After the turkey and all the fixins’, when attention in Los Angeles shifted completely to the USC-UCLA face-off at the Coliseum, I had a chance to meet up with Amy Coffin, We Tree blogger, and show her a few local sights.
When I met Amy at the SCGS Jamboree last June, we discovered that she has California roots and present-day family living nearby. We worked out a plan to get together on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, figuring our families could spare us for a few hours by then. I have been on new-grandmother-alert while my son and family are in town and waved farewell for the afternoon to pick up Amy who was staying with her in-laws.
It was great to meet Amy’s tall handsome son and equally tall handsome husband, and the rest of the clan. The guys were heading for the Big Game with a much-coveted parking pass, game tickets, and plans for a Bruin tailgate party. Amy’s son was so excited that his feet were mostly off the floor.
When Amy introduced me to her mother-in-law she remarked that her husband’s sister had attended the Catholic girls’ high school where I taught English. Small world!
We had decided to take a little field trip to the Los Angeles Public Library to check out the genealogy collection. En route through Pasadena, I drove Amy through Mayfield Senior School where I taught, and pointed out a few local sights. Then we hit the Pasadena Freeway for the short drive to the Library. I hadn’t been there in a while and my GPS incorrectly directed us to a spot a few blocks away, but Girl Scout training kicked-in and we found our way to 5th and Flower, home of the LAPL.
It turned out that Saturday was a great day to visit the Library -- $1 parking at the adjacent lot, light traffic, and the library had been closed both Thursday and Friday. The LAPL web site was informative with clear directions and parking details.
The building is long and narrow with four floors above the main floor and four levels below. The web site indicated that the Genealogy and History collection was located on the 4th; I hadn’t read carefully enough – the 4th Floor was administrative offices, but the 4th Level (down down down down) was our destination.
We took the zig-zag escalators to the bowels of the library where Amy was delighted to find shelves and shelves of local directories. We set up at a nearby table and Amy located her Los Angeles ancestors home addresses with good success.
I didn’t have so much luck. I was trying to find my great-grandfather E.B. Kinsel who died in Los Angeles in the 1930’s. I have the burial card from Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood, but don’t know when he came to L.A. or where he was living. Family lore has it that he was living with “that woman” Lillian Garnett. Looking for Kinsel and Garnett yielded no positive results, but a few clues for two women by that name. More work to do. I used both print and microfilm copies of the directories in my quest; the library has an extensive collection of microfilm directories from Los Angeles county and throughout the U.S.
After a few hours with the directories, we looked around the rest of the floor to discover the wealth of family and local histories available. The library also has a large collection of Sanborn and other local maps. It is obvious the resources are there for another field trip on Amy’s next visit West.
We headed back to Pasadena just as the sun was starting to set and casting that wonderful late-autumn glow over the San Gabriel Mountains. Thank you for a lovely afternoon, Amy. It was so much fun to talk “shop” and swap tales. Come back soon.