Friday, January 29, 2016

Childhood Memories of the Midwick Tract



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.

19 comments:

  1. Though I grew up in Los Angeles, I never felt unsafe. I walked to grammar school and junior high--and even sometimes to high school over the hill where there were no houses, but usually took a bus then the streetcar. Like you, we played outside all the time or visited at friends, or in my case, I'd ride my bike and find a nice lawn with a tree in someone's front yard and settle down for an afternoon of reading and writing. My mother never knew where I was.

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    1. Our mothers never knew where we were, either, and they never worried. Unfortunately, that way of life seems to be gone, and it's very sad.

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    2. I BELIEVE THAT THE BATTLE SCENEWS FROM,"THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON", WERE SHOT THERE.

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    3. i believe you're right. Quite a few moview were filmed there.

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  2. I have so many fond memories of growing up on Roark Drive. It was the best!!

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    1. Nancy Stephenson Jumper not unknown!😉

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    2. I think we all have wonderful memories!

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  3. Thanks, Lorna, for memories of what also was my childhood home. Another factor in our good behavior was that many of the dads in Midwick were LAPD officers! There were three on our street alone. Many other dads (and a few moms) worked for nearby C.F. Braun & Co., oil refinery engineers. In the early years Braun also had a manufacturing plant on its property with a loud whistle that blew at 7:30 each morning summoning the workers. I could hear the whistle at our house on Electric Ave. and it was my signal to get up and get ready for school! I'm looking forward to your chapter on Granada Park, one of our favorite hang-outs in those days.


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    1. Nice reflections, Lorna. We moved to Midwick in 1959 - first we rented on Siwanoy and then bought our house on Baltusrol. Both of these street names are names of famous golf courses. It was a great place to live!

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    2. The idea for these blogs actually started with thoughts of the park where all the kids from Marguerita, Fremont, and St. Thomas More hung out.

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  4. It is always fun to reminisce about our childhoods in that neighborhood! We moved into our house on Whitney Dr. when I was four years old. We had the Larson family on one side and the Campbell family on the other. I was the only kid in our family until my sister, Chris, was born 6 years later. Two years and then four years later we had two brothers. Since I was the oldest in the neighborhood I became the leader of the activities. I am sure I got the Campbell and Larson boys in trouble more than once. You are right Lorna about having lasting friendships with the kids we grew up with in those neighborhoods along with their parents. When the weather was good, which is was most days in Southern California, we were never inside. We were skating, riding our bikes, playing hide and seek, playing at the park or sneaking up to Elephant Hill. We had a great time making scooters out of old wooden boxes that we could get at Alpha Beta's liquor store. A plank of wood with old roller skates underneath and the wooden box up on end with a long piece of wood across the top for the handle. We were good to go! My Dad had one of those whistles where you put your fingers in your mouth and let go. There was no excuse to not hear the call for home. The whole neighborhood knew what that meant. When I was around 13 we moved a few blocks away to a bigger house on Campbell Ave. We had such freedoms to roam back then. Those were the days!

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    1. On our street, Kathleen Murphy's mother had 'the whistle.' As soon as we heard it, we scattered for home.

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  6. Thank you for writing about the place we grew up. We used to play softball on our front lawn at Roark and Midwickhill. We stayed out until the vintage street lamps came on. We laid on on our backs on the old dichondra lawn until the stars came out. We used to ride our red wagon down Roark Drive from the top of the hill. He had a spotter at the bottom and if a car was coming, we'd turn into a driveway before Midwickhill. If not, we'd shoot right across and see how far we could make it down the flat side of Roark. My knees were always scrapped up! Then there was always the "trails" up by the water tower. We even named our group the "trails gang". It was great to grow up outside playing games with everyone.

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  7. We all have terrific memories of this special place. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  8. I knew a long time Alhambra resident who referred to the area as "middick" not "mid-wick".

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  9. Lorna,
    The tract was a great place to live and grow up,so many kids to hang with. I have a picture of a bunk of lumber on Hitchcock with my brothers and me on it and you ;can see Larry's house in the background. I'd put it on face book but might need my kids help to do so. By the way I believe that Tommy Hitchcock was a famous Hocky player. Thanks for posting this article. Look forward to the next.

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    1. I think Hitchcock was named after Jimmy Hitchcock who was a golfer in the 1930s.

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