I grew up in the Midwick Tract in Alhambra, California.
The land started out as the Midwick Country Club and Polo Grounds, a prestigious location in Los Angeles County where movie stars, politicians, and royalty, including King Edward of England, played golf and polo.
Films, like the original Robin Hood, were filmed on the polo grounds.
The Great Depression affected the club because fewer people could afford to frequent it. When the owners defaulted on a loan, Dominic Jebbia bought the property. In 1944, the clubhouse burned down, so Mr. Jebbia subdivided the acreage and sold it to a real estate developer. He donated part of the land to Los Angeles County for Granada Park and created a housing tract on the rest.
Returning WWII veterans bought most of the houses for their families. All the streets were named after famous golfers.
My family bought one of the houses in the first phase and moved in during the fall of 1948 when I was two years old. Our house was on Hathaway Avenue. Larry’s family bought on Hitchcock Drive in the second phase and arrived when he was five.
Our house was situated where the golf course had previously stood. We occasionally found golf balls in the neighborhood.
Midwick was the perfect place to grow up. Nearly all the mothers were housewives and stayed at home all day. The downside was we couldn’t get away with anything. The minute we did something wrong, our mothers knew before we arrived home.
The upside was the number of kids our age in the neighborhood. We never lacked for friends.
Just on our end of the street lived another girl my age, one a year older, one a year younger, and another two years older. Kathleen and I became blood sisters. We both had younger brothers and wanted a sister. She was the maid of honor at my wedding, and nine months later, she asked me to be the matron of honor at hers. When we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary in September, my ‘sis’ was there to deliver a speech.
Boys around our age joined us to play games during the summer. We roller skated on the sidewalks, rode our bikes to the park (more about that next week), and played all summer at one another’s houses.
I’ve stayed in touch with many of the neighborhood ‘kids’ over the years. Quite a few are my friends on Facebook.
We had no need for block parents because we always had adults around in case of problems. During the summer, we played outside until dark when a parent finally summoned one of us home and our play ceased. This was a time and place that seemed safe. We hung out in groups and never got into serious trouble.
I am very grateful to have been raised in this special neighborhood with wonderful people.
Next week, I’ll talk about Granada Park, the major hangout for all the kids who lived in the tract.