Verdugo Views: Photos conjure up thoughts of mid-century Glendale

Memories of her childhood came flooding back to Victoria Baima Mandile when she opened a package from her sister, Pattie. Inside was a stack of photos of Glendale in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Mandile, a stylist at Shampoo Conspiracy in Glendale, brought the photos to work recently and co-worker Pete Cortez called me, thinking I'd like to see them.

Later, Mandile and I looked through the photos. Each one triggered a story, beginning with a photo of the Seeley building on South Brand.

Mandile, the second of three girls born to John and Marion Baima, grew up on Vassar Avenue, near Seeley's.

"We were all born at Queen of Angels Hospital," she said. The oldest, JoAnn, was born before World War II, Victoria and Pattie after.

They attended Cerritos Elementary and walked past Seeley's on the way to school.

"We used to check the big clock on the front to see what time it was," Mandile said.

Another photo, of Forest Lawn, triggered a memory of walking past the gates.

"We used to pretend that it was the home of a very wealthy person, so that we wouldn't be afraid," she said.

One day, they entered the gates and managed to pick up one of the Mallard ducks sitting near the pond.

"We carried that duck all the way home and told our Mom it had walked home with us," Mandile said. "Well, Mom figured that one out pretty quickly and back we all went to return the duck."

A small restaurant, Casa Gonzales, occupied a nearby house.

"It had a large mural of an Aztec warrior and a woman standing on a cliff," she said. "The owner's cousins lived behind us and we used to go to Casa Gonzales after hours with them. We'd dance to the music on the jukebox, especially 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.'"

Next was a photo of the old Masonic Temple, showing the south side of the building with the words "Welcome to Glendale" painted above a huge Coca-Cola ad.

The sisters often went to the Temple Theatre. "It was the cheapest place in town. My mom would drop us off and we'd stay all Saturday," Mandile said. "They showed three feature movies and a newsreel and a cartoon and no one ever told us we had to leave. Many of the kids in town and in our neighborhood went there."

The family shopped on Brand Boulevard, especially at Hedy's.

"Not at Webbs; we weren't Webbs people, we were more Sears and Penneys," she said.

But a photo of the old Webbs brought out this story: In the seventh grade, she and her friends were in the store and spied Michael Landon, then starring as Little Joe in "Bonanza." The girls were so excited that they followed Landon and his wife and children around as they tried to shop.

"We chased him all around the store, poor guy. He'd come off the elevator and there we'd be," she said.

Looking at the photos with Mandile was like a trip down memory lane for both of us. As it turns out, pictures really are worth a thousand words.

Readers Write

Marie Fish wrote regarding Eloise Frain, who was highlighted in the "Verdugo Views" column that ran in the June 20 edition of the Glendale News-Press.

"She designed magnificent Christmas windows in the old Carnegie building. She was also responsible for much of the interior design of the then new library building which opened in 1973, including the color palette and the stunning modern furniture, which sadly, is no longer there."

Fish, who worked for the library for many years, pointed out that my description of Frain as a librarian was not accurate.

"She was our display artist," she said.

The library has been a part of Fish's life since she was a child in the 1940s.

"I remember visiting the children's room in the old building and sitting on a long bench-like seat at a table with a slanted top — just right to hold a picture book," she recalled.

Fish volunteered at the Roosevelt Junior High library and then did the same at Glendale High. Later, she applied at the public library.

"Ray Engelke, branch librarian at Tropico, hired me and I started working there in September 1955 as a senior in high school," Fish said.

That branch is now the home for the American Red Cross on South Brand, she noted.

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