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Euclid Ave – Ontario, Ca Nativity Rudolph Vargas

My sister lives in a historic downtown area in California just off the Euclid Exit. There are oodles of Huge Old homes in these neighborhoods.

EuclidHouse2014

EuclidHouse2014b

EuclidHouse2014a

 

Euclid Ave is a beautiful drive. Not only are their huge old houses and huge trees lining this busy street, there are also huge medians in the center, they are like parks! Grass and trees in the center of the road, its enough room for another 2-3 lanes in there. This photo is of Euclid Ave Circa 1930 but it looks the same today, just the trees are even bigger and fill the sky.

EuclidTrees1930

As you head down Euclid towards Holt where I go thrift shopping, you encounter after Thanksgiving these beautiful life size nativity scenes. I have seen them and always found them beautiful. And I also wondered how they came to be. With so many people trying to remove anything religious or showing Jesus from public areas.

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So this time I got my camera out and took some photos then went to Google to look up the story behind these displays. Its even more fascinating to hear!

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These scenes date to the 1950s, when the city held a carnival in its downtown area that featured rides and treats for the kids.

Found ONE photo  of one of the nativity scenes when searching this out that was from 1967, would love to find more pictures of it back in its early days if anyone else can track any down.

Nativity1967

 

“It was a way for parents to keep their children occupied and watched over while they went and shopped in the stores for Christmas presents,” said David Allen who has researched the history of the Nativity scenes, says the event upset some local ministers.

(Same 1967 scene above now in 2014)

NativityOntario

“A group of local ministers went to the city council and said, ‘This is really tacky to have this sort of thing going on on the parkway and we’re destroying the spirit of Christmas. We should do something that’s more religious-themed,”

A group of business leaders decided to commission a well-known sculptor named Rudolph Vargas to build the Nativity scenes. Vargas had built a Nativity display down in San Diego and also designed characters for Disneyland rides, including “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

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Rudolph Vargas an immigrant from Mexico in the 1920s, during an era of religious persecution in his native country, Vargas became first a furniture carver, then a mannequin maker, before being discovered by Walt Disney Imagineering, the theme-park designers. Disney used him extensively to model the plaster figures of history and fantasy displayed in the theme parks.

Originally sculpted by Vargas between 1959 and 1968, the Nativity statues are being restored and will be unveiled Nov. 22. 2014. Vargas, who worked on “Mary Poppins” and Disneyland’s It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions, died in 1986 at age 82.

“Because he was a professional mannequin maker, he had the ability to understand and anticipate where clothing goes on the body,” said Blaine Gibson, who retired recently as director of sculpture for Imagineering. “Most sculptors overemphasize anatomy.”

Between the 1964 New York World’s Fair, for which Vargas created figures of President Abraham Lincoln and the characters of the “Small World” display, to the opening of the Epcot Center in Florida, Vargas was a regular Disney contributor.

An unassuming man, bald, high-domed with a far-seeing look, Vargas earned his living doing what his family called “commercial” work.

“He would work all day in his studio, doing the commercial things, then come home and work till 12 or 1 o’clock on religious figures,” said Vargas’ wife, Margaret.

Info from

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-11-20/news/ga-11724_1_panel

Vargas created the first two in 1959, while two Hollywood scenic artists created the backdrops. Ten more scenes went up over the next nine years.”

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“The display is on public land and that has led to some controversy. A local atheist filed a legal claim against the city in the 1990s after he saw public workers putting up the scenes. Montclair City Councilman Bill Ruh, who has been involved with the Nativity scenes for more than two decades, says Ontario and other public officials came up with a solution.

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“Then-Assemblymember Nell Soto worked with the city and worked with the chamber and the state and managed to get a resolution done that they rented the parkway space for a dollar,” said Ruh. “And no city monies could be used as far as storage was concerned.”

The Kiwanis and other local service clubs now help raise money for the maintenance of the display.”

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http://www.scpr.org/news/2010/12/24/22196/ontario-nativity-display-has-long-fascinating-hist/

I found this article about other work Vargas did in a Hospital in Duarte, Ca. The end of the articles says he left his autobiography with Mother Maria who was 85 at the time. I wonder what became of it? I hope it was saved and is in safe hands.

Santa Teresita Hospital pays tribute to ‘El Maestro,’ a carver of wood

June 23, 1988|SIOK-HIAN TAY KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

“Vargas died at Santa Teresita in 1986 at the age of 82. He was commissioned to do the works at the hospital by Mother Margarita Maria, who founded the facility as a women’s tuberculosis sanitarium. The two met in 1932 after Mother Maria saw Vargas’ work at another church and contacted him. Both were natives of Mexico, according to hospital spokeswoman Michele Dulin, and the pair became fast friends until Vargas’ death.

Mother Maria said she wanted classical art, “not something just semi-artistic” on the hospital grounds, to serve as therapy and inspiration for her patients, and the young Vargas was eager to oblige.

The sculptor worked on the religious pieces in between commercial assignments and viewed the carving he did for the hospital as “the one opportunity he had of leaving something behind where he felt it would be cared for and appreciated forever,” said his son, Rudolph Vargas Jr., an electrical engineer in Chatsworth. The artist more often than not was paid only for his materials.

According to the pamphlet, Vargas’ relationship with the sisters “took off strong in the 1950s,” when Mother Maria commissioned him to create an 8-foot crucifix for the hospital’s chapel over objections from the architect, who wanted to order a piece from Europe. The riveting figure of Christ still hangs over the altar. It was Vargas’ greatest pride, said his son, and one of his best works. The 500-pound piece is said to be Vargas’ first major work in which the wood was left in its natural state, and took over a year to complete.

A patio with a waterfall outside the hospital’s intensive care unit was designed by Vargas just before his death. “Here he was in the hospital, supposed to be sick, and he was up at 9 a.m. in the cellars” giving classes to the nuns on how to make ceramic molds, his son recalled.

On the day before he died, Vargas presented Mother Maria, now 85, with two notebooks containing his autobiography, handwritten in Spanish during his hospital stay. “This is my life that I give to you because you have been my inspiration. . . . I am leaving for home tomorrow,” he told her. The books remain in a drawer in her office as part of Vargas’ legacy. On July 10 and Aug. 14, nuns will lead “Vargas Excursions” through the hospital, and Vargas’ son and his daughter, Christina Vargas Rosine, will share anecdotes about him.”

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-23/news/ga-7174_1_santa-teresita-hospital

 

Im even more intrigued to hear about Rudolph Vargas the Artist, the person, what he wrote down in his autobiography and gave to the 85 yr old Maria in the 1980s.

I also found it puzzling that I couldnt find much of his work when looking on the internet. Lots of mentions of it and locations, but very little photos. So I wonder if its in places where they dont allow photography? Or why there is very little when I go searching.

I  was able to get out on foot in Ontario, park my van and walk up and get close to all of the scenes. It was moving and made me want to cry, I love history, I love the story of Jesus, I love seeing traditions stand the test of time and shifting culture.

God Bless Ontario for keeping this up and for all of those who were involved in the restoration work to preserve all of these. Merry Christmas!

 

For more info on the restoration work and process you can read here

http://www.discoverontariocalifornia.org/latest-news/ontario-heritage-documents-restoration-process-iconic-nativity-scenes

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James and Libbie Wiruth

Found this photo in a shop in Phoenix, Az.

Writing on the back reads “Mr. and Mrs J. G. Wiruth, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Wiruth. James died March 31, 1975″

Wiruth

This may be a James and Libbie’s Wedding Photo?

Info found on Findagrave says the following…

James G. Wiruth Born Jan 11, 1892 in Nebraska, Died March 30, 1976 in Topeka, Kansas

He married Libbie Ruzicka on June 14, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas.

He operated a general merchandise store in the Cuba community for 22 1/2 years.
He was a veteran of World War I and was a charter member of William Fleming Post of the American Legion at Cuba and a member of Capitol Post No. 1 of the American Legion in Topeka.
He was a member of Cuba Lodge No. 362, AF&AM at Cuba and Helena Chapter No. 210, Order of Eastern Star in Topeka.

Info courtesy of Findagrave

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=132427630

Libbie R. Wiruth born May 5, 1892, at Munden, daughter of Charles and Josephine Houdek Ruzicka, and died at a Topeka hospital October 6, 1982. She was 90.

She was a 50 year member of Helena Chapter No. 210. Order of Eastern Star, and the Topeka Flower Lovers Club, both in Topeka.

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1930’s Actor and Actress Photos

I was out antique store shopping today and came across this stack of large photos. They are fabulous and measure around 11 x 14 each.

They seem to be 1930s actor photos. Some have writing on them and some are signed. The person who these all went to appears to be Kendall Northrop. As they are signed to Kendall, but his full name is written on the back of one photo, woohoo! That makes it easier on me. And I did find a Kendall Northrop listed on Playbill, IMDB websites, hes listed as a male performer from around 1927-1931.

This photo is cute with the man and woman and her silly comedic arm/hand pose. It is signed by both actors and reads

“For Kendall, For my sentiments see paragraph two. From Billy Bradford” (excuse the clarity of my photos as my Scanner is out of reach at the moment so Im having to take pictures on my cell phone)

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I can find Billy right here on the internet for some plays he was in from 1927-1929 and “Billie” is listed

http://www.playbillvault.com/Person/Detail/104150/Billy-Bradford

and

“To Ken, Knowing you has helped to make the run of “Billie” a happy memory. Best wishes from Phoebe Wallace”

This is all I have turned up so far for Phoebe, its on the playbill website and shows two plays she was in from 1928 to 1932….

http://www.playbillvault.com/Person/Detail/96121/Phoebe-Wallace

 

This is another great one with the woman and dog that reads “Heaps of Success to Kendall from Brenda and Bebo” ? I cant make out the photographers name but it does say NY.

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There are more photos to go through but not enough time so I will post these ones for now and add more as I get to them.

 

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August Witte Crate Under the House & F.M. Masumoto Reedley, Ca

Crate

My neighbor contacted me a week or so ago and asked if I wanted an old crate he found under his house. I said Sure!

So this isnt exactly an old photo post, but an old Crate post with some personal history attached.

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So the crate was underneath a late 20s-30 Craftsman home in Phoenix, Az. Who knows how long its been there and who left it there. But it held up nicely!

It says “August Witte Shipper, Reedley, California”

So I wondered if this was a common shipping company and googled it. Only to turn up empty handed, not one peep relating to this.

So my Mom did some of her more in depth detective work with all of her sites shes a part of and found me August’s Obituary.

“August Witte

Reedley-  Funeral arrangements are being made at the Corins Funeral Home in Reedley for August Witte, 73, who died in a local hospital last night.

Witte was a native of Germany and had lived in the United States and Reedley for the past 35 years. He was a fruit grower, packer and shipper.

He is survived by his widow, Louise, of Reedley and two sisters and a brother in Germany.”

Friday Oct 24, 1952 The Fresno Bee (he died on Oct 23rd)

From doing census searches he turns up in the 1930 Census in Reedley, it says he immigrated in 1917 from Germany and his wife at the time was name Anna C. Witte also from Germany. In the 1920 Census they were living in Alila, Tulare, California.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Listed as August Witte, worked as a Bus Driver. Lived at 2445 E. Colo, Lamanda Park, Ca. Pasadena

I also found a 1942 World War II Draft Registration Card

AugustWitteDraft

Born in Konigsteal, Germany July 30, 1880. At the time of the Draft he was 61 and lived at 86 Fresen Ave. Reedley, Fresno, Ca:

So doing the correct math with dates and numbers. August came to the US around 1917 and was about 38 yrs old at the time.

Found his marriage license to Anna.

Date 26 Aug 1918, he married Anne Placke of Germany. It also lists August’s parents names on this form. His father is August Witte and mother is Helena Mertens of Germany. He was living Pasadena it says and worked as a Chauffeur.

In the 1940 Census he still turns up as a Fruit Shipper and Packager in Reedley.

I tried searching newspaper archive records and found only one that mentions August Witte in a suit, it was an employee driving his truck in Bakersfield(not sure if this is the same August but Bakersfield is near the Fresno area). A driver trying to pass collided with Witte’s truck. That info can be found here..

https://casetext.com/case/kellner-v-witte#.U68MMCNdWSo

Interesting note when looking up the town of Reedley, California. It was incorporated in 1913, August came from Germany around 1917. But then reading on wikipedia and history of Reedley it matches up even further! I wonder if he was part of the German Mennonite community.

American Civil War hero Thomas Law Reed settled here to provide wheat for Gold Rush miners in the mid-1800s. His donation of land for a railroad station site established the town as the center of the Valley’s[ booming wheat business. Railroad officials commemorated his vision by naming the fledgling City in his honor. When mining fever began to fade, wheat demand slackened. Kings River water was diverted for crop irrigation, and the region began its over 100-year tradition of bountiful field, tree, and vine fruit harvests. With water and railroad services in place, farming families of European immigrants were recruited, and the settlement was incorporated in 1913.  An important element in the early town was a colony of German Mennonites, whose strong traditions and values still shape Reedley’s culture”

From Wikipedia

Also found this mention of the Mennonites in Reedley, Ca

“The first church to be organized was the Reedley congregation in 1905, the first settlers having arrived one year earlier. The Reedley MB Church grew to be not only the largest Mennonite congregation in California, but also became the largest church in the North American Mennonite Brethren conference. The total baptized membership in 1950 was approximately 1,350. A new church was built with a seating capacity of 2,200.”

From

http://gameo.org/index.php?title=California_(USA)

Maybe someone will turn up some more info along the way and show us Mr August Witte or where he once worked. For now his crate lives with me.

UPDATE: 6/30/2014

After I wrote this I went to restock my antiques. I have a Crate I have had for several years used as a display piece. But today it popped out at me as it says “Reedley Special” and Im all Hey! Reedley, where August Witte was and his crate. How funny that I have had this crate and it didnt sell for years but its just been sitting there. So I snapped a photo and did some research on the name on this one seeing as they both came out of Reedley, Ca. What are the odds eh?

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This crate says “Reedley Special Tomatoes. F.M. Masumoto 19410 East Sumner Ave, Reedley, California” and the Litho is by “Sentinel Printing & Publishing Co., Dinuba, California”

Looks like he was Fred Minoru Masumoto born Jan 15, 1903 in Japan. The address comes up as his on the internet and his death record is June 24 1992. He comes up in the 1940 Census in Reedley and his occupation says “Ranch Work” . I have googled the address and its a house in the middle of farming fields. Its a newer building now, so Im sure there was once an older place standing out there.

When I google the Masumoto name other families come up as several generation farmers in the area, not sure if they are family relations or not.

Looks like 2 different immigrant families in the same community whos crates I have come upon.

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Smith and Hester Morris, Niles, Ohio

Just found this old Photo Postcard in a shop in Phoenix, Az. The image isnt the clearest

Backside reads “Smith and Hester Morris, 236 Arlington St, Niles, Ohio  Year 1917″ I googled the address and came up with the house which is still standing, dated 1900. I always love looking and seeing where people once lived, helps to visualize them at a point in time. You can view it on Google Maps

https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&channel=rcs&ie=UTF-8&layer=c&z=17&iwloc=A&sll=41.183997,-80.766954&cbp=13,286.4,0,0,0&cbll=41.183948,-80.766735&q=236+N+Arlington+Ave,+Niles,+OH+44446&ei=2jzQUtuRBY-BogTYvoHwAg&ved=0CC0QxB0wAA

In the 1920 Census there is a Hester A Morris(B 1892) and a Smith M. Morris(B 1886) in Youngstown Ward 9, Mahoning, Ohio. They were both born in PA

I have also found info from a book from the history of Clinton County, Ohio that names a Hester A Morris who married an Amos Smith. So this could go either way, although I believe Hester and Amos were married in the earlier 1800s and that wouldnt match up correct with the date on the photo as they look young in it and it appears he died before 1900.

HesterMorrisPhoto

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Cabinet Card – Brockport, New York Normal School

Found in Chandler, Az in an Antique Shop. Backside says

Cabinet Card

Photographer  W.R. Conkling, Brockport, N.Y.

1. Miss Jennie Clow

2. Mrs. Harry Lampin

3. Miss Carrie Spencer

4. Mrs. David Hobler or Kobler

Brockport State Normal School

Info on the net…… “Long before the State University of New York College at Brockport existed there was the Brockport Collegiate Institute. In 1866 the Collegiate Institute was incorporated into the Brockport State Normal School. The Brockport State Normal School trained men and women to be teachers and offered college preparatory courses through the Academic Department of the Collegiate Institute”

From   http://www.brockport.edu/~library1/BSNSIndex.htm

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Sadness over Finding Old Photos & Documents

Hello Everyone,

Well I believe I now have 2 storage tubs and one book shelf full of old photos and albums. Not to mention a small collection of 8 and 16mm old home movies. Just found 3 home movies on the wknd, I havent tried to operate the 8mm projector I have yet, Im more familiar with using a 16mm and like using that size of film, so hopefully Ill catch on just as easily with the 8mm.

I know we are all out to make $$ and resell items, many of us, Im a thrift shopper, yard saler, picker, you name it! But there is just something sacred to me about old documents. And I mean the following..

Old Photographs

Old Home Movies

Old Historical Paper Documents(birth certs, marriage certs, house deeds, old family bibles and books, any documentation pertaining to family, etc)

I went to an Estate Sale a few weeks ago. I only planned on going to the post office, grrr and there was a sign, it was close to my home so I swerved off to go looking.

I will eventually have a blog on my finds there, and more of the story, but basically an estate sale company was selling off the contents of the home. And there lying about were family bibles, books, and old photographs, priced piece by piece and scattered about.

To make it more painful for me… these once belonged to a person, a person who took time to document, to put notes with the very items up for sale. Id find a few of the notes slipped out by onlookers and misplaced or on the floor.

They were also not as affordable as Id like. But they were heart wrenching, and all had writing on the backs. So basically I bought to me which were the best ones. Less than 5 and went home, I did call my mom because it turned out the family names on these photos were the same as both my parents last names and from the same state. But it didnt turn out to be from our families. My mom got to work on research and she and I spoke, she found a neat story about this child and the indians… and after I read it, things at the house made sense. I had to go back the next day… Everything was still there and half off, but still not cheap. But this time I went into the persons office, I didnt dig much before other then through the vintage clothing.

I picked out his personal family files, and newspaper clippings, I bought them all, along with the rest of the photos I left behind, and I bought his Sons of the American Revolution Coat out of the closet. This man and his family took detailed steps to document there history. There were so many things I could not afford to buy, personal effects, that were documented. But what I want to say is this… I really wonder at the end of the day what happened to the rest? Did it get tossed or donated and shuffled into boxes? Forever losing the context of where they all fit together into this historical puzzle?  I would plead with anyone who is a dealer, to stop piecing out collections and photo albums. If anything, put it ALL together in one big box and sell it as a grouping. I tried to do this but they didnt understand it and of course were not willing to bundle for a deal.

Here is an idea of what I left with, there are a lot more papers and clippings but they are folded up underneath the papers here and in a pile, and inside some of the books are more papers and newspaper clippings.

EstateSaleAz

Dont pull old photo albums apart and sell the photos one by one, sell them as a whole, pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and if you have any old paperwork, attach it inside with a ziplock baggie.

And its just so sad because this person spent there life preserving and doing history and generations before them also, and I am sure there are other living relatives who had no clue about what happened to this stuff…

For those of us with a love of old photos and epherma, heck dont toss it, give it to us!

My girlfriend sent me this movie trailer, for those of us who love Old Photographs and sometimes some of the unusual stories of what happens to our things when we leave this earth, here is a fascinating documentary soon to be out. I cant wait to see it! “Finding Vivian Maier” Ive attached the trailer below.

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