Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Glen

In the closing months of World War II, a grieving father resolved to create a place of peaceful repose dedicated to the memory of his son who had died defending freedom in Europe. This father's labor of love lives on today at Covina's "Parque Xalapa."


Charles Jobe and his wife Betty were citrus growers in the hills east of Covina. They were the proud parents of two sons: Harold Glen (left, b.1922) and Claude (b.1929), and it was Harold who lost his life at Saint-Lô, France, during the last days of the Battle of Normandy ("Operation Overlord") in August, 1944.


A small, wooded creek ran through the Jobes's land on Holt Avenue, and it was in this mixed stand of valley oaks and orange trees that Charles Jobe created "Memorial Glen." Near the center of the grove, in the shade of a magnificent 400-year-old oak, Mr. Jobe set up a stone monument with a bronze plaque dedicating the park to his fallen son and to the other servicemen from Covina who had sacrificed their lives in World War II.


Over the next two decades, the Jobes hosted multitudes of visitors to Memorial Glen. Sadly, after Charles Jobe died in 1967, and his widow had to relocate elsewhere, the park became the haunt of youths who used the secluded spot for, well, let's just say less-than-reverential purposes. During this period of neglect, almost all of Mr. Jobe's labors were trashed by disrespectful vandals.

To make matters worse, when Interstate 10 was widened in the early 1970s, the adjacent service road was realigned to the east, and all of the trees in the western third of the former Jobe property were taken out. The removal of this protective canopy exposed the trunk and limbs of the ancient valley oak to the sun's direct rays, and this resulted in the slow death of the veteran giant. Arborists tried their best to save it, but finally, in the early 1980s, what remained of the great tree had to be removed.

By this time, the City of Covina had acquired the land, and its Parks & Recreation Department created Parque Xalapa, named after Covina's sister-city in Mexico. In 1998, part of the park was turned into a formal Veterans Memorial. This interpretive monument was erected on the site...

  ...and a new commemorative plaque was installed to replace the long-vanished original.



More recently, the family of nephew Jere A. Jobe donated these new bronze plaques to the park.


As someone who grew up only a mile from Memorial Glen during the 1960s, and who personally witnessed its decline in the following decade, I am truly grateful to the City of Covina for restoring and preserving this unique historical site for future generations.

Color photos © J Scott Shannon. Special acknowledgment and thanks to fellow local historian J. David Rogers for the black-and-white photographs, the biographical details of the Jobe Family, and the history of Memorial Glen.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Covina Valley Panorama, 1926

Recently, I found this amazing panoramic photograph showing Covina and its environs in the mid-1920s.

'Dick' Whittington Studio, photographer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Link to full-res image.

I realize it doesn't look very amazing at this size, but below are some labeled enlargements which point out what is what in the photo.

Monday, August 26, 2013

75 years ago tonight

These photos were taken 75 years ago tonight along Garvey Boulevard (today's I-10) on the stretch that passed through the Covina area. They are from the archives of the Southern California Edison Company, and were evidently taken to document street lighting along the roadway.
The first one shows the signage at the eastern boundary of West Covina – the city limits of which, at that time, extended all the way east to Range Avenue (today's Grand Avenue). The slope of the pavement down the grade to the Walnut Creek arroyo is recognizable even today.
The neon sign fascinates me because I never knew it existed. The smaller sign illuminated by incandescent light warns motorists about the speed trap that West Covina had become notorious for since the opening of Garvey Boulevard. (My father used to tell tales about the WCPD cops and their famously predatory traffic law enforcement.) It's pretty obvious from this very prominent signage that they meant business. "You have been warned!"

G. Haven Bishop, photographer. From the Edison Archive. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Link to full-size image.

Here is another neon sign that I didn't know about before, either. It reads, "COVINA 1-MILE." Looking at the street signs in extreme closeup, I can see this is the intersection of "State Highway" and "Citrus Ave." The mileage sign points east to "Pomona 8" and "Redlands 42," and "El Monte 8" and "Los Angeles 23" to the west. The shaded mileage sign pointing north appears to say "Covina 1" and "Glendora [illegible]."

G. Haven Bishop, photographer. From the Edison Archive. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Link to full-size image.

One might wonder what these people were doing hanging out down on the main drag through town at what must have been close to 10PM. Turns out they were assembling for a dedication ceremony for the new overhead street light (the neon "Covina" sign had been put in place three years previously).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Driving around the groves

Although the postcard photo below wasn't taken in Covina (it's Grand Ave. north of Alosta in Glendora), it depicts a very typical scene in the East San Gabriel Valley in the 1950s and early 1960s: an old, narrow section road being widened in portions as the citrus groves are being developed, roadside rows of tall Washingtonia fan palms, and old grove-owner homes surrounded by new subdivision homes.

Click image to view an enlargement

Even into the 1970s, there were still several roads in and around Covina that suddenly narrowed to two lanes like this. The last one that I can remember was Vincent Ave. just south of Arrow Highway. That was finally widened to four lanes around 1980.

This shows the postcard location in the present day. If you look closely, you can see that the old grove-owner house at left is still standing today.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fall, 1954

Click image to enlarge

Postcard view of Citrus Avenue north from Badillo Street in Covina, California, in Fall, 1954. I can peg the date because both films on the Covina Theater's marquee are from 1954, and the later of the two - 'Down Three Dark Streets' - was released on Sep. 2. It might be as late as early November, though, because of the snow in the mountains and the ladies wearing winter coats. It can't be after Thanksgiving, however, otherwise Citrus would be decked out in its Christmas decorations!