Remembering the 1930s in the Greater West Adams Neighborhood

Turning the calendar back 80 years to the 1930’s, it’s been a joy to reflect on my early years in our house on West Blvd, (just north of Washington).


DecnazalieIt was a quiet, safe and friendly neighborhood. No gangs, no drugs. Houses were not surrounded by fences. Streets were not lined with cars – or dotted with trash.

We neighborhood kids went to one another’s houses. We played together – kick the can, hide and seek, and we climbed the tree in my backyard and sat on the roof of the garage and ate loquats off the tree, tossing down the seeds.

On Sundays we walked to the Presbyterian Church at the corner of Washington and West Boulevards. Small family owned stores lined the Boulevard.

The Metro Theater is where we went on Saturdays to the matinee – for ten cents. Sutro Seyler Studio was just beyond the Venice Blvd. bridge, where my brother, Aram, and I took piano lessons from Mr. Seyler.

To the south the Yellow streetcar ran on Washington and to the north on Venice Boulevard was the red car – fare, ten cents. The conductor always ding dinged before he took off. The “big” Red Car went from downtown to Venice Beach. Truly, “growing up days” in a loving home, in a carefree and happy environment, bring back many happy memories.

Alta Loma Elementary School was only 4 blocks from my house and all of us kids in the neighborhood walked to school together. Although my early school years are a bit cloudy, I do remember that we had reading circles according to our ability, standing at the blackboard and writing the times tables. At recess we played kickball, dodge ball, circle games and we had a great playground equipment, like swings, rings and acting bars. I do not recall fighting on the playground.

Our report cards gave a good picture of our progress. From 1932 to 1935 we were graded on Citizenship, which included 5 areas – Obedience, Dependableness, Courtesy, Cleanliness, and Thrift. Under Scholarship the classes included Effort, Reading, English Expression (Geography, History, Civics) Music, Orchestra, Art, Physical Ed, Nature Study, Manual Training, Home Economics (sewing, cooking).

After school we loved going across the street to the little market filled with all kinds of candy and goodies. Bubble gum sold for a penny, but my favorites were Necco Wafers and Honey Comb for a nickel. Years later, Mr. Basmajian bought the store and his sons Norman and Bobby attended Alta Loma. Norman is here with us today.DecnazalieColor

There are four of us who are lifetime friends. We went through Alta Loma, Mount Vernon and L.A. High School together and we are still “in touch” and very dear friends: Gladys Fricke, Mildred Masters and Charlotte Izmirian.

If I were to choose one word to sum up Alta Loma years and life itself, it would be Gratitude. Gratitude to God, my parents, my teachers, my classmates, and all those who have become part of my life during these 80 plus years. 

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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