One of the highlights of membership in the Verdugo Club on Glenoaks Boulevard in Glendale was the fashion shows. The club, which opened in 1979, was a much larger facility than its previous gathering place in the old Stepper Auditorium on Broadway and provided a better setting for such events.
The fashion shows grew out of ideas put forth by some of the members, including Walter and Margi Stolrow. He was general manager of Webb’s Department Store and Webb’s Store for Men and Boys for many years and took an active interest in community affairs.
Susan Skiffington, one of the models, recalled that Margi Stolrow organized the early fashion shows.
“She used Webb’s products to begin with and provided the commentary; later they used other dress-shop products.”
Skiffington began modeling as a high school student at the Bullock’s Pasadena Tea Room under Margi Stolrow’s tutelage. She also modeled at Verdugo Club events.
“Sometimes we sold tickets. Sometimes it was for club members. Most of the models were members. That was 25 years ago,” said Skiffington, whose father, Henry Frost, was one of the club’s founders. Frost was also a former Glendale Chamber of Commerce president and owner of Art Frost Chrysler-Plymouth, which was on South Brand Boulevard for many years.
Back issues of the club’s newsletter, the Verdugan, on file in the Glendale Public Library’s Special Collections Room, indicate that the club had several Secretaries Day events during the mid-to late 1980s with fashions provided by various stores around town. One in 1985 featured fashions by Nordstrom; another in 1986 spotlighted fashions from Le Jardin.
Verdugo Club member Lola Archer and her husband, Clifford, moved their business, Archer Travel Service, into the ground floor of the Verdugo Club in September 1979 while the building was still under construction. She recalled the fashion shows with fondness. She and her daughter-in-law Jill often modeled in them.
Archer added that Nancy DeWind, who worked in the Verdugo Club office, organized the later fashion shows.
“She would solicit the models and set up the appointments for choosing the outfits to be modeled,” she said. “The fashion show was presented on the day when the member employers would bring their secretaries to lunch.”
Another frequent model was Wanda Bistagne, who has lived in Glendale for more than 63 years. She and her late husband, Tom, who founded Bistagne Body Shop at the intersection of Chevy Chase Drive and Verdugo Road with his brother George in 1946, joined the Verdugo Club a year or two before the old club on Broadway closed.
“We liked the club,” said Bistagne, whose husband died a month shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. “We were members until it closed.”
DeWind said she worked on the fashion shows from 1980 until the club closed in 1994. The last show was held in the spring, with Talbots providing the clothes.
“The shows were a big deal for the club members, since their wives or girlfriends were the models,” DeWind said. “They were always well attended.”
“This was a good group to be in,” Bistagne concluded. “I don’t think there were too many others like it in Glendale.”
Katherine Yamada’s column runs every Sunday. To contact her, call 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 visit the Special Collections Room at Central from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, or make an appointment by calling (818) 548-2037.
To the Readers:
The Glendale Historical Society’s website often gets intriguing queries from people all over the country. A recent query was in regard to the old Club Airport Gardens on Riverside Drive, also once known as Club Continental, near Grand Central Airport.
During the club’s demolition in 1966, workers found a gaming casino complete with a sunken dance floor. Wreckers also discovered a tunnel leading to an escape hatch in the river. There are still local rumors of illicit attractions, which included bootlegged liquor, high-roller gambling and other pastimes. If you have any information on this topic, please contact me.
If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Verdugo Views, c/o News-Press, 221 N. Brand Blvd., 2nd Floor, Glendale, CA 91203. Please include your name, address and phone number.