The Land That Made Me Me

This poem was forwarded to me from classmate, Suzye Lawson. She and I thought it would be worth sharing.

1950’s version of an E-Mail

Long ago and far away, in a land that time forgot,
Before the days of Dylan , or the dawn of Camelot.
There lived a race of innocents, and they were you and me,

We longed for love and romance, and waited for our Prince,
Eddie Fisher married Liz, and no one’s seen him since.

For Ike was in the White House in that land where we were born,
Where navels were for oranges, and Peyton Place was porn.

We danced to ‘Little Darlin,’ and sang to ‘Stagger Lee’
And cried for Buddy Holly in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Only girls wore earrings then, and 3 was one too many,
And only boys wore flat-top cuts, except for Jean McKinney.

And only in our wildest dreams did we expect to see
A boy named George with Lipstick, in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We fell for Frankie Avalon, Annette was oh, so nice,
And when they made a movie, they never made it twice..

We didn’t have a Star Trek Five, or Psycho Two and Three,
Or Rocky-Rambo Twenty in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Miss Kitty had a heart of gold, and Chester had a limp,
And Reagan was a Democrat whose co-star was a chimp.

We had a Mr. Wizard, but not a Mr. T,
And Oprah couldn’t talk yet, in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We had our share of heroes, we never thought they’d go,
At least not Bobby Darin, or Marilyn Monroe.
For youth was still eternal, and life was yet to be,
And Elvis was forever in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We’d never seen the rock band that was Grateful to be Dead,
And Airplanes weren’t named Jefferson , and Zeppelins were not Led.

And Beatles lived in gardens then, and Monkees lived in trees,
Madonna was Mary in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We’d never heard of microwaves, or telephones in cars,
And babies might be bottle-fed, but they were not grown in jars.

And pumping iron got wrinkles out, and ‘gay’ meant fancy-free,
And dorms were never co-Ed in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We hadn’t seen enough of jets to talk about the lag,
And microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag.

And hardware was a box of nails, and bytes came from a flea,
And rocket ships were fiction in the Land That Made Me, Me.

T-Birds came with portholes, and side shows came with freaks,
And bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks.

And Coke came just in bottles, and skirts below the knee,
And Castro came to power near the Land That Made Me, Me.

We had no Crest with Fluoride, we had no Hill Street Blues,
We had no patterned pantyhose or Lipton herbal tea
Or prime-time ads for those dysfunctions in the Land That Made Me,

There were no golden arches, no Perrier to chill,
And fish were not called Wanda, and cats were not called Bill

And middle-aged was 35 and old was forty-three,
And ancient were our parents in the Land That Made Me, Me.

But all things have a season, or so we’ve heard them say,
And now instead of Maybelline we swear by Retin-A.
They send us invitations to join AARP,
We’ve come a long way, baby, from the Land That Made Me, Me.

So now we face a brave new world in slightly larger jeans,
And wonder why they’re using smaller print in magazines.
And we tell our children’s children of the way it used to be,
Long ago and far away in the Land That Made Me, Me.

If you didn’t grow up in the fiftys,
You missed the greatest time in history,
Hope you enjoyed this read as much as I did.
If So, PLEASE FORWARD this note to
someone who will appreciate these memories…

Gyasi Zardes – Giving Back to Hawthorne

I have to admit that I did not know who Gyasi Zardes was until I read an article about him in this morning’s LA Times.

Gyasi Zardes

Since one of my granddaughter, Lucy, plays soccer, I do follow her exploits, and to a lesser extent women’s soccer. But I do not know much about the sport beyond that. I do not follow the local Galaxy MLS team. Additionally, I have never even heard of futsal.

This article introduced me to Gyasi Zardes and the great work he is doing for Hawthorne and kids growing up there. Gyasi went to Leuzinger, staring in both soccer and football.

Reading this article brought back many fond memories of Hawthorne and the surrounding area. I was a coach at Memorial Park for the Hawthorne Parks and Recreation Department during college. I also grow up in Moneta Gardens – an unincorporated part of Hawthorne. Things were different then.

As it turns out, about a week ago I dropped by a life celebration for John Baker, the father of This website is a must place to visit for anyone wanting to relive growing up in the South Bay.


The gathering was held at the Fosters Freeze (yes its still there) near 119th and Hawthorne Blvd. This was the local hangout for Hawthorne High students, where we from Leuzinger tended to gather at A&W – at least I did.


Almost right across Hawthorne is Chips restaurant – one of my favorite places to end a date. Much has changed along the boulevard since the 60s, but these two landmarks have endured.

Another Trip Down Memory Lane in So Cal

I never really tire of looking at old photos and videos of what Southern Clifornia and the South Bay looked like fifty-plus years ago. This was not the last time we saw rain, but sometimes it seems like it.


This link to a slew of old photos was emailed me by classmate, Janet Sapp, or CrusinJan as her email handle reads. I thought you might enjoy them as well as I did. Most of the pictures not from the South Bay, but they certainly bring back many memories for me.

Thanks, Janet!

Lot of still photos, but worth it, some real gems here all the way to the end.


If you have some favorite links to old photos and videos you would like to share, include the link in a comment or email it to me.

Until next time…



Remember Our Beach Hangout – 26th Street?

Like me, I bet you all have fond memories of hanging out at 26th Street in Manhattan Beach when we were in high school. That was pretty much Leuzinger’s beach.

But, I bet few of you know its history. I didn’t until classmate, Janet McClelland, emailed this article.

26th St map.jpg



Why it took nearly a century for Bruce’s Beach to get its name back

Posted on May 28, 2016 by Sam Gnerre

Bruce’s Beach. (May 2016 Daily Breeze photo)

Bruce’s Beach, the terraced 270-by-200-foot hillside park at 26th Street and Highland Avenue in Manhattan Beach, has a stunning view of the ocean.

It also has a tragic history.

The story of Bruce’s Beach begins with South Bay pioneer landowner George Peck, who owned large swaths of property in San Pedro as well as the northern half of Manhattan Beach.

When Manhattan incorporated in 1912, the progressive Peck set aside two blocks of beachfront area between 26th and 27th streets to be available to minorities, who otherwise were denied access to local beaches.

Charles and Willa Bruce, undated wedding photo.

Charles and Willa (sometimes known as Willie) Bruce were the first African-Americans to buy land at the beach, moving from New Mexico to purchase two adjacent seaside lots in 1912.

“Colored people’s resort met with opposition,” read the headline of a June 27, 1912, Los Angeles Times article, describing the resistance faced by the Bruces before they even started building their planned resort.

“Wherever we have tried to buy land for a beach resort we have been refused, but I own this land and I am going to keep it,” Willa Bruce was quoted as saying in the story.

Despite community opposition, the Bruces set about establishing a resort at the site for all to use, beginning construction of a beach lodge in December 1915.

Willa Bruce at Bruce’s Beach. Undated 1920s file photo.

Work proceeded slowly. Building materials would disappear and various “accidents” would occur at the site. Eventually, even with the setbacks, Bruce’s Lodge was completed.

Peck also helped the couple build a fishing pier on the property.

In 1920, the Bruces bought another adjacent lot with a two-story building on it that they refurbished for dining and dancing purposes, and their resort was complete.

The area began to attract other African-American families; several others had moved in to the neighborhood by 1920.

Their fellow Manhattan Beach residents viewed the situation with growing alarm. The Bruce’s Beach area was cordoned off, and its users were harassed if they ventured outside of the beach’s boundaries.
The Ku Klux Klan, at its powerful peak in the 1920s, was rumored to be behind some of the harassment.

Mrs. Willa Bruce, right, and son Harvey Bruce with his wife Meda, at Bruce’s Beach. Undated 1920s file photo.

An attempt was made to plant liquor was planted on the premises so that the owners could be charged as being in violation of prohibition. Mysterious fires occurred, and the fire department always seemed slow to respond.

When these various underhanded attempts to dislodge the Bruce’s Beach residents failed, the city turned to a plan offered by a North Manhattan real estate agent. He told officials that the property could be condemned by the city through the eminent domain process, on the pretext that the city wanted the land for a public park.

On January 7, 1924, the Manhattan Beach City Council passed just such an ordinance, even though Live Oak Park, a much larger and less hilly park had been built nearby just recently.

Four African-American families, including the Bruces, sued the city, alleging that the ordinance was aimed at forcing them out.

The legal battle came to a head in the summer of 1927. Even though the resort officially was closed because of the condemnation, African-American families continued to flock to the beach.

Police began making arrests, taking 25 beachgoers into custody on Memorial Day. On July 4, 1927, 19-year-old  UCLA student Elizabeth Cately was arrested. She later sued, saying she had been held for five hours in jail in just her wet bathing suit with no charges being filed.

Four more men were arrested on July 17 for using the beach.They challenged the arrest in court and were convicted of trespassing.The city later dropped the case after the men appealed.

Finally, the whole resort was torn down in 1927, and the only beach in the county at the time allowing blacks was no more.

The lawsuit finally was settled in 1929 for far less than what the plaintiffs in the case had asked for. Some of the families bought other non-beachfront property in the city, a condition set down by the judge as part of the settlement, but the embittered Bruces left town.

The land remained undeveloped for the next three decades. In the 1950s, fearing that the Bruces’ heirs might sue to get their land back if it wasn’t being used for a park, city planners decided to go ahead with building one.

In 1962, a contest held for the public to rename the park, which had been known informally first as City Park, then Beach Front Park, since the 1929 takeover by the city.

Residents chose the name Bayview Terrace Park, which remained its name until 1974, when the City Council decided to rename the park for its then-sister city, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Parque Culiacan, before the name change. (March 2003 Daily Breeze file photo)

On March 16, 1974, dedication ceremonies were held to introduce the park’s new name, Parque Culiacan. Mayor Mariano Carlon of Culiacan was on hand, along with the usual passelful of local dignitaries.

Over time, disenchantment with name began to grow.

During the 1980s, Culiacan became known as the headquarters city for the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world. It was an association Manhattan Beach didn’t anticipate when it formed the sister city bond in March 1963.

Manhattan Beach selected another sister city in 1989, Santa Rosalia in Baja California.

Another factor for the renaming was the growing realization of what had happened to the original Bruce’s Beach in the 1920s.

In 1956, Manhattan Beach resident Robert Brigham wrote his Master’s thesis, “Land Ownership and Occupancy by Negroes in Manhattan Beach, California, which told the  story of Bruce’s Beach in depth, and local historians began to reference it. Jan Dennis retold the saga eloquently in her 1987 book, “A Walk Beside the Sea: A History of Manhattan Beach.”

The civic group Leadership Manhattan held another public contest to try and pick a new name for the park in 2003.

From the submissions, the group came up with Freedom Park, Harmony Park and Friendship Park as possibilities,  but the city council turned all of them down in April 2003. It decided to keep the Parque Culiacan name, but to install a plaque acknowledging its history as Bruce’s Beach.

The renamed Bruce’s Beach was dedicated in 2007. (May 2016 Daily Breeze photo)

As knowledge of the park’s past began to spread, an even stronger movement to change the park’s name gathered steam in 2006. After a period of public debate, the City Council voted 3-2 on July 5, 2006, to change the name to Bruce’s Beach.

On Saturday, March 31, 2007, the dedication ceremony renaming the park was held with Bernard Bruce, Charles and Willa Bruce’s grandson, in attendance.

“Growing up, Bruce’s Beach was part of my dreams. When I told folks that my family once owned the beach here, they would laugh at me. They didn’t believe African-Americans owned beaches. Now everyone knows about Bruce’s Beach,” Bruce told the audience at the dedication.

A movement to get George Peck’s original Manhattan Beach summer cottage on Alma Avenue and 27th Street preserved and moved to Bruce’s Beach failed in April 2015, and the house was torn down to make way for condominiums


50/60s Theme for Our 50th Reunion?

I received an email suggesting that we adopt a 50/60s theme for our upcoming 50th Reunion, including dressing in the style of clothes we wore during high school. We could come dressed as surfers, hodads etc. Ths person had recently attended a  50/60s party and everyone really liked the idea and had a lot of fun with it.

We are already planning for the music of the evening to be Oldies But Goodies, so a having a 50/60s Theme would fit right in. However, if we were to adopt the theme, dressing the part would be totally optional. The reunion committee thought that this should be decided by the class as a whole.

I have included the poll below. Please take a moment to voice your opinion, even if you are unsure right now whether or not you will be able to attend the reunion.  The poll will be active through Sunday, January 20th. The poll also allows you to add any comments you may have.

Let us know what you think!

Do You Know Barb and Bob?

John Baker is the creator of the, one of the best places for a nostalgic glimpse of what it was like growing up in the 60s in the South Bay, especially Hawthorne. True, it is the Hawthorne High School website, but after 50 years, I don’t let deter me from reliving that time by visiting the site occasionally. If you have not explored it, I would strongly suggest doing so.

At any rate, today I got the following email from John.

Hi Don,
Long time since we last talked.
I received an email from a guy who lives in England. He had found a photo album in Venice CA in 1990 and is trying to find out who the people are in the photos. All his detective work points to the Hawthorne area. Thought I would check with you and your group to see if you would know either of these two people. These were taken in 1968 and the people have what looks to be a 4 year old. I’m thinking they would have graduated around our era. I have posted this info on Cougartown and maybe you could add it to the 63 Leuzinger site.
The Blog where all the info is, can be found here:
Any help would be appreciated and please let me know if you, or any of your group know these people.
Thanks for the help Don,
John Baker


Does either Barb or Bob look familiar? As John states, they may not even be from the South Bay.

If you click on the link in his email, there some additional deduced details about them and a few photos of the local area taken during the 60s.

If you think that you have some information that may help to locate either Barb or Bob, please email John Baker at It would be interesting to us to also post a comment here.

It is an interesting mystery.

Cool Video Courtesy of Paul Jorgensen

I got the link for this video from our classmate, Paul Jorgensen a week or so ago. It gets me excited about our 50th Reunion.

Our reunion is coming going to be here for you know it. Look at the big countdown icon on the left. It is now less then one year away. If you have not ordered your ticket, I urge you to do so. Remember, the early bird special does not last forever.

Class of 1963 Memories on Pinterest is a social website where people put up boards and then pin links to interesting sites they have found on the internet. I began using Pinterest a while back to share interesting places and content I have found on the net.

I have made several boards. One of them is for sharing links to videos, pictures, and stories that will take you back to when we were in high school. Here is the link to that Pinterest board.

I have added only a very few pins so far, but will add more as we move towards our 50th Reunion. One of the pins on this Pinterest board points to our senior class panorama  picture on YouTube. If you have not seen this video since I first posted it about four years ago, you will want to take another look. Like they often do in Hollywood, this video has been totally re-mastered. It should be far easier for you to find yourself in the video as it pans across our class.

Rock & Roll is Here to Stay

The next line from the Danny and the Juniors hit is “and I’m digging’ it to the end”. I certainly agree with that. I love Oldies But Goodies. Tina Edmundson Mason and her husband, Phil “Fang” Volk, are doing a bit more than that. Here is part of an email I received from Tina a few days ago.

Thank you for this email and all the Class of ’63 info.  We’re sending you a YOUTUBE link to our new band video of our concert in Laughlin, NV on 12/31/11. You can share it with as many classmates as you like.  I think they would get a kick out of it, seeing as how I’m still rockin’ after all these years, and now my two daughters are working with Phil and me!!!!  “

Here is the YouTube video Tina is referring to.

By the way, Tina is on the left–hard to tell at times.

As you know, our former Sports Queen was a regular on Dick Clark’s “Where the Action Is” TV show. Back then she met and married Phil “Fang” Volk, one of the original members of Paul Revere and the Raiders.


Tina and Phil also have a Facebook fan page called FANG ALLIANCE NEW GENERATION (F.A.N.G.).There are additional cool videos and information there. It’s an open group, but you do need to be on Facebook to view it.