Meeting a Heroine

Say what you want about William Mulholland: his granddaughter, Catherine Mulholland, who wrote “William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles,” “The Owensmouth Baby: The Making of a San Fernando Valley Town,” and “Calabasas girls: An intimate history, 1885-1912” and who then went on to teach at Berkeley for many years, is a heroine of mine. Writing prolifically about the land in which she grew up, archiving the history of Los Angeles through the prism of her own family and her own experiences, her flinty personality and no-bullshit approach made it possible for her to blaze a trail as a woman writer.IMG_13671.JPG

I got to meet her the other weekend when the Canoga Park Historical Society assembled its local founding families (mine among them) for its 95th anniversary.

Her advice to me as a local writer: “You’ve picked a very hard thing to do–very, very difficult. But it can be immensely rewarding. Work hard, don’t listen to the naysayers, and don’t give up.”

More pics after the jump, as well as Dennis Zine’s anecdote about jogging at Lanark Park with a gun at 5am. Run Dennis Run!

Canoga Park, founded in 1912 as the city of “Owensmouth” (town boosters thought the water association would draw more land-buyers) had a few core families that were there from the beginning. The Shirleys, Knouses, Hewstreets, Allens, Ofrias and Knapps (that’s my peeps) all milled (or shuffled–the crowd is seriously graying) around the Canoga Park Community Center, itself a historic landmark, and one resident even brought his old car out for the event. Driver pictured is not actual owner, who is alive.

In the course of chatting up the crowd, Councilman Dennis Zine invited anyone who wants to, to go jogging with him and the police commissioner (don’t quote me on that, I *think* he said commissioner) at Lanark Park in the mornings. In the very early mornings. Namely, 5 am in the mornings. “Some people say Lanark Park isn’t safe.” he said gamely. “It’s pretty safe when you have a gun.” He and his pals have never met with any difficulty or aggression at the park, known locally for its gang and drug activity–but he’s found it safe thus far. “We’ve been doing this for some time now and so far we haven’t shot anyone,” he quips. Zine, below, gifts the Shirleys with a proclamation thanking them for their contribution to the historical society and the community in general. The Shirleys are freekin cute.

Guests mill about in the Historical Society’s museum, with a giant aerial picture of Owensmouth.


Here’s another shot of that car. I wish I’d backed up a bit more cuz the edges are cut out. :P


4 thoughts on “Meeting a Heroine”

  1. Congrats to you and the Canoga Park gang for keeping history alive. After moving here recently from the East Coast, I have not seen enough overt preservation of the Los Angeles area’s unique history. The event you write about is a hopeful sign. Historic places, like ten-dollar dogs, should be saved!

  2. Hey, I know you! (And kneejerk, she’s even hotter in person.) Pretty nifty to run into you here.

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