The Burbank Historical Society recently revived a tradition of having barbecues on the museum’s patio and at the same time made the event a thank-you celebration for its members.
Docents who give tours of the Gordon R. Howard Museum were rewarded with snacks, lunch and opportunity prizes during the Volunteer Appreciation Day.
Burbank Historical Society volunteers are, from left, Carey Briggs, JoAnn Franklin and Marie Dennis. (Photos by Joyce Rudolph)
Back 30 years ago when the final addition was just a gleam in the eyes of founders, the late Mary Jane and Harry Strickland, there was a lot more room for the outdoor party. So space was limited this time, which wasn’t a problem because the lingering heat called for bringing volunteers inside the museum complex anyway.
The patio was the perfect size for people to pick up their hot dogs served by employees out of the Wienerschnitzel’s food truck. To add to the nostalgia, board member Gary Sutliff brought his old-fashioned popcorn cart, snow cone machine and cotton candy maker.
Reviving the tradition was a priority that President Dave Filson talked about after he was installed and he said it’s a practice he wants to continue.
“I think we used to do it once a year and everybody liked it, and even though this is on a smaller scale, I think this is something we should do for the members and also see if we can attract new people at the same time,” he said. “It’s kind of a small gesture but it’s something to show the members that the board of directors appreciates them being there.”
Members of the Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca, from left, Leslie Ruvalcaba, Betsie Bravo and Bianca Gallegos performed for the Burbank Historical Society’s Member Appreciation Day. (Photos by Joyce Rudolph)
Dancers of the Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca were dressed in colorful costumes and entertained in the Cunningham Auditorium.
It was the first time Esperanza Whitehead had ever been to the museum. She came to watch her daughter, Patricia, dance with the ballet.
“I’ve been in Burbank for 30 years and have never been here,” she said. “I have two more children and I’ll be bringing them here. It’s awesome!”
Stephanie Llewelyn of Burbank brought her friend, Deborah Richman, of Northridge.
Llewelyn’s favorite exhibit is the Lockheed Aircraft memorabilia, she said, because her father worked there.
Stephanie Llewelyn, left, and Deborah Richman visit the Burbank Museum
Volunteer JoAnn Franklin enjoys giving tours and meeting the people who take the tours — especially the children.
“They ask me how old I am and how much the items cost in the museum,” she said.
Charles Zembillas, who has been a volunteer since 1998, said it’s nice to see the public’s appreciation for the history of Burbank.
His favorite exhibit is the World War II American flag display, he said. The flag was presented to the Burbank Junior Chamber of Commerce from the Burbank servicemen they sponsored.
Photographer Bonnie Burrow won a prize basket and shared a pair of sunglasses with Burbank Historical Society docent Charles Zembillas during the Member Appreciation Day
“The flag was placed on the beach of Iwo Jima when the American servicemen landed,” he said.
The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It is located next door to the Creative Arts Center, 1100 W. Clark Ave.
No one is happier than the Road Kings that the redesign of Johnny Carson Park is complete.
The car club has had its Picnic in the Park and Charity Car Show there since 1996 and with the grand Re-Opening celebration set from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, the group is gearing up to return in 2017, said Don Baldaseroni, car show and publicity chair.
“The Road Kings are looking forward to working with the city of Burbank to do another charity car show at Johnny Carson Park in June,” Baldaseroni said. “At our last car show there we had spectators and car entrants from Australia, England, New York, Alabama, Chicago, Nevada, Arizona and all over California.”
Members raise a majority of their funds at their fall car show in Santa Anita Park. The next one is Oct. 16.
Proceeds from the car shows go to local charities and the classic car enthusiasts presented the annual distribution of funds at their meeting last week at the Burbank Elks Lodge.
One of the groups receiving a donation was the Burbank Historical Society, which maintains the city’s best kept secret, Baldaseroni said.
There are still so many people who don’t know about the society’s Gordon R. Howard Museum, he added. Some people are familiar with the jet and Mentzer House in Izay Park but have no clue that there is a two-story complex filled with memorabilia just around the corner.
“It’s an important part of the community because the museum preserves Burbank’s past,” he said.
Funds from the car club were combined with a donation from Wells Fargo to create a new audio/visual room in the museum’s Cunningham auditorium.
The projector, sound and wiring systems were replaced and board member and society handyman Gary Sutliff constructed the room’s walls, door and window.
The Road Kings’ donation helped purchase the projector and materials to build room, said Michael Dennis, the society board member and electronics technician.
Also receiving funds during the distribution meeting were the Police Fire Museum, Relay for Life, Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the East San Fernando Valley, Burbank Veterans Committee, Saddles for Solders and Dog Tags for Kids.
Sharing Burbank history is a labor of love for docents of the Gordon R. Howard Museum, but the most fun is seeing the reactions of local school children when they come for their tours.
The Burbank Historical Society board of directors recently thanked docents for their service during the annual holiday luncheon in the Cunningham Room.
Husband and wife volunteers are Myriel and Jim Tyree.
Husband and wife Myriel and Jim Tyree have served as docents since 2005, and Myriel conducts the school tours.
“First they say ‘wow’ when they come in the front door and see all the antique cars and trucks,” she said.
A lot of them bring their parents back on the weekends, Tyree added.
The Tyrees were docents at the Autry museum when they were recruited by Burbank Historical Society board members Les and Elaine Rosenberg.
“Once you come here, you think ‘why not be a docent?’ ” Myriel Tyree said. “It’s lots of fun and you meet nice people. I enjoy talking to people about Burbank history or history in general. You find you have a lot in common with people. And when you’re traveling you often meet people who have heard of Burbank landmarks like Martino’s Bakery.”
The couple have fun on the day of Burbank On Parade. They wear old-fashioned sandwich boards advertising the museum and walk up and down the parade route on Olive Avenue telling people about the museum.
Gordon R. Howard Museum docents are, from left, Brenda Elliott, Susan Hodgson and Kimberly Hendrix. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)
“We are always trying to encourage people to see the museum,” Myriel Tyree said. “We want to keep it from being Burbank’s best kept secret.”
Kimberly Hendrix remembers when a child was taking a tour of the Mentzer House with his family and when he walked by a plate of wax cupcakes on display, he picked one up and bit into it.
“He was angry that I didn’t tell him it wasn’t real before he bit into it,” she said.
Hendrix was born and raised in Burbank but moved to the West Side of Los Angeles as an adult.
“I guess I always loved Burbank but I didn’t know it,” she said. “One day I visited the museum and soon I was volunteering and seeing things I grew up with here in Burbank. It is really a fabulous collection and is displayed lovingly.”
Following the holiday party, the board of directors elected new officers and longtime board member Dave Filson was voted in as president.
Burbank Historical Society’s incoming President Dave Filson with his officers, standing from left, Dianna Briggs and Penny Rivera and sitting from left are Betty Penrod and Lorraine White. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)
He has two goals for his year. He wants to upgrade the audio-visual system in the Cunningham Room, which serves as the auditorium for special programs and presentations. Filson also wants to reintroduce barbecues in the courtyard in front of the museum.
The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and is located in Izay Park next door to the Burbank Creative Arts Center at 1100 W. Clark Ave. Admission is free. Exhibits include memorabilia of early industry giants like Lockheed Aircraft, NBC, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios. There is a room devoted to antique vehicles as well as displays of uniforms worn by military personnel during World War II.
Founders of the museum were Mary Jane and Harry Strickland who passed away this year. The museum was built by donations from the community and is run by volunteers. To become a docent, call the museum at (818) 841-6333. For more information, visit burbankhistoricalsoc.com.
Olive Memorial Stadium (Photo courtesy of Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel)
By Dick Dornan MyBurbank Sports Editor
With Major League Baseball spring training underway, we thought it would be fun to reminisce on the St. Louis Browns existence at Olive Memorial Stadium. Below is the story of their stay as well as a video that captures a bit of history here in Burbank.
Olive Memorial Stadium and the St. Louis Browns
Olive Memorial Stadium was home to the St. Louis Browns for spring training from 1949 – 1952 (Photo courtesy of Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel)
Gone but not forgotten. Quiet but not silent. From 1947 to 1989, a brick-facade stadium located at 1111 W. Olive Ave. (now known as George Izay Park) was home to Burbank residents and guests who utilized the facility for America’s national pastime of baseball. Guests you might ask? Who might that be? Well, Olive Memorial Stadium was home to the St. Louis Browns of Major League Baseball during spring training from 1949 to 1952.
It’s been 20 years now since the demolition of the ‘ole stadium. Tucked away in the southwest corner of the park, this grand old venue with a seating capacity of 1,000 people hosted each spring what many critics called the “worst team in the history of baseball.”
Built in 1947 for $64,425, closed to the public in 1989, and razed in 1995, Olive Memorial Stadium provided for four spring seasons a setting where the St. Louis Browns of the American League could enjoy an atmosphere of competitive baseball, beautiful weather and friendly crowds.
All that remains now is a memorial concrete column with plaques that was awarded to the city of Burbank on December 14, 1945, and was dedicated on May 30, 1947, to honor Burbank residents who were killed in World War II.
St. Louis Browns of the American League; now the Baltimore Orioles
“First in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League” was an expression synonymous with the St. Louis Browns. In their 52 year history, the “Brownies” finished in last place in their division 14 times and seventh 12 times. They only had three top-two finishes in their history. The Browns finished their St. Louis stay with a morbid overall record of 3,414 wins and 4,465 losses.
The lone bright spot in their franchise history was the victorious 1944 American League pennant over the Detroit Tigers. In an All-St. Louis World Series, the Browns lost to their city rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the ‘Streetcar Series’ four games to two held at Sportsman’s Park.
Discovered in 1901 as the original Milwaukee Brewers, the Browns moved and became residents of St. Louis in 1902 and stayed there through the 1953 season. In 1954, because of direct competition with the Cardinals and their wealthy and popular owner August A. Busch Jr., Browns owner Bill Veeck sold the team and the squad re-located to Baltimore where they became the Orioles.
Olive Memorial Stadium was built in the southwest corner of now George Izay Park at 1111 W. Olive Ave. (Photo courtesy of Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel)
For one month a year, the Browns called the city of Burbank home. The players lived across the street at the Olive Manor Motel (since demolished). Despite their poor play throughout the years, the Browns were supported with open arms by the citizens of Burbank. As it is now like it was back then, spring training represents the preparation and beginning of the major league baseball season when hope springs eternal and spirits are high.
Local Burbank workers came by during their lunch hour to catch a glimpse of some of baseball’s finest players. Families descended in droves upon this popular park in hopes of seeing their heroes. With the Chicago Cubs playing in nearby Avalon on Catalina Island, the Pittsburgh Pirates in San Bernardino, the Chicago White Sox in Pasadena and the New York Giants in Phoenix, chances of seeing a favorite player or even a Hollywood celebrity was very good.
Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Andy Devine, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore and Marilyn Monroe were sighted visiting with the players in the clubhouse after practices and games. Maybe they weren’t the New York Yankees, but these “Brownies” were popular with the city of Burbank and its loyal fans.
It has been said that the Browns even upstaged Burbank On Parade, the city’s annual parade. By drawing crowds as large as 2,500, Olive Memorial Stadium was filled to capacity with fans lining along the left and right field foul lines. Spring baseball fever was alive and well in Burbank as the Browns and their opponents entertained the throngs of fans.
Browns Manager and MLB Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby greets the mayor of Burbank (Photo courtesy of Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel)
Spring training in Burbank brought out a who’s who of baseball legends. Some of the star-studded cast included: St. LouisCardinal legend and1952 Browns Manager Rogers Hornsby, Browns pitcher and Negro League star Satchel Paige, Browns 1949 MLB Rookie of the Year Roy Sievers, New York/SF Giants Willie Mays, New York/SF Giants Bobby Thomson, Chicago White Sox Luke Appling, Cleveland Indians Bob Lemon, Cleveland Indians Bob Feller, Pittsburgh Pirates Ralph Kiner and the Chicago Cubs Hank Sauer.
Right here in our own backyard.
After the Browns left Burbank, the stadium was primarily used throughout the years for amateur and semi-pro baseball such as American Legion Post 150 as well as for the local high school teams and occasionally the Hollywood Stars. As the decades came and went, the stadium became more and more neglected. Grafitti, cracks in the concrete, splintered bleachers and a warped roof covered the facility.
The stadium closed in 1989 and for six years thereafter, debates and arguments raged on for the future of this historic site. Should it be renovated? Should it be destroyed and a new baseball structure built? Ultimately, the facility was rendered unsafe by the Burbank City Council.
Citing the poor dilapidated condition of the venue, the popularity of area softball and the expensive cost to rebuild a new baseball stadium (between $800,000 and a $1,000,000), Olive Memorial Stadium was demolished in 1995 and replaced with the current softball field in existence.
St. Louis Browns vs. Cleveland Indians (Photo courtesy of Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel)
On a casual Sunday afternoon drive heading north on Olive Ave., look to your left as you pass by George Izay Park and try to remember or even reminisce what Burbank once had: the St. Louis Browns and Major League Baseball entertaining Burbankers.
Just imagine in your head for a second the following scene at Olive Memorial Stadium: Browns Manager Rogers Hornsby in the dugout with his pitcher and legend Satchel Paige on the mound. At first base is the Giants’ Bobby Thomson and at the plate is a youngster named Willie Mays. Now those were the days. And I wasn’t even born yet….
myBurbank.com would like to thank the Burbank Historical Society and long-time Burbank resident Dr. Joe Dossen for their generosity and insight into the St. Louis Browns as well as Wes Clark and Mike McDaniel for allowing us to use their photography.
In honor of the St. Louis Browns, here are some exclusive personal accounts given by the former “Brownie” players.
Jim Dyck, #27, third baseman and the final player to ever appear in a Brown’s uniform on Sept. 27, 1953: (1951-1953)
On Spring Training– “We played the Cubs a lot. We formed some lasting friendships. The Brownie spring camps always were fun. Good fields, good lodging, everything first class. I loved the Browns and still do.”
On Manager Rogers Hornsby– “I also remember how mean, gruff and ornery Hornsby was. Great player, terrible manager.”
Hank Arft, #3, first baseman (1948-1952)
St. Louis Browns cap
On Spring Training– “Burbank was still ‘small town’ during that time. The fans were warm and friendly. We lived in a motel close to the park, very convenient, and the weather was fabulous. Happy memories!”
On Manager Rogers Hornsby– “Mr. Hornsby was one of the greatest hitters who ever played and he thought that any player should be able to hit like he did. He played better than he managed. He had no sympathy for a player who didn’t produce, regardless of the circumstances.”
On MLB players – “Players’ attitudes were different in those days. It was a thrill to meet those great players and to be on the field with them. Joe DiMaggio was always a gentleman, on and off the field. I wanted to be like him. Just to walk out in Yankee Stadium was a thrill. To get a hit off Raschi or Reynolds made my day.”
Joe DeMaestri, #1, shortstop (1952)
On Manager Rogers Hornsby– “It was the worst time of my baseball career.”
On Owner Bill Veeck– “He was great to us. Excellent relationship.”
Billy DeMars, #1, shortstop (1950-1951)
On Spring Training– “We had some exciting rides to and from the ballpark and hotel.”
On Manager Zack Taylor– “From 1 to 10, 10 being highest he would have been a 5.”
1950 St. Louis Browns
Roy Sievers, #18, outfielder and first baseman, Rookie of the Year- 1949 (1949-1953)
On Spring Training– “I had some great springs there. A great hitting park. It was a great area to train in plus the city itself was great to the players.”
Ned Garver, #31, pitcher, Led AL in complete games in 1950 and 1951; won 20 games in 1950 (1948-1952)
On Spring Training– “I got to meet some movie stars- Bing Crosby came in the clubhouse and I got a picture with him. The Browns team was introduced on the Graucho Marx TV show.”
On Manager Rogers Hornsby– “Did not seem to have many friends. At least a few showed up. Baseball’s greatest right hand hitter and no friends – very sad. Very strange atmosphere. Not conducive to players being able to perform at their best.”
On the Cardinals– “Just enjoyed getting to play against Musial, Slaughter, Moore, Marion, etc.”
Bob Cain, #33, pitcher (1952-1953)
On Spring Training– “Always remember how Satchel Paige would try to hide behind the left field wall from Rogers Hornsby.”
On Manager Rogers Hornsby– “I got along with Rogers Hornsby very well. I thought he was a pretty good manager.”
On Eddie ‘the midget’ Gaedel’s funeral– “My wife, Judy, and I were the only ones from baseball at his funeral. Enclosed is the article about us at the funeral and a card showing me pitching to the midget.”
We conclude our special feature on the St. Louis Browns with some interesting facts.
Did you know….
The Browns name is shortened from Brown Stockings, which was also the original name of the Cardinals. The name simply refers to the colors the team wore.
The grandstand seats at Olive Memorial Stadium were $1.80 for adults and 90 cents for children under 12.
The Los Angeles Rams used Olive Memorial Stadium as their main practice facility from 1959 to 1962.
The St. Louis Browns have two Hall of Fame players enshrined in Cooperstown: George Sisler, 1B, 1915 – 1927 and Bobby Wallace, SS, 1902 – 1916. Sisler won the MVP in 1922.
Sisler was the premier hitter of his era. His 257 hits in 1920 stood as the single season standard until passed by Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in 2004. His .420 average in 1922 is still the third highest single season average on record since 1900. Rogers Hornsby hit .424 as a Cardinal in 1924.
MLB’s smallest player ever, St. Louis Browns Eddie Gaedel at bat
The 1948 All-Star Game was hosted by the Browns at Sportman’s Park in St. Louis.
Eddie Gaedel, “the midget”, is the smallest player to have ever played major league baseball. On Aug. 18, 1951, owner Bill Veeck signed 3’7” midget Eddie Gaedel to make an appearance for the Browns as part of a publicity stunt.
Weighing 65 pounds and wearing #1/8 (one-eighth), Gaedel stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the first inning of the second game of a doubleheader vs. the Detroit Tigers.
Facing future Browns pitcher Bob Cain, Gaedel took four balls and walked to first base. He was removed for a pinch runner and Gaedel never played major league baseball again. It was the most memorable moment in St. Louis Browns history.
Vice Mayor Bob Frutos, left, with Burbank Historical Society’s fundraising crew Penny Rivera, Sue Baldaseroni, Mike Dennis, Don Baldaseroni, Betty Penrod and special guest master of ceremonies Randy Kerdoon. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
Yesterday, today and tomorrow were woven into the afternoon when the Burbank Historical Society commemorated the 103rd anniversary of the city’s incorporation in 1911 during a fundraiser on July 11 at Story Tavern on San Fernando Boulevard in Downtown Burbank.
It was the third year the society held the anniversary party at the Tavern, but this year the more than 70 guests were seated in the new patio and game room next door. There were door prizes, a silent auction and buffet of pulled pork, mac and cheese and chips and guacamole.
Story Tavern owner Ted Slaught, left, with Burbank Historical Society board member Don Baldaseroni. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
“I just want to make sure everybody opens their wallets and spends all their money because its going to the children and the society,” said society President Sue Baldaseroni, who organized the event with her husband, Don Baldaseroni, Penny Rivera, Betty Penrod and Mike Dennis.
Funds raised are earmarked for an interactive exhibit for children at the society’s museum, which is open from 1 to 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday and is next door to the Creative Arts Center in Izay Park. Schoolchildren take field trips to the museum during the week.
Tavern owner Ted Slaught is a big supporter of the historical society and attended the event — even helped light the candles on the anniversary cake.
Story Tavern owner Ted Slaught, left, found an antique box that will be displayed in the original Tavern so that patrons can make donations to the Burbank Historical Society. Board member Don Baldaseroni holds the box while museum founder Mary Jane Strickland looks on. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
Slaught, with museum founder Mary Jane Strickland at his side, also unveiled an antique wooden box he had acquired that was probably made during the Depression and came from Ohio, he said. On it are the words “Relief Fund — Burbank Police Dept.”
While it is not known which Burbank the box originated from, Slaught said the story he’d been told was that during the Depression, the relief fund and the pension fund for the city was nearly broke and they had to raise money for the children and the widows and this was one of the donation boxes. An Internet search turned up a Burbank, Ohio, population of 207, according to the 2010 census. It’s possible that could be the city from which the box originated.
The box will be placed in the original Story Tavern in Burbank, Calif., and the public can drop donations into it for the local historical society. The gesture ties in nicely because Strickland’s father was the first police chief here.
Guests listen to monologue delivered by master of ceremonies Randy Kerdoon. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
Sportscaster Randy Kerdoon served as master of ceremonies and kept spirits bright with historical quips.
“I think this location is pretty awesome,” he said. “This used to be a hardware store and I was reading the sign outside and it’s just fascinating how things transition. It’s gone from plumbing and hardware to a sports bar. We’ve basically gone from buying a screwdriver to drinking a screwdriver.”
Burbank Historical Society President Sue Baldaseroni holds the winning ticket as Randy Kerdoon reads the prize. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
While that may be so, the drink of the hour during the fundraiser was the 1911 Cocktail, whose main ingredient is Applejack, or distilled apple cider, one of America’s first spirits, said Story Tavern co-owner Brian Slaught, Ted’s son. It is garnished with a slice of cantaloupe, which was one of the lucrative crops in Burbank and is said to have saved the town’s life financially when the land boom collapsed.
The Burbank Historical Society was founded in 1973 and operates the Gordon R. Howard Museum, which includes an 1887 Victorian house, a memorabilia building including a Lockheed Aviation display and other historical artifacts, a vintage vehicle building, a salon and the Ray Sence addition in which 19th-century-era rooms are shown.
Burbank Historical Society President Sue Baldaseroni, left, blows out the candles with museum founder Mary Jane Strickland. The anniversary party honored the 103rd anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Burbank — July 11, 1911. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
The Salvatore brothers dressed in Road Kings shirts for the Burbank Historical Society fundraiser at Story Tavern. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
City Manager Mark Scott, left, with Vice Mayor Bob Frutos at the 103rd anniversary celebration of the city of Burbank incorporation. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
Rhonda Rikki Kirchner with brothers Nasty Noel Salvatore, center, and Fast Eddie Salvatore, who are keeping track of several drawing prize tickets at the Burbank Historical Society fundraiser at Story Tavern. (Photos by Joyce Rudolph)
There is never a shortage of colorful tales when it comes to covering American sports events and local broadcaster Randy Kerdoon has seen it all during the 35-plus years he’s been in the business.
He is now heard on KNX 1070 News Radio giving sports updates twice an hour each weekday morning through early afternoon.
Kerdoon will share memories from his career when he serves as master of ceremonies for the Burbank Historical Society’s third annual fundraiser beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Story Tavern.
A Valley Boy, Kerdoon graduated from El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills before venturing up north to earn his bachelor’s degree in journalism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He worked at smaller radio markets in Pismo Beach, Bishop, Reno, Nev., and Salt Lake City, Utah, before returning to Los Angeles in 1989.
During a hockey game in Flint, Mich., the Eagles were trailing and then-coach Wayne Thomas was growing more and more frustrated with officials’ calls on the ice, he said.
“It finally got to the point where he picked up a stick, held it by the blade edge, put on some sunglasses and walked onto the ice as if he were a blind man with a cane making his way down the street. Officials pointed him in the direction of the locker room — right before they tossed him from the game.”
Kerdoon worked at KFWB and KTTV Fox 11 before coming to KNX in 2003. He also anchored for Fox Sports Net’s “Final Score” show, Time Warner Cable’s High School Rewind and filled in at KCBS, KCAL in 2006.
“What’s the most fun for me is not just the ups and downs of local teams, it’s the strange — the quirky stuff — that just happens,” he said.
One recent week alone, the odd stories he’s covered included a soccer player biting another on the field, Dodger announcer Vin Scully telling the touching story of Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny, and how bird poop helped him (Matheny) find his true love and the sad Sterling-Clippers saga “which gets stranger as it moves along,” he added.
Kerdoon has received 10 Golden Mike Awards for his radio reporting and an Emmy while he was at Fox 11.
He’ll have more tales to tell when he attends the Burbank Historical Society’s fundraiser at Story Tavern, which now occupies the historic building at 150 S. San Fernando Blvd., that once housed Story Hardware, owned by Burbank’s first mayor Thomas Story, at the time of the city’s incorporation in 1911.
The society holds the annual fundraiser on July 11 because that is the date the city was incorporated.
At last year’s event, the society raised about $4,000, said President Sue Baldaseroni. The funds went to pay for the buses to bring Burbank schoolchildren to the museum for tours during the school year as well as maintaining and restoring some of the very old articles of clothing on display.
This year the funds will go to creating a new interactive display for children. Baldaseroni said the society members are at the beginning stage of choosing from several ideas. One project the society is working on is a wall mural depicting Burbank’s history from the beginning to now. It is due to open next year, she said.
Those volunteering on the third annual fundraiser with Baldaseroni are her husband, Don Baldaseroni, Penny Rivera, Betty Penrod and Mike Dennis.
Some of the recent additions the society has made to the museum are the Debbie Reynolds memorabilia exhibit, the U.S. Veterans display has been redone and a new exhibit showing the old technology — telephones and typewriters.
Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 and include dinner and two drink tickets. The restaurant is known for its long list of beer, wine, ciders, craft cocktails and liquors. Guests will be seated in the Tavern’s Game Room so they can play games while they have dinner and bid on silent auction items. For reservations, call (818) 841-6333.
The fundraiser for the Burbank Historical Society at Story Tavern brought back a lot of memories for many of the more than 100 people attending the Monday evening soiree.
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
The event marked the second anniversary of the downtown restaurant as well as the 102nd anniversary of the incorporation of the city on July 8, 1911. Story Tavern is located where Story Hardware did business from 1915 to 1986, and was founded by Burbank’s first mayor Thomas Story.
Burbank’s history is woven into many aspects of the Tavern, said General Partner Ted Slaught. The date the restaurant opened last year was chosen to coincide with the date of the incorporation of the city. Two years before the restaurant opened, Slaught approached the historical society and told members about his plan to open a restaurant with the theme dedicated to the history of Burbank. That led to the acquisition of historic photos of the city’s early days gracing the walls.
“We rely very heavily on the Burbank Historical Society for advice and guidance,” he said. “They have given us access to their digital photo libraries and we thank them very much!”
Sandy Dennis sell opportunity drawing tickets. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
The historical society membership is mostly folks who were born and raised here. Members volunteer time to maintain the museum in Izay Park and serve as docents from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Museum founder Mary Jane Strickland was greeting guests at the Tavern front door. She worked at Ervin’s Jewelers, which was across the alley from Story Hardware on San Fernando Blvd.
“We used to come in here if you needed a nut, bolt or whatever, this is where you would come,” she said. “And then the fact that Thomas Story was the first mayor, that always fascinated people that the store was still here. On the way down I passed the Story family home on Angeleno and I thought about it, so the connection is still here.”
Don Baldaseroni Road Kings member and Burbank Historical Society member with Ted Slaught with Dale Lauterback .(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Dr. Ervin, an optometrist, owned the Ervin’s store building. Ervin’s was the only place you could buy Spode china. Dr. Ervin’s wife ran the gift shop and had the rights to sell it in Burbank, Strickland said. Another interesting fact Strickland remembered was that most customers had to pay cash. Only the more affluent patrons were extended credit on their purchases.
Sandy Dennis, who is a docent at the historical museum, remembered Ervin’s as well.
Burbank Mayor Emily Gabal-Luddy, Mary Jane Strickland with Ted Slaught lighting the Birthday candles on a huge cake.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
“It was about the only store in town where you could get your china when you were getting married and where you could actually register,” she said. “My china came from there and my silver and different things. It was a fun place to go to and they had a lot of clothes.”
When Dennis thinks of early Burbank and San Fernando Blvd., she said she thinks of such stores as Dotty Lee, and a hat store that was nearby.
“Before Easter, we would come and buy our hats there,” she said. “My uncle took accordion lessons at the music store down the road at Loretta Ward’s.”
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Dennis noticed a photo on the wall of Dr. Elmer Thompson, who opened the first hospital –Burbank Community Hospital. Dr. Thompson used to ride in his horse and buggy to Dennis’ grandmother’s home in Glendale every Sunday for dinner. And he delivered
Dennis’ mother at that home.
Betty Penrod, historical society executive board member, said she loves this fundraiser and the Tavern’s food.
“It has turned into something everyone can enjoy,” she said. “You walk in and feel like you are home.”
Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said the event drew an “unbelievable turnout” and the ages of the people attending were diverse.
“It shows that honoring our past is something the whole community supports,” she said.
She was also dazzled by the photographs of early Burbank on the walls.
“So much of our past — our movie past is right here on the walls,” she said. “It is a joy to see it. I am so thrilled that the owner has been participating wholeheartedly in doing this. He really thinks history is important as well.”
Mayor Emily Gabal-Luddy, Mary Jane Strickland, and Ted Slaught. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Slaught told the group that the restaurant is expanding into the next-door unit where, in a couple weeks, they will open additional patio seating. They will also add craft cocktails to their beverage menu that already boasts craft domestic and imported beer and hard ciders.
In the final moments of the party, Slaught lit the 102 candles on the chocolate birthday cake and everyone watched as Strickland blew them out — in only two breaths, then proudly posed with Mayor Gabel-Luddy. It will make another perfect photograph for the Tavern’s wall.
Silent Auction items on display. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Story Tavern employees and owner L/R Brian Slaught, Center Ted Slaught, and right Diane Slaught working the tap. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Historical Board Member Sue Baldaseroni holds a gift certificate to Snookies that was offered.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Bill Luddy, Mary Jane Strickland, and Mayor Emily Gabal Luddy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
To mark the 40th Anniversary of its founding, the Burbank Historical Society honored Mary Jane Strickland and her husband, Harry (better known as Buddy), at a gala dinner at the Gordon R. Howard Museum.
Harry and Mary Jane Strickland, shown surrounded by family, were honored on Burbank Historical Society’s 40th Anniversary. (Staff Photo)
Much of what the Burbank Historical Society is today is directly attributable to the efforts of the Stricklands. Even before there was a Burbank Historical Society, Mary Jane was gathering up items she felt were significant to Burbank’s past. In 1973, then City Librarian Kenneth Wilson, who was Strickland’s boss, met with her and Stan Lynch, where he proposed forming the historical society. Mostly through Mary Jane’s efforts, many other Burbankers were drawn in, and the Burbank Historical Society became a reality with Lynch as it’s first president, and Mary Jane as vice president. However, Mary Jane was always the guiding force behind the society. As they say, the rest is history.
Guests at the dinner were treated to a slide show showing many of the important milestones in the history of the society — most of which were in one way or another attributable to the efforts of the Stricklands and the many people Mary Jane has “recruited” as members. Probably most notable of Mary Jane’s “recruits” was the late Gordon R. Howard. Through the generosity of Mr. Howard and his wife, the society has the museum complex that bears his name.
When the society was in its infancy, Mr. Howard donated a Moreland bus and truck to them. The two vehicles were not only old, but historically significant. They had been built at the Moreland Truck factory which used to be located in Burbank at San Fernando Road and Alameda Avenue. Mr. Howard’s generosity continued with a donation of property, the proceeds from which allowed the society to build the museum in 1983. It also houses antique vehicles from Mr. Howard’s collection.
One project close to Mary Jane’s heart was The Mentzer House. Built in 1887, it was located on Palm Ave. where the Police and Fire Headquarters are now located. It was moved to its present location on Olive Ave. in George Izay Park in 1979. Jim Woodburn, who was he City Engineer and also president of the society in 1979, recalls the house’s arrival.
“I escorted the house over the Olive Overpass at 3 a.m.,” said Woodburn who spent many hours helping restore the house with other volunteers. “There were other similar houses being demolished so I was able to salvage windows and other architectural elements for the house.”
The Gordon R. Howard museum, site of the gala dinner honoring Harry and Mary Jane Strickland, is open to the public every Sunday afternoon. (Staff Photo)
Although the society’s museum is filled with items from the city’s past, so much more is stored in the memories of people like Mary Jane and Harry Strickland. “You need to listen to your parents and their parents,” said Mary Jane, who is a wealth of Burbank history in her own right. Her parents moved to Burbank in 1913. Her father, George R. Cole was Burbank’s first Chief of Police, assuming the office in 1920. Although the family home was located up on E. Palm Ave. in 1924, Mary Jane was born in Texas. Her parents were in Texas due to her father’s job as a Prohibition Agent for the Treasury Dept. Luckily for the residents of Burbank, present and future, she returned back home to Burbank shortly after her birth.
Harry Strickland’s Burbank roots go back a long way, too. He was a Burbank Police Officer, who is credited for exposing the mob influence in Burbank back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. During their 63 years of marriage, Harry and Mary Jane have been a team.
“Mary Jane comes up with the ideas,” said Harry, “and I try to make them happen.” Back in 1979 when the Mentzer House arrived, Harry was right there with other volunteers restoring the house. “For three years after I retired I did nothing but work on the Mentzer House,” he said.
“Harry has put more time in than the rest of us combined, “ noted Gary Sutliff, a board member of the society.
The efforts of both Mary Jane and Harry Strickland have not been lost on the community. “They are what ‘dedication’ means in the dictionary,” said Sutliff. Those sentiments were echoed by others at the dinner. Mayor Dave Golonski, as one of his last acts as mayor, spoke on behalf of the City of Burbank. “ I want to give you a really big thank you on behalf of future generations for this slice of history that they would have never seen if it were not for your efforts and the efforts of others,” said Golonski, adding, “You were the inspiration.”
Former Mayor Vicen Stefano told the audience, “Harry, you were a great cop. You two are great public servants.”
The couple’s nephew, Randy Strickland, a minister in Mesa, Arizona, summed up the evening. “They are our heroes, genuine heroes.,” he said. The audience rose to their feet to honor the couple.
With 40 years of dedication to the Burbank Historical Society, Mary Jane, 88, and Harry 98, have cut back on the time they spend at the museum, but her daughter and son-in-law, Penny and Tony Rivera, are there following in Mary Jane and Harry’s footsteps.
With a museum complex, filled with many exhibits and an outstanding car collection, that has become one of the biggest assets in the community, Mary Jane was asked what her proudest accomplishment is? It wasn’t the well preserved artifacts, the beautifully restore house, or the building where the dinner was held. “Collecting and preserving Burbank’s history,” said Mary Jane, “That was my goal, and we have pretty much accomplished that for future generations.
Cake featured image of the Mentzer House, which saved from the wrecking ball in 1979, and is now part of the society’s museum complex. (Staff Photo)
Pictured are L/R Bill Weaver, Robert Gilliland Jr., and Tom Morgendeild. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)
This past Saturday, Legends gathered and shared their stories at The Burbank Historical Society, as members and guests paid Tribute To An American Hero, Robert “Bob” Gilliland. Gilliland, who was recently hospitalized, had his son Robert Jr. stand in his place, lthough he did not have the stories his dad could have told as being the test pilot of the Lockheed Sr-71, the F-104 fighter and several other great planes built right here in Burbank. Gilliland was given several Proclamations and awards at the luncheon that was well attended by old time Lockheed employees and Burbank residents. Former fellow test pilots Bill Weaver and Tom Morgenfeild told of those days when Burbank was the old stomping grounds when such plans came out of ‘Lochkeed’s Skunk Works’. Supersonic planes and jet fighters that are still in use today serving our country.