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The Rocker Recliner

In my bedroom I have an upholstered chair known as a “rocker recliner.”  My dad was in the furniture business as a manufacturer and this blue, velvety upholstered chair came from his factory, Mechanics Furniture Manufacturers, in Worcester, Massachusetts back in the 1970’s. The rocker recliner was a popular item back in the day. It allowed the person using it to rock or to recline and it swiveled side-to-side.

Ronnie Was My Grandparents’ Pride and Joy

It was originally owned by my aunt Ronnie Kramer who lived in North Hollywood, California. Ronnie was the pride and joy of our family because she worked in “the industry” as personal assistant to Danny Thomas and later, his daughter Marlo Thomas (of “That Girl” fame), before starting her own recruiting agency for film production workers.

Ronnie was my dad’s younger sister and with just a 20 year difference between us, we related as if she was my older sister. I moved to Los Angeles at her invitation in 1988 after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Together, we braved some of the hardships she underwent during the short time we had together. When she died in November 1989 it was up to me to dispose of many of her personal possessions.

I kept the rocker recliner as a memory of her and also of my father’s furniture business. As a child, I spent many weekends exploring the four floors of “the factory” at 306 Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA, playing hide and seek with my brother and sister. When I was a little older, I was allowed to work there sweeping the floors around the double rows of sewing machines where the Italian ladies worked.

My Rocker Recliner Brings Back Fond Memories of My Years in Worcester

I loved being there and over time I got to know all of the longtime employees pretty well. There was Frankie Pelligrino, the shop foreman and his wife Vickie, the head seamstress. There was Angelo Pelligrino – Frank’s brother, who was an upholsterer and who I considered my friend. Then there was Emil, the German fabric cutter who was stern but always nice to me. I also remember Jimmy Mitti, the shop’s truck driver (although my Uncle Arnie would sometimes fill in when a delivery needed to be made) and Joe, the African American driver who worked there at one time.

It was at the factory where I developed an appreciation for people of all cultures and in doing so, I always felt like we were all equal in stature. I may have been the boss’s daughter but I felt just as much at home with the people who worked there.

Most every night now, I sit in that rocker recliner because it brings me comfort to think back to those days. That chair is all I have to remind me of the factory. It closed in the early 1990’s after the furniture manufacturing industry moved, first, to the southern United States, and then, to China. I know my dad was always very disappointed that he wasn’t able to leave us more of an inheritance from the more than 50 years of the factory’s existence.

The building, which my family owned, was sold to a records storage facility which now anonymously occupies that location with its chain link fence and padlocked front door. It’s no longer the friendly place I used to visit as a child with its well – worn wooden stairs leading up to the office or down to the furniture showroom.

The last time I stopped by the old factory building, the security guy motioned me to leave and wouldn’t allow me to take a quick look inside.

I won’t ever go back there again, but I will hold onto that rocker recliner until it falls apart. Every night before I go to sleep, I sit in that chair and I enjoy the legacy of this 50 year old upholstered chair, now well – worn, and I get to hold onto a piece of my past.

LOCAL RESIDENTS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EFFORTS TO COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE USE IN SUNLAND-TUJUNGA

Drug-fueled crimes and fear-inducing encounters with methamphetamine users in the Sunland-Tujunga community will be the focus of the next Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting, taking place on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 6 p.m. at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga. This meeting brings together residents who have experienced run-ins with those on drugs and families who need resources to deal with their meth-afflicted family members, with the Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officers, and their SMART and PET Teams which provide services to those with mental health issues and drug addictions in Los Angeles and L.A. County.

Whether or not a resident has reported a crime, this information can be very valuable as it will provide direction on what to say and what “not” to say to amped-up individuals whom they may encounter on their street or property. “Knowing what to do to protect one’s property and to ensure one’s peace of mind is the utmost concern of our community,” states Jon von Gunten, Neighborhood Watch representative to the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. “Of course it’s always best to document individuals who may be committing a crime, but if that puts you in harm’s way, then it’s best to protect your safety first.”

This meeting was organized along with Region 1 (Sunland) representative Pat Kramer, who has received numerous calls from stakeholders in north Sunland, as well as in other parts of the Sunland-Tujunga community regarding this growing issue. “Residents are angry and they have a right to be,” says Kramer. “In some cases, their property has been damaged or stolen or they have personally been threatened by individuals who we suspect were trying to generate money for their drug habit. We can’t turn our backs on this issue any longer. There has to be a course of action that makes people feel safe and if it isn’t being addressed by the LAPD, then it needs to be by some other agency.”

The Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council holds regular board meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at North Valley City Hall. Additionally, the Neighborhood Watch, which is a division of STNC, holds three monthly meetings to address crime issues:

The Tujunga – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at McDonald’s restaurant, 6510 Foothill Boulevard, in the children’s play room, at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Gloria Caloca.

The Sunland – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices training room, 8307 Foothill Boulevard, in Sunland at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Cesar Contreras.

The combined Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga at 6 p.m. Parking is in the rear parking lot on Wyngate.

For more information on what STNC can help you with, contact Jon Von Gunten, STNC Neighborhood Watch Rep at: jonvgstnc@hotmail.com, Pat Kramer, STNC Region 1 Rep at: patkramerstnc@gmail.com or Ana Orudyan, Region 1 Rep at: anaorudyanstnc@gmail.com.

To report a crime, call: 911 for any emergency or a crime in progress. Otherwise, call the LAPD FOOTHILL STATION: 818-756-8861, for guidance, admin & follow-up. Additionally, you can contact 877-ASK-LAPD (877-275-5273) for other non-emergencies.

Additionally, here are some helpful phone numbers and emails to have on hand:

Call Senior Lead Officers for non-emergencies like suspicious or dicey people, excess noise, illegal parking, and speeders: 818-756-8866.

GANGS, DRUGS: Lt. Solano: 818-897-6081 or email: 26339@lapd.lacity.org

NARCOTICS: Det. Coyle, 818-834-3136, 33128@lapd.lacity.org

TRAFFIC: Officer Flores, (818) 644-8142, 30658@lapd.lacity.org

Remember to report every crime factually to LAPD: Accurate reports help with getting more police cars and officers!