a big sheet in the backyard.

"The first man on the block to get a color TV had us over every week to watch 'Gilligan's Island' and Disney and 'Flipper.' All the kids would pile in together to watch 'Flipper' in color,'' Baldwin said.

They played hide and seek until the streetlights came on and, one by one, a different mother would call them home.

They made tents by slinging sleeping bags over clotheslines — complete with a hula skirt door — and had slumber parties and barbecues and "trillions of birthday parties."

They walked to Holy Family Grade School and walked home — unless someone with a station wagon picked them up.

"As if that wasn't enough, our parents played poker together, had wild, loud parties, and hit all the Hollywood hot spots because my dad [Paul Baldwin] worked at Capitol Records as a promotion manager," Baldwin said.

He worked with George Shearing, the Kingston Trio, Dinah Washington and many others, she added.

She said that, as children, they played with the "transplanted Dodger kids."

Her family had a baseball "signed by all of [the players]," but over the years, it has been lost.

Joe Ackerman, who had an ear-molding business and worked with movie stars, was an amateur photographer and took his camera everywhere.

"He has some candid shots of glamorous 'Old Hollywood' stars that would fill a book. His collection of autographs is in the Hollywood Museum," she said.

In the late '60s, Ackerman and another neighbor, Jim Buchanan, owned a batting cage on Colorado Street.

Her father prepared the food for all the family gatherings, the barbecues, and the parties. On Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, "my dad was cooking for the families of Wing and Windsor. As a cook in the Navy, he was used to large crowds. As a party guy, he excelled at stories and jokes," Baldwin said.

Baldwin and her childhood friends have fond memories of growing up in the Windsor Road and Wing Street neighborhood.

"We are very much in contact on Facebook and have loads of stories. Many of us are still around and see each other," she said.

To the Readers:

Denis Wynn, who lives in the United Kingdom, read a Verdugo Views column on the internet regarding Henry Mingay, a Civil War veteran. After the war, Mingay came to Glendale, living at 804 E. Elk Ave. He died in 1947 and was buried at Grand View Memorial Park.

"I believe that he would make for an interesting historical story as he was described as Irish (although born in England) and fought with the NY 69th Regiment (Fighting Irish)," he wrote in an email.

Wynn is a member of the Military History Society of Ireland, located in Dublin. The society publishes a journal called the "Irish Sword." He would like to write about Mingay and asks if there are any living relatives or friends that he could contact.

"I would appreciate any help you could offer," he wrote.

Many thanks and cheers, Denis.

KATHERINE YAMADA can be reached at katherineyamada@gmail.com. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 202 W. First St., Second Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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