"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

Search This Blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Van Nuys Demolay 1924

The image at the left is a copy of notes from the first meeting of the Van Nuys California Chapter of Demolay in 1923. I could not find an article from any newspaper that mentioned this first Van Nuys Demolay meeting. I did find an article from the "Van Nuys News", dated Tuesday, May 6, 1924 about the 1924 Installation of officers. Unfortunately when you cut and paste from a poor copy to a Word Document you get some weird interpretations. I corrected what I could. Some of the original is too faint to make out so I apologize for the quality and incorrect names. I did however think the historical interest warranted this post:





Officers Inducted Into Stations at Ceremony Attended by Masons, Families of Members and Hollywood Delegation

A 'public installation" of Van Nuys Chapter Demolay, sponsored by Van Nuys • Masonic Lodge, No. 450, was held in the lodge rooms at 8 o'clock Saturday night. The service was at tended by Masons and families o: members of the Chapter and by a number of Knights Templar of Hollywood Commandery. The address to the chapter was made by Geo: W. Bunton, first chair man of the advisory committee, am carried a "valuable message to the young men and their guests. The officers installed were: F. Waiton, Berkshire,. Master Councilor'; John Lamptt,. senior, counselor; Geo [Names cut off due to crease in paper] Kenneth Pierce and Gilbert Leslie, deacons; Kenneth .Gilbert and Richard Barling, stewards; Morton Colgrovc, chaplain; Sam Huffman, marshal; Frank K. Black, scribe; Draper Webb, treasurer; Samuel Morris, almoner; Alvis Murrel, standard hearer; Kenneth "McCartney, George Marsden, Lester Vincent, Harold Rasgosshek, Robert Phelps, Edgar Smalley and George Roth, preceptors; Henry Allen Lane, sentinel; Chauncey Chase, orator. Acting as installing officers were: Geo. W. Bunton, master councellor; C. E. Boag, commander of Hollywood Knights Templar, senior councellor; Thomas F. Marshall, Hollywood Commandery, junior councellor; M. H. Withers, Hollywood Commandery, orator; J. V. Tonkin, Hollywood Commandery, senior deacon; B. R. Holloway, past master Van Nuys lodge, marshal. The program included musical numbers, short talks by Ernest Gibson, master of Van Nuys lodge; George A. Chapman, chairman of the Demolay advisory board, and a number of others, concluding with the address by George W. Bunton. The service was impressive and gave visitors an insight to the splendid organization of Demolay. Refreshments were served the guests following the program. Van Nuys Chapter Demolay was instituted November 3, 1923, sponsored by the Masonic lodge. It is proving a very valuable organization
for young men, meetings being held four evenings each month. George A. Chapman is chairman of the advisory hoard, and the other members are J. P. Ingles, Rupert L. Stewart Walter Mendenhalll, Hugh C. Daugherty, Harry R. Bevis, W. W. Todd, S.L. Vaughan and C. M. Nance.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bill Cosby and Demolay

Phone Rat and I have taken on a special project over the past few days of delving through the archives of the "Valley News and Greensheet" for old articles concerning Demolay, Job's Daughters and Rainbow. One of my first finds was an article from August 12, 1971 about a special celebrity basketball contest against the Valley Demolay League All-Stars. Here is the text of the article:

Television star Bill Cosby will bring his celebrity basketball team to Birmingham High School tomorrow evening to battle a team of Valley DeMolay All-Stars in a special benefit contest.
The event is being sponsored by the Reseda Chapter, Order of DeMolay, with all proceeds going to the Shrine Hospital for Crippled Childien in Los Angeles. Included on the celebrity team will be such notables as Cosby, former Ram star Bernie Casey, former Angel first baseman Don Mincher and television actor Mike Connors ("Manmx'). The Valley DeMolay All-Stars -will consist of Buss Damn, 6 ft. 5 in. center from the Granada Hills chapter; Jim Fox, 6-1 guard from Van Nuys chapter, Kurt Krueger, 6-1 guard from Canoga Park; Pete Giammaria, 6-3 forward from Burbank; Bob Allen, 6-3 guard from North Hollywood; Craig Fletcher, 6-2 guard from Reseda; Mike Fennelly, 6-2 forward from Reseda; and Ken Inger, 6-£ forward from Reseda. There also will be two surprise guests on the program. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. tomorrow at Birmingham. Tickets are priced at $175 for students and $250 for adults. Tickets will be on sale at the Birmingham Gym prior to the game tomorrow For further ticket information or reservations, contact Mike Fennelly at 342-9588 or 478-4051.

Quite an event, its too bad I have no memory of it. I went to Birmingham and was in Demolay at the time, though not active. So this gives you a taste of some of the stuff we are finding. Most of what we have found is normal installation and fund raising news, but that is a also a kick, and some of them have pictures. Phone Rat is working on a special project within this project for which he still needs some additional information. I will leave that cat in the bag so not to give him a stroke from the pressure.

I wanted to change the background color of this blog to green in honor of the old paper but this template does not allow that change, so instead I have changed the text color from the original article to green. It would have been great to be there and watch Chet Kincaid drive the lane against our team.

Monday, June 23, 2008

All You Need is Ed Love

As a child I was frequently in the hospital for a variety of aliments, from asthma and Bronchitis to pneumonia. I eventually outgrew them and one could argue the sickness moved from my body to my mind but that is a tale for another time. In January 1966 I was in the hospital with the famous cartoonist Ed Love. Mr. Love animated everything from Mickey Mouse for Disney to Woody Woodpecker, The Flintstones and a variety of T.V. commercials. Scroll down on the link for a brief discussion and example of his work.

Mr. Love and I only shared a room for a day or so, but in that time he drew a few sketches on a piece of school paper, shown here by a rather poor photograph. It includes Pluto, Mickey and the Hamm’s Beer Bear. My first talent as a child was drawing. I was always drawing pictures at home and at school. I did not mind sitting at the back of the class because it gave me the opportunity to draw pictures. Early on I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up so you can imagine the thrill of discovering you share a hospital room with one of the premier cartoonist of the era.

Later that year I was seriously bit by the music bug and it became my life long passion. I still drew pictures at school to kill time and at home while I listened to music. I once created a character called “Haskell”, named after the street we lived on. But Haskell only starred on my desk and never made it to the comic section or television. Still I went through High School and College as an art major even though the passion was gone. By this time the cartoon industry was increasingly being outsourced to places like Japan so jobs were becoming scarce so the writing was on the wall. I still love the art and I still have my yellowed school paper with the sketches of Mr. Ed Love, one of the masters of the last great era of cartooning.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The F Bomb

NASA has its countdown before it launches a rocket and Moms have their countdown before they launch as well and it goes like this: 1 – 2 – 3. If she reaches 3 and you haven’t run, surrendered or fallen to your knees to beg forgiveness, you are in for the ride of your life. As I child I don’t remember pushing my Mom to shout the dreaded “3” but I’m sure I must have. I do remember constantly disregarding the infamous pre-launch Mom warning called, PDQ (Pretty damn quick). “Stop trying to shave the cat with your Dad’s electric shaver, PDQ", mom would yell. She left with the razor and I found more mischief to entertain myself with, while forgetting that you never receive two PDQ’s in a row. If she came back and found me messing up again, out came the big guns of 1-2-3!

So you ask what happened to me afterwards. I remember becoming very acquainted with every corner of our house or apartment. Sometimes I was sent to my room to contemplate my unsocial deeds. My Dad later questioned the effectiveness of this method by asking where’s the punishment in sending him to his room where he has a TV, a stereo, books and all his stuff.

One eventful day at grammar school I was introduced to the infamous F bomb by a fellow classmate. Naturally he failed to explain that the words meaning was bereft of subtle nuances. As I walked home down Sherman Way I kept repeating the word to myself. When I encountered someone I spoke the word out loud to them. Based on the looks I received I knew I was onto something. Here was a secret word that could startle adults and disfigure their faces. In the door of our apartment I walked, confident I possessed some powerful kid secret to use on adults. I walked over to my parakeet “Cookie” who sat on the venation blinds watching for me to come home. I picked him up and put him back on his cage. I heard Mom enter the room behind me so I turned toward her and launched the F bomb at- her. Like a Saturday morning cartoon her eyes shot 3 feet out of her head as she grabbed my arm and dragged me into the bathroom. I was stunned. I had no warning, I heard no PDQ or 1-2-3. To use another cartoon analogy it was like a Dennis the Menace cartoon where you see symbols and signs above his head, an indication of total confusion and chaos. The next thing I was aware of was the taste of Lava soap in my mouth and Mom’s words ringing in my ears, “don’t you ever say that again, do you hear me?” A nod of the head is all I could muster since I couldn’t hear anymore and had a mouth is full of the best and most corrosive hand cleaner on the planet, Lava soap! I survived the afternoon and we had a tense family discussion at the dinner table about bad words you should never speak as a child in private or public. To this day I still remember saying to my parents, “Ok but I can’t stop thinking about it.”

When I told my Phone Rat about this post he added the caveat that Dads never count to 3. I agreed and said that's a whole other post.

Monday, June 16, 2008

...And now its time to say Goodbye

"When one door closes another one opens." "There is a bigger and better plan for me." "It wasn't meant to be." The cliches continue to rattle around in my head. When i wake up in the morning, I will have nowhere to go. For the first time in 20+ years, my opinions, talents, insight and passion wont be needed in the office. Someone else will take over the reigns and become the head figure of my family of employees.

I was fired on Friday. I was told "it was time for a change", "it just wasn't working out", "we are heading in a different direction". Cliches again, and all of them make an idulible mark on my brain. In the world of declining economy, and rapid change in our industry, I became the odd man out.

I am not going to argue with the decision, I am not going to whine.

But instead I am going to let the people know how much they meant to me while working with them. In all those years of getting up and going to work, I have never been associated with a finer group of people. Normally in our business you have a mix of good and bad, mature and immature, sane and insane...but this group was truly special.

They have been successful for years, and even though revenues are down this year, they will perform far above the trend of our business industry wide. They are winners, and will continue to be no matter who leads them.

More importantly they will have fun, enjoy each others company and be successful as one unit....I admired them before I joined them and equally admired them as I worked with them.

As I say goodbye to them, I thank them for being a big part of my life over the last 4 years, I hoped that we would have grown old together, but that is not to be. so for.....

EP, MM, Bernie, SS, KJ, DA, DJ, VM, Martha, RM, Rich, Roxie, KM, JW, Angel, Leslie, JP, JD, KH, CQ, GR (i hope i got everyone)...

and especially JH, DF and LB who blindly followed me into new project and performed flawlessly, I thank you. God Bless everyone of you....and Goodbye

Sunday, June 15, 2008


This morning I was channel surfing and most of the news shows were having specials on the passing of Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert. Most of the shows had a panel of guests telling work and personal stories. One network, MSNBC, re-broadcast a show of Tom Brokaw interviewing Russert about his book, "The Wisdom of our Fathers". It was a fascinating hour which brought to mind memories of my dad.

I remember the day my dad passed away and thinking I would never talk to him again, or hear his advice. I did not realize at the time that a relationship goes on long after someone is dead, and it continues to evolve. Especially with our parental realtionships. He is still there behind my ear with his approval and disapproval and advice. At night when I am alone smoking a cigar he is there in my thoughts. I see him smoking his own cigar. It is a wonderful calm ritual that will always play out that way for me.

I was fortunate to have a good man as a dad who was there for me when I needed him. Still our relationship was like most father and sons. Each of us could anger the other like no one else. A few hours before he died we were together in the hospital and I bent over and told him I love him and he said the same to me. We had said it before, but I was now that age where you didn't express it out loud. I am forever grateful for that moment. One of the commandments is to honor your parents. It does not say you have to love them. There is a wisdom at work that understands a parent child relationship is perhaps the most difficult and that love is sometimes not there or what it should be, but you must honor them. I was lucky and I loved my Dad and I work to honor him now by trying to live up to his standard. Happy Father's Day Dad.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Goblet, The Girl and the Street Sign, Part 2

The scene is Sherman Oaks California just off Valley Vista Blvd. Three slightly inebriated young men sit in a Bright Orangish Ford Econoline Van contemplating a crime. You see there is a street just off Valley Vista that shares its name with our beautiful brown haired brown eyed friend of Bob’s Big Boy silver goblet fame. There I sit with Radio Rat and another accomplice (Canid, not a Rat) staring up at the street sign trying to figure out how best to quickly remove the sign from the pole. We gather a few tools and emerge from Radio Rats Bright Orangish Ford Econoline Van, cleverly parked in a dark spot of the road. I stand guard as Radio Rat climbs the pole to remove the sign. A few tense minutes pass until he slides down saying it won’t come all the way off. Our accomplice is fresh and climbs the pole to take his shot at it. They take turns wrestling with the tight steel bands until one of them finally liberates the sign. He slides down with the sign and we run to the van, fire it up and high tail it out of there.

We laugh and snort as we flee the scene of the crime and drive straight to our friend’s apartment to present her with our trophy. We knock on the door and her Mom answers it. She calls her daughter as we stand there, three of Demolay's best holding a stolen street sign. She walks into the room and starts laughing when she sees us holding a city street sign with her name on it. We relate a slightly abbreviated tale of our larceny. She then takes the sign to her bedroom and places it proudly in her window. We take our leave and go downstairs. As we walk out we look up at her window. There she is with her sign and a big smile waving goodbye to her three slightly drunken if not devoted bandits.

The next day Radio Rat and I are working at Butler Brothers Department Store in Van Nuys. Sometime during the day I catch a glimpse of Radio Rat walking toward me looking as pale as a ghost that just saw a scarier ghost. He tells me he just received a phone call from a woman in Sherman Oaks who wanted something delivered to her house. As she was giving him directions she told him it might be difficult to find her house because last night someone stole the street sign from the street corner. Someone and I stood there in shock.

I suppose we could have told the woman where her street sign was but why break a young girl’s heart, or get tossed in jail. Our beautiful brown eyed friend had her street sign and I had my silver goblet, the spoils of our short career in crime. I hope she is happy and still has her sign displayed proudly in the window of wherever she lives now. Maybe if she one day sees this post she will send us a picture of it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Goblet, The Girl and the Street Sign, Part 1

This silver Goblet was procured from a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in Van Nuys CA. I confess I am a questionable accomplice in its procurement. We were sitting in a comfy booth eating our meal when I simply mentioned to a friend I would like to have one of these goblets. We finished our meal, left a tip and walked out to our car. When we got into the vehicle my female friend reached into her purse and handed me the shiny silver Bob’s Big Boy goblet. We all laughed and hurried out of there just in case some eagled eyed waitress was on our tail. I was flabbergasted but I took it home and put it up on my memento shelf hoping my Mom would not ask where it came from. Accepting stolen goods is certainly a misdemeanor crime, however if a judge or God one day confronts me with my involvement I will throw myself on the mercy of whatever court and tell them it was given to me by the most beautiful brown haired brown eyed girl I had ever known. I won't claim insanity but I will tell you I was intoxicated by her smile.

This beautiful young girl and I did eventually go out on a date some time later. We had a nice time, but I am afraid I was so painfully shy that I never mustered the courage to ask her out again. We remained friends in spite of my ineptness. I have a fine memory of driving away from her place to Van Nuys Masonic Temple for our date. The radio was on blasting the hits of that period of 1973. So what song you ask plays in my mind now when I remember our date? My Love by Paul McCartney? Or maybe Love Train by The O’Jays? No, I recall rolling down Victory Blvd. to the sounds of Loudon Wainwright III squawking, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road”.

Not long after this I bought a top of the line Sanyo cassette player for my car. Never again would I allow the radio God's impose their will on my love life. In matters of the heart one still needs the proper tools. So now when my diet allows I break out the goblet and drop a scoop of ice cream in it, crank up iTunes and remember good times with a beautiful young girl, and a stinky old skunk.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"Boy I love......., are you going to eat all that?

Being just out of school and in the work force in 1975 is quite different than want it would have been today. The most a guy could hope for was a 6 pack of beer, going to see a "R" rated movie, and maybe having a nice Stereo to play cassettes and records. There was no designer drugs, video games, cell phones, DVR, IPODS, Internet porn or Match.com. We certainly had more than my parents did at my age, but not nearly the advantages of today's youth (or is that disadvantages). Relationships with friends and coworkers was the key. Those relationships would be what our memories would be made of during our late teens. I guess that is why I look back upon our friends at Builders Emporium in Reseda so fondly. Working together, going out to dinners, playing softball, going to company parties and just hanging out are the times I remember best.

In a previous blog I mentioned that the cast of characters in our store was on par with any great sitcom of the day. We had everything...the beautiful sexy housewares clerk (Sandy), the old Jewish fellow (Ben), the ex-marine (Chris), the smart beautiful accountant (Joan), the connected Italian Manager (Mr. S), his sidekick (Mr N.), the trumpet playing nerd (Steve), quiet instigator (Carey), on edge older pack a day smoker (Ed), and Mr Cool...Don.

We called him our Fonzie. Although he was more like a combination of Fonzie, Robin Williams and Charlie Manson. On the outside he was cool and unapproachable. But on his "good" days (most likely induced by something), personality bubbled up. He was quietly funny, and could be very mean. Whenever there was a confused older lady looking for help in the electrical dept., we would all hang out in the next aisle and wait for the poor lady to meet Mr. Sarcastic. He would be nice at first and if the lady couldn't quite understand, he would dig in and rip her apart. He was the rude we all wanted to be for those "hard to please" customers.

If it wasn't the customers, it was the old Jewish man in paint. Prank phone calls, throwing things on the floor and having him pick them up and just general yelling out his name from 5 aisle away to see how fast he could get there, Don had his fun and we all looked forward to what was next. There was his dark side as well. He and Sandy must have had some history before I got there, as they hated each other. It was dangerous to be in the vacinity when those two went at it. Sandy had no problem getting physical, but Don would just walk away muttering really good nasty nicknames.

Everyday at the early morning break, I would go next door to get something to eat from ThriftieMart and bring it back to the breakroom upstairs. And like your dog smelling food in the kitchen, Don would come walking in the breakroom. It would get to a point that i would try to sneek in as to not get noticed by Don...but he would always find a way to make an appearance. He would look at your food and ask.."Boy I love (whatever is on the table)...are you going to eat all that". He would ask in the cool Fonzie voice and 9 times out of 10 he would get at least a bite (just to get rid of him). Same thing would happen at lunch. I really don't think Don ever bought any food....he just knew when food was around, and wasn't shy about asking for his fare share. Considering he was tall and skinny (and considered himself a sex symbol) we couldn't figure out where all the food went.

Don was written up many times, had his job threatened dozens of times, took out and "dated" most of the women at the store (including customers), almost got in fistfights with other employees (and customers)...and all in all one of my early heroes of my life. I don't know why, he just was able to do the things I wanted to do but couldn't. One day he was gone...don't really remember what finally did it....but it happened and we never heard from him again. The store family would miss The Fonz, but their were many other characters to fill the void.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Builders Emporium

I will never forget the night our father died. It was 1964 and The Beatles were making another appearance on Ed Sullivan's Show. We stayed up to watch the Beatlemania and then had to go to bed for school the next morning. As always, I went into my room and turned on my radio to go to sleep to the sounds of 93 KHJ and Boss Radio. My father was working his second job, trying to keep ahead of the bill collectors, at Shakeys Pizza. Before too long our house was full of relatives and I was told that my father had a massive heart attack and died at the Pizza Parlour. Life changed. My mother was a housewife with 4 children. No money to speak of. With the help of her mother, we stayed afloat. My mother did home shows selling fashions and detergent. A few other odd jobs came and went. It was a struggle, looking back, I never really gave her the kind of credit she deserved.

One day she was listening to talk radio and heard about the West Valley Occupational Center and how they can help train people to work in different fields. My mom actually called the radio station and got on the air as she asked how the school worked. She enrolled and learned how to be a retail cashier. She worked hard and got a job in different retail establishments such as Two Guys, Fedmart, Unimart and finally Builder Emporium. At BE, she started as a cashier and worked her way up to head cashier, regional training cashier and executive assistant. I grew up around some legends of the retail world in Southern California, and was always in awe of her work ethic and ability to work with some smart, tough Vice Presidents.

When I reached working age, after a short stint at Butler Brothers Department Store in Van Nuys. she talked me into coming to work in the receiving dock at BE 617 in Tarzana. I lasted two days. How dare they put me to work pricing cheap tools and burying me in the depths of made in Taiwan boxes. After all I was a manger in the Sporting Goods Dept. at Butlers! So back to Butlers I went.

But the money wasn't good, and I had just graduated from High School. I enrolled at the Devry Institute of Technology in Phoenix and ran off to trade school. That lasted one semester. I wanted to be a Disc Jockey on radio (Boss Jock was my preference) and they promised they would teach me how to do that. Once I got there, I found out that I had to go through a ton of theory classes and maybe by my Senior year I could work in the campus radio station. So it was back to Southern Calif, and plan B.

Once again my mother brought me back to BE, this time in Reseda. Store 618 was a smaller store that my mother had worked at on and off. She eventually went to store 601 in Van Nuys which was the mother ship of BE stores. In Reseda, I was hired as a part time Hardware (Dept. 13), Tools (Dept. 52) and Automotive (Dept 01). I learned a lot about the products I was working with and eventually got Full Time in the same Department.

The cast of Characters (and I mean Characters) was something right out of a sitcom. A dysfunctional family of people that I will never forget. From Don in Electrical, to Sandy in Housewares, to Ben and Carey in Paint, to Eddie in Lumber, to Steve and Ross in Hardware, to John in receiving, Chris in Seasonal, Tim in Garden and a variety of Part Timers working their way up the ranks. The stories were numerous. All hilarious, some terrifying (hot bacon grease down the back of mean boyfriends T-shirt), and all very memorable. I hope in future blogs (with some friends help) i can give you a taste of a time in my life that was very special. BE 618 was great experience, and i can thank my Mom for getting me the start. Like most things she did for me, she knew i would resist. Either getting a job with her company, getting me involved with Van Nuys Demolay, playing music with the family band, she knew it would help me.....and it did.

From BE 618, I was promoted to Store Manager of BE 612 in Thousand Oaks and then moved to BE 625 in Granada Hills were I met my future wife. It was a very hard day when I left BE after 9 years. It was even tougher telling my mom. She was proud of what I had accomplished in a short time.

I got the chance to go back to Broadcasting School and became a DJ. And now 25 years later I find myself back in the management role for a large Broadcasting Company. The times and lessons I learned early on in retail at BE are still with me today. Thanks to the start I got from Mom and all the terrific people along the way. I am hoping that this blog will find its way to some of those people that meant so much to me. I miss them all, and hope all their dreams have come true.

About a week before my Mom passed away, she called me and told me that BE had finally decided to call it quits. The Stores were closing and would liquidate quickly. That was a sad day for her and I as we found BE as one of many common grounds of our lives. They are all gone now. BE 618 was destroyed by fire and rebuilt as a Korean Grocery store on the corner of White Oak and Sherman Way. BE 612in Thousand Oaks is a Office Depot and BE 625 in Granada Hills is a Pep Boys.

More fun times at BE..coming....i hope you join in!