From the Archives: Family evicted from hillside

From the Archives: Family evicted from hillside
April 23, 1948: Mrs. John Groves prepares meal on an open cookstove while one child plays and others struggle uphill with water. (Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

The homeless family of seven had been ordered to leave the hillside. The family had erected a tent and hoped to build a home on the site.

This photo was published in the April 24, 1948, Los Angeles Times. The accompanying story explained:


For a place to live, a family of seven waged a desperate battle against a California hillside for three weeks. Yesterday, as far as the City Health Department was concerned, the battle was a lost cause.

John Groves, 43, unemployed truck driver; his wife Helen, 34, and their five children dug valiantly, but in vain, to establish a level spot on the steep hillside upon which to build their home.

All they were able to accomplish in the three weeks was to clear a few square feet for an Army-surplus tent, plus a little more.

Because of a lack of sanitary facilities, because the only cooking that can be done is upon an open cookstove, because of the danger to children on the 45-degree hillside in the event of rain, the Health Department has issued an order directing the Groveses to leave the tent within 30 days. The tent is situated at 1412 Davis St., near Elysian Park.

Clinging to her faith in her husband, Mrs. Groves pleaded: "If they'd only give us more time. He'd build a good home."

The family was evicted from its former home when their landlord decided to tear down the house and in its place set up another structure which had been moved from the Hollywood Freeway.

"We were evicted," explained Mrs. Groves while her husband and two of their sons walked seven miles to take baths in the home of a friend. "We didn't have any money. this was the only place we could find with no money down and $25 a month."

They moved into their tent March 31. Since then the four school-age children have not attended school. The tent has no electricity gas, water or plumbing. The family must use an outdoor water tap belonging to a neighbor. …

Meanwhile, a Health Department spokesman declared:

"The only cease and desist orders we give are in such unusual and dangerous circumstances where we have no choice." …

A followup story in the April 25, 1948, Los Angeles Times reported that the family had received several offers of help. After this article, there's no further mention of the Groves family in the Los Angeles Times.

This photo was originally published on March 23, 2016.