Griffith Park Memories

I've been getting some interesting e-mail from people with Griffith Park recollections. Here are some ...

I lived for six years in Rodger young Village at Hut #1324. We in the Village would have said "RYV 1324". The phone number for our block was OL 9414! Funny the things one remembers! In fact, in many ways it was a wonderful place to grow up. Lots of kids and the huge park as our "back yard." We were quite a self-contained community with our own market, theater, drug store, etc. The churches came on Sundays and we had services in the movie theater among the gum and candy on the floor. The Catholics brought kneelers!

I cannot see anything on your site about the Village.

Anna de Leon

As fate would have it, I have gotten some recollections about the Rodger Young Village, among other things...


Your website brought back many memories for me of Griffith Park.

I was born in 1953, and grew up in Burbank. The park was a big part of my childhood. Dad would take us hiking to the old beacon that was just south of the merry-go round towards the train rides. You could see it from I-5. Biking to the Observatory I remember watching them film an episode of Mannix. I remember Travel Town on its first site near where the zoo is now. Back then they had a REAL working steam engine going around the park.

I remember in the mid 60's, my dad took us kids up to the top of Mt. Lee to see the Hollywood Sign, and the large antenna used by the City for police radios. My dad was a Hollywood Detective, so he had access. Back then the site still had the original buildings and antenna tower. It used to be a TV station back in the 40's for CBS. I remember there was an old abandoned house and pool up there too. I heard that back then the house was used by movie stars so they could be entertained before doing a live show.

I remember in my teens going up to the Observatory at night with my pal Roy. Did a few crazy things. One night we took turns playing around with the guests that used the periscope that came from a submarine. It was in the left wing of the building and popped up on the roof. One of us would be down stairs watching as the one up on top would gab hold of the scope pole and spin it as the guest tried to hold on. Cheap fun back then in the early 70's.

My Uncle and Aunt lived in Rodger Village after the war. I have attached a few rare photos. Hope you can use them. Gives you some idea of what it looked like back then around 1949. Thanks again for this wonderful trip back in time.

Bob Meza

Rodger Young Village 1949
Thank you Bob Meza for sending this photo in. It really gives us a sense of what the Rodger Young Village was like on (apparently) a warm day in 1949.


I remember living at Rodger Young Village in the 1950's. My parents, Everett "Earl" and Edna Lee Teninty (nee Edgeman) and their four children, Cheryl Judith, Janna Kathleen (that's me), Robyn Louise, and Daniel Earl, all lived there for a time.

I recall that each family occupied half of a quonset hut, each having 2 bedrooms and one bathroom. In our hut, the doorway (entrance) was in the center of the half-circle of the quonset hut, which opened directly into the main living room; to the left was a dining area and kitchen. When standing at the entrance, you could walk a straight line forward to a hallway; on the right was my parent's bedroom, which was shared by our baby brother, Danny, still in his crib. To the left was the bathroom. Back to the hallway; directly forward to the end of the hallway was the second bedroom, and in our case, shared by the three sisters (one set of bunk beds). The floors, if memory serves, were concrete; in the living room was a floor grate heater.

The windows had metal screens attached from the outside. I remember this because in our family, my father would sometimes come home "unruly" after spending time in a bar.

Our neighbor David Franklin and his family lived in another quonset hut; facing out of our doorway, his home was across the walk and one hut to the left. His wife was named Chet (a nick name of sorts) and they had 5 daughters, all about the same ages as the kids in our family. Their eldest was Shirley, then Janie, who was the same age as my sister Cheryl; then there was Brenda, who was my age; and then Susan, who was the same age as my sister Robyn, and the last was Mary Lou (or Lou Lou as we called her) who was the same age as my brother.

David Franklin was a house mover and before I was in junior high school, he was killed when a house he was moving fell on him; I might have been in 5th or 6th grade.

My family was split up while we lived in RYV, as my mother was physically weak and getting worse and could not physically take care of us; my dad, well, he at the time, was a heavy drinker... Anyhoo, when we were ages 5, 4, 3 and 6 months, we each went to different relatives (from my mother's side). My brother went to our grandparents in the Folsom area outside of Sacramento; two of our grandmother's sisters (and their husbands), Lucille and Dannetta, took Cheryl and myself. The youngest sister, Robyn, stayed with our mother.

Cheryl and I were adopted, each of us at age 9, and raised by our Great Aunts and Great Uncles; Cheryl living in Livermore, CA, and I in Long Beach, CA. Robyn and mom lived in Anaheim, CA. My adopted parents, Leo and Dannetta Biggs, kept in contact with the Franklins from RYV - and Susan and Brenda were frequent visitors for sleepovers at my home. The Franklins moved from RYV to Compton and later to San Pedro, where Chet Franklin Williams lives today.

My memories of RYV include a big parking lot to the right of our front door, and down several huts. There was a sidewalk running down the middle of all the huts; and RYV was a mixture of many ethnic groups. There were lots of children to play with, all the time. I also have family photos of picnics at Griffith Park; I had no idea as a child that we lived in or near Griffith Park! My world was rows and rows of quonset huts. My sister Cheryl went to school while we lived there.

My brother was the only one born while we lived there; Cheryl and Robyn were born in Portland, OR; and I was born in Port Townsend, WA; our father was in the military.

I hope I have added useful information and memories for you!

Jann (Teninty - Biggs) Lindsey


My mom lived in the Rodger Young Village for a while after her father came back from the Pacific.

The most famous (LA Times) photograph of RYV shows her with a hose, watering the yard, with the Quonset huts of her row in the background. She was facing

away from the corner where the photographer was, and didn't know the photo had been taken until it appeared in the paper. The photographer gave her the original print, which she kept until her death in 2000.

Irony:

Grampa Littlejohn was on the escort carrier USS MUNDA BAY. Rodger Young was killed in the battle to take the Japanese airfield at Munda Bay, New Georgia island, the Solomons.


Keith Wood


I was a junior in high school (1952-53) when I baby-sat for my aunt who lived in Roger Young Village. All the couples were young like my aunt and uncle (in their early to mid 20s), all had 2 or 3 kids (10 years old down). The Quonset huts were like a duplex, one 2br unit in front and the other in back. Cramped living room, kitchen dinette.

Most couples didn't have phones, phone booths were located about every three Quonset huts away. I can remember the phone booth phone ringing and many of us running out there to see if the call was for one of us. From here my aunt and uncle went to live in one of those "no down payment" tract homes in La Puente. My aunt recalls her life there (About 2 yrs) fondly.

Pat Howell


I grew up in Silverlake, attended Ivanhoe Elementary School. When I was little, our mom used to take us to the fountain (loved it), and behind it, in the forest, we would catch frogs to take home and ultimately lose!

My granpa used to hike all over GP, and would take me to Fern Dell often. It was a beautiful, silent place. I take my daughter to the pony rides and remember when I was little and "graduated" to the big ponies. We went often to the public pool and would play on the swings and roll down the big hill. One of my absolute favorite things to do was to hunt for tadpoles and junk in the L.A. River...

I miss GP.

Dana Pehrson


Some of my best memories however, are from times spent around Griffith Park. The merry-go-round, the zoo and the Observatory were my favorites. My now 36 year old son took his first steps in front of the merry-go-round while we were attending a 'Jefferson Airplane Love-in' in late 1968.

Anyone remember "Jefferson Airplane? Anyone remember "Love-Ins"?

When my youngest son (now 19) was 10, I returned to LA with him. He didn't want to go to Disneyland or the ocean first, like most kids. He wanted to see the Observatory first. We spent an entire day there seeing every exhibit and every show offered. We both loved it. It is still his favorite experience from our trip. My only disappointment was that the incredible view of the ocean, the surrounding mountains and the view of our beautiful city, that I remembered, was absent (marine layer and smog). We could faintly see the "Hollywood" sign.

Christine Gallagher


There are so many things about Griffith Park and the surrounding area to mention that it would take hours. Being 74 I have seen the park probably a lot different than people today. I have fond memories of the merry go round, zoo, riding trails and such. The LA river was not a concrete enclosure and Mrs. Brown's little stand sold the best little burger for nine cents. She was next to the bike rental.

Oh yes don't forget the spitting gorilla. They put up a shield against spitting but he would over the top and still get you. I worked at the Gladding Mc Bean prior to the service in 51 and spent many hours at the park. The park is a blessing and I would hope would be there forever.

Bernard Crozer


I moved to LA first time in 1998. I lived on Bronson Ave. by Santa Monica Blvd. Often I asked people if they knew of a dog park where I could bring my dog Rosa. And although these people had lived in Hollywood for years they could not help me out. Every day I would walk down Bronson Ave. and my wiew from there was hilltops, and the Hollywood sign.

One cloudy day, the clouds were hanging over the hilltops and I decided to drive up there, just picking any road that would bring me up and then farther up..

Finally I realized that I simply had to follow Bronson Ave. until the road ended and there it was!! The park!! Of course I fell in love with that placeand I would hike there everyday with my dog ( she loves it too ). I found a small hidden trail with a stream running along with the trail, it ended at a steep hill side and there was a waterfall. I could just sit there for hours
looking at the lizards and the hummingbirds, while my dog would enjoy the cool water.

Then some time later I found The Sunset Ranch, which is located just beneath the Hollywood sign. I started working there as a trail guide on horse. I ended up buying my horse Garth there. Now I live in Denmark, Copenhagen, and I really love it here. It is my home country and all.. but I have realized that I have to move back to LA, and I definitely have to live close to

Griffith Park again.. ride my horse there ( I brought him with me to Denmark and he's moving back to LA with me ), hike with my dog, just have good times with my friends there!

Thank's for the opportunity to share this with you. Griffith Park is a big part of my life. The park with its unique surroundings..

Gersemi Jensen


I moved to Glendale in 1946, right after the war from Newsome,Texas. We were strangers in a strange place, so we landed in a trailer park, called Joe's Auto Court at 5118 San Fernando road, Glendale. It was quite an experience. I was starting second grade at Thomas A. Edison.

Almost everyone in the park was in the same position. Everyone was using it as a starting point. The closness that we all felt as a community was something I will always remember.

One of the things I remember was walking over to Colorado Blvd., only two blocks away, which ended there at San Fernando Road and then down to the L.A. river to play in the water. At that time, there was bamboo growing
very thickly on both sides of the river, and there were hobos living here and there in the bamboo.

One day, a cowboy named Lucky Carson came to our school with his trick horse named Cisco Lady. Little was I to know then, but a few years later while I was hanging around the Pepper Tree Sheriffs Remount stable looking the horses and dreaming of riding one, there was Lucky Carson, and after talking to him for a while, he asked me if I would like to help exercise his horses. Of course I was overwhelmed and stammered yes.

Thereafter, every saturday, his wife, Florence Caglia, his real name was Lou Caglia, and I would ride the extensive trails of Griffith Park. A 13-year-old's dream come true.

With my best friend, Thommy Wilson, we would ride our bikes over to the park, up to around the merry go round, leave them lying on the grass, and hike for hours, and believe it or not the bikes would still be where we left them. Wouldn't happen today!

Thanks for a chance to relive a little bit of some wonder full memories. I've wondered many times about all those many wonderful people we knew at the auto court and how their lives evolved after the jumping off point.

Thanks, and God Bless.

Don Malone


Like one of your other contributors, my memories are not very distinctive because I was so young, during the period when my mom would bring our large families (cousins, grandparents, etc) to this wonderful place. We had so many day outings during the 50's and 60's. The memory that overwhelms me with nostalgia and longing, is that in Fern Dell, everything we touched or saw was lush with green and richness. And the peacocks! Does anyone else remember the peacocks? Thank you for this web site. I've enjoyed it so much.

Cathy Johnson


I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, about nine months after Pearl Harbor; and we came out before dad shipped out to the Pacific and remained until he and two uncles came home. We lived in Hollywood, while mom worked as a breakfast waitress at the Roosevelt and and a few other Hollywood hotels (ones where they provided rooms along with the job -- housing was virtually impossible, and a room with a forbidden hotplate for milk for the baby formula for my little sister was an unique fringe benefit for married waitresses who came out to wait during the war), dinners at a few restaurants and cocktails at a few clubs. Dad and the uncles had all come home by 1946, so in 1947 rather than buy a $1,200 G.I. financed house in the *uck* "valley" (which "everyone" knew wouldn't ever amount to anything -- or so they convinced my dad) we went back to Ohio. In 1951, dad was called back up for Korea, so we came to California again, permanently, living on Serrano near Santa Monica and Western, then up on Bronson north of Hollywood Boulevard (a scant block and a half across Gower Gulch -- the freeway wasn't paved north of Santa Monica Boulevard yet -- from Reginald Denny's great Hobby Shop) and then moving to McCadden just south of DeLongpre.

Latchkey kids were the rule in working class families back then, not an exception. There was usually a stay at home mother in the immediate neighborhood who'd check in from time to time, until one of your parents got home. You were taught to take care of yourself and your younger siblings and not get in trouble. You'd be told to call mom or dad at work if it was important enough whether the boss liked it or not. A unionized tradesman or waitress who grew up or lived through the depression could always find another job in the 1950s; and sometimes after the job steward suggested he or she might have to call the business agent and hold a "safety meeting" while they waited for the agent to arrive that wasn't necessary after all.

From about age eight I and my sister, a year younger, regularly spent most of our summer vacation days in Griffith Park, usually hiking up Western to Ferndell early in the morning, poking through the museum, drinking water at the artesian well, trying to catch the crawfish with string and little bits of raw bacon (we'd succeed, but have to throw them back after mom made it clear there was never going to be a crawdad boil in her kitchen). We'd then hike up to the Observatory, and hit all the little side trails to here and there, and sometimes just plunge into the brush and walk to wherever the fancy of our internal compasses led us. We discovered the Cave, and another cave no one seems to mention anymore, and a lot of other attractions, including once, a rattlesnake, which we ran from terrified and never told mom or dad.

There were deer, rabbits, coyotes, all manner of birds, lizards, and, very occasionally, what we thought were "bobcats," often quite a ways off. When mom had a weekday off, we'd pile into her car very often, put the canvas top down in good weather, and head up to the zoo, or the pony rides or the miniature train; or over to the pool on Riverside Drive; and when we had a morning's fill of that, we'd meet her buddies somewhere, we'd picnic, or she'd drive up to the golf course clubhouse and meet and picnic, and they'd go play their regular eight holes, after finding something for us to do. I'm not sure it was Amir's garden -- because I haven't been there in at least forty-five years, and never knew it had a name; but often they'd drop us off to amuse ourselves (with the usual injunctions about not wandering off, and not speaking to strangers, etc.) at a beautiful little patch where an old man to whom we'd been introduced frequently could be seen tending his plants. We'd look at the flowers, ask him what they were if he didn't look too busy, watch the butterflies, etc., and wait for "golfer mom" and her buddies to come pick us up, and drop us home.

After a while, mom owned a little restaurant named the Cameo Room in East Hollywood in partnership with two men (a chef and a bartender). They'd play golf between lunch and dinner, all summer. And probably plan the menu, and decide whatever else needed deciding, while they played.

When we got older, we'd still spend an awful lot of time in Griffith Park. Bicycles got us over by our own motive power to Travel Town and the Pony Ride areas and the area around the Greek. Heck, we'd bicycle all the way out Santa Monica to the beach if we felt like it.

We went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Grammar School on Santa Monica Boulevard, east of Normandie, then Bancroft after we moved to McCadden, then after another move over to near the Sanborn Junction to Thomas Starr King for a year for my sister and to Marshall for me, then both of us, until I graduated in 1960, and enlisted.

As teenagers, we'd pile into someone's car, and drive all over the park, picnic or whatever; and before the LAPD really cracked down enforcing park hours, it contained all manners of secluded parking spaces after a double date. A lot of us first learned to drive on the road through Griffith Park. There was so little traffic you'd rarely meet or overtake another car, and the Observatory Parking Lot was perfect for starting out, and usually quite empty in the late weekday afternoon. Keys to the gates around the Greek were a black market item; the Marshall Cross Country team ran the trails up there for practice every day during the fall season; and someone had to have a key to make their entry possible, and lock up afterwards -- coaches don't always get there before the boys, so copies somehow got made, and "free" concerts at the Greek were available if you wanted to be one of the infamous "tree people," and we often were.

Yes, I've seen the Los Feliz fountain when someone dropped soap into it. It was a tradition around the first week of December (schools graduated classes on the half year as well as annually, then) and the first week June for someone from every Marshall graduating class to do exactly that -- and someone grossly overdid it in my graduating class. Soap bubbles all the way across the intersection and traffic stalled for quite some time the afternoon of June 6, 1960. The LAPD were said to have been displeased.

I've always loved the area. Years later I sent my daughter to Immaculate Heart Middle and High School, just south of Ferndell, until she got tired of the daily commute from Santa Monica and conspired with her mother to transfer to a much inferior school where there were [expletive deleted] boys.


David M. Silver
"The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!"
--Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA '29 (1907-88)
Lt. (jg), USN, Ret'd


Thank you for your informative article about Mount Hollywood.I have lived in Texas for the past 8 years but grew up in Southern California. My sister, my dog and I would make the Mt. Hollywood hike several times a year. My dog turned 10 this year, and I turned, well, older, so we drove back to L.A. over the Memorial Day weekend so we could make that trek one more time before any of us is too old. The trek up was as tough as I remembered, but the view still made it worthwhile.

We must go up an odd way, because no one mentions starting near the driving range, and getting a respite up and down at the beautiful Amir's Garden. I think we bumped into Amir one day years ago as he was tending to his many flowers.

Ann Fowler


Thank you, Griffith Park.

I grew up in Silverlake. Griffith Park was five minutes away by car, ten minutes by bike.

My earliest memories are of the pony rides, Travel Town, and the merry-go-round. My first trips to the observatory were on a yellow school bus, from Ivanhoe elementary school. Ten years later, the merry-go-round would become the scene of our local version of the "love-in," meaning free concerts with flower children dancing around. These lasted long past their prime.

I see Councilman Tom LaBonge featured on this web site. I grew up with Tom and his family of eight boys on Panorama Terrace. He was my best friend from ages 5 to 11. I must have been about 5 or 6 when the older brothers locked Bobby LaBonge in the trunk and we drove to Crystal Springs to play ball.

I learned to swim at the Griffith Park pool. After our lessons, we would wade in the muck of the Los Angeles River. I don't know why we never got tired of collecting toads. I remember one occasion when Tom LaBonge and I tossed some toads into the open windows of a yellow school bus. The bus driver stopped the bus, chased us down, and marched us into the nearest authority. That was the Parks and Recreation employee at the playground at the corner of Los Feliz and Riverside. Fortunately for us, the employee was Rory Fitzpatrick, who was an older boy who lived on our street, and is Tom LaBonge's current right hand man. I trust that this story is way too old to be a political scandal for Tom and Rory now.

When they were building the Los Feliz Estates, Tom would stand on Los Feliz Boulevard for hours, tugging at an imaginary air horn handle, which signaled the truck drivers to honk their horns for him.

When I started junior high at Thomas Starr King, I became friends with graduates of Los Feliz elementary. The Los Feliz kids used the park as their back yard. Some of the best times of my life were the weekend days we spent running all over the park on those trails. We loved the Bronson caves, where we play acted as if we were in some of the movies filmed there. We always seemed to end up at the Observatory at one point or another. We would descend by skiing off the steep cliff next to the Observatory parking lot, using imaginary ski poles and jumping about ten feet down with each turn. This was possible because the gardeners tossed their grass clippings over the edge, which piled up like powdery Rocky Mountain snow.

My first job was as an usher at the Greek Theater. It must have been the summer of about 1970. I remember the Temptations, Linda Ronstadt, Andy Williams, and Englebert Humperdink. We had been watching the shows from the trees, and now I got paid for watching.

In high school, the trail to Mount Hollywood was a popular mini-vacation. We didn't need to go very far to feel like we were above it all.

One of my buddies, now a zookeeper, fell in love with the Griffith Park zoo, and would go every day after school to spend time with his animal friends. I joined him many times, and remember the zoo at closing time being an enchanting place, not at all the same as with the crowds in the heat of day.

I learned to play golf at the nine hole course, Roosevelt.

I always strongly recommend to any out of town visitors that they climb to the top of Mount Hollywood to see the 360 degree view of the entire L.A. basin. At the very least, they have to go to the Observatory to look out over the City and get their bearings.

Thanks again, Griffith Park.

David S. Brown


I clearly remember the Wednesday I discovered Griffith Park in the summer of 1990. It was my first month living in LA. I was riding my bicycle trying to get to the strange looking building atop the mountain (the Observatory) that I could see from my balcony in Vermont Ave. Shortly after I entered through Vermont & Los Feliz Blvd., I was surprised to find what to me was a small forest in the middle of the city. I reached the Observatory and I was enjoying the view and being so close to the iconic Hollywood sign, but I could feel that there was more to explore and see.

I explored all the hilly roads until I finally arrived to the other side, at Riverside Dr. It was right there, in front of the ranger station, when I heard the loud voices screaming ON YOUR LEFT!, in a split second I was engulfed by this huge group of bicyclist, racing the Wednesday Training Ride at Griffith Park. For the next two years, I joined the Wednesday Night Bike Rite, for me, the best way to enjoy the cool breeze and the warm sun in Griffith Park was riding the Wednesday Ride. I became an amateur bicycle racer, the Griffith Park experience expanded to the rest of Southern California, racing every weekend from Santa Barbara to San Diego and points in between.

In Griffith Park I also meet one of my best friends and bike buddy, we trained and raced countless hours around the flats and hills of this beautiful park.

The time came for me to pack my bike and move far away from my beloved park, friends and rides.

It was with great pain when I left, so much, that before leaving, I drove early morning to the park and buried a bicycle fork in my favorite place and made an oath to come back some day and take it back.

Two weeks ago that day finally came. I visited again Griffith Park, The bright blue sky and deep greens of the park surpassed the ones on my memory.

I was saddened to find out that the authorities no longer permitted bicyclist to do training rides in the park. I wondered what happened to all the racers who trained there, how many generations of racers had Griffith Park nurtured?

It was a very pleasant surprise to find a Griffith Observatory Home Page (http://www.GriffithObs.org/) and find out about all the people who have enjoyed the park so much as I did.

Thanks!

Adolfo Isassi F.


Before the freeway was built along side of Griffith Park, my Great Grandfather was the engineer for the railroad near the Los Feliz Boulevard entrance to the park. My grandfather's name was Pat (Gucky) Southern, and he loved his job. He used to let my mom on occasion, drive the engine sitting on his lap, and my aunt would sell the tickets and call the trains.

I have a whole photo album that one of my great grandfather's coworkers and friends put together for him. I now have it and cherish it. In the album are pictures of the 1/5 scale train that show my grandfather driving the engine throuh various areas of the layout.

It used to have a bigger layout that included a special train and area for birthday parties. It was called the Hobo Junction Special. It went into the hobo jungle, on a seperate track for a one hour party.

Now, there are two different trains there, sadly. The old one was shipped to Isreal as a gift to their country's leader. I have an old photo showing the end of the track where the freeway was to be, and I have an article about my great grandfather loading the train onto the truck.

After riding the train a couple years ago and looking at the photos in my great grandfather's album, it makes me realize how much Griffith Park has changed and how different the newer train is. The old engine shed, yard, maintenience, and station are gone, but that little piece of history still lives in my heart.

Bret Checketts


I used to hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood, straight up the ridge from the Observatory, in about 17 minutes 3 or 4 times aweek during the late 60's.

There was rarely anyone on the top during the week. Mostly I'd sit alone and look out over the city of 2.5 million, alone on my mountain. A few old men might be at Dante's View (east of the peak) or Captain's Roost (to the west). The top was completely barren then, just leveled, sloping north, down toward the road.

Twice, on exceptionally clear days, I was able to see Santa Barbara Island. Many times during the 5 year period I would see Catalina and San Clemente Islands.

Nick Nelson


I have an old tintype somewhere showing Griffith Griffith and my grandfather Fred Eaton at Santa Monica Pier in front of the old Merry Go Round there, made near the turn of the century.

My grandfather was involved in most of early Los Angeles' early developement, was (I believe) its first city engineer, mayor at the turn of the century and the actual originator of the Owens Valley water project. Mulholland had been his protegee, long before they fell out. That is another story, often told inaccurately.

Fred Eaton had been interested in the water available in the San Fernando Valley even before his interest in the Owens Valley. My father Harold once told me that whenever he visited girl friends in the valley he had been instructed to measure the water levels in the wells at the ranches he was visiting and so report them to his father. It was also my father's version that Griffith had been urged by Fred Eaton to donate the land to the city not so much in his mind as a park but because the land represented the last major riparian right to the water in Los Angeles River (most of which apparently ran underground).

John Eaton


I certainly remember Rodger Young Village, though because I was very young at the time (born 1949),the memories are hardly distinct.

I was only 3 or 4 years old when we left Rodger Young Village, yet I always remembered some things about the place: the quonset huts with little almost-porches in front and almost front yards beyond that.

I remember a neighbor woman who had a pet turtle. I was so small at the time that it seemed like quite something to be able to outrace the turtle around the little porch.

Later I recall my parents being very embarrassed at having lived at the village, and we were forbidden to mention it to anyone; but I remembered only being content there, and many decades later, when I asked my mother about it, she agreed that those had been the happiest years for her as well.

I had almost forgotten Rodger Young Village by the time of my young adulthood when one day, driving along the Golden State freeway, I felt a strange magnetism. Geting off the freeway and onto the surface streets, I found my way to the Mulholland Fountain and the memories of sitting at that fountain on summer nights with its ever-changing rainbow-pure colors enchanting all of us washed over me.

A magical time in my memory, and a reminder that material posessions and happiness are linked hardly at all.

Glenn Andrews
<glennone@earthlink.net>

I would be happy to hear from others who remember Rodger Young Village


My main memory or Griffith Park was made when my father took me to the zoo in the late 1940's or early 50's. There was a small (for the size of the animal inside) free standing cage. As a young child the gorilla inside looked very large. Fascinated with the idea of being so close to a wild, jungle animal, I started to walk up to the cage when my father reached out to pull me back. Alas, it was too late. The gorilla spit with excellent aim right at me.

The observatory is another place I visited several times; on school and Girl Scout field trips, and with my family. The main entry with the round "pit" containing the clock made of the large ball on the end of a cable cord and the pegs around it, always kept our attention, as we'd stand there watching the pegs fall. I guess it didn't take much to entertain us. And we loved going into the dome where you were able to sit and watch the constellations appear on the ceiling. Besides being dark and cool it gave us a chance to rest after so much walking.

Marcy


You have nothing in your page about Amir's Garden... It's my favorite place at Griffith Park. The first time I went I happened upon it by accident. My friends and I were wandering along and saw a trail that seemed attatched to a strange, random staircase, which we followed around and hiked up some brush to another staircase, and at the top we found what appeared to be a rest stop on the horse train and some picnic benches and the "Amir's Garden" sign. We stayed up there all day, it was so gorgeous.

Years later I found out that my biology professor helped plant it when he was in college, way back when. I haven't been back since but I know I could find it if I went in. Maybe some day I'll take some pictures and send them to you for an "Amir's Garden" link.

There were people barbequeing in the area so I know we weren't the only ones who've heard of it.

Thanks.

Lisa DelaRosa


Growing up in the 70's in and around LA, Glendale & South Bay Area, My Great-Grandmother and my Aunt lived in a house just on the other side of the park. From their backyard you can look down through the trees and across the street see the little train going around the park.

Growing up in the 70's with no money, the park was an endless adventure that was affordable. My brother Gary was about 9 and I was 12. On a typical summer morning (we stayed during the days at my Great Grandmother's) we would start our daily journey by walking down to the pony ride. We would look to see if any pony tickets were lying around the abandoned area where the tickets would be taken in a few hours. We usually found about 4 tickets each, we would then put the tickets in our pockets for use later that day. From there we would go to the train station and do the same thing, look for dropped tickets, sure enough there were usually a few to be found for each of us.

From there we would either start our daily adventure by walking down to the LA River or start on one of the horse trails leading to a 3 Par golf course (which has been deserted since about 1980 and unrecognizable as a golf course now, except for the old Clubhouse which still stands to this day and is used by Graffiti artists, taggers and sometimes homeless people. (Editor's Note: The former Coolidge Golf Course has been renovated and reopened as the Marty Tregnan Golf Academy.) At the Golf course's west perimeter there was a stream, that presently still runs through the park, though not all year long depending on the year's rainfall. In that stream we would collect lost golf balls and sell them to golfers on the course.

Next was usually a hike to somewhere in the park, some days to the old original L.A. Zoo site with the old style animal cages with the thick steel bars on one side and rock caves on the other. Some days we went to one of the picnic tabled gardens that still are there today high in the hills. Other days we went wading in the LA River then going and cleaning off the algae in the Muholland Memorial Fountain, before going back to Grandma's house.

Fast forward to the 90's. My brother and I still enjoy the park on occasion, now days as renegade mountain bikers (biking is not allowed on the horse trails.) I would like to point out though as a renegade mountain biker on the trail I always am aware of the horses on the trail and never speed past them, either walk my bike past them or coast at a hikers pace past them. Occasionally a horse rider makes a comment to us or whomever we are riding with that, "Bike riding is not allowed". More often than not these horse riders have a dog with them unleased, oh well! Live and let live! I usually ignore these comments and go about my enjoyment of the sights and atmosphere of the park. I might pass hikers coming up the hill as I go down the hill and hear comments like, "Those guys are crazy" as we manuever our bikes down the trail.

Mike


I grew up in the Los Feliz hills beneath the Observatory, and spent my afternoons creating new trails and hide-outs off the beaten paths. As a child I enjoyed many Sundays riding the train, the ponies, and the Merry-Go-Round, and swimming in the public pool, which was accross the street from the fountain at Los Feliz Blvd. and Riverside Drive.

My favorite memories were of wading in the Los Angeles River. In the early 50's there were no fences and no concrete. I could just walk down to the river, which was more like a creek, and would bring home pollywogs and baby frogs. That was the best!

I also remember frequent fires in the hills, almost every other summer.

There was a large stable on Riverside Drive, just south of Los Feliz, where I used to ride.

Thanks for the website.

Darlene Lancer


I grew up in the Los Angeles area and attended Los Angeles High School and Los Angeles City College. My parents and their siblings often speak with fond remembrance of the times they spent living in the Rodger Young Village. I have heard numerous stories of the life styles back then and thought about putting together some articles and pictures about the Village for the family. Alas, I have not been able to locate much information.

By the way, they claim that living in the Village was the best time they ever spent together. They recall that this was the only time that everyone was socially and economically the same. That is, families living in the Village.

I have even been shown the exact spot in the Zoo parking lot where their hut once stood. This place burned an everlasting memory in all of their minds and I only wish I could find out more about this unique situation.

Mike Matsumoto


Griffith Park - My Home Away from Home

My grandmother had always lived on Arbolada Road - less than 1/4 mile from Griffith Park, overlooking the "Fountain" as we called it. Our house was built in 1921 and was the typical Spanish Mediterranean style of the area. My grandmother used to tell me that she moved in when they used to have horses down where the Fountain now is. And there were no apartments on Los Feliz Boulevard. When I was about 7 years old, my mother and I moved in with my grandmother and I lived there until I was in my 20s. Griffith Park was my back yard.

Today it is raining and I'm having a bad day. So I called an old friend to cheer me up. She left me a voice mail asking me if I remembered the days when we used to hike up to the top of the "beacon". (Thats the most eastern hill that juts up from the 5 freeway.) Our shoes would weigh10 lbs each by the time we finally got back home - from the weight of the mud when it was raining. She said it just felt like one of those days. This brought back a flood of memories. So I surfed the net and found your site. Its a great site, but it needs more pictures!

I have many, many memories of the park. Mostly from the 60-70-80s while I was growing up. I went to Ivanhoe Elementary and John Marshall (where else?). Some of my best memories are:

The pony rides - as a matter of fact, I just took my daughter there when I was up in LA at Christmas time (the Merry-Go-Round too).

Hiking from the Beacon to the Observatory along the ridges. Sometimes not following a trail - ouch!

Fern Dell Park (when it was beautiful and green with fish in the little creek!).

Girl scout campouts at Crystal Springs.

Watching Bob Dylan, the Talking Heads, and many other bands from the trees up above the Greek Theater. Hiking in from the end of Dundee Drive and being chased by the security guards!

Parking at the top of Commonwealth Ave. at night - park where the gate closes, and hike up along the trail to the left and sit up on the golf course at night watching all the lights and hanging out with friends.

Horseback riding everywhere from Burbank to the stables in Atwater.

Exploring the "old zoo" (kind of creepy) up behind the Merry-Go-Round.

Hiking from the end of Griffith Park Blvd. up to the top of the Beacon. The little river that used to run behind the golf course there. In the summer it was always 20° cooler there than anywhere else in LA.

The "Forest". That was the large green grassy area that was secluded behind the Fountain and surrounded by trees. Of course, its no longer there. It was a magical place. There were also secret tunnels running through the bushes that surrounded the Fountain.

Musicians in the park - the drummers that sit around where the Merry-Go-Round area is. The song "Saturday -In the Park" always reminded me of that.

The smell of the park - the wonderful mixture of smells: chaparral, golf course and pine trees.. No other smell like it in the world.

Of course - Laserium in the 70s ? need I say more?

Dantes View above the Observatory. Wonderful peaceful place.

Mineral Wells, I used to see deer there if you sit quietly and no ones around.

Hiking from the Greek Theater on the trail that goes east up through pine trees through the canyon. Great views.

Griffith Park Pool in the Summer. Mom used to give me $.50 a day, every day - .25 for entry to the pool and .25 for a snack from the snack stand.

Literally rolling down the hills where the play ground and tennis courts are.

Bronson Caves and the Tree House (dont remember where that even was, somewhere near the caves, but I can't remember.)

Lake Hollywood - trying to get exercise and run around the entire thing. Up above the lake there used to be a place where you could drive your car (4x4) and there was a really big tree with a rope swing on it. That was great.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Park. When I go visit friends up in LA, I make it a point to drive through every time. Just to smell the smell.

Thanks for letting me take a trip down memory lane. Keep up the good work on your site and Ill check back again sometime.

Janette Snaders Lundgren
A Los Feliz girl at heart


Oh, yes...I remember the Rodger Young Village. My parents and I lived in the Silverlake area. My Dad worked at the Union Bank and Trust Company at 8th and Hill. Another banker built a home "way out" in Burbank, right near the Pickwick Stables. Everyone made fun of him for moving so far away from work. But, we'd go visit them often, usually on Sunday. We'd drive out Riverside Drive which was between Griffith Park and the L.A. River. One day, when the war was over and the housing was limited, they put a bunch of quonset huts together in Griffith Park, and families (mostly with husbands returning from overseas) set up housekeeping there. At least it gave me something to look at during the ride. I do remember going inside one once, but I don't remember how or why. After they had served their usefulness, they were removed.

Joy Wyse


Interesting site!

I lived in Rodger Young Village. All the homes were Quonset huts, cut in half. Each half, front and rear housed a family. Our bath tub was a metal wash tub on the front lawn as I remember it. This was in the early 50's, about 1953.

I don't know how many square feet each section (home) was, but it couldn't have been very large. We had 4 children (me included) and my parents. Who knew!

Skip Schembari


Greetings....I visited the park many times in the 1940s and 1950s, and always enjoyed the beautiful Fern Dell; a perfect photo op spot for teens, before traveling on up to the Observatory. I can remember coming from San Bernardino High School by bus on my first visit in 1939-1940. I want to visit again and show my daughter lovely Fern Dell.

Barbara in Yucaipa


I grew up on Garden Street in Glendale (1940s). On the other side of the street was a big park which was part of GP at that time. As a kid we used to play in the L.A. River in its natural state before it was all cemented in. We could walk under the bridge of Riverside Drive and get to the park on the other side which had pecan trees. I visited Roger Young Village when my aunt and uncle were housed there with the US Navy. They lived in a Quonset hut and we used to go to the movies there. Went to camp at what was then GP Girls Camp - later it became GP Boys camp and my brothers went to that. I was a junior counselor at Hollywoodland and we took kids on hikes into GP. We went to the Observatory, the Zoo, and Travel Town a lot and years later took our kids there. We used to go for family drives in the early evenings to see the deer on the golf courses. Much of our family times were tied to GP., the Merry-Go-Round, tennis courts, picnic grounds, nine hole golf course. Lots of memories...

Jill


I remember living there in the early 1950's with my parents. I went to the 3rd grade in the village. As I recall there were two families sharing a quonset hut. I remember an archery range that was not too far from us. I can remember one of the huts that was used as a store caught on fire inside.

I have no fond memories living in Rodger Young Village.

Frank


I grew up in Los Angeles (born in Queen of Angels receiving hospital in 1942) and have memories of many things in Griffith Park since the late 1940's.

I fell across a Japanese-American picnic about 1950, when Japanese memories were still strong of the internment the community had endured during WWII. Half of the folks at the picnic shared their soft drinks and ice cream with us and the other half told us to beat it.

Camped out, with friends, in Griffith Park when I was 9-12 years old.

Went to Griffith Park camp when I was 10.

Was at a Boy Scouts camp in Griffith Park when I was 11-14.

Rode the rides, rode the small trains, rode the horses, ran cross country there during high school (Belmont and Fairfax), picniked there with my mother in early 1950's, with my first wife in 1970's, took girlfriends there in between.

Been through the Observatory many times (retracing "Rebel without a Cause").

Ray Bacon
Sacramento, California


My name is Ron Titensor. I spent a lot of my childhood in and around Griffith Park. When I was four, my mother divorced my dad. My mother and I then moved in with my grandmother in her apartment on the north-east corner of Franklin and Alexandria. We lived there until I was 17. We then moved to the corner of Los Feliz and Lowery Rd.

I attended Los Feliz Elementary School. During those early years, my mother and I would spend many hours in the park. She would take me to plays at the Greek Theater, or just day hikes on one of the many trails. When my father would visit, he would often take me for a walk in Ferndell, or to the zoo. I got my first driving lesson in the park when I was about eleven, in a '41 Buick.

I got my first bicycle around 1946, a Monarch. I would spend many hours riding around the neighborhood with my friend Ray, who lived just north of me where Alexandria and Mariposa join. As we got older, our riding distances got longer. Of course our parents had no idea how far we would ride. We had set our limit at Los Feliz and Western, but that didn't last. The draw of Ferndell just across the street was a magnet. Our mothers would watch us like hawks, so we devised a plan: I would ride up to Ray's house. Ray and I would ride around to Mariposa and out of sight of our mothers, then south to Hollywood Blvd. If our mothers were watching, it would look as though we were staying in the neighborhood. When we got to Hollywood, we would cruise the alleys and parking lots for pop bottles. We would take the bottles to the Safeway grocery on Hollywood and Kenmore, cash them in and buy a handful of Abba-Zabba bars.

Since we were so close, we would usually ride next-door to see what Max Balchowsky was working on. Max built a series of sports cars he dubbed Ol' Yaller. After we wore out our welcome with Max and his wife Ina, we would head west to Normandie Ave. We then headed north on Normandie, past Franklin, up through Laughlin Park to DeMille Drive, and to Los Feliz Blvd. Then it was down hill to Western, and up into Ferndell. We would ride the trail along the stream, often seeing other kids fishing for crawfish. At the north side of the stream was a snack bar where we would get a pop and eat our Abba-Zabbas.

Then it was off toward the planetarium. We started riding the road, having to traverse the lanes, since we only had single speed bikes. Eventually we would ride the horse trails, especially if it was a week day, and there weren't other people around. The ride back down on the horse trails is probably more fun than the average twelve year old is allowed to have. Those balloon tired bikes were fast on the downhill.

As we got older, even the planetarium lost its hold as a limit. By the time we were thirteen or fourteen, we would ride down the backside to Travel Town. I'm not sure if it was Ray's idea or mine, but one day we struck out from Travel Town to the L.A. River. We rode the river back to Los Feliz Blvd, washed our faces in the fountain, then headed up the long climb of Los Feliz. (Do you remember ever seeing the fountain after someone poured soap into it?) One day that still sticks in my memory; we arrived back in our neighborhood a bit late, bicycles covered in mud. Our mothers asked where we had been. "Oh, just riding around." It would be another ten years before my mother would know how far we had been riding.

When I was fourteen or fifteen, I had a paper route for the Citizen News. My manager was Frank Weeks. I earned enough that spring to buy a Whizzer motor bike. I rode that motor bike all over the park.

I also attended Le Conte Junior High and Hollywood High. I graduated from high school in 1958.

I attended L.A. Valley College for a year, then dropped out for a while to work. Later I would attend Pasadena City College to study industrial design.

You mentioned Roger Young Village. I was still quite young, but as I recall, It was built after the war as low income housing. It was located on the east side of the park. I think I-5 now occupies the same space.

During the fifties, a few teenage hot-rod movies were filmed in the park. One film that comes to mind is 'Dragstrip Girl' with Fay Spain and Tommy Ivo. I watched the filming of one of these movies while on one of my Whizzer rides in the park.

Ron Titensor, Bellingham, WA


Hello - My parents, my brother and myself moved into the RYV (Rodger Young Village) just after WWII due to the lack of suitable, affordable housing in L.A. My stepfather had been in the U.S. Army stationed at Minter Field in Shafter, CA all during the war. He played trombone in the marching band. We lived in army housing there from 1942 to 1945 when he was discharged. After first going to less-than-adequate goverment housing in Wilmington, CA, we felt so fortunate to relocate to RYV in "the Park". We were all so happy to get away from the central valley's heat and tule fog. Our quonset hut was small, but cozy. My mother had an artistic flair and did a more than passable job of decorating it on our tiny budget. I was 10 yrs. old at the time. We lived in "the Village" until 1948 when we were able to house-sit in Burbank for a friend going to Venezuela to work. We subsequently were able to purchase one of the small homes in Panorama City's second housing tract near Woodman and Roscoe Blvds.

I attended the Village's elementary school and then went on to be bused to LeConte Jr. High in Hollywood. The Village had all the amenities, such as a barber shop, hardware store, grocery store, movie theater, pharmacy, etc. There was a communal laundry area where I would help my mother guide our laundry through the wooden rollers. I seem to remember her using a long stick to work the clothes around in the washing tub.

As the more employable denizens of the village began to find good jobs and housing, those of us not so lucky remained and as time wore on, the quality of life there became less comfortable. But, I do remember walking to the old Zoo and how lucky my stepdad felt to be able to play golf in the park.

I have great nostalgia for my times there and can even remember some of the lyrics of "The Ballad of Private Rodger Young".

Thanks for listening to my memories.

Judy Castle


After World War II my family, consisting of my parents,and two younger sisters moved from Boston to Los Angeles. We lived in a Veterans dormitory in Downtown L.A, until a Quonset hut was available in July 1946. We moved to Rodger Young Village and I attended elementary school there. We had many activities and great recreational facilities. My friends and myself would hike up to the Merry-Go-Round, and also watched many movies being filmed in Griffith Park. We loved to watch the horses and riders on the bridle trails behind the village.

My mother fixed our "hut" up so cute that the Los Angeles Examiner had a photo layout and article about the village and our Quonset hut in particular. I have many fond memories of Griffith Park and Rodger Young Village.

Joyce Williams


My earliest recollections of Griffith Observatory are that of my many family outings as a child with my parents. It was the mid 1960s. I was fascinated by the interactive exhibits that demonstrated the planetary movements, and showed how electricity worked. And who could forget the giant pendulum that greeted you as you came through the front door?

All of this was just a teaser to keep you entertained as you bought your tickets and waited for the next planetarium show. Every trip to the planetarium was a new experience, since shows were always updated to keep timely with the seasonal night sky. Having grown up in Reseda, and attending Bertrand Ave Elementary School, we were treated to a field trip to the planetarium

As I grew older, the Observatory never became dull. During High School, in the 1970s, it was a cool place to take a date. There were laser light shows along with the planetarium show. And let's face it, it was easier to "get lucky" under the stars!

I moved away from the LA area after high school. I came back to visit my old stomping grounds sometime during the 1980's, but the Observatory was closed for remodeling and repairs. I was disappointed. But In 1994 I had a chance to take my 11-year-old son to the Griffith Observatory and share the same excitement of looking at the interactive exhibits, and waiting in line to grab our seat behind the "giant ant" looking star projector. As the house lights dimmed, and we looked at the "sky", I know my son felt the same way I had 30 years earlier in the very same seats. My son has since grown and moved to another state, but that memory stays with me always.

Thanks for a great site.

Mike Bradley



Please keep the memories coming. I'd like to see this page grow long and rich with anecdotes.