Verdugo Views: How the Oakmont League helped show the way

Pat Mann was a loyal friend to many Glendale organizations. During the 1940s, she brought two groups together in a relationship that continues to this day.

One group was the Foothill Club for the Blind, established in 1939 with support from the Glendale Lions Club. Its membership increased so rapidly that it outgrew three locations and the leadership began seeking a permanent home.

By this time the local Lions had realized they couldn't support the very popular club alone. Fortunately, Lions clubs from Eagle Rock, Burbank and Griffith Park all became involved, as noted in a 1945 Glendale News-Press article.

As the club for the blind considered the future, its leaders realized that a recently formed partnership with another group, Oakmont League, was also becoming very rewarding.

That relationship began when the club for the blind lost two state instructors who had been teaching crafts to members. The items the members made were sold at the club's annual picnics.

The loss was a vital one to the club and they were loath to give it up, as it provided members with a skill; so they cast around for volunteer teachers from the community.

A young woman named Pat Mann, a member of the recently formed Oakmont League, stepped forward. She agreed to take over the job and brought several other leaguers along to help.

Then, the league began assisting the club for the blind in other ways. Around 1947 they began dedicating proceeds from their annual fundraiser, "Gold Gulch," to providing transport and lunch for the blind.

Eventually, they directed much of their philanthropy efforts toward helping the club for the blind find a permanent home.

One year, the league raised more than $4,000 for the club for the blind, always encouraged by Mann, who was serving as membership chair for Oakmont while continuing her crafts work for the blind.

Eventually, the club for the blind purchased a lot at 600 S. Verdugo Road, near Maple Street, then sought more funds for a clubhouse. The Oakmont ladies donated $9,000 toward the building project and the balance was raised by sponsoring Lions clubs.

Construction on the clubhouse, which cost $13,000, began in August 1949 and it opened In December 1950.

However, increased maintenance costs made it difficult for the club for the blind to meet expenses, so they participated in a "Be Thankful You Can See" campaign, organized by the Lions Clubs.

Club for the blind members assisted by folding brochures and sheets of seals and placing them in envelopes. "During these stuffing sessions, we really got acquainted with the Lions and they really got to know us and many lasting friendships were made," said member Frances Brown Clarno, author of the blind club's history.

Meanwhile, Oakmont League continued to actively support the blind club by organizing a sale of craft items at Sears. Again, Mann was front and center in those efforts.

Although Oakmont has since aided many other organizations, the relationship formed in the 1940s continues today with Oakmont League's annual Christmas Dinner for the Blind.

Readers Write:

Your article on the starting of Webb's Department Store brought back a flood of memories as a child whose every Christmas and Easter ensemble came from there. My parents seemed to know the head of every department in the store, sometimes even being able to order a wedding gift over the phone. My dad settled in Glendale in 1926, and soon after, his parents and siblings also came here.

My grandfather, a German immigrant who owned a cheese factory in Wisconsin, had few skills to offer a big city like Glendale. However, he soon found a job operating the customer elevator in the back of Webb's, and mastered that cumbersome up-and-down steering wheel and tried to level the elevator with the floor so people wouldn't trip while getting off. He didn't speak much English, but all the customers loved that "little German man" named Otto who always greeted them with a smile.


Peter Rusch


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