Piece of Mind: Memories and sweet moments

My La Cañada High class reunion last weekend went just fine, thanks for asking. What fun it is to catch up with people you haven't seen in ages! And it can have sweet moments, too.

A childhood friend of mine from our Paradise Canyon days, Jill Kreiling Barras, came from Arizona for the event. I had not seen Jill since high school but, since all the obituaries of La Cañadans tend to come over my office transom, I was aware she'd recently lost her mother, Jean Kreiling, a longtime real-estate agent here. Anyway, Jill and her husband Gary stopped by our house Sunday for a mini reunion wrap-up gathering before heading home.

Jill stepped in our front door, looked around and was emotionally overcome by the experience of being in a vintage La Cañada ranch-style home, virtually unchanged from the time of our youth. She said it felt like she was being embraced by family again. It was a touching moment and it almost made me feel better that our house is showing its age.

One of our other guests, Paulette Weber Uptgraft, asked if I could arrange a tour of the house directly across the street from ours, as her parents had owned it since its earliest days in the 1950s and had lived there for decades. I called my friend Tody Rhine, who owns it today, and she welcomed us in for a quick look-see. Paulette was thrilled to note that the house, except for Tody's lovely remodeled kitchen, looked just like it did when she called it home.

Recognizing that as each year passes our ranks thin by at least one Spartan, we've started scheduling our reunions every five years, so look for my next report on the subject in 2015.


Coincidentally involving the parent of another of my former classmates, we heard that former La Cañadan Harold Bollinger died Oct. 6 at 95. His eldest son, Bill (younger son Tod was in my class) wrote a charming piece noting that when Harold married his Eagle Rock High School sweetheart Eleanor in 1939, "they paid $700 for a lot that had been part of a vineyard on Oakwood Avenue. The bride's father made the windows and doors for their new home in a shop he owned in Pasadena, and the house still stands proudly near Foothill Boulevard."

Harold told his son that the monthly payment on their first home here was $31. They left that home when Harold was drafted during World War II.

Bill writes: "The family returned to La Cañada, moving into the Rancho area, where a developer was selling new two-bedroom, one-bath houses like 'hotcakes,' as [Harold] Bollinger put it. 'There wasn't a tree on the block, which is hard to believe when you see Alminar Avenue today,' Harold said. The developer had only two floor plans, so every other house was identical. 'More than one of our neighbors came home from work and walked into the wrong house,' he said with a laugh."

Bill reports the family later moved to the Flintridge area and stayed there until the mid-1970s. Harold and Eleanor moved to Kona, Hawaii and returned to California nine years ago. Harold's bride of 71 years and his sons Bill, Ric and Tod survive him.

Happy memories, all.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. E-mail her at ccormaci@valleysun.net.

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