Besides this column, I also do the “CV Then and Now” piece that has appeared in this paper since its beginning, and that ran in the previous CV Sun. I obtain old photos, match them to their current locations with a new photo, and then write some accompanying text. I can often be seen lurking about neighborhoods, a camera in one hand and a old photo in the other, looking for just the right angle that isn’t blocked by new construction or trees that have grown to obscure the “then” view. My text is drawn from many sources – old newspapers, memories of old timers, internet references, and my own very incomplete knowledge of our local history, and quite often I’m doing it last minute. Unfortunately I make mistakes.
Such is the case with the CV Then and Now I did a couple of weeks ago about Bill Bailey’s Shoes. I knew that Bill Bailey, a local merchant, had been an important community leader. When I read the reference to Bill Bailey’s shoe store opened in the late ‘60s, I assumed that had been his next business venture after his first store closed, so I assumed they were the same guy. They weren’t. Not even close.
I got a call from Art Cobery who worked for Bill Bailey at Trade-Rite Market in the ‘40s, and CV Weekly publisher Robin Goldsworthy got a call from Vito Cannella, who worked with that same Bailey on various community service projects. Shoe store Bill Bailey was an entirely different man, and shouldn’t be confused with Trade-Rite/community leader Bill Bailey.
I’ll tell you a little about the community leader Bailey.
Art remembers Bailey as the owner of Verdugo City’s grocery store, at Honolulu and La Crescenta. Just down the street from his store was a sharp 90 degree turn in the road where Pennsylvania met Honolulu. On a regular basis, cars would fly down the slope of Pennsylvania Ave. only to miss the unexpected hard left turn onto Honolulu, and they would crash through the yards of the homes on the other side, or worse, flip over and roll. Several people were killed there over the years, and the turn became known as “Dead Man’s Curve” or the “Montrose Death Curve.” Bill Bailey led the effort to have the curve smoothed, banked and a guard-rail installed, thus saving countless lives. Bits of the old “Dead Man’s Curve” can still be seen on the south side of the guard-rail of the Pennsylvania/Honolulu curve.
Vito Cannella remembers Bill Bailey as the co-creator of National Flag Week. In the mid-60s, a time of growing national turmoil, Bailey came up with the idea of expanding National Flag Day to an entire week, during which time the U.S. flag would be flown and celebrated. Vito and local newspaper publisher Don Carpenter joined him in the effort, and with the Rotary Club, an intensive two year campaign of petition signature gathering on a national level was embarked on. In 1966 the little group from Montrose convinced the Senate and Congress to pass a bill, and President Johnson signed National Flag Week into law. Since then, each year the president issues a proclamation declaring the week around Flag Day as National Flag Week. Vito has been the keeper of the flame all these years, and each year he writes letters to national representatives reminding them of Flag Week and its importance. June 12 through June 18 will be Flag Week this year, so remember to fly your flag that entire week, and remember that Montrose is the home of National Flag Week. Be sure to visit the plaque that Councilman John Drayman had installed at the flagpole in Montrose at Ocean View and Honolulu. It tells the whole story.
So, to wrap up, my apologies to the memory of both Bill Baileys. Sometimes a mistake creates an opportunity, and in this case it gave me the excuse to let you readers know about the contributions to the community and the nation made by one of our two Bill Baileys.