Even though she moved away years ago, Barbara Berman Giasone still considers Glendale her hometown.
“I was born there in 1941,” she said.
Giasone’s family lived on Bellevue Drive until 1950 when they moved to South Dakota and then to Redondo Beach. They moved back here to a house near the intersection of Brand Boulevard and Kenneth Road in the mid-1950s. They left again in 1957 and she graduated from Garden Grove High in 1959.
“Believe it or not, my dad wasn't even in the military,” Giasone said.
Her father, Harold Berman, was in the jewelry business.
“He met my mother, Margaret, at Gensler-Lee Jewelry. Eventually, he went on to Barry's Jewelers on Brand (later Brand Jewelers), and then joined with Doug Jensen to form Berman & Jensen Jewelers,” Giasone said.
Both her parents were working at Berman & Jensen, at Maryland Avenue and Broadway, when she was young.
“They would send me next door to Bob's Big Boy for a hamburger, orange soda and orange doughnut; I think, just to get me out of their hair,’’ she said.
Giasone, who worked for the Orange County Register for many years, said she once interviewed Robert C. Wian, founder of Bob’s Big Boy, at his home in Newport Beach, bringing back many memories of her childhood.
Her parents died in 1967 when two Marine aircraft collided over Leisure World and plummeted to the ground, killing several people.
“It's taken a lot of work to reconstruct my childhood for an autobiography,” Giasone said. “Thankfully, some Glendale friends, including Mary Rose Grim, have been helpful.”
She met Grim when she came back to her first home on Bellevue to do a story for the Register. Afterward, she stopped by Balboa School and the principal introduced her to one of the teachers — Grim.
“She and I became fast friends. In fact, she arranged for me to meet with my favorite teacher, Helen Shelton, and three of my second-grade pals. Now, that's a friend,” she said.
Nowadays, Giasone stays connected with her hometown by reading the Glendale News-Press online.
“I always read your columns and particularly enjoyed the recent “Mildred Pierce” memories,” Giasone said. “I've long known the Glendale connection, but didn't know scenes were actually filmed at Henry's Drive-In or on Jackson Street. The colonial home you mentioned across the street from Balboa is where I attended Brownie Scout meetings in the late ’40s.”
She also found the column on Physicians and Surgeons Hospital interesting.
“I was born there in 1941 with Harold Tarr as the obstetrician and Gaston Baus as the pediatrician,” she said.
Giasone reconnected with a former classmate, Laura Warner Lovick, a few weeks ago.
“She showed me a video of our ‘Easter parade’ in her back yard in 1956 when gloves, hats and purses were fashionable,” Giasone said.
They also chatted about her favorite Toll teachers, including Gaspar Liotta and David Leek.
It was Leek who launched her journalism career when he asked everyone in the class about their future plans.
“I knew I wanted to be a reporter — just like Louella Parsons — and he immediately assigned me to the school newspaper,” Giasone said. “I never changed my goals, although I didn't pursue a gossip column. Instead, I was a managing editor for a five-day daily owned by the O.C. Register, and then went back to beat reporting in Fullerton.”
Even though Giasone now lives some distance away, she remains connected to her hometown.
“You can go home again,” she observed.
Recently, I visited with Judy Hoeptner, who told me she had worked as a part-time librarian at the old Carnegie Library on Harvard Street.
She vividly recalled librarian Eloise Frain, who worked at the old library for many years. Frain was well known for decorating the library windows during the Christmas season and for creating wonderful flannel boards for the children’s story hours.
“Every kid who grew up in Glendale and is over 30 knows about the flannel boards from the library’s story hour,’’ Hoeptner said.
Each year, around September, Frain began concentrating on her Christmas windows.
“There were no requests for flannel boards after that; she was busy with her Christmas windows,” Hoeptner said.
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