What's In A Name?
My name is Rose Halopoff born and corn fed in California. I am a writer/artist . As a child, I traveled throughout California for seven years with my parents and siblings, working and attending different schools. During our adventure, we befriended many people who had come to California during the "dust bowl days" in 1935. They, too, were looking for work as they needed to eat and have at least temporary shelter in the farmlands of central California and other surrounding areas. Some of their children had been born at the "old homestead" back home while their new babies were born in California. What we all had in common was that we all tried to better our lives. We didn't just sit around waiting for food to drop from the heavens. In fact, father told us we kids had to learn to work!
I have many good memories of my childhood except for 1944 when my 18 year-old brother was killed in action. He was a Pfc. in the Marines. When in camp Pendleton, he would come home to visit us often as we lived in Chino, CA. Bob Burns put together WWII actual films and I got to see Palau in action not too long ago. The land was full of holes where the Marines had a difficult time walking on it. My brother was manning the airstrip when the enemy pierced his head with a bayonet. No, the government did not tell us this. It was another Marine who saw it all and found our family and explained everything to my oldest sister who was close to my brother. He went on to say that the Japanese fellow threw my brother down below to a jungle. The medics found him two days later and, although he was still alive, he died the same day they found him. After the battle, our government said they didn't need the airstrip after all.
One good memory was when I was sitting in my high chair in San Bernardino where I was born. Mother and I were in the kitchen when a neighbor lady suddenly appeared. She had entered through our screen porch door at the back of the house. She said, "Sally, may I have a cup of coffee?" My kind-hearted mom graciously handed her a cup of coffee and asked her if she wanted a cinnamon roll. "Yes, I love cinnamon rolls," she said. She then started giving mom advice about me. She asked her if I liked coffee. Mom said, "She doesn't like the smell of coffee and today I am trying to wean her off breast milk." For the first time, I had a full glass of milk on my highchair tray. The neighbor told my mom to put a teaspoon of coffee in my milk so that I could get used to the taste. At that age I understood word by word when adults engaged in conversation, but I didn't know how to talk and express myself. I thought, "Why does this lady want me to taste coffee when I don't even like the smell of it?" The lady managed to sneak a teaspoon of coffee into my glass of milk. To this day, I do not drink coffee.
Anyway, I am very familiar with most of California although I realize that much has changed since I was younger. There are many more small towns that have been developed that have new names. They are now sitting on former farmlands and some are incorporated and some are not. I will always recognize the areas, especially the ones close to Highway 99. If I didn't work on those farmlands, at least we traveled by them.
A lot of the "new babies" born to dust bowl settlers were born in Bakersfield, Tulare, Modesto, Madera, Merced, Corcoran, Fresno, Sanger, McFarland, Visalia, Pixley,Tagus Ranch, Weed Patch, and many more small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. Some of the scenes in the movie "Grapes of Wrath" were filmed in Weed Patch, California. Weed Patch is now known as Weedpatch, California (one word). The old buildings that survived from the 1930s have been restored as of late. I should note that when the dust bowl people came to California in 1935, most of them were from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. They came to escape the wind, dust and drought. They were referred to as "Okies" and people here in Caifornia treated them badly. The kids in schools didn't want them around. At one point, there was consideration to separate them and have them attend their own school. I didn't have exposure to these kids until 1946 when I was in the 6th grade at Tagus Ranch School, a part of Tulare, California. It was such a pretty white schoolhouse surrounded by cotton fields and the school itself had a peach orchard around it. The school principal was a woman and mother to my female teacher. Both were very nice and had a gentle personality. The following year, we moved to Corcoran where I was in the 7th grade. I was a tumbler and wore a blue uniform for school activities. Coach Purcell was in charge of us. This, didn't last long as we moved back to Southern California and lived in Riverside where I enrolled in the 7th grade at Chemawa Jr. High in the Arlington area. Next to Chemawa was the Sherman Institute, a school for Native Americans. I had never talked to an American Indian and I was curious. One day during recess time, I saw the Indian girls playing ball close to the fence and I headed there to say hello to them. I was almost close to the fence, when I heard my teacher calling me and the other girls back into the school building. I explained why we were heading for the fence dividing the two schools. Our teacher told us that we were not allowed to talk to the Indian girls at any time.
My report card shows that I also spent my 8th grade at Chemawa Jr. High. We had relatives living in Riverside at the time. My maternal grandmother had passed away in 1943, but had been living there too. However, uncle Frank and aunt Loretta were still there. Loretta was my mother's younger sister who married Frank Olivas of the Olivas Adobe (now a museum in Ventura County). It was Raimundo Olivas, Frank's ancestor, who had been given a Mexican land grant about 1841 for his service at the Presidio in Santa Barbara. He served 17 years in the Mexican army. There were 2,250 acres as the other one-half were given to his partner, Felipe Lorenzana. The one-room adobe home is still there behind the two-story Monterey home and is very small. The newer one-story adobe home was added a second floor in 1849. By that time, Raimundo had made a lot of money from the forty-niners up in the high sierra. He would drive his cattle to the miners and was paid in gold bars. The website for the Olivas adobe says the house was built in 1837. I doubt this is true. Other sources say that he was poor when he was younger. I know his mother was Juana de Dios who gave birth to Raimundo at the San Gabriel Mission and not Los Angeles. Juana did not name Raimundo's father on the birth records according to Meredith Stevens who wrote the book "The House of Olivas." In fact she was a widow when she gave birth to Raimundo as her second husband, a Mr. Olivas, had been in the Mexican army and died in action long before she became pregnant with Raimundo. Juana de Dios was the sister of Juan Pacifico Ontiveros who owned a rancho in Orange County. He sold 1,165 acres of his land to John Frohling and George Hansen who were part of a German Colony in San Francisco. The next day, the two men transferred the property to the German Colony and called it the Los Angeles Vineyard Society. The entire German Colony then moved to Orange County (which then was Los Angeles County) and named their area Anaheim (meaning home by the Santa Ana River). They prospered and they are still around enjoying life in California.
My stint in Hollywood, California, was no accident. I planned it that way. There, I delved in a few scenes in three movies. One of the movies was entitled "Her Conversion," the story of Mary Magdalene. Conrad Brooks and his brother Henry were new at producing and I appeared as Mary Magdalene as a teenage dancer in one of their films with Eddie Caro who played Jesus. In another movie, Amy Sims and I were two tourists visiting Olvera Street in Los Angeles and walked around the Plaza talking and looking around. Conrad Brooks was still trying to figure out a title for that one. The third movie was a western. You've heard about Spaghetti westerns. This one was a macaroni one! We made up the script daily. At that time, I was also enrolled at Jerry Kosloff's School of Dancing across from the Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Jerry was a very handsome young man who dated many Hollywood beauties. I would run into him and his date as they were about to enter a movie Premier. This would happen often and I wondered if he didn't think I was following him. When you live in Hollywood, you can't help but run into other people you know that also live there too. In those days, I would see Martha Hyer and others having an early dinner at a small restaurant next to The Seven Seas nightclub, which name I cannot remember. These places were on Hollywood Boulevard across from the Kodak Theatre. I can't even remember what stores or banks were where the Kodak is now. However, my doctor's office was at the northeast corner of Hollywood & Highland across from the Bank of America.
Mom is buried at Hollywood Forever which is near the old Samuel Goldwyn Studios, which studios are across the street from my dancing school and that's where I will be some day. Hollywood Forever used to be the backlot for Paramount Studios. I also enrolled at the Caroline Leonetti Modeling School. Caroline herself was my personal teacher who taught me all about what make-up to wear, how to walk the proper stances down the runway, how to dress and use the right colors, what type of girdle to wear on the street, how to carry a purse and how to walk. She married Howard Ahmanson of the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Caroline and her hubby are gone now and I am still here because I was destined to write before I see them again.
There is much to write about. I presenty write articles in a newsletter published and distributed to the members of a historical club at El Pueblo Historical Monument in old Los Angeles, California. Members of Las Angelitas del Pueblo also give "free" walking tours. Yes, I am also a Docent there where I have many wonderful friends. It was Jean Bruce Poole, retired Curator of El Pueblo Historical Monument, who impressed me during my first historical class meeting which I attended on my lunch hour from work. Walter Temple of the Workman-Temple family was a guest that day. Las Angelitas del Pueblo are always looking for more volunteers as there are people from all over the world who come to visit, eat and have fun. We also enjoy the locals. Come join us at "Olvera Street" for a free walking tour. We will tell you the story of the founding of Los Angeles, California, beginning with a group of people from Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico, who crossed the Sea of Cortez from the mainland to Loreto (then the capital of the Californias located in Baja), stopped to rest at the Mission San Diego de Alcala which had been founded in 1769 by Father Junipero Serra, then continued walking with their animals and provisions in the hot desert sun to the San Gabriel Mission where they stayed and rested once again. Initially, these people were recruited shortly before May 1781, when the first group started their trip north followed by other small groups throughout the year until they all met at the San Gabriel Mission. Upon leaving the Mission, they took Indian Trail (now Mission Road) along the Los Angeles River. The trail was heavy with brush, sycamores, cottonwood trees and other native plants. When they finally reached Los Angeles on September 4, 1781, the friendly Native Americans living along the banks greeted the newcomers and helped them build their first humble huts. Gaspar de Portola of the Spanish army and his group had named the river 12 years earlier during the first land expedition to Monterey. They named the river " Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula." The land was fertile and there was plenty of water.
The Spanish Governor Felipe de Neve had chosen the site for these new settlers a few years before the founding and then plotted the town. Five years later, the 11 families were officially given possession of their building lot, planting land and a branding iron. On September 4, 1786, a ceremony took place and the pueblo was named "El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles." The founding of the pueblo was part of the Spanish plans to colonize upper California by establishing presidios, missions and pueblos. As the Spanish soldiers retired, they were given Spanish land grants. This resulted in the development of ranchos throughout California as the years went by. There were 21 to 30 land grants under the Spanish government but the majority of the land grants were Mexican land grants after 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain. Touring Olvera Street will take you back in time. Come visit! Contact information: El Pueblo Visitor's Center at (213) 628-1274.
Don't confuse land expeditions with overland expeditions as the terrain is very different. It was Juan Bautista de Anza who with his colonists made the first overland trip by foot through the rugged low and high deserts in 1774-1775 on their way to San Francisco and Monterey. They camped at what is now Tripp Flatts in Anza not far from our ranch. There, a woman in his group gave birth to a child. A male descendant of that child recently gave a speech at the Hamilton Museum in Anza which is located on Contreras Road off Highway 371. Anza Valley was then known as Cahuilla Valley for some years. The Cahuillas have a reservation and a casino. All of the people in Anza Valley today are actively helping to improve the area as well as maintaining its country surroundings. Donations help the Hamilton Museum exhibit the area's history and that of it's people, including that of the pioneers who homesteaded there in the 1800s. Margaret Wellman, whose ancestors came to Anza Valley during the hard times in the 1800s, is in charge of the museum.