Everything Old is New Again

I didn’t grow up with a built-in love for history but certainly the cumulative experiences from my life eventually got me there. With each year that came and each mile marker I passed, I learned to appreciate how things from the past play an important role in shaping our future.

I was raised during a very interesting time and place. Los Angeles in the 1960s was changing rapidly. It was a decade of trepidation with military conflicts and civil unrest, but it was also a period when, if you worked hard, the American dream could be achieved. Urban sprawl was well underway and many families sought the suburbs for a simpler life. My parents had moved from the San Fernando Valley to “the Rock” by then and I grew up with the natural world right outside my back door. My days were carefree, but I remember thinking that we were on the cusp of something important, especially when I witnessed the moon landing via television on that historic day – July 20, 1969.

The year I turned 12, the history classes in school were testing a new format with each teacher focusing on one topic for five weeks for in-depth study. We learned about early American history, Indian tribes and culture, the Civil War and slavery, and WWII and the Holocaust. It was heavy material and I remember trying to wrap my young head around the atrocities of concentration camps with sickening film footage of dead, naked bodies piled up. This is when I began to understand the adage, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I learned that, good or bad, history is important and should be respected. So many people today want to destroy history or worse – rewrite it for their own nefarious purposes that makes no sense. We must learn and evolve.

In the Crescenta Valley, we are blessed to have so many organizations dedicated to preserving our local history and protecting our resources. In almost all cases, these organizations are operated completely by volunteers who devote countless hours to ensure facilities, artifacts and photos are preserved for future generations and that the stories are told. In my opinion, these are the keepers of priceless knowledge and true heroes in our community.

One such group are the folks at the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley. President Michael Morgan and past president Mike Lawler regularly pore through the information found in the History Room at the Glendale Central Library and share their research with the community. Pam Lawler does a great job compiling the Society’s newsletter and includes personal recollections from “old-timers,” early and modern-day photo comparisons, newspaper clippings and preservation updates. It’s a delightful read. The HSCV also hosts guest speakers and special tours each month and I am happy to attend those when I am able.

Last week, when catching up on old copies of my HSCV newsletters, I read with interest some articles (and great ads) from the Los Angeles Times and The Ledger from the 1960s. I had to laugh because some of the stories revealed the very same concerns we talk about today in public meetings – zone changes, parking, billboards. One story described that Southern California was experiencing the worst drought in history. There was one about a “hippie-type fellow” living in La Tuna Canyon. Another raised concerns about the safety of vaccines and another stated that parents had the right to review sex education content in school. Sound familiar? I also enjoyed looking at the proposed maps for the future 210 Freeway and Verdugo Hills Hospital. I pondered how life would have changed for me if different plans or locations had been chosen.

It seems that life always comes full circle to teach us lessons. As for the moon, we even got back there, too!

Susan Bolan