Verdugo Views: Early neighborhood memories revealed

When Doug Motley was born in 1946, his family was living on Highland Avenue in northwest Glendale.

His father, Watson, was an engineer with Pacific Telephone Company. Watson Motley had studied engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and trained as a military cadet, but left school in his junior year to serve in the U.S. Army in France during World War One. There he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. “He was a courier of sorts, delivering messages all over France by way of motorcycle,” Doug Motley said.

“My mom, Mildred Sanford Motley, was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico around 1904, before New Mexico was a state.” Motley doesn’t know how they met, but said they resided in Prescott, Arizona before moving to this area in the 1920s.

“I believe they moved to their home at 1634 Highland Avenue in Glendale sometime in the 1930s,” Doug Motley said. His father worked in what was called the Yellow Pages building in Los Angeles.

“My mom was a faithful housewife and an accomplished watercolor and oil painter who won many awards and accolades for her portraits and renditions of scenery,” Doug Motley said.

When the Motleys moved to Highland Avenue, the area was in the early stages of growth. It had been developed in the early 1920s by brothers Dan and Arthur Campbell. Dan, who made his fortune in the Yukon gold rush and had gotten to know the Brand family, came to Glendale and used part of his fortune to purchase 25 acres next to Leslie C. Brand. Later, Arthur Campbell moved here and bought several acres adjacent to Dan.

In 1923, the Campbell brothers subdivided much of their property. Plans for the new subdivision called for four new streets running north and south from Kenneth Road: Ard Eevin Drive (now Avenue), Ben Lomond Drive, Idlewood Road and Chesterfield Avenue (now Cleveland Road). Cumberland Drive (now Road) was constructed east and west, paralleling Kenneth Road. They called the tract Campbell Heights.

Sales reached nearly $100,000 by the end of the first year and several houses were quickly built. “The best advertisement for these lots is seeing them,” said Arthur Campbell in an October 20, 1923 Glendale Evening News article. “Come out any weekday or on Sunday. Stop at our tract office at Virginia Avenue and Kenneth Road and let our representatives show you these magnificent home sites so that you can visualize what it will mean to you and your families to live amid the grandeur of mountains and valleys.’’

Improvements at Campbell Heights included water, gas, electricity, curbs, sidewalks, streets and other modern conveniences. The new Pacific Electric bus line was scheduled to run within two blocks of the tract.

Doug Motley, one of several children, said his older siblings Betty Hope (Elizabeth), Patsy (Patricia), and Mitzi (Mildred) attended local schools. His brother, Harold, was a few years older than he.

In 1950, his father was promoted to District Engineer in Santa Ana. His district included all of Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Inyo counties and that’s when they moved.

“My memories of Glendale are rather vague, since I moved from there at the age of four,” he said recently. Just about all he knew was that his family had lived on Highland Avenue. Now, thanks to information found in Special Collections, he knows a little more about the street where his family once lived.


Readers Write: “I noticed the Burger King restaurant and large car wash across from Memorial Hospital are now gone,’’ wrote John Hammell, Jr. “I remember going to that car wash as a youngster with my father in the late 1950s. If I am not mistaken, it was the first large modern ‘automatic car wash facility’ in Glendale.” Hammell wonders if anyone knows when the first car wash opened at that location at the corner of Los Feliz and San Fernando roads.

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