As part of our Mission to share the history of El Sereno with the community and public, we plan to present a new picture/historic document every month. This will allow us, the El Sereno Historical Society, to continue sharing recent historic discoveries.
But more importantly it will allow you, our readers and supporters, the chance to have any hidden or long-forgotten historic gems be shared with our great El Sereno community. Sharing and learning about our history is a community effort, and we thank all those who contribute and add to our growing historic community's website.
Excerpts from article by Charles Cooper, El Sereno Star, January 14, 1976
A memorial service has been scheduled for January 25 at 2 p.m. for D Newman, two-time school board president and El Sereno community leader who died Sunday (January 11, 1976) at the age of 54.
Private funeral rites were to be held this week at Rose Hills Memorial Park. The memorial service may be held at Wilson High, but further details will be forthcoming later.
In lieu of flowers, the family ask donations to the Dr. Newman Scholarship Fund, care of Wilson High School, 4500 Multnomah St., Los Angeles 90032.
Dr. Newman is survived by his wife, Mary; two sons, Steven and Mark; two daughters, Kathy and Patty; two brothers, Leon and Mathew, and two sisters Bessie and Gertude.
After an active day Saturday working on a women’s football game he had helped put together as a bicentennial fund raising even, Dr. Newman was stricken at his home Sunday morning and was taken to Alhambra Community Hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack.
Dr. Newman, who had served on the Board of Education since 1969, was a native of Ohio, but lived virtually all of his life in the Northeast LA area, graduating from Lincoln High School.
He attended Loyola University and Cal Tech, before receiving a DO degree from the California College of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons. He later earned an MD degree at the California College of Medicine.
Dr. Newman enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was a veteran of combat in World War II, decorated at Saipan with the U.S. Marines.
His school board service began in 1969 when he was elected over incumbent Dr. James Jones. He won re-election easily in 1973, and twice served as board president, in 1971-72 and 1974-75.
While on the board, he became a recognized expert in school finance and held a variety of county and state posts, including President of the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association, member of the delegate assembly and of the finance committee of the California School Boards Association, and member of the Educational Congress of California.
Prior to his service on the board, he was chairman of the Wilson High School advisory committee, of the neighborhood school bond committee which helped pass the last successful bond issue, which financed, among other projects, the new Wilson High School.
Dr. Newman also served as president of the El Sereno Coordination Council, and chairman of its juvenile justice committee; member of the board of the El Sereno Chamber of Commerce, and of the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce, in which city he practiced as a physician; as a scoutmaster and as vice chairman and chairman of the Foothill District, Boy Scouts of America, receiving for his activities the Order of Merit and the Silver Beaver from the Los Angeles Area Council; and member of the board of directors of the Welfare Planning Council.
While on the board, he continued such activities as providing assistance for orphanages in Tecate, Mexico, organizing regular trips down there with clothing, food and medicine, and his service as volunteer team physician for the Wilson High football team.
Vic Cuccia, coach of the Wilson team called Dr. Newman “the finest person I have ever met.” He said that in order to be with the team in the recent city 3A championships, Dr. Newman left a meeting in San Francisco, flew down to watch Wilson win its first city title, and then flew back to San Francisco at 1 a.m.
In recent years, he had concentrated much of his activities in two areas; serving as medical director of the Northeast Free Clinic, which he had kept open single-handedly in the last few weeks while trying to negotiate a solution for malpractice insurance problems of other doctors who had served as volunteers, and also his work as chairman of the El Sereno Bicentennial Committee.
Major project of the committee was to refurbish the old 1889 structure which had housed Farmdale Elementary School, and which now stands on the El Sereno Junior High campus.
Dr. Newman had collected a number of early photos and artifacts for the project, and was engaged in writing a history of El Sereno, as well as working with Cal State Los Angeles on a commemorative booklet to be handed out at the Farmdale building when it was completed and open the public.
The school board suspended all but essential business Monday night in order that the members and Superintendent William J. Johnston might eulogize their late colleague.
Dr. Johnston described the late board member as “a man of great compassion for all and particularly for those in need.”
He said Dr. Newman preferred to solve problems by working quietly with staff, and added, “It is difficult, if not impossible, to describe adequately his unique and significant contributions to this school district, to this community, to this nation. Don came as close to exemplifying our American ideals as any individual I have known.”
Dr. Newman was also eulogized by the four board members present: Philip Bardos called him a “unifying force in deliberations.” Richard Ferraro praised his “involvement with his community.” Diane Watson said that he had served as an example to her since coming on the board, and board president Dr. Robert Docter lauded his ability to communicate, his knowledge on the issues and his friendliness toward other board members.
The board ordered school flags flown at half mast until the funeral. City flags will also be flown at half mast on order of the City Council, which adjourned at the close of business Monday in honor of Dr. Newman.
Councilman Art Snyder, a close friend of Dr. Newman’s moved for the adjournment, calling the late physician “a friend of the young people of the city, a friend of the community of Northeast Los Angeles, of El Sereno, a friend of each of us.”
Snyder said, “The needs of love and service and dedication to the community which he planted live and are growing and in turn casting off seeds—an investment in us and in the community he loved. And that investment is already paying off.”
LAUSD later dedicated a building in Dr Newman’s honor. It is located at 2310 Charlotte St., Los Angeles, CA 90033. Dr. Newman deserves this special recognition for all his work he did to improve our El Sereno community and LAUSD.
All old photos courtesy of William J. Johnston
As we deal with surreal times of Shelter-In-Place in March 2020, here's a bit of history to distract our minds from what is going on. The year was 1975 when Jimmy Quemada entered a contest sponsored by the USC Mexican American Alumni Association to create an emblem for the recently created club, founded in 1973.
Wilson alumnus Jimmy Quemada topped out two other runner ups from Roosevelt High School. Quemada stated that he used the Aztec calendar, a Spanish conquistador and Trojan figure to come up with the design. The design was used on Mexican-American Alumni Association print material, such as brochures, stationary, envelopes and membership cards.
In 2011, to better reflect the broad reach of the association, the organization’s name was changed to the USC Latino Alumni Association (LAA). The new name includes the tagline, A legacy of the USC Mexican American Alumni Association since 1973, to commemorate its founders and history.
Hope you enjoy our Pic of the Month.
We extend our gratitude to Dolores Sotelo, Associate Director, USC Latino Alumni Association, for her help in sharing the emblem on the stationary and programs.
Give customers a reason to do business with you.
Even before Santa Anita race track (built in 1904), there was a horse race track located here in El Sereno. It was owned by an early El Sereno resident named Captain Jacob Colvin Newton and was located between what today is Huntington Drive South and Navarro Street, in the area where Food 4 Less is located.
About 1870, Captain Jacob Colvin Newton purchased a 160-acre L-shaped ranch stretching from the present Eastern and EI Sereno Avenues on the west to Guardia Avenue on the east (Figure 7). In the late 1880s, he purchased the northern portion of the Batz Ranch from Francisca Batz Echeveste, a daughter of Catalina Batz. On the ranch was a modest cottage on the north side of what is now Huntington Drive at Van Horne Avenue.
Captain Newton grew hay and raised horses that would race at his race track, just south of Roses Road (now Huntington Drive) and east of Farmdale Road (now Eastern Avenue). Captain Newton and his family lived near Mission San Gabriel from 1870 to 1882, when they returned to their native Erie County, New York. After Newton served one term as County Supervisor, he returned to Los Angeles with his family about 1884. Later they moved their primary residence from the West Adams area of Los Angeles to South Pasadena.
In the same era, Jose Domingo Batz married Josetha (Josefa) Lifur, whose brother, Martin Lifur, eventually bought the acreage now known as Sierra Park. In 1890, Mr. Martin Lifur purchased 320 acres of the Batz Ranch—the part of El Sereno known as Sierra Park. Part of the 125-year-old ranch house can still be seen near the corner of Lifur and Navarro. Lifur Avenue and Martin Street were named after him, also Navarro, the province in Spain from which he came. Edna is another street named after the Lifur Family. He left a rich heritage and many memories. His son and daughter lived in the community for many years.
The Lifur children used to climb Navarro Hill and watch carriage races down below on the Newton Ranch circle race track that Captain Newton had built. This is another example of El Sereno’s vibrant and rich history in early entertainment. It wasn’t much later in the 1920s that El Sereno became home the Legion Ascot Speedway, an auto race-track that became famous in its own right.
Photo Above: Historic map showing early settlements, landowners and locations.
You can see the location of the old horse track on the top center of the map.
The caption reads:15 years difference in time brought some changes to the community, as this comparative shot taken in 1919 shows. Built between the two shot (left) was the first building for El Sereno Elementary School. Field in foreground was used for horse racing, with people from surrounding areas standing behind the barricades. This is a better picture of the article clipping below.
On June 30, 2009, the Los Angeles City Council adopted motion 09-1538 which officially recognized the community of El Sereno and its long and unique history. As stated on this city document, El Sereno is recognized as being founded in 1771, 10 years before the City of Los Angeles was established in 1781.
From a camp on the river of the Roses de Castille to a suburban Los Angeles community of homes, business and one of the leading universities in the state, El Sereno has come a long way in the more than 250 years since the first non-Native Americans set foot on the land. Following is a summary of important dates in our community's history, cited and archived in the El Sereno Star.
PHOTO ABOVE: The City motion 09-1538, adopted on June 2009, that officially recognized the El Sereno's long and unique history. As stated on this city document, El Sereno is recognized as being founded in 1771, 10 years before the City of Los Angeles was established in 1781.
The caption reads: Bairdstown to El Sereno -- Decades of progress.
Click on the newspapers to enlarge.
The Batz family home on the historic Rancho Rosa Castilla property, with original adobe built by the Franciscan missionaries of the mission San Gabriel about 1776. Sheep raising was an important part of the local economy under the Batz family, originally of Basque heritage.
Although residents of El Sereno’s are aware of Rose Hill, an area within our community, most are unaware of the true history of this land -tract. There is a couple of folks who like to cut-and-paste history by claiming that Rose Hill translates to Rosa de Castilla (it does not) or that Rose Hill is named after the historic Rancho Rosa de Castilla which used to encompass all of El Sereno. This is false and far from the truth. The true origin of the name Rose Hill has a sordid and prejudiced beginning.
As reported on a previous post, the true story of Rose Hill begins in 1904, many years after El Sereno (then known as Bairdstown) had already been established. At the time, the western part of El Sereno was sparsely populated. There was a lot of open land and the promise of better trolley service from Pacific Electric Railway brought land speculators to the area. It was in1904 that the first inkling of the name “Rose Hill” appears in El Sereno.
PHOTO ABOVE: The new land tract in El Sereno is open for business, 1904.
The historic facts are that in 1904, developers Grider and Hamilton bought a piece of land in northwest El Sereno. They subdivided the land into 132 lots and named their land tract ‘Rose Hill’, taking out ads announcing the opportunity to buy. Now, the name “Rose Hill” did not originate with Grider and Hamilton. As it turns out, Grider and Hamilton stole the name from the original Rose Hill development owned by G. Harlan. The original Rose Hill development was between Hoover Street and Vermont Avenue, and was doing very well by all accounts. There’s no doubt that Grider and Hamilton saw an opportunity to ride the coat tails of this well selling tract and decided to take the name for their use on the western end of El Sereno.
Mr. Harlan caught wind of the shenanigans and wasted no time in calling out the name stealing, posting an article in the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Harlan makes it very clear that the original Rose Hill predates the Rose Hill in El Sereno by eight years (since 1896), stating that, “I suppose their idea in stealing their name of our Rose Hill tract and applying it to their new tract was to reap the benefits and popularity of our tract, which was named ‘Rose Hill tract’ over eight years ago.”
These are the historic facts of how a small tract of 132 lots in El Sereno came to be Rose Hill. The new subdivision is off to a bad start.
Sometime soon after, possibly right from the start, Rose Hill becomes a closed, prejudiced district, available only to those who meet the "standards" of the residents. This becomes very evident in 1921, when a developer representing “the higher class of Japanese in Los Angeles” tries to buy land in or near the district, with the intent of developing the land with homes for a Japanese district. The racist Rose Hill Civic Improvement Association is outraged at the thought of having Japanese neighbors. Again, these are well-off and successful Japanese/Japanese-Americans seeking to establish an area to call home. Other parts of El Sereno already had Japanese residents, so it didn’t seem too far fetch to build a well-planned Japanese district in northwest El Sereno. If these well-off Japanese were seen as a threat to this “white community,” there can be no doubt that other minority groups (Chinese, Mexicans, African Americans, or Jews) would not be welcomed as well.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, the ugly head of racism raised its head. It soon became an open fact that Rose Hill did not accept or want anyone of color living among them. Under the name of the Rose Hill Civic Improvement Association, the white-only district made this clear when they organized and paid for a banner that read
“JAPS! DON’T LET THE SUN SET ON YOU HERE. KEEP MOVING! THIS IS ROSE HILL.”
It’s clear that Rose Hill was a “Sundown District,” one of the worst forms of discrimination in history.
When the first banner is brought down by the city because it did not have the necessary permits to post it across Huntington Drive, as it is deemed public land, residents organized and soon put up a second banner on private property. Residents celebrated the occasion with food, fanfare and a brass band at the local Rose Hill Elementary, today Huntington Drive Elementary.
Wikipedia defines a Sundown District or Town as “Sundown towns, also known as sunset towns or gray towns, are all-white municipalities or neighborhoods in the United States that practice a form of segregation by excluding non-whites via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, and violence.” This is evident in the Rose Hill district with the statement, “Just what action might follow in case the terse command of the sign was disobeyed was a matter of conjecture today, but it is generally conceded that any Japanese who might fail to heed the pointed warning would receive unwelcome attentions…”
Sadly, the discrimination and bigotry in this corner of El Sereno still exists. While not as overt as the days of the Rose Hill Civic Improvement Association, today bigotry goes by a new name: “Rose Hills Review.” This small group targets and harasses street vendors, calling the cops on them and intimidating them into “leaving their community.” A self-labeled “historian” of this group even shares stories about this Sundown District, fondly recalling the “good ole’ days” of Rose Hill(s). He lumps those less fortunate street vendors into the category of “undesirables,” along with thieves, gangbangers and the homeless. As for the homeless, the favorite tactic used by this group is to “throw the homeless out of Rose Hill(s).” How are the homeless made to leave? And where exactly are the homeless made to go? Drive by Lincoln Park or Huntington Drive/Van Horne and Maycrest, you’ll see where the homeless are thrown to.
Yes, we still have lot of improvement to do here in El Sereno. More information to come. Special thanks to Louis Salcido for contributing to this post.
Great Grandparents left Okinawa to Oahu to Elope in the 1900’s
Her Grandfather Left Oahu to fight in WW2 in the #442ndregimentalcombatteam
Met her Grandmother in Mexico while on leave,
They spent the day together and He vowed to come back and marry her.
He then Fought in the Korean War came back found her and
They got married and Moved to East LA.
My Grandfather Built their Family Home in El Sereno.
My Father Grew up in El Sereno a young Hapa cholo
who had to fight a lil harder to show he was down since his was of mixed race,
He met my mother in High School and
got marrieds when they had lil old me!
Growing up mixed race in LA wasnt always the easiest but we had a huge family and
as long as we were all together we didn’t mind!
Our family is Japanese, Hawaiian, Mexican , indigenous American,
Korean, Black, White, Portuguese, Filipino, Guatemalan,
so we have a deep love for everyone ��✨
Our Food is a story ��✨
Recently, Doreen's daughter, Genai Nakama, was featured in L.A.Taco. You can read the article here: MEET THE JAPANESE MEXICAN 19-YEAR-OLD MODEL FROM EL SERENO REPRESENTING LATINX BEAUTY IN THE MAINSTREAM