The Sunday Digest features the latest content from TheEastsiderLA.com
Welcome to the Good Reads Edition of our Sunday Digest!
Here we celebrate the good things happening in our neighborhoods, inspirational stories that uplift us, and fun tidbits about why we love living here on the Eastside.
Do you know an "ordinary person" doing something remarkable, a milestone celebration, a story from the past that deserves to be told, an artist enriching our world, or a fun story about our community?
I'd love to hear from you! Drop me a line at Brenda@theeastsiderla.com.
Thanks for reading - and Happy Sunday!
Brenda Rees, Editor
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The Belle of Heritage Square Museum
I was warned that a “no-show” was possible. That my interview subject was friendly but potentially elusive, so I might have to wait around.
These are drawbacks of writing the celebrity profile. The ego, the yes-men handlers, and tip-toeing around sensitive topics. But interview a celebrity cat? I pounced.
That’s how I headed to Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights. I’ve been curious about this place for a long time. I’ve wondered about these neat Victorians along the 110 Freeway, beside the graffitied embankment and slim trickle of the Arroyo. The museum consists of five historic houses and other buildings relocated from around Los Angeles, arranged like a village. An Eastside treasure, for sure, so I figured even if I was stood up, there’d still be plenty to write about.
Most interviews with high-profile types begin with an assistant or PR person ushering the reporter into a quiet space before the subject is called in. This interview started with museum director Kori Capaldi and me shaking a treat pouch and making kissy-clucky sounds. While unconventional, it worked. From seemingly out of nowhere appeared a marmalade-hued vision of feline elegance.
Belle Boy, in the fluff.
He’s Heritage Square Museum’s resident cat, also known as lover of ear scratches, avid picnicker, ready lap-sitter and master mouser in his day. He’s a fan of museum events like movie nights, immersive theater and puppet shows. He’s Instagram-famous.
Belle Boy yawned, stretched and slowly approached. While I got zero diva vibes from him, he was in no hurry, exuding the confidence of one accustomed to the limelight with his every soundless step.
While waiting, Kori filled me in on the particulars. A neighbor moved and left Belle behind a decade ago. Thankfully he landed well, on four feet, at the museum where adoring staff believes he’s 12-14 years old. He gets regular vet care, premium meals, and evenings he retires to the Octagon House. Mornings, he begins his daily prowl: crashing visitors’ picnics, winding through the legs of tour groups, sprawling on staff desks and, like any savvy celeb, making appearances in the gift shop to promote his line of merchandise, including totes, aprons and stickers.
When Belle finally parked himself in front of us, we showered him with snacks and pats. A cobweb clung to his whiskers, and Kori explained that he was probably under the porch – a favorite spot during summertime. Minutes later, he sauntered back to his hideout. My moment with a celebrity cat was over like that.
While processing the encounter, I joined a tour given by Natalie Meyer, who blew my mind with tales of early L.A. Then I just wandered, ate an apple from the garden, enjoyed a coral tree’s shade and, hours later, found Belle under the porch, still lounging.
In the heart of bustling 2022 Los Angeles, this beloved cat and his fine museum stand as reminders of slower times, when anyone, Internet-famous or not, might sit on (or under) a porch and while the day away.
Lessons in golf -- and life
Owen Burke of East Hollywood always looks forward to his Father’s Day tradition when he and his three daughters – Lucy, 15, Hazel, 12, and Rose, 9 – hit the links at a local course, often in Griffith Park.
While the girls may argue with each other at home, they know, through lessons learned at Griffith Park’s Tregnan Golf Academy, how to behave when playing on a public course. “They learned so much at Tregnan,” says Burke. “Golf teaches you about life, how to treat yourself and others. How to be thoughtful, patient and considerate.”
Over the past decade, Burke has enrolled his daughters in the long-running golf programs at Tregnan. The low cost of the program – starting at $10.50 a class – made it possible, says Burke. “Plus, it’s such a special place to learn. The instructors are top-notch, and its three-hole course is so wonderful. It's a little oasis up there.”
Indeed, Morgan Haight, the Director of Instruction at the Academy, enjoys his daily commute to the grounds with a 200-yard driving range, a practice course, putting green, chipping area and a facilities building that once was part of the public Calvin Coolidge golf course.
Established 22 years ago, the academy offers classes for youths 5-17 years old and sessions for women and seniors. Haight says the program philosophy is to demonstrate how kids can bring responsibility, patience and focus into their lives. “Learning golf is the icing on the cake,” he explains. He’s had kids enroll from just down the street to as far away as Santa Clarita.
In addition to instructing golfers of all ages, Haight and his ten coaches – some on staff for 14 years – often contend with local wildlife. There's a pack of coyotes that visit every early morning. Often deer can be seen wandering the grounds.
Haight recalls the thrilling moment when, one morning doing his rounds, he discovered fresh mountain lion paw prints in a muddy patch. “Yep, we can say that P-22 paid us a visit,” he says. “There really is never a dull moment in this beautiful place.”
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Longevity at the Ebell club celebrated
Lauretta Goldsmith is a fixture at the monthly meetings of the Highland Park Ebell Club, where she signs in arriving members and guests for lunch and conversation.
At 88 years old, Goldsmith has been active in the philanthropic club for 32 years. Through the years, she’s been a lifelong president, a scholarship donor, a major donor in remodeling the historic building and a community beautification activist. She was lauded at a recent meeting as being the longest-serving member of the club.
At the meeting, Goldsmith shared some of her personal history and noted that her deafness has not stopped her from expressing herself. She was born in Southeast L.A. during the Great Depression and moved to Highland Park in 1940. She has lived in the same house for 82 years. Goldsmith and her mother frequently went to the movies houses on Figueroa Street.
“My mother and I would walk Ave 57 and I would look at the Ebell Club not knowing I would be a member someday.”
A graffiti-covered storage bin has been transformed into an artistic showcase of native wildflowers at Rio de Los Angeles State Park.
The beautification project started when Luis Rincon, interpretative specialist for California State Parks, suggested a mural. Suzanne Siegel, long-time park volunteer, then came up with the idea of using recycled wood to create stencils of the local flora and fauna.
Earlier this year, community members and school kids volunteered to paint stenciled images onto a series of 17 panels permanently installed on the storage bin. The mural will have a formal “unveiling” on Sunday, Oct. 23 from 2-4pm and will be on permanent display.
Show us your catios
This could be more fun than a cardboard box.
Organizers of the first-ever Los Angeles Catio Tour are looking for catio owners to showcase the outdoor enclosures they’ve created for their feline friends.
Teranga Ranch, a wildlife education organization aims to raise awareness of how owners can give their cats a safe taste of the outdoors by constructing these cat patios.
Organizers of the tour, planned for October 2023, are also looking for volunteers. A Zoom meeting is planned for Nov. 2. For more information, go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have an Eastside catio? Please share a photo and details.
🙂 More Good Reads
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That's It For This Sunday
Researchers estimate there are 2.5 million ants for every human across the planet. As someone who has battled the nonstop lines of Argentine ants overtaking my kitchen floor and counters, I find this horrifying. (Best solution: diatomaceous Earth.)
Still, I reassure myself that L.A. also has a kinder and noble ant, the native Harvester that only gathers seeds and could care less about crumbs in my sink.
Here’s hoping you have an ant-free kitchen this week!
-- Brenda Rees
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