by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Though it appears to be apocryphal, a quote attributed to Pop artist Andy Warhol is now firmly entrenched: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Whether Warhol uttered the sentence or not, it will likely never come close to being true and, for me early this morning, I got about 30 seconds of fame, though local, not global.
This is because I was invited to go to a live broadcast of ABC7’s “In the Neighborhood” series, in which news team members go back to their hometowns to share their stories and highlight notable aspects of those communities. This morning’s edition took place in La Puente and was hosted by Sid Garcia, a general assignment reporter.
These programs run from 4:30 to 7:00 a.m., though I didn’t get there until a little after 5:00. It was still dark, but there was plenty of energy at a little green space on Amar Road near the well-known Donut Hole, a local landmark drive-through shop where you do, indeed, drive through two large donuts standing on their ends.
Much of the energy was provided by cheerleaders and the marching bands from three local high schools: Bassett High (where Garcia attended and was a member of the band), La Puente High, and Workman High. There were also a native Mexican Indian dance troupe, a classic car club, members of the city council and city staff, and many others from the community.
The sun had risen by the time I had my turn with Garcia at about 6:15, with the Bassett High band behind me ready for its moment in the sun. I was asked to bring some artifacts to exhibit, so I chose three objects relating to the La Puente area and from the focus decades in our interpretation.
The first artifact is the original 1842 document giving William Workman the privileges and rights to use Rancho La Puente, established first under the auspices of the Mission San Gabriel, as if he was an owner. Strangely, Workman’s long-time friend and business partner John Rowland, as discussed in earlier posts on this blog, obtained the land grant in early 1842 to La Puente in his name only and then claimed three years later in a new grant petition that Workman was accidently left off the original request. This not only makes no sense on the face of it, but this document clearly indicates that Workman was not “forgotten,” but, apparently, had to tread cautiously upon arrival in California, likely because of political issues in New Mexico prior to moving west.
The second object is an original hand-colored map from 1870 of the “Puente Valley,” the western edge of the Rancho La Puente partitioned to Workman when and Rowland formally divided the ranch a few years earlier after getting a federal patent to the property. The map showed parcels set aside for Workman’s son Joseph and grandsons Thomas and William Temple, as well as forty acres for Workman’s long-time ranch foreman, Frederick Lambourn. Ultimately, Joseph Workman and Lambourn received full title to their bequests, but the Temple brothers did not, because of the dramatic failure of Workman’s fortunes in the aftermath of the collapse of the bank he ran with his son-in-law (and the father of Thomas and William), F.P. F. Temple.
There was a third artifact I intended to discuss, but the show moved on to the Bassett High band. It is a 1925 scrapbook kept by a female student at what then known as “Puente Union High School,” now La Puente High. It is a great document of the local area on several levels—the high school that was only a decade old then; the student body generally at the school; the individual student, Edith Schultz; and high school life broadly. This object will make a great post, so that may be coming in the next few days.
So, the brief discussion of local history came and went just like that, though it was really interesting to stand and watch how the ABC7 crew kept things moving and worked with a lot of moving pieces on a very fluid locale. Hoepfully, those who watch the segment got a feel for the community spirit that pervades La Puente, despite what some may hear otherwise about the city, and, yes, even got to see and hear a touch of its interesting history, too.