Treasures of the Valley

The Montrose Exposition of 1934

The Montrose merchants have always been good at promoting their charming shopping area. They have a wonderful spirit of cooperation. It was that attitude of mutual aid and teamwork that created the gorgeous tree-lined Montrose Shopping Park back in the late ’60s. And starting in the early 1920s, and continuing today, they put on special events designed to bring in visitors to enjoy our beautiful Montrose. Today those events include the annual car show, the Arts and Crafts festival, wine walks and Oktoberfest.

A big Montrose event in 1934 was covered in the local paper. In the fall of that year Montrose, still digging out from the big New Year’s Flood just a few months before, put on a major exposition that attracted thousands to Montrose. A huge circus tent was erected just below Honolulu Avenue at the intersection of Market Street and Broadview. It was to be an evening event on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and it was designed to pull in visitors from far and wide to promote Montrose.

About 60 booths were set up for local and regional businesses to display their products. A small sample of some of the local exhibitors: Knox Hardware, Anawalt Lumber, Valley Pharmacy, Harris Plumbing, Montrose Radio, Paul’s Dollar Store (we had dollar stores back then?) and Coast Auto Racing. Regional businesses included Kraft Cheese, Carnation Milk, Union Ice and Globe Milling. These were strictly exhibitions of their products. Odd thing about the exhibition – this was to be a non-commercial event – everything was free except refreshments! Also free were the big evening shows.

The Montrose Exhibition opened on Wednesday night with a fundraising dinner put on by the American Legion, .50 cents a plate. This attracted 500 people who also got a preview look at the many booths set up and prizes were awarded to the best booths. The booths included “food products, wearing apparel, gas and electrical appliances, automobiles.”

Thursday night opened with Madame Pasquali, “the Eye-talian Menace from the land of Mussolini” (apparently a singer and entertainer with a comical Italian accent – definitely not politically correct!). She was followed by the De Pina Troup, a group of European acrobats, and six other vaudeville acts. This attracted about 7500 attendees.

Friday brought out Madame Pasquali again, as she was a big deal. Also on the bill were “The Six Candrivas Brothers, California’s supreme trumpeters, familiar to every radio listener” followed by some comedians and more vaudeville acts.

Saturday night promised a mysterious performer: “He or she will be a radio performer of the greatest magnitude and will come in the way of a surprise.” Apparently the surprise was that they were a no-show, but the overflow crowd made do with a famous vaudeville headliner, the Gausica Review, doing its signature act “Variety Bits” along with several other acts.

Free samples were handed out by the many local exhibitors and big prizes were awarded. Here are some quotes from the full-page advertisement: “The tent will be as light as day – Watch for the Klieg lights;” “See your favorite Ascot racer in person. Many auto racing cars and motorcycles with their drivers – See them!” “Kiddies! Gilmore Lion! A real one will roar for you” “A big show – All free!” Along with a warning to kids on the loose: “Children admitted only when accompanied by adults.”

And speaking of kids, a small political battle was fought on Honolulu during the show. A group from the Communist Party set up for a soapbox oratory on the sidewalk. As the paper explained, “One young man and an elder man who, by the way, had a pronounced foreign accent, urged the passersby to vote the Communist ticket in the November election … But they met their Waterloo a few minutes later when a group of boys appeared on the scene and, using catcalls and jeers as their weapons, created such a din as to drown out the exhortations of the impassioned speakers … A passerby was heard to remark, ‘Such disturbances are, as a rule, to be condemned, but the youngsters did the community a service that time.’”

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