Probably only a few months after they got married on January 18, 1946, my grandparents Ruth Mihalovich and Tony DiBagno packed up, boarded a train, and moved from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California.
Tony, a bricklayer like his father, had been trying to get into the bricklayer’s union back in his hometown of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, but hadn’t been successful and jobs just weren’t coming in. There was more work in California at the time so they decided to try their luck there. They moved to Los Angeles and lived at 1320 Colorado Blvd in Glendale (the photos below are from when they lived at the “Hamilton apartments,” which I haven’t been able to determine is a different place or not). Ruth’s nephew Daniel “Danny” Zorick (pictured below; actually only 2 years younger than her) had been a marine in World War II and stationed in California. He liked it so much that he stayed and was able to spend some time with Ruth while she lived there, too. My grandmother described the coat that she was wearing in the photos below as an emerald green. My grandfather’s is the writing on the bottom of the photos – I love how he referred to her as Ruthie.
Ruth got a job at California Dresden by Avis in Glendale, California, an artistic pottery company that sold Dresden china. Collectorsweekly.com describes the company as follows: “Avis Wright Potteries were best known for bringing Dresden lace figurines to America, called California Dresden, in the 40s.” My grandma’s job was to paint and decorate the figurines. My mom said that Grandma had kept a figurine as a memento, but somewhere along the line it got smashed to bits. Fortunately my mom kept the information (if not the pieces) and was able to pass on the name of the company to me.
Tony and Ruthie did a lot of interesting things while in California; photos of their time there are the most interesting of the two of them together and the ones in which they look the happiest. They experienced at least 1 earthquake while living there, the one apparent downside of the experience. They saw the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, traveled to Mexico in 1948, and enjoyed the sites of Santa Monica and San Bernardino. In 1947, Tony’s parents Giulio and Atela came to visit and they took them to the beach at Santa Monica (unaccustomed to the weather, or maybe it was cold that day, they appeared to have stayed in their coats – example below on the left).
On the back of the photo (above right) one of them wrote: “Last Sun we went driving through Hollywood, Santa Monica +Beverly Hills where the movie stars live but we didn’t see any stars yet darn it! This picture was taken on a very high cliff overlooking the beach + ocean but it didn’t come out very clear. I wish you folks could see the beautiful homes, flowers + palm trees all over the place here.”
My mom thinks she remembers a story about them visiting a movie set and maybe making friends with a stunt man. They did certainly have a lot of friends. Both were naturally friendly, social, and fun-loving. Almost every photo shows a new face or two. Tony’s hometown friend Wibby Casper even made an appearance in a few photos (Mom wasn’t sure if he had been visiting or if he moved out there, too). One photo of Tony and Ruthie (with pals named Louie and Natalie) was taken at Bob Brooks’ 7 Seas, a bar located at 6904 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, CA, across from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The 7 Seas became something of a landmark in Hollywood, popular with movie stars, servicemen, and everyone in between. It was one of the original Polynesian and “Tiki themed” nightclubs, complete with rum cocktails, tropical plants, Hawaiian music, and a Polynesian floor show with hula dancers. Perhaps its most interesting feature was the nightly engineered tropical rainstorm with thunder sound effects! It’s fun to think of my grandparents having a good time in a place like that!
My grandma loved life in California and would have preferred to stay there, but Tony’s father Giulio was finally able to gain Tony an entree into the bricklayer’s union in Pennsylvania. The couple said goodbye to beaches and the scent of orange blossoms and moved across the country again, settling in Trafford, Pennsylvania around late 1948 or early 1949. They had a good run in the land of sun.
Tattoo. “Seven Seas, Los Angeles, CA (Bar).” Tiki Central, Hanford Lemoore, 24 Nov. 2008, www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=30531&forum=2.
katherinescollections. “American Figural Pottery.” Collectors Weekly, Auctions Online USA Ltd, 2017, www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/226783-american-figural-pottery.