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Creature of Los Angeles

Monday, February 11, 2013

I am a creature of Los Angeles. Well, not exactly. I only lived in the city of Los Angeles for a couple of years, on Western, just north of Third. But all the other years of my life, until we left for KY in 2970, and left SoCal in 1989, were well and truly centered around Los Angeles. Even when we did not live in the county!

So, I suppose it might be good to revisit those scenes and describe them as I mean to remember them – not necessarily as I viewed them at the time. Do my current views compare, in any way, to the views of my childhood. Perhaps. Not sure.

My childhood home was in La Puente, actually unincorporated Los Angeles County, the area known as Bassett. I do not know the actual history of the place, really. It was orange groves before it became houses. But WHO owed the property, I do not know at this time. Since it was called Bassett, I suppose that someone with that name lived there, owned some land there, or was an important political figure there, at some time.

Well, my interest is peaked, so I looked up Basset on Wikipedia, and gained this information:

“Bassett is an unincorporated community in the San Gabriel Valley, in Los Angeles County, California, United States, located within the Census boundaries of West Puente Valley.[1][2][3] Located in the San Gabriel Valley, the ZIP Code is 91746 and the community is inside area code 626.” And “Joseph Workman, the son of William Workman, owned 814 acres (3.29 km2) of the Rancho La Puente land, and borrowed money on the property. He was not able to keep up the mortgage payments so the bank acquired the property. In 1895, O.T. Bassett bought the property and Bassett Township was established.[4] In 1921, Josephine (Workman) Akley, the youngest child of Joseph Workman, won a lawsuit to recover an interest in the Rancho La Puente land that her father sold. However, the decision was reversed in 1922.”

I suppose that Workman Mill Road was named after the Workman family. Workman Mill Road runs between La Puente and Whittier. I rode that road on my bicycle a number of times, and I drove on that road to my piano lessons many times. Well, yes. William Workman was in the San Gabriel area as early as 1841, and had dealings with Pio Pico and run-ins with the Governor, and William Rowland. I researched the history of the area for a while. That history might make an interesting novel. Fights between the Mexicans and the Californians. Arguments between Pio Pico and another governor with Workman supporting Pico, etc. Perhaps.

It looks like O.T. Bassett, the purchaser of the Workman property, never lived in California. He was an investment banker and lumber company owner, and was centered in El Paso, Texas.

Anyway, I remember being amazed that so many places in the San Gabriel Valley had English names: Bassett, Workman, Rowland, etc. The area was first settled by persons with Hispanic names, and at the time that I grew up, was still populated by a majority of people with Hispanic names. But at that time, I simply noted this, but did not take any abiding interest in the area. I still need to find out about the alleged orange groves. Hmmm.

I looked up the history for a bit, and found a website titled: A River, A Lagoon, and a Chain of Hills. This website is provided by the Bassett Unified School District. Cool!

I never visited the Pio Pico mansion until I was at Whittier College. I drove by it a number of times on the way to visit my future H1. It was, as I recall, tired and run-down. On the two occasions that I stopped and paid a visit, I was impressed by the “coolness” of the air inside the building. It was two stories, but it did not look like it was two stories. It was small enough that I thought it was strange that it was called a mansion. But I was told that more than half of the building went down the river one time when the river flooded. I have not yet researched that – to see if my informant was correct. Pio Pico was the last Mexican governor of California. I can see why the first American governor of California thought that Workman was anti-American in his support of and friendship with Pico. Hmm. That might provide a good story, as well.
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