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Verdugo Views: Local woman recalls her life from 1930s to today

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Patti Harris Mack, right, then 9 months old, and her older sister, Loretta Harris Morgan, grew up in northwest Glendale and attended local schools.
(Courtesy of Patti Harris Mack)

Patti Harris Mack was 9 months old when her family moved to northwest Glendale in the early 1930s.

Her older sister, Loretta, was ready to start school, and her parents, Harold and Mae Harris of Los Angeles, decided they wanted her to attend Glendale schools.

At first, they lived near Grand Central Airport. Then, the family moved closer to Columbus Elementary. Mack started school there, but transferred to Keppel Elementary during the third grade when her family moved again.

“My third-grade buddies and I still get together for lunch,” she said during a recent phone conversation.

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Mack has vivid memories of life before World War II, including being on hand when Ralphs grocery store opened in Burbank.

“I was 5. There was sawdust on the floor,” she said. “They did most of their shopping around Brand and Broadway. “Brand was only developed to California at the time.”

She remembers the Depression years. “Tramps got off the train and came to the door asking if they could mow the lawn in exchange for lunch,” she said.

Her mother told them her husband did that, but invited them to sit on the back porch while she brought them food.

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“Usually, it was the same thing the family had for lunch, “vegetables, perhaps some meat and bread,” she said.

After their final move, her father, an electrician, built a patio and barbecue in the backyard and installed outdoor outlets.

They frequently invited friends over about 11 a.m. on Sundays. Wanting to have music as he prepared silver-dollar-sized pancakes on the electric grill, he created a “portable radio” by adding a handle to a radio.

“That way, he could “carry it around and plug it into the outdoor outlets. I always said he invented brunch,” Mack said, jokingly.

The announcement — on that very same radio — that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor is seared into her memory.

“It came just while we were sitting down for breakfast. It felt just like 9-11 did. We were in such a state of shock,” she said.

Everything shifted to the war effort. Block wardens made sure their windows were covered, and they lived in blacked-out rooms.

Mack used her allowance to buy war stamps. About $18 worth of stamps could “get a war bond.

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“We did it in school on banking day; it exposed us to the concept of money. One student would be the banker and count the money,” Mack said.

She went to a “real bank,” the Bank of America at Brand and Broadway, to purchase the bond, peering over the counter while her mother made the transaction.

Mack also recalled gas rationing, meat coupons and saving the fat from cooked meat in a tin can. When the container was full, her mother took it to a butcher, who recycled the fat as part of the war effort.

After her Toll Junior High years, she enrolled at Hoover, graduating in 1948. She attended Glendale College and Occidental College and began her teaching career in Pasadena, where she met fellow teacher Walter Mack in the principal’s office.

They were married in 1954.

Later, she heard of an opening as a physical-education teacher at Glendale High and taught there for 41 years.

Patti Mack inherited the northwest Glendale house after her parents passed away. She and Walter rented it out for several years before moving into what had been her childhood home.

Now, some 30 years later, Patti Mack is still there, surrounded by memories of her youth.

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Readers Write:

Rob Skinnell sent an email regarding the column about Brand Associates and Kathryn Hull in the July 27, 2019, edition of the Glendale News-Press.

“I read your article in today’s paper about Kathryn Hull with great interest. As a composer, and as a former member of the Music Teacher’s National Assn., I worked with Kathryn on several projects many years ago when she still lived in Glendale,” he wrote.

“We first met at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, where I was a part of the music ministry staff, and where she and her family were deeply involved. It was then that she took me under her wing when I had finished graduate school at USC in 1975,” Skinnell added.

Katherine Yamada can be reached at katherineyamada@gmail.com. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 453 S. Spring St., Suite 308, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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