Author: betsygoldman

Pioneer French Bakery has new plans for Rose Ave. site

It’s incredible that the French Pioneer Bakery has been in existence almost as long as Venice itself. Jean Baptiste Garacochea apprenticed in his father’s bakery in Les Aldudes, a small village on the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains. In the late 1800s at the age of 15, Jean Batiste traveled with his cherished cargo of sourdough starter and ended up opening a bakery in Santa Monica in 1908. “Either Santa Monica went dry or the city just stopped him from making his wine,” says great-grandson John Garacochea. “That was enough for him to move the whole bakery.” The Pioneer French Bakery at 512 Rose Ave. in Venice was built in 1917 in the European fashion, with the upstairs a residence. Until recently the second story was used as offices with photographs on the walls to remind the Garacochea family of their heritage — both here and in France. There’s even a photograph of the original structure in the collection. “As we grew, we added on,” says Jack Garacochea, grandson of Jean Baptiste. “It’s too bad that when we started building on that we didn’t follow the architecture.” It’s been happening for decades. People never realize, at the time, what a shame it is to lose the architectural integrity of historic buildings that have their own place in time. There were other Basque families living in Venice during the...

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Vera Davis McClendon Youth and Family Center in Venice looks to the future with optimism

Eight years ago the former building of the Venice Library came back to life as The Vera Davis McClendon Center. Locally, the facility is known as The Vera Davis Center. There have been struggles and successes along the way to keep the center operating. At this time, Ramona Davis, Vera’s daughter, is planning to play a more active role. “I have been involved since the center was opened, working with Venice 2000,” says Ramona. “Now I’m going to establish a nonprofit Friends of the Center with people who would want to participate in some of the objectives of the center, since the city funding is so limited. “If any of the agencies need to have additional monies to send a kid to summer camp or for an educational program, then the Friends of the Center would have money to help support the causes.” Ramona plans to start a newsletter to keep the community aware of activities that go on at the center. If you’ve been to The Vera Davis Center, you would have noticed that the community agencies there are housed in little cubicles. One of the center’s objectives is to help these agencies get off the ground and expand to a point where they can go to a larger space on their own. “We know that property in Venice is really outrageous as far as rent is concerned,”...

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Navalette ‘Novie’ Tabor Bailey 91 years young

Have you ever met someone who you know right away is a special person, one who exudes such an aura of sweetness and kindness? That’s our Novie. She’s never changed her persona since I met her 17 years ago. Novie’s family moved to Venice in 1915 when she was six months old. Earlier in 1910, Arthur Reese encouraged his cousin, Novie’s father Charles Tabor, to come west because there was a lot of work going on in Venice at the time. “My dad came out to see what it was all about,” says Novie. “He loved the weather.” His five sisters and five brothers — including Irving, who would make a name for himself as Venice founder Abbot Kinney’s chauffeur and confidant — followed shortly thereafter. So as not to be left behind, Novie’s mother’s parents, sisters and brothers soon joined them. “At one time there were 30 grandchildren living and going to school in Venice,” she says. Novie still lives in the home on Westminster Avenue that her father purchased in 1914 for his family. Have you ever wondered about the names Tabor Court or Reese Court, both renamed in the ’90s, in Venice? Now you know where the names come from. Novie has fond memories of her childhood. “It was great to be raised in Venice,” she says. “We had everything.” Favorite places were the canals —...

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Don and Elaine Irving went from running Petville to promoting adoption of greyhound dogs

How many of you remember Petville USA that was located at 12112 Venice Blvd.? The store motto was “Where Animals Come First.” “We were trying to get away from the negative image that people who were pro-animal had of pet shops,” says Don Irving, who along with his wife, Elaine, opened the business in 1978. Petville USA was a role model for animal rights that has never been duplicated. Can you imagine shopping in a store where the aisles — or “streets” in this case — are labeled Hampster Heights, Rabbit Road, Feline Freeway and Dog Drive? The “streets” ended at a Civic Center, where animal information was circulated to benefit both owners and pets. Adoptions had to be qualified. Adoptions for “surprise gifts” were not allowed. “All members of the family had to be in attendance,” says Don. “We gave them a lot of supporting information about the pet. “They signed the adoption book and then we would actually have a ceremony. Everyone in the facility would stop when we announced on the loud speaker that so and so was adopting this little pet hamster today and would you please join us in a great round of applause. “Everyone would applaud. We would ring the big bell and music would play. So, it was a lot of fun.” Staff members were trained and there were no part-timers. “We...

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Rip Cronk has brought more public art into our lives

“We could all use a little more art in our lives.” Those are words found at the bottom of a letter sent out this year by the chairperson of the Venice Family Clinic. It’s true. Culture provides many benefits. Residents of Venice are so fortunate to have art in our lives 24/7. The Venice Art Walk is here for only two days and galleries are open during limited hours, but our streetscapes give us art at any time of the day. We should especially be thankful to Rip Cronk — and of course to Werner Scharff, who commissioned many of Kronk’s murals — for giving us, and the world that visits Venice, many of the delightful images that are in our environment. He catches the flavor of Venice in different ways. Rip, who has an education background in fine art, painted his first mural in 1978 and found that he was quite comfortable with the scale. “I like working on a big scale, to have an effect on society,” he says. “The stuff that goes on in the galleries is wonderful, but it appeals to an elite audience. “The general audience never sees it and because of its seclusion, it doesn’t have a chance to have an effect on society and actually mean something. “A mural, on the other hand, is a kind of an energized visual language that...

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