A LETTER FROM CARMA
WALSH
Hi

I just stumbled across your website, LINKS TO HISTORIC ANAHEIM and I have to tell you I am sitting here a few miles from Little Rock, Arkansas, with tears in my eyes.  I was born in Corona, California, in 1954, and lived in Long Beach until late 1956.
Then my parents bought their first home at 1303 Devonshire Road in Anaheim. I was not yet 3 years old when they bought that
house.  We lived there until November 22, 1963, and those 7 years, and my coming of age years in Anaheim, (1957 – 1971)
haunted my dreams for many, many years.
2fishI spent so many summer days at Pearson Park. The pool was still there,I took swimming lessons there in the summer and participated in the Parks programs which at that time consisted of arts and crafts and other things – I
can’t remember all of it.  Those summer days were idyllic in the extreme, so
much so that nothing has even come close in my lifetime to matching the
sense of wonder and beauty and innocence that was that time and that place.
My mother and a family friend would load us kids up in the car each morning
and off to the park we went, arriving in time for the organized arts and crafts.
After that, we’d creep around the ponds with jars and paper cups trying to
catch “guppies” or the elusive gold fish even as our mother’s admonitions to
refrain from “any activity that involves removing fish from the ponds” rang in
our ears.  In those days the foliage was thick enough to conceal us for a time.
But the guppies were wary and the gold fish were positively stuck up.  They
avoided us like the plague! There were five of us kids altogether, our ages
varying so that swimming lessons took most of the afternoon.  I remember
r75the “numbered safety pins” we’d pin on our suits which corresponded to the
lockers where we stored our towels.  At least it seems that’s how that system worked! I was no more than 6 or 7 years old, so some of the details are a little hazy.
Our home at 1303 Devonshire Road was the showplace of the neighborhood.
My father, Louis Bartolotti, had personally and lovingly landscaped both our
front and back yards filling every square inch with flora which could not fail to
delight the eye.  I recall people driving from other neighborhoods to “look at
our yard”. It was a wonderful and magical place to grow up and it was with
great sadness that we moved to the other side of Anaheim in 1963, the move
made all the worse by the fact our moving day coincided with the
assassination of John F. Kennedy.  I was positively heartbroken at leaving
my beloved home and the pall that settled over the country intensified the
feeling one hundred fold.  I was 9 years old and in the 4th grade at Mel
Gauer school before the move.  I don’t recall ever feeling sadness orunhappiness prior to that day.  But that move impacted me in ways that still effect me to this very day
My parents moved us to Arkansas in June, 1971.  I had not seen the house on Devonshire Rd. since about 1966 and I begged my parents to drive us to west Anaheim before the move so I could take some pictures and see my much cherished childhood home one more time before we left the state.  In the hectic days that followed, my childish request was ignored.  The day we left, I cried from the moment we backed out of our driveway until we crossed the California-Arizona state line. (And I’m not exaggerating.) I only dried it up then because my poor mother was a wreck by that point – they’d been unable to console me.  My heart was broken. I had never gotten over the 1963 move…and now this.
We moved to East Anaheim, off of State College Blvd. – 2041 E. Turin Ave.  Our new home was next to the neighborhood clubhouse and pool, but that pool had no personality whatsoever compared to the Pearson Park pool!
Katella High School had not yet been built, but must have been in the planning stages by that time for it was built shortly after that. There were still orange and avocado groves behind the clubhouse and my brother and I would play there and have orange and avocado fights with the kids in the neighborhood. Soon the groves were bulldozed down to complete the KHS athletic field.
I married in 1973 and my husband and I had two beautiful daughters, one born in 1975, the other in 1983. I began to have dreams about the house at 1303 Devonshire Road shortly after my marriage.  The dreams were disjointed at first. I knew they were about the house and I always woke up crying from the dreams.  They made me think about the house again and when I’d think about the house, I’d cry all over again. My husband said he would take me to Anaheim.  I balked.  I made excuses because the very thought of returning struck sheer terror in my soul.  It was only after several years that I began to understand why.  The move had been so traumatic that I feared going through the same motions again, seeing that house, seeing Pearson Park, seeing Anaheim, then leaving them behind again, likely for the last time.
The dreams continued without interruption for two decades.  They took on themes.  I would be trying to find the house and unable to find it, I’d be inside the house and trying to identify it (for it had been altered and/or redecorated), etc, etc.  The pattern disturbed me very much.  Any time I thought of the house, I cried.  I could do nothing to control it.
In 1993, some dear friends who had also lived on Devonshire in the early 60’s, the ones whom we’d spent those idyllic days at
Pearson Park with, who now lived just adjacent to Anaheim across Orangethorpe in Fullerton, came to visit us.  They had driven
down Devonshire Rd. just before their trip to Arkansas and described the street for me as I interrogated them.  They had been
trying to get me to come back and visit them for years. I felt my defenses crumbling a bit, but it took me another two years to get up the nerve.  By that time I had sought the help of a therapist in regards to the dreams which had by this time been plaguing me for nearly a quarter of a century.  I knew it was time to go back, that closure of some kind was needed.
But even as I made plans for the trip, a thought which had accompanied the dreams kept coming back to me: I had been positive I would never see the house again.  This thought had been with me almost as long as the dreams had.  I was absolutely convinced I would never, ever see the house again.  I had searched and searched for the house in my dreams and never once did the dream culminate in my actually “finding” the house. Instead I found only “clues”.
As the time of our scheduled departure date (Memorial Day weekend, 1995) drew close, the trip, which had taken such strength and determination for me to plan, was in danger of being cancelled.  My dearest friend was dying of breast cancer and she suddenly began to decline very rapidly.  She knew of the dreams and begged me not to go. She feared for me; she was afraid something was going to happen to me because I had stated with such certainty that I would never again see that house.  We were driving and she feared we’d have an accident.  As the day drew closer I monitored her decline and privately kept in touch with her oncologist.  For a couple of weeks she stabilized, enough so that I was comfortable in leaving.  The trip was on.
I made a call two days prior to our departure to an old friend named Jeannie.  She had lived behind us on Devonshire on
Braeburn Street.  We had talked on and off over the years, perhaps a half a dozen times.  I called to let her know I was coming, if possible I wanted to see her.  Jeannie had lived on Braeburn for many, many years after we moved away from Devonshire. Like myself, she had a deep affinity for that neighborhood. It is not something we had discussed, it was something I sensed for she had never failed to bring up “the neighborhood”.
I had barely gotten out “hello” when Jeannie said:
“You know your house is gone, don’t you?”
I made her repeat it and acted like I didn’t know what she was talking about when in my heart no explanation was necessary.  I
tried not to cry, I tried to act nonchalant, but my voice must have betrayed me even as I tried to will myself to sound normal.  I
had not seen Jeannie in 32 years; I felt like a fool.  But her own attachment to that neighborhood was very strong as was certainly
evidenced by her blurting out “your house is gone!”  That neighborhood was very much on her mind as well.
She explained that several of the houses backing up to the freeway had been razed because they were
going to widen the freeway.  I was speechless.  This upset Jeannie.  She said, “Maybe it’s still there.
I’ll drive by and see and call you tonight.”  She explained that her childhood home was also to be razed;
as a matter of fact, it was the only one left to be razed and she expected it to be gone within the next
day or so. She said she had been “monitoring their progress” as she commuted down the freeway and
looking over the fence and that perhaps she’d been mistaken and the house at 1303 Devonshire was
still there.
But I knew it was gone.  And it was.
We made the trip anyway.  Seeing my beloved childhood home had been an important part of the trip, but it was by no means the
singular reason for the trip.  I repeatedly thanked God that I had been moved to call Jeannie for I was spared the shock of
discovering that part of Devonshire Road beginning with my former home at 1303 had been amputated.
I navigated the streets of Anaheim as if I’d never left.  My husband and youngest daughter accompanied me the first morning I
visited Devonshire Road.  (My older daughter and her fiancé joined us a week later.)  We drove down the street slowly and I
directed my husband to pull into the driveway of the house that no longer existed.  The fences my father had built some 35-38
years earlier were still standing.  The sidewalk was intact and three towering shrubs my father had planted, veritable seedlings in
photographs I had brought along, were still on the property.  For a long while I could not get out of our van.  I sat and cried my
eyes out.  When I finally did get out and stepped onto the loose dirt, it occurred to me that the house had likely been razed VERY
recently and I cried even harder.  Had it been a month?  A week?  A matter of days?
The lot was tiny!  I was shocked at how small it was! It had seemed to me a veritable estate when I was a child.  I dug around
in the dirt and to my delight unearthed kitchen and bathroom tile from my childhood home.  A brick from my father’s flower
beds.  Window glass.  I was ecstatic.
I was amazed at how little the neighborhood had changed.  The trees were taller.  Much taller.  Other than that, it was almost as
if time had stood still.
Jeannie’s house was still standing, but had been readied for it’s demolition.
Driving around Anaheim, I was amazed at how little has changed.  There are places in Little Rock which have undergone 2 or
even 3 renovations since I have lived here, yet driving around Anaheim, I was pleasantly surprised to find so much that I
recognized.  The “Googie” architecture you refer to on your website absolutely thrilled my soul!  I saw so MANY familiar sites
and never knew there was a name for that particular style, I just know that it helped me to feel I had truly “come home”.  I
expected to find nothing recognizable and yet everywhere I went, I was easily transported back to the 60’s.
Pearson Park has been beautifully maintained though I certainly was sad to find the pool and pool house gone.  The adjacent
neighborhood where I once babysat for my home economics teacher, Mrs. Platfoot, was a sight to behold.  I must have taken a
thousand photos.  I found Adelaide Price school with ease, where I attended Kindergarten; also Mel Gauer, James Guinn, South
Jr. High and Katella High School.  Nothing much had changed except that I noted the addition of chain link fences.
A good friend of mine who works in Anaheim and lives in Orange told me there was a “graffiti problem” in Anaheim and that
she was on the “graffiti committee”.  And yet I found a beautiful city – I never saw any graffiti at all!
I am sorry for writing such a long email that no one will be interested in reading, I’m certain! I would like to know how I can
obtain genealogy materials and historic materials from Anaheim in the 50’s and 60’s and/or any materials related to Pearson
Park.  Also, are there any photographs anywhere of those Halloween parades the kindergartners used to march in?  I recall
that those parades were on a street adjacent to Pearson Park.  I very much want to obtain photographs of Anaheim in the
1960’s; I would give anything to have a photograph of Devonshire Road during that era or the above mentioned schools.  I’d
also be thrilled to find a 60’s photo of the shopping center on Orangethorpe (probably in Fullerton) where the “Shopping Bag”
and Owl Drug Store used to be in the 50’s and 60’s.  Can you assist me in finding a source (if you know of one) for photos of
Anaheim during the 1950’s and 1960’s?  Is there a researcher who could help me?  Are there any books on Anaheim history
which focus on the 50’s-60’s?
I am not exactly sure where it is that I am emailing this, but would appreciate it so much if you would forward it to the
appropriate individuals at the Anaheim History Room or the Anaheim Museum.
Carma Walsh