Church Growth in Los Angeles 1930s On

When we arrived in Los Angeles, there were about two church houses; one being Wilshire Ward a little west of downtown Los Angeles which is unique to the Church. The wood benches were beautifully carved and there was a balcony at the back of the chapel. The chapel was huge and two story with the podium up front with beautifully carved wood even on the built-in chairs. Behind the podium built higher up was the choir loft with the pipe organ and piano with semi-circled rows where the choir sat. But, the most beautiful part of the chapel was the huge stained glass window of Christ knocking at the door. The back part of the building was the cultural hall turned sideways from the chapel with a hallway between. The kitchen and Relief Society room were at the south end of the cultural hall. There was a hall along the south side of the chapel and the Bishop’s and clerk’s office were there along with classrooms. Above these rooms were the second story of classrooms and the High Council room over the R.S. room and kitchen. It was a totally unique building for the Church. It was said that influential, wealthy members in L.A. wanted something that would match the cathedrals of the other churches there, and they were right.

Also, the Adams Ward and the one mentioned in East Los Angeles were the only large churches in the area. There were very few LDS chapels in Southern California and certainly not one in Arcadia so we met in the City of Rosemead’s Women’s Club on Rosemead Blvd. But soon after we arrived the Church began growing by the proverbial leaps and bounds there. The chapels didn’t come quite that fast, consequently the wards were being divided constantly and had to meet in lodge halls, women’s clubs, etc. This even happened in East L.A. which we lived there. And when we found ourselves in Arcadia, there were no chapels near but quite a few wards, so we met again in the Women’s club. Not too long after that with the Church growing, the ward was divided and the Las Flores Ward formed. We met in the Temple City Women’s Club. Actually first the name of the ward was Temple City Ward, but the Church didn’t want to confuse people with the word temple, so it was changed to Las Flores Ward. We had a good ward and we soon loved it and continued to until we left.

Las Flores Ward was in Pasadena Stake where President Pettit presided. His wife Mildred wrote the music for “I Am a Child of God.” But, within a short period of time Howard W. Hunter, who had a home near the Arboretum was made Stake President. He eventually became President of the Church. Pasadena Stake was created from the East Los Angeles Stake. And this stake sort of became the flagship stake as far as quality of events, etc. Also, out of that stake and ward came Apostles, Members of the 70’s Quorum, Regional Representatives, Stake Presidents, Regional Representatives, Patriarchs, and Temple Presidents.

The war was still going on and since Donna’s husband was in the Navy, they bought a small house trailer and moved it into our back yard and she lived there and got job in Temple City, the city just west of Arcadia. The first Christmas we were there (I think), at least it was not many years after we moved there, the Battle of the Bulge was going on things looked pretty bleak for the Allies. We were losing thousands of our troops on all areas of the war and everyone felt it would be a sad Christmas, but we decided that we should make it as happy as we could for the children and we did. But Christmas morning the news was so bad that everyone in the house was very depressed. We tried to make it a joyful time for the children, but I’m sure they also felt the pressure.

By now, Al had the building downtown and since they were making no new trucks or not much of anything else, he would go east and buy trucks from the government or whatever and have them brought to Los Angeles, fix them up and sell them for a much greater amount. So besides running the truck repair show, we also had this money coming in and felt we were sitting on easy street.

About a year after we moved to this location, Al bought a horse for the kids. We should have known what would happen when we were told that its name was Nipper, because we soon found out that even if he was being fed by loving hands, he would just as soon reach out and nip a chunk of whoever was feeding him. He was a really feisty little pet and I really felt we should get rid of him. At one time he was tethered by the fence to the neighbors on the west and the neighbor came out and was feed him a carrot out of the goodness of her heart and Nipper reached up and bit her on the arm. It was quite a bite and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had sued us, but being a nice lady who loved horses, she didn’t. However, a month or so later Steve was standing beside his manger and he reached out and took Steve by the chest and lifted him off the ground and left bad marks on his chest. That was all it took. Al sold him about the next day and I was glad to see him go.

The kid s loved the barn and one Halloween, we decorated it from top to bottom and they invited all their friends and had a wonderful time.

When we first moved to Arcadia, there were no homes to the east of us for a block, but a few years later, bui8lders began building homes there. Shortly after the first neighbor moved in, he began pressuring us to cut out The Jungle. I knew how much the children and all their friends loved playing there, so I said we absolutely would not cut it down. The neighbor said that it was old-fashioned to have things growing to the street, and perhaps it was, but I was adamant. I even had bad dreams about it being cut down and one day when I was gone, they came true. I came home and The Jungle was gone. Al had given in to the pressure and cut it all back. I was heartsick and so were the children.

(Marilyn: The lot was actually an acre and a half. The house had a large front lawn that slightly curved down to the street. On the west side of the lot was the driveway, on the west side of the house and had large trees next to the house with beautiful camellias and flowers that mother loved to tend… actually she loved to tend the whole lot back to the tennis court. The single neighbor lady on the west side of the driveway also had a large lot too. With all the trees, the driveway was in shade most of the time. On the east side of the lot in from was The Jungle where we played for hours due to the Tarzan movies. The house itself was a one story Tudor style home. You would go through the front door to a small hallway. To the left was a smaller hall which opened on to the master bedroom at the front of the house; then came a bathroom and another bedroom. To the right of the entry hall was a large living room with a cathedral ceiling with beams. On the south wall was a fireplace with windows on each side. On the east wall was a huge window with 12 x 12 inch panes going from the window seat to the ceiling and let in the most wonderful light into the room. There were no curtains on that window. The north wall had a large window looking out onto the back yard. From the entry hall you would go north to the dining room which had a chandelier. This room was the walkway to the kitchen at the back of the house. There was a built in table on the east side of the kitchen corner. Next to it was a door leading to the back yard patio. There was a built in ironing board in the wall to the right just as you walked into the kitchen. Many an hour was there as I ironed handkerchiefs, pillow cases and other flat things Mother assigned me to iron. On the left side of the door leading to the kitchen was the stove. Almost opposite that was the kitchen sink and next to the stove was the fridge with various cupboards mixed throughout. There was a window over the sink. To the west of the kitchen was the back porch with a broom closet which led to the driveway. Later Dad and Mom had a door put through the north wall of the kitchen between a floor to ceiling cupboard and the built in eating area which led to a new bedroom and bathroom. The garage was detached from the house and slightly back from it. Mother would make soap on the east side of the garage in a big galvanized tub.

Dad and Mom put in a big swing set which we loved. Outside the kitchen door was a cement patio and we spent many a summer evening out there eating dinner. Past the patio was a large St. Augustine grass area. As much as we used the swing set that tough St. Augustine grass grew so thick and hardy it was never worn to the ground. There were lush plants against the house and all down the cinderblock wall in this area of the yard. East of the garage was a cement fireplace incinerator where we burned our paper trash. That would never be allowed today. Behind the garage was a grassy area with a large clothes line. I remember the days of Maria Montez who was in a lot of Arabian movies. A Spanish lady in Arabian movies? I guess the movie studio thought she looked exotic and had an accent. Anyway we loved her and took blankets and sheer curtains to the clothesline and made Arabian tents and used the filmy curtains to divide the tent rooms. Behind the back lawn were trees and a space where Donna and Ray put their trailer. Their trailer steps led down to the tennis court, or badminton court. I’m not sure it was big enough to be a tennis court. North of the court and clothesline area were fruit trees which led to the barn on the west side of the lot and rabbit hutches in a long line on the east side of the barn. Just north and on the other side of the fence attached to the barn which went to the east wall, was a large walk-in chicken coop with a small yard outside. Mother canned bottle after bottle of fruit from these trees. I remember eating so many peaches one summer off the trees, I got hives. The barn was huge and held two stalls with doors in each leading to two corrals. North of the corrals and chicken coop was a huge pasture which had Rainbird type sprinklers to keep the pasture green. That pasture was large enough that people could have ridden several horses and not been crowded. The barn had a sink in it where Dad would slit the throats of the rabbits and wring the necks of the chickens and cut their heads off and bleed them. We ate what we grew. One side of the barn was stacked to the ceiling with bales of hay and feed for the animals. At the northeast corner of the pasture was a large gate which led to a street which ended at our lot. After we moved, they eventually finished putting the street through so the old pasture became a lot for a home.)