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Verdugo Views: The history behind a rector at St. Mark's

Virginia Parlour Young was just about ready to start school when her family moved to Glendale and her father became rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

Clarance Parlour's journey to Glendale was a lengthy one. Born in England, he grew up in Pennsylvania and served in a supply company on the front lines during World War I.

After graduating from divinity school in 1926, he was ordained and called to a church in Montana. His new bride, Margaret Virginia Stellar, a teacher from California, encouraged him to seek a pastorate in her home state and he became the first rector at St. Cross in Hermosa Beach.

And that's where the Parlours were living when Young, the third of four children, was born.

"We lived in an apartment over the church," Young said in a recent series of emails.

Parlour remained at St. Cross for six years and the little church prospered.

In 1935, Parlour had a visit from a member of St. Mark's, as recounted by Bruce G. Merritt in his recent book, "St. Mark's Journey, The Story of St. Mark's Episcopal Church 1888-1989."

St. Mark's, then at the corner of Isabel Street and Broadway, was seeking a new rector and invited Parlour to conduct a service so the congregation could hear him preach.

According to Merritt, Parlour was unwilling to be judged on just one sermon, but did agree to attend a meeting of the vestry, the church's governing body.

The meeting went well and he was soon called as rector. His first service in June 1935 drew more than 300 and he was an immediate success, Merritt wrote.

The Parlours moved into an old house in the 600 block of Kenneth Road and Young entered kindergarten at Mark Keppel Elementary.

In 1938, the Parlours bought their own home in the 500 block of East Stocker Street.

"We were taught to answer the phone "St. Mark's Rectory," Young wrote.

With the move came a change to Eugene Field Elementary. Young, in the third grade by then, recalls walking to school through vacant lots.

She has many memories of those years. "I sat on the front steps each evening waiting for the News-Press and reading the headlines," she wrote. "Summer evenings were often spent playing 'Kick the Can' with the neighborhood children. We were always in when the street lights came on."

Then, she went to Eleanor J. Toll Junior High. "I often carried my cello to school. We all played an instrument and were asked to perform for the Men's Club's Christmas party," she wrote.

Everyone was up early on Sundays, as the first service, with communion and a sermon, began at 7:30 a.m.

Sunday School classes were in the basement at 9:30 a.m., while the adults had Bible studies upstairs.

The main service, with full choirs and acolytes, began at 11 a.m., but Young wasn't always there.

"My brother and I used to walk up to Broadway. There was a wonderful man who exchanged used funny books. We often spent the hour up there. The shop was next to a roller skating rink where the youth groups had many fun parties," she wrote.

"The old St Mark's was where my faith sprouted," Young added. "Dear Mrs. Cate welcomed us to the children's service, and I remember so many other dear teachers that gave us Bible stories."

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Readers Write:

John Hammell, Jr. of Glendale sent an email regarding the Feb. 2 Verdugo Views column.

"When you mentioned that the first PTA president of Doran Street/R.D. White Elementary School in 1915 was Mrs. Charles L. Chandler, the name immediately caught my eye. I looked up your earlier columns on the Chandler family and their "estate" on Canada Boulevard., and, of course, Gisela Chandler was Mrs. Charles L. Chandler.

"You mentioned in your earlier column about the family that they were very active in school and civic affairs. My grammar school "alma mater," Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School, was very close to the Chandler home, but it did not open until about 1926, I believe. That makes it seem very possible that Gisela Chandler could have been the PTA president of Doran Street/R.D. White School in 1915.''

Hammell added that Charles and Gisela Chandler and their three daughters (and also the "first" Harrison Ford) are all interred very close to each other at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

"Thanks again for all of your interesting columns," Hammell wrote.

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

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