One of the things important with motherhood - is staying connected to your community if possible. That's why I thought it would be fun to share this article I wrote about my neighborhood.
Mothers who met when their babies were only one - have stayed connected over decades as friends and neighbors.
Ladies of Park Avenue - Venice, CA
The Ladies of Park Avenue or as the whole block likes to call themselves (both male and female) “Parklandia” is filled with many neighbors who have lived on the block for decades.
The block is unique and special in that so many neighbors are friends and during this special time of the Stay At Home order, every weekday at “noon” (maybe noonish?) people head out to their decks and or yards to say “hello,” wave at their neighbors and shout out any news or updates they are willing to share.
One of the features of the block the residents fight vigilantly to keep is the short fencing so that the houses all feel inviting and friendly. Another is that almost everybody knows each other by name, and whether by gathering in-person, or through a group email thread everyone stays in touch.
Across from me lives Cathy Dreyfus who moved to the block in January 1983. Dreyfus lived on Breeze and would walk to Park Avenue when she would go to vote because it was en route to her polling station. Each time, for four years, she would see a house for a sale and think “it’s so cool.” The house was originally owned by legendary actor Glenn Ford who won Best Actor Golden Globes three times from 1957 to 1962. It’s a Cape Cod-style house built in 1903.
When she was in her second year of law school and heading into third, her dad said to her that perhaps it was time to look at buying a house since she was going to be a lawyer and make good money. She knew immediately the house she wanted. “It was meant to be,” Dreyfus shared.
Neighbors Sherri and Mel Schier have lived on Park Avenue for 47 years since 1975. Sherrie also moved from a block away “because it’s a beautiful block.” She loves that the block doesn’t terminate by a parking lot at the beach but rather with a pagoda. “It’s a wider walk street. I’m not sure if many people know that. She said the homeless have only appeared near there in the last decade or so.
Sherri reminisced that when her daughter was little, there were 12 kids running around the block safely and all the families knew each other. “There’s not a lot of traffic on walk streets, it’s not a through street.”
“It’s such a luxury to be near the beach and to have greenery,” she said. She loves the quietness of the block. At one point, she ran a therapeutic oriented yoga practice and the neighbors would come to her studio at the back of her house.
Resident Gail Rogers is the block captain and represents the block at the Task Force meetings. She coined the term “Parklandia” and promoted gatherings so that all the neighbors could know each other better.
Gail moved to the block in 1973 during her pregnancy and labels her daughter a Park Avenue baby since she was born in her house. She lived with roommates and one of them became her future husband. It was all very inexpensive. In 1982, she bought a house on the block.
Phyliss Korn lived in Venice on Park for 50 years. She moved to Park Avenue from the Valley as a result of volunteering on the first Rape Crisis Hotline (LA Commission on Assaults Against Women) and fell in love with Venice.
“It was so different from Sherman Oaks and Tarzana. The diversity, the arts, it’s free spirit and the liberal politics drew me,” Korn said. She also loved being at the beach. First, she lived on Park Place for 20 years and then Park Avenue for 30 years.
“I was always envious of the sense of community I felt when I walked down Park Avenue to get to the beach. I adore my neighbors and I’m grateful for their support and friendship through the years.”
Gail coined the term “Parklandia” when a few years ago, she brought the women of the block together to discuss their concerns..
“We had an unofficial block party. We set up chairs and a potluck. We had a beautiful block party,” she said. All these women waltzed in with beautiful food. I called them the Parklandia Party Girls, they are all such good cooks.”
Marsha Straubing moved to Park Avenue in 1975, as a single mom with a one-year-old.
“Somehow some people on the Venice Rainbow Page had a listing for a women’s artist collective and I got invited to a party in 1984 so I went and the listing was for a month sublet to Gail and Ira’s. I went to look and the three of us had gone to the same college in New York.
“We weren’t friends but we knew each other to see each other,” said Straubing. “We were in rival sororities.”
“We also made the connection that we both had one-year-olds, so I moved in.” It was a short-term sublet but there wasn an opening across the street so she moved directly across the walkway.
“And that’s where I met my future husband.” And it’s where she still lives to this day.