Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library Celebrates City’s Centennial with Laura Scudder Program Series



The series will includes book clubs, author talks, guest speakers and film programs throughout the 2016 centennial year.



On April 10th Librarian Cindy Costales welcomed everyone to this special event. She introduced Library Boardmember Theresa Amador who invited the audience to the Gala Fundraiser that will be held on May 19th at Luminarias Restaurant (Editor’s Note: Please see their flyer in this issue for more details). All of the Boardmembers are volunteers. She also introduced Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian to the audience.

Mrs. Costales introduced author Charles “Norm” Stevens to talk about his book, “Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930s” in the Friends Room on April 10th.  He was born in Los Angeles and was raised in Inglewood. He graduated from Inglewood High School in 1942 and joined the military. He flew 32 bombing missions from England over Germany. Mr. Stevens has written several books about his military experience. He used the GI Bill to further his education and became a teacher.  He retired from the Montebello School District.

Norm Stevens and his wife, Dolores Seidman have lived in Monterey Park for the last 43 years.

His book described life in the 1930s that will set the background for the time period when snack food pioneer Laura Scudder established her potato chip factory and small business in Monterey Park that later grew into the well known brand of potato chips.


Norm Stevens shared some of his childhood in Inglewood, California in the 1930s. He recalled the men would drive off to work in the mornings and the women stayed home to raise the children. He spoke about how he and his friends followed the iceman to enjoy fresh ice chips on a hot summer day. He recalled the Saturday afternoon matinees that cost a dime to enjoy. They would spend the afternoon enjoying two movies, cartoons and a newsreel. He remembered that his parents never shared the hard times with him when his father took one pay cut after another pay cut. His mother darned their clothes and they ate many meals made with creamed vegetables.

Mr. Stevens remembers his wonderful childhood despite living through the Great Depression. He took some questions from the floor about his childhood and thanked the audience for attention.

(Editor’s Note: Norm Stevens and Dolores Seidman have a monthly column in this newspaper. To purchase his books, please see their monthly column for more information.)

Cindy Costales said she researched the history of Monterey Park from the 1930 to 1940. It was not much different from Inglewood.

Laura Scudder and her family moved to Monterey Park in the 1920s and purchased a garage and attached brick building at the Northeast corner of Atlantic and Garvey.

Mr. Scudder was injured repairing a car and could not longer support his family.

In 1926, the day after Thanksgiving, Mrs. Scudder purchased 200 pounds of potatoes and began her business.

Monterey Park was hit hard by the Great Depression and in 1930 one half of the residents were unemployed. 450 people were provided relief funds and the Red Cross helped too.

Laura Scudder built a plant to make potato chips and hired the women to work in her plant. They not only peeled the potatoes, sliced them and fried them up to make the chips. They also ironed the waxed paper bags to hold the famous Scudder Potato Chips.


Librarian Maritxu de Alaiza produced a slide presentation on photographer Dorothea Lange, best known for her Depression era work for the Farm Security Administration.

Ms. Lange spent her childhood visiting the New York City Library while waiting for her mother, who worked there. She fell in love with images and discovered photography.  She is famous for her 1936 photos of emigrant women and their children.

Dorothea Lange and Paul S. Taylor have a book published “An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion” that can be discovered at the library.

Cindy Costales also spoke about a book titled “Mary Coin” written by Marisa Silver. That is novel about Dorothea Lange and her photography.

The program also included discussions and tie-ins to the local history story of Scudder. For more information about the free Laura Scudder Program Series call 626-307-1368 or follow the library on Twitter @MontereyParkLib.

The Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library is the city’s public library located at 318 S. Ramona Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91754. Library hours are Sundays 1-5 p.m.; Mondays and Tuesdays 12-9 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For more City of Monterey Park news and information visit the city website at www.MontereyPark.ca.gov.

Leave a Response