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Lighten up, Rex -- it was tongue...

Lighten up, Rex -- it was tongue in cheek

Just to kindly point out to Rex Bowlby of Burbank and your letters

section that there’s no doubt John Muir Middle School spelled

“CONGRADULATIONS” intentionally in order to congratulate the


graduates of 2003. ConGRADulations, get it? I’m sure the

eighth-graders did, Rex.




Middle school marquee was a play on words

I am writing in response to Rex Bowlby’s amusing stab at John Muir

Middle School’s misspelled sign (Burbank Leader, Community Forum,

July 2). I would ask him to understand that our students and staff

take spelling very seriously. The message on the sign was intended as

a play on the word “Graduation” as in “ConGRADulations.” Of course,

middle school students do not graduate, but rather promote to high

school, but the idea is the same. I hope that everyone else got the


pun, and I apologize if the sign in any way put academics and

education in a bad light in the Burbank Unified School District.



John Muir Middle School

Smola admirer searching for answers

Sadly, Burbank Temporary Aid Center (BTAC) has lost a devoted

executive director in Patricia Smola. But more important, fellow


citizens in need of temporary assistance have lost even more -- a

truly caring advocate who worked tirelessly to help them in every way


It is especially tragic that this happened while she was on

disability leave due to a stress-related illness. What a strange turn

of events for someone who is so respected in our community that she

was recently named as one of the 50 most influential citizens of

Burbank, and featured by the Leader as one of the people they felt

was at the head of her class in the area of community involvement.

She was subsequently referred to in Wednesday’s Leader as " ... the

woman credited with turning around the Burbank Temporary Aid Center.”

Isn’t it amazing that only one short month later, this same

Patricia Smola is fired by the “powers that be?” I am one of the

numerous Burbank citizens who need answers. It is sad that she has

now been subjected to the same demise as several other directors

since 1998.

Is it a coincidence that the board members have been basically the

same since 1998? Since these board members apparently believe that

change is healthy, why not initiate changes there -- from the top

down? In any event, it might be enlightening, indeed, to delve into

the real reasons behind these transgressions and to deal with the

perpetrators accordingly.

Hopefully, BTAC will find another director who, like Patricia

Smola, will fulfill the purpose for which it was originally

established. Above all, we must not lose sight of the original intent

of BTAC, and that is to help those in need.


Former BTAC Volunteer

Local aviation pioneers remembered

Sixty-six years ago this month, Amelia Earhart departed on what

she hoped would be the first round-the-world flight by a woman. We

should not forget that she was part of our neighborhood.

Earhart’s first airplane was purchased from Burt Kinner; it was

built at Grand Central Airport in Glendale. She worked at the phone

company on Magnolia Boulevard and Tujunga Avenue to earn money to

take flying lessons. She set speed and distance records in her

beautiful red Lockheed Vega, which was designed and built in Burbank

on the land where the Burbank Empire Center is located now. She took

off from the dirt runway that ran parallel to the train tracks there;

you can see that in vintage photos of her flying with the Verdugo

Mountains behind her.

She prepared for her round-the-world trip with Paul Mantz in

hangar 2 at Union Airport in Burbank. That hangar is still in use

today -- you can still walk up to the hangar door that she leaned

against in 1937.

The aircraft she used on her round-the-world attempt was a

Lockheed Electra model 10, which was designed and built in Burbank.

She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed Lae, New Guinea, on July

1, 1937. One more refueling stop and they were home free. They were

never seen again.

It was a different world back then, a world where real people

pitted themselves again real danger, and sometimes they paid with

their lives. I believe we should remember that Burbank’s history is

not only about make-believe and movies; some of our history was real.

Especially during this centennial year of aviation, there should be

recognition of the great things that took place here in Burbank.