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No Museum for Huntington Park Collection : Municipal Mementos Attract Only Dust

January 04, 1987|CARMEN VALENCIA | Times Staff Writer

HUNTINGTON PARK — When this community's 75th anniversary rolled around in 1981, city officials wanted to commemorate it with something more than passing ceremonies.

A call was put out for city mementos for a historical display and donations came by the armful.

The Women's Improvement Club donated old trophies and club bylaws, the Huntington Park Ebell Club gave certificates and awards dating back years, and someone even threw in a red sequined Huntington Park band uniform.

The city also ended up with the memorabilia of longtime residents eager to donate to the cause--even if it had nothing to do with the city's history. Clunky office machines, obsolete appliances and articles of clothing dating from the 1920s were added to the growing heap.

It's all sitting now in a room in a cramped corner of city hall--known among city workers as the historical room--where there is no curator, calling hours or any type of organization.

Growing Collection

The hodgepodge may one day be housed in a museum. But until then, it just sits.

"The room itself is kind of in disarray," said City Clerk Marilyn Boyette, who noted that some of the items had been collected by staff members since the city's inception.

In the middle of the room, for example, there is an old, plain wooden desk that was the first used by the City Council in 1906. Backed up against one of the walls--which are covered with old newspaper clippings and yellowed photographs--is another wooden desk, a roll-top which belonged to former City Clerk William P. Mahood. Shelves contain old city brochures and pamphlets alongside huge binders bulging with ledger records and invoices.

Although the door is kept locked, the cramped room is technically open to the public. Boyette says she will open it to anybody who wants to come in and browse.

'Not Much Interest'

"There's not that much interest," said Boyette, who said she hasn't opened the room to an interested member of the public for more than a year.

Although the city prefers donations of memorabilia connected to the city's history, "we'll take anything," said Councilman Jim Roberts, who appears in many of the old photos, including one as a 12-year-old lad during the 1947 dedication of city hall.

"It's frustrating for me because I would like a better place to display" the collection, Roberts said.

During the 75th anniversary, Boyette said, a group of residents tried to organize the material by setting it in several display cases and cataloguing it for reference. But once the anniversary passed, interest in the historical room faded.

Now, many of the dust-covered items sit on shelves or in the display cases without rhyme or reason. In the main display case, there are old Kodak and Brownie cameras, a pair of chocolate brown granny boots, World War II gasoline ration tickets and a 1905 White sewing machine. Another case contains an old Army kit, a bag marked "78 rpm antique phonograph records" and a framed business card with a familiar signature at the top: John F. Kennedy.

Nothing Thrown Away

Roberts said that although all the items don't exactly illustrate the city's roots, nothing would ever be thrown away.

"It kind of demonstrates the life and times of residents of Huntington Park," Roberts said.

The city has no plan to house the odd collection where it can be made more accessible to residents.

Roberts said the city had preliminary discussions to display some of the items in the Huntington Park Regional Library, but that plan fell through because of insufficient space.

Looking for a permanent museum is low on the city's list of priorities--at least until most of its 100 or so redevelopment projects get well under way.

"When everything is done with the redevelopment plan, then we'll start paying attention to a museum," Councilman Tom Jackson said.

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