Wayland at Nine

Wayland Nevitt - My Stay at the Lark Ellen Home for Boys - 1937 to 1941

My Name is Wayland. I lived at the Lark Ellen Home for Boys from April 1937 to April 1941. I entered at age 9.

I spent four wonderful years there. There were long lazy summers going to State Beach in Santa Monica, or the public plunge on Butler Street. One summer we camped for two weeks at the beach at Table Rock, now enclosed by private housing. We had a wonderful time sleeping on the sand at night and playing in the tide pools or ocean during the day. Another summer we spent two weeks in the mountains up by Gorman. There was an ice-cold stream in which we played, mountains to hike and camp counselors to tell us stories and take us on nature walks.

There was a reason for these outings. While we were gone repairs, routine maintenance, cleaning and some painting was done. Also it was a way for the matrons to get some time off.

Mom Cassidy, the superintendent when I was there, was a wonderful person who truly loved kids. Every year she would pick out some kids and take them in her car to the Pomona Fair. I was lucky enough to be chosen twice. She also made arrangements to get me into the Boy Scouts even though my mother didn't have the money to buy a uniform. She did it by taking money out her own pocket to pay for the expense of the uniform and also other costs for being a Boy Scout.

Paul Noll mentioned an old stake truck. Yes, there was such a truck, and it was used regularly in the summer to take us all to weenie roasts at the beach at night. In the 1930s State Beach in Santa Monica had fire pits. As Paul said, who wrote the article, we all piled in the back and we were on our way.

Wayland and his
Brother Garland at 9 and 7

I remember roller-skating on the concrete slab between the building and the jungle jim, and also on the sidewalk around the home or playing jungle jim tag. There were seasons to do everything - fly kites, spin tops, build balsa wood planes. There was always something to do. One year we made swords from pussy willows, and orange crate scooters. Another we made stilts and guns to shoot inner tube rubber bands, and if we had nothing else to do we could work in our gardens or play "Bang Bang Your Dead" with hand made wooden guns.

In the evening, after we had all showered, those of us in the middlers dormitory would go into Mrs. Highland's room and listen to radio programs. One of our favorites was "I Love a Mystery".

Of course there were also those Saturdays when we would go to the matinée at the Tivoli Theatre in Sawtelle and see a double feature plus all of the short features, cartoons, and serials. All this for a dime, and they gave you a free candy bar for going. Candy bars were a nickel in those days.

One of the great autumn pleasures for me while I was at the home was the annual trip out to the west San Fernando Valley to Mrs. Wilson's ranch. We would go on a weekend in early November. There was a purpose for the trip - it was to gather walnuts for use in food preparation by the home. Each of us would be given a gunnysack. We would gather walnuts for a couple of hours. Then we would have a fantastic lunch. After lunch we were free to roam the ranch and eat and pick anything we saw growing - grapes, cantaloupes, berries, pomegranates, and all sorts of things. We also got to see all the barnyard animals, to pet and play with them and to chase the peacocks. It was just a fun day.

Contact: Wayland Nevitt at: landitt@pacbell.net