Catherine (Kay) Weihe Roberts was born in Los Angeles in 1908 and came to Glendale with her family when she was 2 years old. Roberts lived to be 96 years old and, just before she died in 2004, she wrote her reflections of her early years here.
Her daughter, Diane Roberts, sent in a copy of those memories, which paint a vivid picture of Glendale in its infancy.
Glendale was a small village way out in the country when Roberts and her family came here. The population was estimated at less than 3,000. The Weihes lived in a house on Milford Street.
“Mail was not delivered way out there,” she wrote. “We had a mailbox on Broadway and Brand Boulevard. Nearly all of the land was covered with wild barley, with many foot paths through the fields.”
The business district was very small and was on Glendale Avenue between Broadway and Wilson Avenue when Robert’s family arrived.
“I remember a grocery store, a blacksmith and the Litchfield Lumber Yard. The lumber company had a platform on the east side of the building and a spur track ran from Glendale Avenue alongside the platform. Lumber was unloaded from the train to the platform.”
In 1910, the year the Weihe family arrived, business was beginning to grow around Brand and Broadway. (The Newton Electric Co. and Cornwell & Kelty both opened in 1910.)
“At first,” Roberts wrote, “the Pacific Electric ran only to Brand and Broadway, with a station on the corner. Later the tracks were extended to what is now Mountain Street. The tracks north of Broadway were elevated and ran on top of an earthlike dike.”
Later, besides the Pacific Electric line, there was a trolley line called the “Dinky.”
“It went from the Verdugo Woodlands area down Glendale Avenue and cut across what is now Forest Lawn and over to Glassell Park where connections could be made onto the yellow line into Los Angeles. Some of the trolleys also went into Eagle Rock where one could connect to another line that went into L.A.,” Roberts added.
In the early days, Glendale had two telephone systems, the Sunset and the Home.
“Calls could not be made between the two systems,” she wrote. “So, if you were on one, you could not call somebody on the other one.”
Roberts started school at Cerritos Avenue School.
“It was in a two-story wood building. During fire drills we had to slide down metal slides that went from the second floor to the ground. A year later another school was built nearer our house. Today it is called Horace Mann. The principal was Mae Cornwell of the Cornwell-Kelty Hardware Cornwells.
Later I went back to Cerritos. The school had picnics which were held on top of Mount Forest Lawn. It was part of the Richardson Ranch back then. Their family allowed us to have our picnics among a grove of trees that were there,” she added.
Marion Morrison (John Wayne) briefly lived on the same block as the Weihes, Diane Roberts said.
“They were both in the same group of children who played on the street,” she said. “Later of course, he was with her at Glendale High and they were both in the class of 1925. I still have her senior class yearbook and his picture is in many places in it.”
KATHERINE YAMADA can be contacted by leaving a message with features editor Joyce Rudolph at (818) 637-3241. For more information on Glendale’s history visit the Glendale Historical Society’s web page: www.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or call (818) 548-2037 to make an appointment to visit the Special Collections Room at Central from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.