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Verdugo Views: Reappearing books offer a view of PTA's history

Verdugo Views: Reappearing books offer a view of PTA's history
These four unidentified women were not PTA members when R.D. White's PTA was formed in 1915. But their enthusiasm for what appears to be a 1964 cookbook project reflects the enthusiasm the first members showed for their school. Within a month of its 1915 founding, the PTA had rounded up both a telephone and a piano for the new school. (Courtesy of R.D. White PTA)

A stack of books detailing the beginnings of Richardson D. White PTA mysteriously reappeared at the school last fall, after having been missing for many years.

Recently, PTA president Kara Sergile invited me to come take a look at those newly found books.

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As she handed me the oldest one, Sergile said, "We cleaned up the PTA's storage area last spring and found the gavel and some of the more recent record books and binders."

But, she said, they couldn't find any of the older ones. Then, last November, she walked into the storage area and saw an open box on the table. Inside were 20 or so black, imitation-leather notebooks dating back to 1915, the year both the school and the PTA were founded.

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"We have no idea where the box had been or how it got into the room," Sergile said.

The book she handed me included the records from March 4, 1915 — the day that 40 women met to organize a Parent Teachers Assn.

Mrs. Toll called the meeting to order. Although the minutes refer to her simply as Mrs. Toll, a list of founding members describes her as Mrs. Chas. A. Toll, otherwise known as Eleanor J. Toll.

And no, she didn't have a junior high named for her in 1915; Toll Junior High didn't open until 1926. In fact, she and her husband, Charles, had only moved to Glendale in 1912, but they had already built a substantial house on Columbus Avenue.

Toll plunged right into life in Glendale and, by 1914, was the president of the Glendale Council PTA and it was in that capacity that she led the meeting.

But I digress. Back to the first meeting of the PTA. The first order of business was to elect Mrs. Charles L. Chandler as president and the most important item of the day was a motion instructing the secretary to purchase a book — no doubt the very one I was holding — to record the minutes.

After welcoming remarks from both R.D. White, superintendent of schools, and the new principal, Miss Hatch, the attendees were invited to turn in their membership applications and enjoy refreshments served by the principal and by Miss Collins, one of the charter members.

R.D. White's PTA was founded right around the time the school opened; it was then called Doran Street School, as it faced Doran Street.

The district paid $7,050 for the land and a four-room, wood-frame building was erected at a whopping $6,170. The first few years, the principal and two teachers were the instructors. However, by 1922, Glendale was growing so rapidly they had to buy more land and add more classrooms.

Richardson D. White, who had become superintendent of schools in 1913, continued to serve Glendale until he died in 1937. Doran Street School was renamed in his honor the following year.

Both R.D. White Elementary and the PTA will celebrate their 100th anniversary at 3 p.m. on Feb. 26

For more information, check the school's website, rdwelementary.com.

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Last week, I was invited to the dedication of the W.C.B. Richardson display at the Atwater Village branch of the Los Angeles Public Library on Glendale Boulevard.

Richardson developed the historic Santa Eulalia ranch on land that later became Tropico, a village near Glendale. In 1918, Tropico residents voted to annex half of their land to Glendale and the other half to Los Angeles. Today, the latter portion is known as Atwater Village.

A few years ago, two high-energy women, Netty Carr and Sandra Caravella, helped form Friends of Atwater Village and then embarked on writing a local history book. The Richardson family, who provided photos and documents for the book, recently gifted much of their memorabilia to the Friends of Atwater Village; which, in turn, arranged for the display in the library.

Two family members — Paula Richardson Carroll, great-granddaughter of W.C.B., and Kathy Richardson, widow of the late Gilbert Richardson, who was a great-grandson of W.C.B. — were on hand for the dedication.

Later, Kathy Richardson told me the 12-box collection included daily journals (dating from the early 1870s) detailing life on the Santa Eulalia Ranch. "We wanted them to go to the right place," she said.

For more information about the display, contact the Atwater library at (323) 664 1353 or www.lapl.org/branches/atwater-village.

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KATHERINE YAMADA can be reached at KatherineYamada@gmail.com or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o News-Press, 202 W. First St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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