SAGE Rides the Rails to Watts Towers, Mama’s Hot Tamales

Posted on October 30, 2009. Filed under: California senior citizens, California State University at Northridge, CSUN, Learning in Retirement, SAGE Activities | Tags: , , , , , |


Using public transportation, members of SAGE rode the rails Saturday, October 24, on their journey to visit the historic Watts Towers.

Boarding the Red Line at the North Hollywood Station, the group traveled to Seventh Street Metro Center where they transferred to the Blue Line. Instead of taking this train to the end of the line in Long Beach, intrepid travelers disembarked at the 103rd Street Station for a short walk to the towers.

At the towers they were greeted by guide James Janisse, a radio personality on local public stations. Janisse, who grew up in the Watts community, recounted stories of visiting the towers during his youth. As he led the SAGE group through an inside tour of the towers, he informed them about Simon Rodia and the builder’s 33-year-project. Following the tour, the group viewed a 12-minute video about Rodia and the towers.

The group also viewed the art gallery with its 50th Anniversary display of paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

Following the visit the SAGE travelers boarded the train back to MacArthur Park where they had colorful lunch at Mama’s Hot Tamales. Mama herself, Sandy Romero, told of her efforts to improve the neighborhood and train young people in restaurant work. –Reuben Allen



Some Member Comments about the Trip

It was very interesting to learn than an immigrant who could neither read nor write English with little formal education could build this engineering marvel. Also riding the subway with all the station changes was a new and exciting experience for me. Thank you again for all your planning.
Estelle Allen


Lunch was at the Hot Tamale cafe, which is next to MacArthur Park and Lake. Remember? That is the place where there was all the police brutality, not so long ago. Well, now, the arrests this year have gone to zero from a high a year or so ago of 500. The owner of the cafe has been instrumental in getting the cart vendors to learn to open more legitimate businesses. She even trains some of the younger people for jobs at Starbucks. The buffet was magnificent and the hibiscus tea was a real hit. What a treat to hear about the local success story. Darlene Wilson


Memorable trip. It was so much more than we expected. How fortunate to have a great guide to better understand what we saw, its history, how it was created. Our friends will be a little envious of us as we regale them of not only what we saw but also how we felt.

I was born in Los Angeles in the year that Sam Rodia began this remarkable project, and this trip fulfilled my desire to see it and be at one with it.
Fearful that it would be too much of a trip for the very elderly, you not only made us feel comfortable with our slow pace, it but successful enough to want to take another of your tours. Our appreciation of your efforts, your planning and your watchfulness cannot be expressed loudly enough. Thanks so very much.
Eli and Lil Baker


Thank you, Zel and Reuben for getting the Watts Towers trip together. It was fulfilling and a long time wish realized for me. Simon Rodia–a dedicated man with a purpose in mind. My father, Anthony Mion, was a cement finisher and terrazzo worker, an immigrant from Italy, so I was especially interested in Rodia’s masterpiece. The colored glass and decorative pottery were brought to life in the California sun. The overall shape of the towers into a ship was breathtaking. What touched my heart most was the honor Rodia gave to his work tools by imbedding the shapes of the small hammer, pliers, trowel, etc. into the cement. –Rita Thayer

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Three Generations Celebrate CSUN’s 50th Anniversary

Posted on May 22, 2009. Filed under: California State University at Northridge, CSUN | Tags: , , , , , |

My family was honored at the CSUN 50th Reunion on April 25th because we hold the distinction of being the first identified Three Generation Family to have graduated from what is now California State University at Northridge.

It was a very nice warm day out in the Quad at CSUN. When we arrived, we were told to call a special phone number and a cart to transport our entire family was sent for us. The cart accommodated my mother-in law, Eva Angelin, (97) who was in her wheelchair. Eva received her teaching credential in 1958. The cart had room for her son, Wayne; Susi, who received a bachelor’s degree in English and Art in 1969; and our two daughters. Both of our daughters graduated in 1996. Catrina received her degree in deaf studies and psychology while Stephanie was awarded her bachelors of science in biology.

We were all whisked away and transported to the campus to meet Gray Monger, Assistant Vice-President of Alumni Relations. He planned a full schedule for us from the moment we arrived to the time we got back into the cart and returned to our car.

First we were introduced to Dr. Sylvia Alva, Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, who greeted us and informed us of services available to alumni who are 60 years and older. These services are available in the Center of Achievement at the Brown Center in the form of rehab, exercise programs, and even the ability to take classes on campus with the fee being waived. These activities are part of a state-sponsored 60 Plus Program).
A reporter from one of CSUN’s newspapers interviewed us and snapped our photos to give us photographic memories of the day. Other visitors joined us in the special tent set aside for us.

Just before we were ready to leave the campus, President Jolene Koester came to call on us. Another photographer showed up for some more pictures.

My daughter Catrina had a chance to view the plaque from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Her name is one of those inscribed on it for helping on campus after the quake. When I came to SAGE, I met Joyce Linden, one of Catrina’s intructors when she was a student at the university.
I also had the opportunity to remember Dr. Addie Klotz, for whom the Health Center is named, and inform another generation that she was a wonderful lady. I was a student at San Fernando Valley State College, as the school was called at that time. Dr. Klotz started keeping the Health Center open all night during finals so that students could come in to study, sit and chat with someone, or find an empty couch and sleep, just so they were not alone during that stressful time.

Dr. Klotz brought in her dogs at night for added company, and around 3:00 a.m. someone would go over to Western Bagel and buy fresh bagels and cream cheese for everyone to snack on. There was a special feeling that someone really cared about the student.

What a wonderful day that was on campus! We also were able to visit the wonderful Botanic Gardens managed by Brenda Kanno, who gave us a personal tour. She was Stephanie’s former lab teacher. They were able to meet up years later as Stephanie, along with SAGE’s Barbara Caretto, became volunteers at the gardens. –Susi White

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Posted on March 30, 2009. Filed under: California senior citizens, California State University at Northridge, CSUN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Los Angeles Department of Sanitation met at CSUN recently. It was to continue to get citizen’s ideas about which way to go while trying to do the right thing with Los Angeles trash.

Things are changing.

If you have new signage on your barrels, you may know that the blue bin now takes metal coat hangers, styrofoam and plastic bags. These bins offer a resource for recycling businesses.


Private haulers in the future may benefit by providing recycle dumpsters to apartments and businesses because of the profit in this trash. But can the city get apartment owners to separate trash? There are some programs testing this downtown.

Our green bins should have materials that can be composted, but no hoses or wood with nails. Fruits and vegetables can go into these now.

Black bins hold the most problems, needing material to be processed. Construction waste is separated.

People from the department traveled all over the world to see what other countries have done with their trash. There are many options to consider now.

If the department starts collecting materials from multifamily residences and businesses, costs will have to rise–more landfills are needed (one in the desert will be used).

Education to reduce waste is imperative.
As the department heads gave attendees facts and figures, our questions and ideas were recorded. I said if the Department of Water and Power gives free CF bulbs to home owners, maybe Sanitation could give some free string bags that are used in Europe and other countries. These should be used in the produce section of markets!

Given the deaths being caused to ocean life by the huge island of mostly plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, giving up plastic bags is an essential though inconvenient change to make. –Bette Simons

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