Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

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Memories of Indian Springs

I’ve gathered a few memories of Indian Springs from readers. John H. writes: “I learned how to swim at Indian Springs. I took a beginning swimming course there in the summer of 1957. I remember hearing the song ‘Bye-Bye Love’ by the Everly Brothers on radios at the pool almost every day before and after class. It was the summer between my fifth- and sixth-grade years at Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School.”

Sharon P. writes: “I attended the Indian Springs pool back in the late 1950s when polio was running rampant. There was a small 4’ x 4’ wading pool just before you would enter the main pool area, and it had disinfectant in it that you would get on your feet before you went into the main pool. That was because of the polio scare back then.”

Bob C. writes: “After the La Crescenta Flood on New Year’s Eve (1933-34), we had to move out of our house on Prospect Avenue. I was 4 years old at that time. We relocated to Sparr Heights and rented a house on Rosemary Street. In the summer of 1934 my mother made contact with Charles Bowden. He hired her to run the little snack stand on the grounds of Indian Springs. The stand was located in the large parking area just below the pool itself. It, too, was built of concrete, with the same American-Indian motif as the pool area. It was a walk-up open structure – no seating inside. She sold mainly hamburgers, hot dogs, cold drinks and candy bars. By this time I was 5 years old and spent the summer at the park where my mother could keep an eye on me. I spent most of that time working in that stand. I could fry hamburgers, sell things over the counter, and I was allowed to make change for anything up to a dollar. A number of people got a kick out of watching a little kid working there.

After a couple of years, my mother had saved a fair amount of money working there. It was at that point that she became aware of a house for sale on Altura Avenue. Believe it or not, she had made enough money at the stand to make a down payment on that house. That is where my two brothers and I grew up until I married my wife in 1949.”

Minton T. writes: “In the spring of 1938, the word got out that Charles Bowden was hiring students to work around the pool during school vacation. I hurriedly applied for what I thought was a job as a lifeguard. I had visions of sitting up in the lifeguard’s chair, deeply tanned and being admired by the young ladies. As it turned out guarding lives was only a small part of what Charlie hired me for.

“One hot July morning, another boy and I were told to remove all the heavy growth of weeds that had grown up on the banks around the picnic area. We stripped to the waist and attacked the brush. One of the regular visitors to the park was the forest ranger. He came over to the bottom of the bank, looked up at us sweaty kids and said, ‘What the hell are you two doing? Don’t you know you have your arms full of poison oak?’ He ordered us down off the bank and told us to get in the pool right under the chlorinator. He said, ‘When you get home, take a bath with Fels Naptha Soap’ (strong brown laundry soap guaranteed to take your hide off). The soap apparently worked. No poison oak developed. Years later I found out that I had a natural immunity to poison oak.

Mike Lawler is the former  president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

“I worked at that job most of the summer, but I didn’t get to sit up on the lifeguard’s chair very often. Maybe just as well. On the deck of the pool was a jukebox. That was the summer Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’ and ‘Beer Barrel Polka’ were popular. The few times I was on duty as a lifeguard, I must have heard those tunes 500 times.”

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