History

1947-1961

In 1947 a group of mothers joined together to start the California Heights co-op. They began meeting in the yard of Louise Frank's home.

The same year the Long Beach Board of Education brought Dr. Katherine Whiteside Taylor to Long Beach from Seattle. These mothers all took her course "Guiding Children's Growth" and were very much inspired by her to try and provide the understanding kind of guidance which she taught them. They wanted their children to have the opportunity to experiment with the materials she described in the child centered atmosphere which would encourage them to release the creativity. Dr. Taylor was very inspiring and these first mothers felt like they were starting out on a crusade.

In the beginning the school was actually family-centered. The fathers attended all the meetings and contributed a good deal in setting the policies and providing the equipment. A family was elected to each office rather than just a mother. There It were so many problems in the first few years it almost seemed like a hopeless goal, but solving the problems brought the families close together, and many of these families are still very close friends.

After meeting at Louise's home for a while, the group met at Betty Van Saun's. About this time it was learned that a park was to be developed in the area. Lois Wright suggested to her friend, Duane George in the recreation department, that a portion of the park be fenced off as a "Tot Yard". This was done, and proved such a good idea that the plan was followed in developing other parks in the city.

The nursery school mothers were so delighted to have the use of the park and its equipment in spite of the lack of any storage space that they carried all their materials and equipment (including tricycles) around in the trunks of their cars every day.

One day Lois Wright heard of the play house for sale very reasonably. She got the permission of the recreation department to use it at the park. Not only that, they poured the slab and moved the house onto it.

About 1952 the State Department of Social Welfare started to issue licenses for cooperative nursery schools. One of the requirements was tables and chairs of the right size for pre-schoolers. Up to now they had used the adult sized tables and benches in the park. The playhouse was already too full to hold anything more, let alone tables and chairs. The recreation department had given permission for the park housed coops to build storage bins according to specifications which they would provide. One other school had built one at a cost of $100. This seemed beyond the financial scope of the school, but thanks to a rummage sale which netted over a $100 in one day and to a gift from the Hollywood Park Turf Club Charities Inc. of $150., the bin was built and the chairs and tables were purchased. We were given our license.

The next year we applied again to the Turf Club, but after the interview with the social worker, we were so sure we wouldn't receive any more money we planned another rummage sale. On the eve of the sale another $150 check was received, but it was too late to call off the sale. So we made another $100. With $270 to spend we went to town and bought tricycles, hollow blocks, Seaver sand toys, dolls, rainy day puzzles, and figured we were all set and would never have any financial worries again.

There were other problems though. It seemed that each year when one of our problem boys would graduate, one of the formerly angelic three-year-olds would turn into a terrible four year old, until it seemed inevitable that we would always have at least one problem child every year, but no one could predict who it would be. Many were the heated discussions as to whether the group should try to meet the needs of the "problem" child at the expense of the terror of the other children. We almost always found a way to work with the problem, thus contributing to the knowledge and growth of all.

Gradually the fathers’ participation seemed to wane. In an effort to stimulate their interest one meeting was planned as fathers' night. A report on the school and its progress was given and the fathers help was enlisted wherever needed. This slowly evolved into the annual party. These parties were always great fun and proved valuable in promoting closer ties with the group. As a matter of fact, they were so great we tried for a while to have two parties a year, one at the beginning of the year to get acquainted and one at the end of the year in honor 6f those who were graduating. Sometimes we made money, too.

Speaking of money, fund raising has always been a part of each year's activity. Besides rummage sales (which seemed to net the best results with the least effort) raffles and selling tickets to shows have been the chief source of funds besides plain and fancy assessments of the members for various needs. We have fortunately had a minimum of projects, one or two each year, at most.

Our teachers have included, Jean Anderson, Louise Frank, Jean Enk (About 1950 to 1955), Norma ? ('56-58) and Mildred DeSar (1959-1964). Each has contributed to the group in her own way.

Our members have included some of the most wonderful people in the community, and even those who were a drag on the group helped the others to understand and be able to work with people with problems.

In the last few years, I have been amazed at how smoothly the group has functioned and the complete absence of any really difficult children or mothers, but sadly I have come to realize that this has really been the biggest problem we ever had. The group has ceased to be the challenge it was when everyone had to work hard to make it work, and consequently it has ceased to give the satisfactions in problem solving that used to be such an important part of participation.

This is such a small part of the story of the school; I hope that it will be someone's job to improve on it.

Evelyn Schultz, 1961

 

1962 - 1972

A great debt of thanks is due those early members who established such a strong foundation for our nursery school. Its program and traditions remain much as they were in earlier chapters of our history. Part of this is due to the fine organization and good reputation built by these original parents, part due to the "luck" of having attracted equally dedicated parents since. Though there has been a predictable turn-over of families over the years, our nursery school program has been remarkably well-preserved.

Several major capital improvements have been made in the last decade. The first was the construction in the fall of 1964 of our existing toy shed. The shed, its painting and a new concrete floor cost $660.54, part of which was financed by a $100 interest-free loan from the Long Beach Council. The shed served us well, but with the passing of time and, possibly, the accumulation of more and better educational equipment, an addition was deemed necessary. The addition, a set of shelves with an extra door on the east end of the shed, was constructed in the fall of 1970 at a cost of $100.

Another important - and much appreciated - change was made in 1967, when the Recreation Department was persuaded to cut a gate in the fence separating the Tot yard from the volleyball court. Formerly, wheel toys had to be dragged through the sand to the front gate and that was very hard work. Once the Rec. Dept. was convinced that we would not leave sand on the volleyball court, they agreed to put the gate in the fence. Thereafter, wheel toys could easily be wheeled to the hard surface of the court without backbreaking strain.

Fund raising events have been an integral part of each year's program -the amount of effort expended often a result of what the budget required. Raffles and white elephant sales have been popular events. We have also tried demonstrations at the Edison Company and a theater party. By far the most successful fund raising event in recent years was the Rummage Sale held in the spring of 1971, at which approximately $500 was collected - much to the astonishment and delight of all.

Social events continue to provide a pleasant interlude, especially as these are almost the only way now that fathers are included. Pot luck dinners have been most successful and well-attended. Other popular events are the now-traditional summer luncheon "meeting" honoring new mothers, the late summer beach party for mothers, co-op children and their sisters and brothers and the spring Sunday Father's Day. All these social activities serve to bring the member families closer together.

Educational excursions have long been a part of our school program. These trips are planned approximately once a month and often are an extension of the material being "taught" at school. Dairies, libraries, post offices, grocery stores, parks, pet stores, Knott's Berry Farm, Cabrillo Beach Museum – these have been the locations of most excursions in the past several years. The children have also taken the El Dorado Nature Walk, visited Atlantis Park, seen fire stations and usually go to the beach at least once a year.

Dues and fees remain much as they were in the early 160s - despite inflation! Registration for new children remains $5, accident insurance is still $1 per child and dues have gone from $2.25 in 1962 to only $3.25 in 1972. Good bargain...

We have been fortunate to have fine teachers; Grace Smith (1964-65), Merle Noel (1965-66), Bobbie Stockham (1966-68), Sally Larson (1968-69) and Phyllis Spielmann (1969 to the present). Each has contributed something.

In this - our 25th year of operation - we are still very proud of our co-op!

Fran Conley, 1972

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