scroll to top

Oral History Collection

Many of the oral histories in the collection were recorded in the mid 1970s. These recordings reveal much about life fifty years earlier when the Peninsula was just beginning to be settled. First-hand, eyewitness accounts describe cattle drives, ranching, early schools, life before electricity, offshore submarine bombing, and the designing of Wayfarers Chapel. More recent recordings tell the history of Moore's Market, Begonia Farms, the Land Conservancy and the Save Our Coastline effort which resulted in the formation of Rancho Palos Verdes.

These recordings are in CD format and may be heard in the Local History Room. Transcripts are also available for photocopying. The PVLD Oral History Committee, a group of specially trained volunteer interviewers, continues to collect stories of Peninsula life and memory from residents.

The collection also includes several autobiographical accounts of life on the Peninsula.

The following is a partial list of transcriptions currently available:

William Ailor - Founder and first president of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, which works to acquire and preserve Peninsula land for view protection, public reserve and recreation, habitat restoration, and land management. (Recorded November 10, 2006)

Joseph Barnett - Electrical engineer and later a realtor; former mayor of Palos Verdes Estates and PVE Planning Commission member, and owner of the Barnett Building in Malaga Cove Plaza. (Recorded February 9, 2007)

Jack Bauman (1922-2001) - Was the second of three generations to own the former Begonia Farm in Torrance. Both he and father Gus wrote short histories of the Peninsula, which are in the Local History Room. (Recorded January 17, 1992)

John Bauman - Landscape designer and third generation member of the Begonia Farm family whose Torrance nursery was a favorite for over 50 years for its beautiful plants and innovative service. (Recorded April 28, 2007)

Edward Carson Beall - Architect who has designed or remodeled about 1500 homes on the Peninsula; world traveler and collector; active supporter of PV Art Center. (Recorded April 20/26, 2007)

Mildred Beckstrand (1901-1994) - World traveler, community activist, painter, art collector, and organizer of many art exhibitions for the early Palos Verdes community. Beckstrand Gallery at the PV Community Art Center is named in honor of Mildred and husband Grant. (Recorded January 21, 1976)

Harry Brandel (1921-1999) - Founder of the Palos Verdes Tennis Club, but best known for his more than 40 years of service on the Palos Verdes Homes Association Board. (Recorded December 29, 1997)

Sandra Buttitta - First female Chief Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County. Was in that position during the trials of the Menendez brothers and O. J. Simpson. Also worked as Deputy DA in the Torrance court during some high profile local cases such as the shooting of two PVE police officers. Moved to Palos Verdes in 1960 and was in first graduating class of Palos Verdes High School. (Recorded June 11, 2008)

Margaret Chadwick (1893-1984) - With husband Joseph, founded and developed Chadwick School, which began as a home school venture, but quickly expanded when Frank Vanderlip deeded 33 acres for permanent site and the Roessler family donated money for initial buildings. (Recorded July 2, 1969)

Betty Davidson - Rolling Hills resident since 1952; co-founder of Portuguese Bend Horse Show. (Recorded November 9, 2005)

Walter Davis (1887-1973) - Architect and assistant city planner for the Palos Verdes Project in 1922. Designed La Venta Inn and the chapel at St. Francis Episcopal Church, among other projects. (Recorded Spring 1969)

Richard Dawson (1900-1976) - Third pastor of the Neighborhood Church, under whose tenure the Haggarty Mansion was purchased and remodeled into a church. (Recorded February 17, 1976)

Joe Denni (1902-1990) - Cowboy and cattle driver for the Bixby Land Company, describing for a class of school children early ranch life on the Peninsula, including cattle round-ups from Palos Verdes through Lomita to Los Alamitos. (Recorded March 29, 1978)

Alice Dyrsmid (1901-1994) - Owner of first house built in the Valmonte area about 1931. Was in charge of the Red Cross Motor Corps during World War II, which took care of soldiers then stationed along the coast. (Recorded May 11, 1987)

Robert Fisher (1903-1978) - Lawyer, financial consultant, and President of the Palos Verdes Corporation from 1946-1958, during the time when PV land was sold to the Great Lakes Carbon Company for dicalite mining. (Recorded January 21, 1976)

Donald Gales - Former meteorologist for TransWorld Airlines, and author of the Peninsula's well-known nature guidebook, Handbook of Wildflowers, Weeds, Wildlife, and Weather of the South Bay and Palos Verdes Peninsula. (Recorded September 19/21, 2006)

Robert (1910-1997) & Caroline (1914-1998) Garland - Recollections by two early residents of life in Palos Verdes during World War II.(Recorded November 15, 1995)

Barbara Gleghorn - Active participant in the Save Our Coastline movement; which was instrumental in establishing Rancho Palos Verdes as a city in 1973. (Recorded June 22, 2005)

Elmer (1913-2008) & Sararuth (1918-2010) Grimes - Former teachers who maintained a small farm in Rolling Hills Estates, collected old farm machinery, taught gardening to 4-H clubs and Scout troops, and were active supporters of the Loop Trail project. He was known locally as "Farmer Grimes." (Recorded November 14, 1995)

Sararuth Grimes (1918-2010) - Further recollections of life on the Grimes farm, and the California Classic Horse and Carriage contests. (Recorded August 26, 2005)

Archibald E. Hanson (1893-1986) - Landscape architect who became general manager of the Palos Verdes Corporation in 1932, and was responsible for the planning and development of Rolling Hills. Author of Rolling Hills: the Early Years. (Recorded April 28, 1976)

Donald Hendrickson - Architect who has designed many homes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula; active member of the Palos Verdes Estates Art Jury. (Recorded April 2/16, 2007)

Ann Hinchliffe - Long time PVE resident and active community leader who has served in significant positions with the PV Unified School District, the Portuguese Bend Horse Show, and the Palos Verdes Homes Association. (Recorded October 6, 2006)

Beatrice Howard - Secretary to original Palos Verdes Project staff in early 1920s; worked under Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., H.T. Cory, Charles Cheney, and Laurence Hussey in the Hotel Redondo offices. (Recorded July 1971)

June Watts Hughes - Daughter of Meredith Watts, the woodworker who designed and carved the furniture for the Malaga Cove Library in the early 1920s. (Recorded August 15, 2007)

James Ishibashi (1918-2002) - Son of one of the first Japanese farmer families; returned after World War II to continue farming on Peninsula land; with his wife ran a fresh produce and flower stand on PV Drive South called "Deliciously Yours," but widely known as "Annie's Stand." (Recorded December 17, 1975) [in 40 Families Collection]

Ralph Jester (1901-1991) - Architect/designer who worked in the film industry with Cecil B. DeMille; designed two stained glass windows for the Neighborhood Church, and was associate architect with Lloyd Wright on the Wayfarers Chapel. (Recorded May 14, 1976)

Kelly Johnson - Former custodian at Rolling Hills High School who became a teacher; eventually returned to the Peninsula, established the Rancho del Mar Continuation School, and became principal at Peninsula High School. (Recorded July 20, 2007)

Rosemary Jordan - Served as Palos Verdes Project secretary in the early 1920s; part-time La Venta Inn hostess; later was postmistress in the Gardner Building. (Recorded July 1971)

Tadashi Kadonaga - Son of one of the early Japanese farmer families; attended Malaga Cove School; spent war years in Japan, then returned to the States to attend medical school. (Recorded February 23, 2005) [in 40 Families Collection]

Mike Kilroy - Commercial developer who came to the Peninsula as a child in the 1970s, and joined the Board of the PV Land Conservancy in 1993; tells about his visit with Frank Vanderlip, Jr. (Recorded May 25, 1993)

Dorothy LeConte (1909-1998) - Lifetime political activist and co-chairman of the Save Our Coastline project, which resulted in the formation of Rancho Palos Verdes in 1973. (Recorded March 30, 1976)

Gabe Little – With Jack McDonald, describes the shooting of a Japanese submarine off the local coastline on Christmas Day 1941. (Recorded July 22, 1971)

Lowell "Skip" Lusk - Architect who spent his boyhood roaming the canyons of Rolling Hills, and later designed the PV Art Center and many houses on the Peninsula. (Recorded 1986)

Romayne Martin (1889-1991) - Came to PV in 1923; established first school for Malaga Cove children, and also the Public Library and Art Gallery; charter member of PV Women's Club; husband Farnham was Superintendent of Parks and Planting for PV Project. (Recorded October 16, 1970)

Roy McCarrell, Jr (1929-1985) - Third generation member of one of the original PV ranching families whose grandfather, father, and uncle farmed on the Peninsula from the 1920s onward. (Recorded February 6, 1976)

Burton Moore - Third generation grocer and owner of Moore's Market, first established 1932 in Malaga Cove Plaza, and later in Lunada Bay, the longest running retail business on the Peninsula. (Recorded June 11, 2007)

Veith Moore - Former North Shore surfer and son of Burton Moore, who grew up on the Peninsula and continued to manage the Moore's Market family business until it closed in August 2011. (Recorded July 9, 2007)

Yukio Motoike - Son of one of the Peninsula's earliest Japanese farmers; shares memories of growing up on the farm, experiences in internment camp, and where he went after the war. (Recorded June 24, 2005) [in 40 Families Collection]

Lura Gard Newhouse - Grew up in one of the first houses to be built on the Peninsula; patron of Moore's Market, and Bruce's Drug Store; took woodcarving classes from Meredith Watts. (Recorded September 29, 2007)

Fumie Tanaka Nishizaki - Child of one of the early Japanese farming families; tells of life in San Pedro, La, as well as in internment camp; was Japanese language teacher, grocery store owner, and expert knitting instructor. (Recorded February 8, 2005) [in 40 Families Collection]

Bill Olesen (1904-2003) - San Pedro boat builder, commercial fisherman, and charter boat operator; active participant in Pt. Fermin Lighthouse restoration, and the development of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. (Recorded January 18, 1996)

Harry Phillips, Jr. (1889-1980) - Grew up roaming the unbroken fields of the Peninsula while his father, Harry Phillips, Sr., managed the Palos Verdes Ranch for the Bixby family, before Frank Vanderlip purchased the land in 1913. (Recorded January 13, 1976)

David Pierson - Born on Torrance farm; spent boyhood hiking Peninsula canyons and herding dairy cows; chairman of Rolling Hills Trails Committee, and worked to maintain permanent easements for horse trails throughout Rolling Hills Estates. (Recorded December 6, 1975)

Lillian Placentia (1906-2002) - Descendant of the pioneering Machado family, whose land once included part of Machado Lake, and who were contemporaries of Ramon Sepulveda; operated water taxi service from San Pedro to Catalina with her husband during World War II. (Recorded May 19, 1988)

Mabel Randall - Daughter of plumber who helped build the Haggarty house (now the Neighborhood Church,) and who later was the "on-call" plumber for Mr. J. Haggarty. (Recorded with Fred Thomas, November 15, 1995)

Walter Reese (1907-1982) - Pharmacist who bought the PV Drug Store in the Gardner Building, Malaga Cove Plaza, in 1939, the year Palos Verdes Estates became a city; opened a second store in Golden Cove in 1966. (Recorded December 15, 1975)

Fritz Ripley (1906-1990) - Oil tool and derrick salesman who sold equipment to Torrance drilling companies; one of the founders of the Portuguese Bend Sailing Club. (Recorded December 1975)

Edna Roessler (1894-1987) - Wife of Fred Roessler, first mayor of Palos Verdes Estates, whose term lasted 25 years; with husband, helped to establish Chadwick School. (Recorded April 30, 1970) Also available, an additional recording of a talk to a children's classroom about life in the early days of the Peninsula. (Recorded March 15, 1978)

Robert Roessler - Son of Edna and Fred Roessler; grew up in Miraleste and Pve; experienced the 1933 earthquake; attended Chadwick School, which his parents helped to establish. (Recorded October 27, 2006)

Robert (1918-2006) and Carolyn Schaeffer - Early residents of Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes Estates, describing community life from 1931-1995: schooling, Swim Club, Water Company, Douglas Cut, Sunday school; Robert, the local doctor with office above Malaga Cove Plaza Drug Store; Carolyn, an artist and co-founder of Summer Watercolorists. (2 recordings: #1-Recorded February 4, 1992; #2-Recorded November 16, 1995)

Gordon Schultz (1916-2004) - President of Schultz Steel Company; owned 50-acre ranch in Rolling Hills from 1947; raised Hereford cattle and bred horses. (Recorded March 7, 1976)

Ann Shaw - Actively involved in Save Our Coastline movement to incorporate Rancho Palos Verdes; served on first RPV City Planning Commission; later elected to RPV City Council and served term as mayor. (Recorded August 23, 2006)

Hideko Kawashiri Shono - Born at White Point, the daughter of an early Japanese farmer family, who was interned with other PV families at Poston, AZ but who returned to Los Angeles after the war. (Recorded March 29, 2005) [in 40 Families Collection]

Alden Smith (1907-1992) - Torrance optometrist who built house in Rolling Hills in mid-1930s; son-in-law of first gateman at Rolling Hills gatehouse. (Recorded September 8, 1986)

Minerva Stump (1898-1986)- Daughter of William McCarrell, one of the earliest ranchers on the Peninsula; aunt to Roy McCarrell, Jr. (Recorded Fall 1970)

Harriet Taylor - Daughter of San Pedro groceryman who delivered groceries to the Vanderlips and the Phillips families; husband and brother-in-law built chapel and mausoleums at Green Hills Memorial Park. (Recorded November 9, 1995)

Fred Thomas (1898-1996) - Mechanical engineer and chain man on surveyor party for Palos Verdes Project streets and lots, 1923; purchased first house on his block in Valmonte area in 1937. (Recorded January 15, 1992) (Second recording with Mabel Randall, November 15, 1995)

Lillian Throne - Secretary for Palos Verdes Homes Association beginning 1932; became PVE postmistress in 1942. (Recorded July 22, 1971)

Gladys Towle (1897-1990) - First family to build on Via Anita in 1924; helped establish PV Women's Club and Neighborhood Church; organized first nursery school for Malaga Cove children. (Recorded August 26, 1986)

Howard Towle (1891-1972) - One of the first real estate salesmen for Palos Verdes Project land; built Towle Building at Malaga Cove Plaza. (Recorded December 16, 1969)

Susan Van Every - Manager of the Palos Verdes Homes Association; grew up on the Peninsula, attended Palos Verdes schools, and after marriage returned with her family to live again in her childhood home. (Recorded May 29, 2008)

Ethel Vandegrift (1910-1993) - Moved to PV in 1929; worked at drug store in Gardner Building at Malaga Cove Plaza. (Recorded July 22, 1971)

Frank Vanderlip, Jr. (1907-1993) - Third child and oldest son of Frank Vanderlip, Sr., the New York financier who purchased PV Peninsula in 1913; was president of the Palos Verdes Corporation after brother Kelvin died in 1956. (2 recordings: #1-Recorded September 18, 1975; #2-Recorded March 9, 1976)

Volney Willett - Hollywood Riviera resident from 1937; attended Malaga Cove School, and worked as a boy at Malaga Cove Plaza drug store and gas station; son of Oscar Willett, the lawyer who took over financial management of the PV Project, established the Palos Verdes News newspaper, and later, the Palos Verdes Realty Company. (Recorded August 2, 2006)

Lloyd Wright (1890-1978) - Architect son of well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright; designer of Wayfarers Chapel. (Recorded May 6, 1976)

Additional Early Peninsula Residents Those named below were early residents who were not interviewed, but who wrote autobiographical accounts of their lives on the Peninsula. Their stories are located in the Local History Center, shelved by the Dewey class number noted on the annotation.

Harry E. Benedict (1890-1977) - Personal friend and associate of Frank Vanderlip, Sr.; helped organize funding trust that financed development of Pve; built early home in Portuguese Bend in 1927-29, named Villa Francesca after his wife. (Written 1969) 979.4933 Benedict

Richard Kincade - Autobiography describing a boy's life on the Peninsula from 1928-1936, including Malaga school days, outdoor explorations, and Malaga Cove Plaza memories. (Written 1998) 979.4933 Kincade

Catherine Richter (1888-1990) - Memoir of artist and her family who hand-built their Rolling Hills house in 1939; includes names of neighbors and stories of life in very early Rolling Hills community. (Dated May 16, 1983) 979.4933 Richter

Tsutomu Takenaga (1915-2004) - Descendent of an early PV Japanese farming family. Memoir written by himself in his 80th year [1995] about growing up on the Peninsula before internment. [in 40 Families Collection]