The Lakewood Story: History, Traditions, and Values
These pages do not pretend to tell all the stories that can be told about Lakewood. The stories of Lakewood are so varied that many more books could – and should – be written to tell them.
The goal of the authors of The Lakewood Story: History, Traditions, Values has been more modest. They have tried to tell some of Lakewood’s history and explore some of Lakewood’s enduring traditions so that students in Lakewood’s middle and high schools might have a record of their city’s accomplishments and know something of the values that guided those who built their city.
These pages are dedicated to the residents of Lakewood, to whom the aspirations of tens of thousands of residents since 1950 have been passed.
The history, traditions, and values of Lakewood might be told in many different ways. The authors could have chosen to focus on a year-by-year chronology. They could have written a city encyclopedia with entries for the persons and events that contributed to the making of Lakewood.
These pages include much from official records, but the stories of Lakewood’s builders, its early leaders, and its original residents also are used to illustrate how Lakewood grew and changed through the years.
How these pages are organized
Chapter one places Lakewood in its environmental setting and looks at the region in the years before the building of Lakewood began. In chapter two, building the “city as new as tomorrow” gets underway. Chapter three goes inside the homes of Lakewood’s new residents to show how "suburban pioneers" coped with their new way of life. In chapter four, Lakewood’s incorporation shocks the staid world of local government with the Lakewood Plan.
In chapter five, the Lakewood Plan for contracting for municipal services is explained in detail. In chapter six, Lakewood deals with the challenges of changing times in the years after incorporation. In chapter seven, Lakewood’s recreation programs and community services are explored.
Chapter eight looks at the enduring values of Lakewood's neighborhoods and the city's efforts to sustain them. Chapter nine explains why Lakewood is a remarkably safe city and how the partnership between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the city has grown. Chapter ten deals with the city-sponsored events that help define Lakewood's community traditions.
Chapter eleven looks at Lakewood in the 21st century. Will the lessons of Lakewood’s history transfer to a rapidly diversifying city? How will the promise of Lakewood endure in a California that is markedly different from 1954?
Navigation tools on the left side of each page link to a gallery of historical videos, a gallery of archival photographs, and a library of documents that relate to the early history of Lakewood. In addition, most chapters include "a closer look" at topics in that chapter. Hyperlinks in the text will take readers to these in-depth mini-essays.
How to search The Lakewood Story
These pages have a feature that allows readers to search the entire text using key words and phrases. The search window is located in the upper right corner of each page. (Look for the magnifying glass symbol.)
To search, enter a single word (for example, flooding or Iacoboni or annexation) or an entire phrase in quotation marks (for example, “Lakewood Plan” or “Youth Center”) to find every instance of that word or phrase throughout these pages.
The Lakewood Story: History, Traditions, Values was begun in 2003 as part of the celebration of Lakewood’s fiftieth anniversary of incorporation in 2004. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the members of the Lakewood City Council for their support this project and the many other events of Lakewood’s 50th anniversary year.
The Lakewood Story was revised specifically for web publication in 2013-2014 as part of the city’s 60th anniversary of incorporation in 2014. This new, enlarged edition was made possible with further support of the Lakewood City Council and members of the Lakewood city staff.
The print publication of The Lakewood Story was originally made possible in 2003 by a grant from the Weingart Foundation, whose mission focuses on the health, knowledge, skill, confidence, and self-esteem of children and youth. The foundation's generosity in this and other contributions to Lakewood is warmly appreciated.
Allison Baker, PhD undertook much of the original research in 2003 with a special emphasis on the social history of Lakewood's first residents. Her 1999 dissertation, The Lakewood Story: Defending The Recreational Good Life In Postwar Southern California Suburbia, 1950-1999, provided interpretations, stories, and factual details far too numerous to list here.
Many informants provided their interpretations of Lakewood’s story for these pages. It is appropriate, however, to acknowledge the enormous contribution made to this publication by City Attorney Emeritus John Todd, former Mayor Jacqueline Rynerson, and past and present members of the Lakewood City Council.
Among those who provided both resources and encouragement for this project in 2003 were City Manager Howard L. Chambers, Assistant City Manager Michael W. Stover, Deputy City Manager Sandi Ruyle, and Assistant to the City Manager Lisa Novotny. The authors also wish to thank Recreation and Community Services Department Director Joan Biegel, Community Development Director Charles K. Ebner, Water Resources Director James Glancy, Public Works Director Lisa M. Rapp, Finance Director Larry Schroeder, and Senior Producer of CityTV Linda Price for their help.
Equally valuable was the research assistance of City Clerk Denise R. Hayward and Deputy City Clerk M. J. Semense-Mayberry who provided access to records archived by Lakewood city clerks since 1954. Angelo Iacoboni Library Manager Donna Walters also provided research assistance. Public Information Officer Donald J. Waldie provided overall editorial support.
A new generation of residents is finding their tomorrows in Lakewood.
Among those who provided editorial assistance in the preparation of these pages in 2003 were Executive Secretary Alma Varela, Administrative Secretary Florence Chernushin, and Clerk Typist Carolyn Edwards. Photographic resources were managed by Media Technician David Lester and City Photographer Earle Church. Community Relations Manager Sheryl Musicant Stewart and Administrative Clerk Elizabeth Ruiz, Legislative Technician Peggy Beam, Electronic Media Producer Robert Brammer, and Video Operations Assistant Eileen McIlrath provided additional support.
Contributors to this publication also included Jennifer Jeter of the Angelo Iacoboni Library and Richard Howland, formerly of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
The authors also wish to thank Teena Apeles, who read and corrected the draft manuscript and proof pages as this original print publication went to press in 2004.
Oral histories collected in 1978 and in 1999-2003 formed a large part of the authors' research into Lakewood’s past. The authors would like to thank those who contributed their memories. They included Margie Lehner Armstrong, Susie Atwood, Robert and Phyllis Baker, Dorothy Barbelle, Edward (Bud) McCain, Jr. and Claudette McCain, Gertrude Barbelle, Evelyn Shubin, John C. Bonner, John Buck, Loretta Gustafson Byrne, Robin Tweedy Nordee, June Tweedy, Marvin Cavanaugh, Diane DuBois, Anne Pechin Emigh, John T. Ford, Evelyn Waneta Foth, Linda Kay Gahan, L. B. Harbour, Jr., Charles Haynes, Nancy Hicks, Herb and Ruth Houston, Jack Huntsinger, Sandra Jenkins Janich, Harold Judson, Marshall Julian, Dennis Lander, Tom Lederer, Birdie and Meyer Levy, Thomas and Janet MacHale , Beverlee Nye Perez , Ron Piazza, John J. Rae, Mike Rae, Kirk J. Real, Donald H. Rochlen, Dave Rodda, Don Rose, Dewain (Bud) Rynerson and Jacqueline Rynerson, Keith Sharon, Suzanne Henderson Shipp, Ruth Smith, Woodrow W. Smith, Steven L. Soboroff, John Todd, Mary Jo Wagner, Roger and Shirley Williams, Paul and Lillian Worthington, and Barry Wulwick.
The authors of The Lakewood Story in 2003 were Allison Baker, Michael Stover, and Donald J. Waldie.
The revision of The Lakewood Story in 2013-2014 was aided by many of those who contributed to the original publication. In addition to them, grateful acknowledgement is made to City Manager Howard Chambers, Assistant City Manager Lisa Novotny, and Public Information Officer Bill Grady.
D. J. Waldie, Lakewood Historian Emeritus
Copyright © 2004 and 2014 by City of Lakewood
The Lakewood Story was originally published by the City of Lakewood as part of the city’s celebration of its 50th anniversary of incorporation in 2004 and revised for digital publication in 2013-2014 as Lakewood celebrated sixty years of cityhood.
Photographs in this publication are from the City of Lakewood Historical Archive and from rights-free, public domain sources. Reasonable effort has been made to determine the copyright status of the photographs in this publication.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication (including photographs) may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the City of Lakewood, except by students and educators who are permitted to use brief excerpts and only with proper attribution.
City of Lakewood • 5050 Clark Avenue • Lakewood, CA • 90712