Thursday, August 14, 2008

Around Town: Best Friends 1941

Next year, you’ll see new names in Memorial Park — plaques courtesy of the city of La Cañada Flintridge and research courtesy of local historian Denise Hovland.

Denise, who grew up in La Cañada, has uncovered the lost heroes of Lasheart Drive. She found records of forgotten memorials. A park was named for one. A playing field for another. Denise began searching old high school year books. This week, she sent me the following note:

“I found pictures of Bettie Curland and Eleanor Woodbury. These two girls were often pictured together in group pictures for various school clubs and organizations. I began to wonder if they were friends. My suspicions were confirmed when I found a wedding announcement for Bettie Curland. Eleanor was Bettie’s maid of honor. These girls were sisters of William Curland and Roscoe Woodbury.”

In July of 1941, Bettie Curland married Eugene B. Davis. The wedding took place in the Curland home on Alta Canyada Road, just south of Riendo Lane. The maid of honor was the bride’s best friend, Miss Eleanor Woodbury. The best man was Bettie Curland’s cousin, Bill Byrens.

I like to imagine that two 19-year-olds, Billy Curland and Ross Woodbury, also attended. Bill Byrens, the best man, often said that he and his cousin Billy were like close brothers.

Did they drink champagne? Tie tin cans to the groom’s car before the happy couple left for their honeymoon trip to the Santa Barbara Biltmore and Lake Arrowhead?

Two years later, Ross Woodbury’s coffin would be on the cover of Life Magazine. The next year, a telegram arrived for the Curlands.

The years passed. Plaques were installed. Memorials were offered. The town grew. People left. People came and went.

La Cañada has a rich and wonderful history. There are stories of strength and freedom, of love requited and unrequited, of garden parties and sun-filled days.

There are also stories of courage and loss. Sir Jonathan Sacks, once said, “sharing a story is the best way of creating shared identity and a sense of the common good.” And now, thanks to Denise Hovland, the city will remember the lost heroes of La Cañada: Staff Sgt. Lewis Arthur Salmon, U.S. Army; 2nd Lt. Roscoe E. Woodbury, Jr., U.S. Army; Tech 4th Grade Harold E Lotze, U.S. Army; 2nd Lt. Daniel R. Shuler, U.S. Army; 2nd Lt. Donald J. Kanoff, U.S. Army; 2nd Lt. William Curland, U.S. Army, plus Lt. Anne G. Hemphill, WAC, who “died not in combat” in a plane crash in the war zone, in Italy.

La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

Published Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:22 AM PDT
Around Town:
Best friends, 1941

By Anita Susan Brenner

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