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Opinion

Verdugo Views: Local woman’s uncle ran a gas station that’s now a city park

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Alfred Winkler Jr. and Dorothy Spinner Winkler were both connected to Glendale history. The couple, who lived on Adams Hill when they were first married, celebrated their first Christmas together in their new home.
(Courtesy of Carol Winkler Silver)

When Carol Winkler Silver was born, her parents, Alfred Winkler Jr. and Dorothy Spinner Winkler, were living on Adams Hill.

Although she was too young to remember, her mother’s brother, Ralph, operated a nearby gas station. It is now a city park.

That’s one connection that Silver has to Glendale history. But, there’s another.

Before her father married, he boarded with Ernest and Alta Abbott, who lived on Adams Hill. Abbott was a motorman for the Pacific Electric and was the operator when the last Red Car left downtown Los Angeles for Glendale.

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I met Silver last fall, on a bus tour sponsored by the Glendale Historical Society, one of a series of events celebrating the organization’s 40th year.

During our conversation, Silver mentioned that she had connections to two Verdugo View columns: one about a Spinner relative and another about Abbott. She later emailed more memories.

Her father worked at Lockheed after relocating from Ohio.

“It was while working at Lockheed that my dad met my mom. The Abbotts had become family to my dad so he stayed in touch with them regularly,” she wrote.

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She recalled the day “when the last Red Car was scheduled to be run by Mr. Abbott. Our family was invited to take a short ride. I remember our mom taking me and my sister for a ride while my dad photographed us. I have very few pictures of my dad because he was always taking pictures. I just remember Dad drove the car and picked us up after our short ride,” Silver wrote.

That was in 1955. When the Glendale library celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007, a series of library cards featuring iconic photos were issued to patrons.

One image, of Abbott on the last Red Car, was included in a “Verdugo Views” column on Nov. 2, 2011, about Abbott’s family.

Silver wrote, “believe it or not, my mom found your article.” That’s when they realized it was the same photo as on the library card.

And here’s Silver’s memories of her mother’s younger brother, Ralph: “My mom was the first of the family to relocate to Southern California” Her two younger brothers Ralph and Earl later followed.

Ralph Spinner got a job at Lockheed. In 1947, he left Lockheed and took over a Standard Oil station on Adams Hill, selling gas, oil and tires and repairing cars for locals.

In 1949, Ralph Spinner went back to Lockheed. For 30 more years, the station served the neighborhood, but it fell victim to the times and closed in the 1980s.

By then, Ralph Spinner had retired from Lockheed, but in the 1980s, he was asked to work as a supervisor for two years at Lockheed’s plant in Nagoya, Japan, Los Angeles’ sister city, Silver wrote.

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In 2016, the old service station was listed on the Glendale Register of Historic Resources. Its new status was celebrated during a midsummer gathering, amid vintage props, as noted in a “Verdugo Views” column on Nov. 19, 2016.

Silver wrote that she was too young to remember her uncle’s gas station. But she does remember how excited he and his wife, Donna, were when the big, old sign from his station was found. “And I do mean big. It took up the whole length of his frontyard,” she wrote.

Both are “still around,” Silver added. They are very frail and in poor health but were able to attend the opening of the new park. It was “a thrill for them,” she wrote.

Readers write

Steve Cameron emailed his thanks for spreading the word about the First United Methodist Church’s seven-month project to take down a wall and open the campus to the community.

“It was a pleasure meeting you and spending the time working on the article,” he wrote.

Wendy Myers sent a letter regarding Ed Cooley and the Woodalls.

“My dad started Nelson Photo Supplies in the 1940s when I was a little kid. My brother and I both worked for him in our teens and my brother went on to run the business until he retired several years ago … It’s possible that he knew the Woodalls … and that Ed Cooley knew of Nelson Photo because it was the largest photo supply business south of Los Angeles. I think my brother would agree with the last line of your article, ‘the paper routes and the camera shop retail experience were far more valuable than the degree.’ Thank you for continuing to write your history columns. They often bring back memories of cherished times,” she wrote.

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