Jeraldine Saunders has many fond memories of growing up in Tujunga in the days when the foothills were filled with people who moved there for the healthful air.
Early residents chose the name Verdugo Hills, but the area ultimately was incorporated as Tujunga in 1925. Saunders was part of the large Forster family, which settled there in the early 1900s.
When it was consolidated into Los Angeles in 1932, everyone in her family was unhappy and they fought it, Saunders said.
Her mother, Marcella, married Raymond Glynn, whose parents had come from Ireland. Glynn opened a garage on Foothill Boulevard.
Both parents had cars, Saunders said in a recent interview. Her mother drove an old Ford and her father a brand new Cadillac, complete with flower vases. She recalled the family dog, who never barked if someone walked toward the Cadillac. “But if someone headed toward mother’s old Ford, he would start barking fiercely, because that’s the one us kids rode in.’’
Saunders attended Plainview Avenue School. (Verdugo Hills High School now occupies the property.) She walked home from school, but her father was very protective, so when she reached Foothill, she had to wait until he heard her calling, then he would come over and cross with her.
As a child, Saunders heard that her Forster grandfather had died of bad lungs, and that the family came to Tujunga because of its healthful air.
She had a brush with tuberculosis herself. “I missed six weeks of school because I was so thin that they thought I might have that disease. They put me in the sunroom, a special class for students with tuberculosis. It was very contagious and they wanted to isolate the sick kids, or those who could possibly be sick. When my father found out, he pulled me out of school and I missed a big part of that year’s lessons.’’
Saunders said her mother was very close to her family. “My grandmother had given my mother a vacant lot; it had apricot trees on it. We picked them and spread them out to dry and we made jam, too. I had to keep stirring it or it would get hot and spit at me. I hated that, but we were healthy.”
The extended Forster family often had picnics up in Big Tujunga Canyon. The kids would pile into her mother’s old Ford, crossing 13 streams to get to their destination. “We’d put watermelon to cool in the ice-cold water, catch polliwogs and have our picnic.”
The cousins often played together. Most of the time their parents were very vigilant, but one day a year, they let their guard down. “My uncle had a grape arbor behind his house. They would make wine and have a party in the arbor. We would go out in the street and play games such as kick the can,’’ Saunders remembers.
Saunders has many memories of her Tujunga childhood in the days before the Great Depression. Read more in her new book, “The Love Boat Lady,” written by Sheila Farrell Murray.
Readers Write: Claudia Sysock writes that she always enjoys the Verdugo Views column. “It’s interesting to see old architecture.” She’d like to know more about where the old buildings are located.