Duncan Burbridge - My Stay at the Lark Ellen Home for Boys - 1953-55

I lived at Lark Ellen from 1953 to 1955 and have tons of memories about the place. All in all they were good memories and have been greatly enhanced by reading some of the contributions of other residents. My dorm mother was Mrs. Hoxworth. When I left I was staying in the room nearest the driveway and had Sharkey and a boy we called Gramps as roommates. In our cottage there was a boy called Anthony Minicello who played a wonderful accordion. I went to Slauson for the eighth grade and Citrus High School for the ninth. Several older residents were superior athletes. Art Briones was on the Citrus High basketball team that won the CIF championship. One of his teammates was Bill Kilmer who was then a sophomore and showing signs of future athletic greatness set a CIF scoring record in his senior year. He later starred at UCLA and for the Washington Redskins. Doug Matheson (?) was another older resident I remember because of his encouragement. The Lark Ellen relays were fun. There were a number of Lark Ellen players on the football team. During the "parents night" Mr. Miller had a number of signs (4 or 5?) on his back with the numbers of Lark Ellen players. There was also a boy named Codon who was a leading sprinter in CIF after he left Lark Ellen.

The filmmaker who made the film starring Bill Elkins was Dale Smallin. Bill Knight was the man with the Cadillac and once took several of us out to water his date palm orchard in Palm Springs. We got to spend the afternoon at the then exclusive Shadow Mountain Club. We picked up a load of corn and briefly drove at a speed approaching a hundred miles an hour while driving on the access road to Palm Springs. We dropped the corn off at what I believe was the juvenile hall for girls in LA.

Kenny Gamble was a counselor and a good guy. I believe his wife had a baby while I was there. He drove us on many trips to the mountains in a rickety old bus that sometimes did not make it. One year we got free passes to all the rides at the Long Beach Pike.

My least favorite part of my time there was religion. We had prayers every night in Mrs. Hoxworth's room, church every Sunday at the Azusa Baptist Church and once or twice a week we were preached at for practice by students from the Azusa Pacific Bible College next door. I did, however, enjoy the films by the Moody Bible Institute as they were devoted to nature with the preaching secondary. Tommy Veins who someone said was murdered by his stepfather used to get "saved" regularly during our religious meetings. I think he was a rather sad child.

I'll leave it there, though I could talk about our midnight romps through Azusa or the time we accidentally set a fire near an irrigation tank in the orange grove by the high school. Or the time we got the living bejesus scared out of us at the Boy Scout cabin in the canyon above Glendora.

I have lots of memories of Lark Ellen, and I am pleasantly surprised to realize how many are positive.

Duncan Burbridge

Contact: Duncan Burbridge at: burbr@sbcglobal.net