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East LA Christmas Memories - Part XIII of “I Survived Washington Irving JHS”
OLVERA STREET BLOWN GLASS SWANS - The following is part of a series of articles written by Michael Leavitt about his real life experiences at Washington Irving Junior High School in Los Angeles, California from 1974-1976. The events are true and have been documented to help Michael's family better understand the racial tensions he endured during that era. And even amidst the turmoil, good times were plentiful and proof that even when you are given the sourest of lemons you can still make a great lemonade. If you haven't read the previous entries, then I invite you to enjoy them when you have time.
“DAD, WHAT WAS IT REALLY LIKE FOR YOU IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL?”
CHAPTER 13 - OLVERA STREET BLOWN GLASS SWANS
Christmas brings with it the hope of Christmas now, but also the memories of those from the past. For me, I remember being very young and knowing that I was going to get to go to Olvera Street just before Christmas and shop for a gift for my Mom. The hardest part was doing odd jobs to earn the money that it was going to take to make the purchase.
THE GIFT - Shopping for Mom was easy as a youth. As she walked through Olvera Street she always loved watching the glass blowers do their intricate work. They would create strand by strand the wonderful creations and they specialized in making items for every dollar amount. For me, I knew that I could afford the small glass swans. Yes there were bigger ones available, but they greatly exceeded my Cub Scout - Boy Scout budget, so the little swans would have to do. And when Mom opened the package, the smile, the hug, and the kisses were as great as if they had been the gift of the biggest swans.
After opening the gift Mom would always prominently display them where everybody could see them. It was her way of continuing to let me know how much she loved my gift to her.
THE GLASS BLOWERS - I know it was equally exciting for me to watch the glass blowers do their magic. They were somehow able to start with those long glass rods, heat them in the torch fire until glowing red, and then dab them in a way that there was created before me a swan. Watching them take the raw material and create it right in front of my eyes was amazing and opened my eyes to the fact that maybe I could create things with raw materials as well. Since then I learned to weld, sew, work with wood, fiberglass, and plastics, and yet to this day I have never attempted working with glowing red hot glass. The glass blowers are true artisans.
I recently stumbled onto the following Facebook video and it brought back to my mind those memories, images, and feelings from my youth. Enjoy...
MY MOTHER - Carolyn Spurrier Leavitt - Mom is still celebrating with us here in mortality. I was a bit alarmed earlier this evening when I learned that her ulcers were flaring up again and it is really taking a toll on her strength. Any that feel so inclined to want to send good wishes and prayers her way, would be very welcomed by myself and my family.
I hope that this Christmas 2014 is a wonderful one and that you too can experience great blessings of happiness and love!
Make it a great Christmas holiday! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - Michael@TheHomeInspector.com
What are your Olvera Street memories?
NOTE: Washington Irving Junior High School was 7th, 8th, and 9th grades during my 1974-76 tenure. I see that it is now named Washington Irving Middle School and features 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
NOTE 2: Washington Irving has changed again. The internet shows it is now called the Irving Magnet School and is painted white and vibrant blue and features grades 5th through 8th. LINK