Bridle trails and horses have been an important part of life for residents of La Cañada Flintridge since it was first subdivided in the 1920s. Over the years, many residents have kept horses on their properties and the Karig family, who bought a place on Woodleigh Lane in 1950 for $45,000, was no exception.
The house itself was a small ranch house built in 1937, but the draw was the enormous backyard with lots of space and access to the riding trails for the four Karig children, explained Mary Karig Durso.
“Dad bought the place, just below Foothill Boulevard, because there were so many of us—my older brother Dan, myself, then Fred and Barbara,” she said. “There was so much to do. We had a badminton court, a pool and a place for horses. Each of us at different times had a horse, so we had to clean the corral, brush the horse and care for it.”
They rode their horses down Woodleigh or along Foothill down below St. Francis High School. She recalled the time she was riding down in a channel along Berkshire Avenue. The horse got caught in a patch of quicksand, but she was with some other people and was able to get out.
The Karig children all had chores.
“My father loved to grow things, especially orchids, so my job was always gardening,” Durso said.
They also kept a few bees. Her brother, Dan, was in charge of the hives and checked them regularly to see how well the honey was being produced. She vividly recalls the day they put the combs into a spinner to harvest the honey.
“It did spin the honey out, the problem was, there was honey all over the house,” she said.
Her brother Dan also had another job, washing dishes at a restaurant called Edge Of Town House at 556 Foothill Blvd.
“It was a big, beautiful house,” she recalled, and, because it was so near their home, it became an important landmark for her.
Recently, in an effort to find out more about the long-gone house (a service station is there now), Durso visited archivist Tim Gregory at Lanterman House in La Cañada Flintridge. There she found an ad in the Feb. 13, 1947 Ledger newspaper describing the restaurant’s refined atmosphere, prompt but unobtrusive service and fine preparation of choice foods. The restaurant was run by Martina M. Hubbard.
“It was very shi-shi,” Durso said. “We never ate there, though.”
The Karigs lived next to another local landmark, the Thursday Afternoon Club.
“They had dances and Cotillion there and that’s where I learned to dance,” Durso said.
There was another reason she remembered the club.
“It had a big parking lot and I learned to drive there in my friend Susie’s 1949 Ford.”
The Karig family attended St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church.
“The sanctuary wasn’t built yet,” she said. “The services were in a small building on St. Francis’ campus.”
Durso was in the first graduating class at the parish school, which opened in the fall of 1951. Durso went on to Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, graduating in 1957, then attended Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.
While working at St. Luke hospital in Pasadena, she heard about a new volunteer program, and in 1963 joined the Peace Corps. She was assigned to Rio de Janeiro, fulfilling a longtime dream.
“When I was in sixth grade, I learned about Rio and that triggered a desire to see it,” Durso said.
While in the Peace Corps, she worked in a children’s hospital and met and fell in love with a Brazilian, Gilberto Durso. Her parents traveled to Rio de Janeiro for their 1966 wedding. She later returned to this area with her husband, who opened a store for backpacking and cross-country skiing on Foothill Boulevard. The couple moved to La Crescenta and she worked at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.
Sadly, a few years ago, a wind-driven fire burned their home near Deukmejian Wilderness Park.
“My neighbor tracked me down at the hospital to tell me she had saved the cat,” she said.
Durso’s childhood photos were destroyed and now she’s seeking reminders of growing up in a pastoral setting amongst the riding trails of La Cañada Flintridge.
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 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.
To the Readers:
Save the date July 8, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Burbank’s incorporation. The party will be at City Hall in downtown Burbank.
The city is named for a dentist, David Burbank, who in the late 1860s purchased the land on which the town was later established and began raising sheep. Burbank sold a right-of-way to the new Southern Pacific railway for $1 and the first train arrived in 1874, leading to the city’s growth, according to the city’s official website.
A group of developers purchased land from Burbank, laid out a business district at San Fernando Boulevard and Olive Avenue and subdivided the rest into residential lots and small farming plots. The tract — named for Burbank — opened in 1887. The town grew steadily and within 20 years had a bank, a newspaper (established in 1906) and a high school. Burbank had a population of 500 when it was incorporated on July 8, 1911.
If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Katherine Yamada/Verdugo Views in care of the News-Press, 221 N. Brand Blvd., 2nd Floor, Glendale, CA 91203. Please include your name, address and phone number.