Early Days in Valmonte
Early Days in Valmonte
When Palos Verdes Estates incorporated in 1939, a member of the first City Council was one Dennis Vincent Smith. He and his wife Hazel had been medical missionaries in China and escaped Nanking in 1936 just ahead of the Japanese Imperial Army. They got on what amounted to a tramp steamer out of Shanghai and landed in Long Beach. They intended to build a house there but found out there had been a recent earthquake (1933) and so ruled that out, but they heard about this development up the coast called Palos Verdes, where land could be obtained cheaply, bought 10 lots on Via Palomino, and began construction on 3405, which sat on 2 of the lots with 3401 being the back yard.
When World War 2 ended and my dad got out of the Marines, my parents got married and went to Mexico City to pursue some scheme my father had for making money there. That didn’t work out and by Summer of 1947 my parents were in Mexico City, broke, and my mom was pregnant. They had known Dennis and Hazel Smith in Michigan and, as they were the closest people to Mexico City that my parents knew, they called the Smiths and asked if they could stay in a room in the house “for a few weeks” until they got their feet on the ground. Turned out the Smiths were about to leave on a 2-year around the world cruise and were looking for a house sitter. My parents moved into that house in the late summer of 1947.
Halloween 1947 my mom goes into labor. There were few hospitals in those days and, given my mom’s condition, my dad doubted he could make it to any of them without running over the trick or treaters. So he called Dr Bob Schaffer who lived over on Navajo Place, and he delivered me in the living room of 3405 Via Palomino at 2 am November 1st.
We’re now up to 1948 and grading began for new housing tracts in upper Hollywood Riviera. There were hardly any streets in the Riviera and the easiest access for the construction equipment was up Hawthorne Ave (re-named Via Valmonte when the current Hawthorne went thru in 1964), down the Drive, and into the Riviera via the 3 streets that went thru – Via Colusa, Via Pasqual, and Via Alameda. By 1949 the dump trucks, graders, and back-hoes were out of control and the parents of us little PVE boomers feared for our safety on our tricycles. My parents were among those who prevailed upon the City of PVE to install those steel posts blocking thru vehicular traffic. As you know, they are still there, but the situation has now reversed: the Riviera residents want the posts to stay as it gives them less traffic, and many in Valmonte would like to see them go, providing easier access off the Hill.
Dana Graham, real estate expert, historian, PV Native and you can find Dana at www.danagraham.com