Verdugo Views: Club for the blind grew quickly

The Foothill Service Club for the Blind held its first meetings on South Glendale Avenue, near Broadway, under the sponsorship of the Glendale Lions Club.

Established in 1940, the club for the blind grew rapidly with help from a host of other community groups, including the La Cañada Delta Gamma Alumnae Sorority, the Moose of Glendale and Oakmont League.

Lions Club members — who assessed themselves quarterly to raise operating funds for the club for the blind — also donated the furnishings, including a very large round table, which soon became the clubhouse’s focal point. Members gathered around while a sighted volunteer, Mrs. Basler, read magazine articles. This was the beginning of the “Round Table Meeting,’’ which continued for many years, according to the club for the blind’s official history.

The club was open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a sightless member, Frances Brown, was on hand every day except Friday, which was men’s day. Lions Club wives and the La Cañada sorority women joined forces to provide transportation back and forth to meetings and other events.

One of the highlights of the club day was handicraft classes, begun by state home teachers in conjunction with a sightless instructor from the Braille Institute. Soon, the crafters began presenting their handiwork as gifts to their sponsors at the club’s annual summer picnic.

The club for the blind became such a popular place and grew so quickly that they soon had to look for a larger space.

Its new meeting place, this time on north Glendale Avenue, had no cooking facilities, so members brought their own lunches. Cecil Haste, of the Glendale Lions, began dropping by at lunchtime, often bringing the makings of a fruit salad, which he and other volunteers prepared and served. Then other members of the Lions Club showed up to help. They had their aprons signed to get credit for attendance at their own club meetings.

Another Lion, Bill MacIntyre of the Griffith Park club, was in the grocery business and often donated items, as did Ray McNair of the same club.

By this time, several Lions Clubs had shouldered responsibility for the club for the blind’s operating expenditures. A Dec. 11, 1945, Glendale News-Press reported that the Lions clubs of Glendale, Eagle Rock, Burbank and Griffith Park were all involved.

Ties between the Glendale Lions and the club for the blind remained close. In 1945, the Lions invited club for the blind members to a program in the Tuesday Afternoon clubhouse. Dorothy Scott, of the club for the blind, spoke on its aims. Also on the program were Alice and Harry James (she was very instrumental in organizing the club for the blind) and another member, Walter Gaunch, according to the News-Press, Nov. 28, 1945.

The club’s membership kept increasing, and they moved again, this time to the Thursday Morning Club on Cypress Street, which they used on Wednesdays. With the new facilities came the opportunity to offer hot lunches, and that’s when two cooks volunteered their services. Plus, the ladies of the Moose of Glendale began furnishing lunches one day a month.

When a new state regulation forced the state home teachers to give up teaching craft classes, members of the Oakmont League took over.

As the only facility of its kind in this area, the service club for the blind grew rapidly. With the assistance of many local nonprofits, a lot was purchased, and, in 1950, members moved into their new clubhouse at 600 South Verdugo Road.

Readers Write

George Ellison of Special Collections answers a query (Verdugo Views, July 10, 2011) regarding the origin of Willard Avenue in Northwest Glendale. “Willard Avenue, from 6200 San Fernando Road, was laid out through a subdivision handled by Willard Fry and was given his name.” Willard runs between San Fernando and Glenoaks Boulevard.

If you have questions, comments or memories to share, write to Katherine Yamada/Verdugo Views in care of the News-Press, 221 N. Brand Blvd., 2nd Floor, Glendale, CA 91203. Include your name, address and phone number.

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