Here is a very good coverage of the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Gardena High School, as it would look in the Lark, of yesteryear. Thanks Lew.
The celebration began with class socials on Friday night. I found myself at the El Paso Cantina in Torrance. The Pharaoh's W'S7 were gathering for a chance to talk of old times. With spouses and other class members the group came to about sixty. Many of the spouses were from other class and what with guests like me the years covered about five. With a chance to renew old acquaintances and put a 'new face with an old name', good times were shared. The conversations were reminiscent of school days past. For many it had been forty seven years since seeing many of our classmates.
George and Janie Peavey-Liebsack helped Peggy Deutschle and Denise Gaskell pull the last minute invitations together. Many of us interlopers heard through the Internet that such a social was planned and crashed. Richard and Rosemary Whitfield-Hedgecock brought their 1957 'El Arador' which I had never purchased or seen. Peggy put a collage of photographs on bulletin boards for all to see.
Jim and Pauline Giuliano-Lynn talked about the days of the 50's being the 'Real Happy Days'. We had OUR Fonz! The only real gangs of the era were the Chips and Heads Car Clubs.
Other discussions centered on teachers. The girls; Susan Horne, Sally Franklin-Sessions, Mary Lou Cromer-Schroeder, Lois Stiles-Carter, Denise Gaskell-Snuffin and Kay Hooper-Howard had vivid memories of Mr. Martin as the best English teacher and the writing skills taught by him have been passed on to their children. Personally, I thought Mrs. Turpen left a lasting impression upon me. I have always remembered her little verse on helping verbs. Maybe it's so vivid because it may have been the only thing I retained from school. Mrs. Littrell gave each of us cause to remember a good Math teacher and Mr. Marsh brought Science to life with the explosions in Chemistry. Mr. Goodman sustained the thoughts of our country and patriotism in his History classes. It seems that the English Department must have had its share of controversial teachers. Mrs. Dearing and Miss Matthews were topics of humor and injustice. All in all, every teacher must have had a story of injustice, greatness, humor and dislike.
COULD YOU SMELL IT?
We all arrived at the Peary Middle School, or for those of us old enough to remember, THE Gardena (Mohican) High School. It was 8:00 A.M. Saturday morning and the school bells were calling. In the middle of what used to be the QUAD now lays an extension of lunch facilities where the aroma of cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, coffee, and grilled cheese sandwiches emanated everyone had been waiting for the debut of the original Gardena High cinnamon roll. People have been looking for the recipe to again recreate this taste that everyone could remember. The baked cinnamon and sugar topping that melted to form a carmelization on the bottom that caused your tongue to salivate. It became very evident that as each person took that first bite and began shaking their head as they walked away from the window saying that it just wasn't the same.
The dough was nearly the same, but who but those ladies that made the original could know how to re create 'THE CINNAMON ROLL'.
Many were surprised that the tree hedge lined QUAD had become an expanse of blacktop and buildings. All of the green area had been replaced. The beautiful green area that I'm sure many of us took for granted is now a covered bowery type eating area. Even Whitely Field is covered with classrooms. What a difference a few years make!
After coffee the crowd, and I do mean crowd, made its way to the auditorium for Opening Ceremonies. Cary Mizobe '71 was very comedic as Master of Ceremonies. He introduced former teachers and recognized former students with little ad libs and stories.
A great sounding Admiral Jr. High Band provided the music of Sousa and Key. I certainly don't remember a band sounding as good as these kids were. Paul Youtsey W'54, Student body Vice President, led the flag salute and gave us all a rush of patriotism as he reminded us of our place in a free world. Paul's wife is just recuperating from major surgery and because of the importance of the Jubilee, insisted that he make the event. Paul said it best, and we all say; Thanks Betty!
Chairman Gentry Akens introduced many dignitaries from the School District; this included the new incoming Principal Dr. Russ Thompson and his staff. Others included Gardena Graduate State and Local politicians, presenting proclamations and declarations of 100 years.
Attending were three ladies in their eighties and were graduates of 1914, 1916. They said, "They wouldn't have missed this event, even though they may be the last of their classes".
Pete Radisich '34 and Don (de Gardena) Greaton '40 represented the senior generation in attendance. Their remarks and memories covered a lot of history that many of the younger graduates did not know about their school. The 30's earthquake shook the Los Angeles area with its center in Long Beach. Gardena High was closed for days and then only some buildings were reopened. The auditorium was suspected for many years of not carrying the load of the shocks. Many of the buildings were condemned and Harold Gavin '41, related how the students attended school in tents then. The impact of this quake resided in Gardena for years later.
One of the biggest injustices in memory was the Internment of our Japanese neighbors. Don told stories of his school chums just going down to the rail spur and boarding a train, never to be seen again. I sat with Ed Kobata over coffee and cinnamon rolls as he related the story of his family's internment. He only remembers boarding the train and ending up in Topaz, Utah. Ed was young and didn't recall the times as being especially bad. He ended up attending East High in Salt Lake City until his family moved back to Gardena until his family moved back to Gardena in his senior year, where he graduated as a Mohican.
Wilma Poe married the quarterback, not just the quarterback, but the one that led the Mohicans to the championship. It's been a long dry spell since.
Ray Harbold '43, described the institution of the student court, and Maxine Durrington-Broughton '47 brought life into her description of campus and teachers.
WHAT "ART EXHIBIT"?
Janet Perdew-Halstead '50 member of the recovery committee: Presented a rich and insightful history of 'THE GARDENA HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR CLASS ART EXHIBIT! When the custom of donating an art piece by the senior classes of Gardena High was eliminated in 1956 in favor of placing a time capsule in a walk way, there were approximately 190 Southern California Impressionistic art pieces that made up the exhibit. This exhibit was counted as one of the three best in the nation. Pictures lined the walls of the old library, administrator's offices, and auditorium. Little did we realize what a unique thing we, 'the students' had? A fire occurred in the Counselor's office in the 70's and about five of the works were lost. Shortly after the fire they all disappeared.
The district came and collected the 'collection' and put it in storage containers. They were unloaded and stacked on end, without any precaution for preservation. Little was known of the value of the items that the maintenance crews were handling. Here they sat for many years, forgotten, except for the memories of some of the alumni.
Janet's investigation found that the District tried to sell the exhibit and then to auction it off. When a group of alumni found out what was happening, legal action was taken to preserve the Exhibit as belonging to the Alumni Classes of Gardena and could not be sold. Some of the paintings were stolen and sold and the number has been reduced to around 170 paintings.
The value of the most prestigious piece is $1.2M is leased by the Gene Autry Art Exhibit for an annual fee. Other paintings have, since being found, been leased for a satisfactory income, to be used in restoration of those that were nearly lost in storage. Some have been the recipient of Foundation donors that have restored nearly 45. These will be rotated through the Library at Gardena High every few months. Now this Art Collection has a watchdog committee that is committed to allowing the students at Gardena and those in Southern California an opportunity to view this art, again.
SEEING, 'NEW FACES WITH OLD NAMES'
To close the morning everyone stood and sang the original alma mater, 'On The Old Farm'. I have never heard this song and most did not recognize it. Then we sang the Alma Mater that was abandoned in 1982 for another version. This was the one I remembered:
1. In song to our Alma Mater Each day in thee we're learning, Lift we our voices high better to know thy rules.
2. We pledge to thee dear high school, Each day in thee we're finding a love that ne'er shall die, a friend in our high school.
3. Hail, Alma Mater Kind true and loving, Lasting thy praise. always thy rule.
4. Noble thy future, Hail, Alma Mater, ever bright thy days. hail to our high school!
The enthusiasm at the 'Panthers Gardena High School', Saturday afternoon really got the alumni crowd going. The auditorium was packed, with half being a new group of attendees. Everyone sang and Tammy Kemp '76 led the school fight song "Hail Gardena". Dick Somer S'56 led the pledge, and then recounted the times and experiences of being a student body officer.
Do you remember these: Saturday morning serials, penny loafers, Lucky Strike Green, Flat tops, Sock Hops, Studebaker, Pepsi, cigar bands on your hand, your socks rolled down, snow floats, aviator caps with flaps that button down, movie stars on Dixie cups and knickers to your knees, the Hit Parade, Grape Tru ade, The Sadie Hawkins Dance, pedal pushers, duck tail hair and pegging' pants, Howdy Doody, Tutti Frutti, the seam up the back of her hose, James Dean, Senior Prom, rock n' roll was new, Cracker Jack prize, stars in your eyes, ask daddy for the keys, boogey man, lemonade stand, and talon' your tonsils out, Indian burn, cigarette loads and secret codes, boat neck shirts, fender skirts, and crinoline petticoats, mum's the word, a dirty bird, and double root beer float, moon hub caps, loud heel taps, he's a real gone kat, dancing' close, little moron jokes, and cooties in her hair, Captain Midnight, Oval tine, and the Whip at the Fair, a Charles Atlas course, Roy Rogers horse, and only the Shadow knows, loud mufflers, pitching' woo, going steady, Veronica and Betty, white bucks and blue suede shoes, knock knock jokes, and who's there? Ah, do we remember these!
These were just some of the memories that were covered by decade speakers; Dick (Moose) Somer S'56, Jim Andress 56, Don Dear `57, Lewis Thorpe `57, Bob Wall `59, and Mrs. Avalee-Horn `teacher'. Mr. Mas Okui `teacher', Jim Dear 71, Paul Tanaka 76, Erin Kaplan Aubrey 79, Jennifer Patterson `89, Katrin Wilson `90, Jasmin Harris '01, and John Daniels `01, and Jennifer Harris `04, Ronnie Grenawalt `64, stole the show with his tales of the parties across the street during school and going to the back stage of the Colony Club when you are only a 16 year old boy.
The celebration was concluded by KFI Radio host Leo Terrell `72, as he remarked how Gardena High was a coming, together of ethnic and racial groups and backgrounds in common fellowship and education. There were very few problems that any could remember!
Harold Payne `63 closed the celebration with a new song that he has written, sang and played, "Gardena High 100 Year Anniversary Song", It was a treat tribute and is available on CD along with other originals he performs. Gentry Akens '72, Charles Bennett '72 and 100th Diamond Jubilee Committee, Thanks for all the planning and a great party!