Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

Petrea wins with her 10:27 p.m. Tuesday guess "I'm going to hazard a guess and say Victory Park. Installing the playground there. Looks like the 1960's, maybe?"

About 100 local Kiwanis Club volunteers descended on the new Victory Park on May 4, 1952, to transform bare ground into a playground and recreation center in the course of one day. This was about three weeks before the park's formal dedication.

Excerpt from the May 4, 1952, Pasadena Star-News:

The Pasadena Kiwanis Club did it!

Its members set out yesterday to complete a recreational center for children on the city's new Victory Park in one day and they did just that...

...Children descended in droves while the Kiwanians and their wives were enjoying Kiwanian Al Leigh's tender, fat and juicy spring fries. Swings, slides, rings, the jungle gym, sand boxes, etc., got a rough initiation.

The whole plan for the creation of the playgrounds was originated by Verne Orr Jr., Kiwanis president last year. He passed the baton to Audre Stong, this year's president, who bore down heavily and raised the $2,000 needed for supplies. Past and present Kiwanis presidents would pin the gold medal for a successfully completed project on Chairman Schaal, if they had a medal.

Neighbors of the Victory Park area, who were lookers-on, said nice things about a club of doctors, businessmen, etc., who spent their entire Saturday smashing their thumbs, bruising their shins, accumulating blisters and backaches, and spending $2,000 for one sole purpose -- to make little children happy.
Here's a fun photo of post-parade activities at Victory Park in 1956:

Now here's a look back:

In 1945 the Board of City Directors (now known as the City Council) established the Pasadena War Memorial Committee. The letter of instructions to appointed members of the committee included this:

It is desired by the Board of City Directors that the Pasadena War Memorial make a survey of the various possibilities for a suitable War Memorial to those men and women who served in World War II. It may be desirable to list one or more projects. If so, it is suggested that they be placed in the order of their importance in the minds of the Committee.
Early on, the committee came to some general conclusions: The project should be be managed and maintained so as not to become a burden on the community, it should serve a real community need with consideration of other facilities already available, the financing should be determined by the Board of City Directors, and the facilities of the war memorial should be for the benefit of all citizens of Pasadena.

The following year the committee made a formal recommendation to the Board of City Directors for the specific property in the then-wide-open eastern portion of Pasadena, which the city would purchase as a park to be named Victory Park in memory of all Pasadenans who gave their lives during World War II. The memorial Victory Park would include an auditorium, "eating facilities," conference and meeting rooms, an athletic pavilion and a parking area.

The price tag for Pasadena's 15th city park: $4 million.

Victory Park was dedicated on May 25, 1952, with Alson E. Abernethy, chairman of the Board of Pasadena City Directors, and Mrs. Eleanor D. Boyd, national president of American Gold Star Mothers, presiding.

Here's a photo of Chairman Abernethy from the Hall of Mayors:

I thought I would have time to do a photo archive search of the dedication day but as so often happens, the time got away from me.

I have done prior Victory Park postings, including this one.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library.


David Noble said...

Kudos to the Kiwanis Club!

Though I do admit, I liked Kevin's guess on Tuesday the best.

pasadenapio said...

Yes, David, Kevin's guesses are always so clever and creative!

Bellis said...

Congratulations,Petrea! I'm amazed there was still empty land like this in the 50s.

Petrea said...

I always like Kevin's guesses best, too. But I still accept!

Cafe Pasadena said...

I still liked Petrea's guess better.

However, "Petrea could not be with us tonite to accept this fab award, so I will accept this honor in her absence!"