In 1923, Americans roared. Today, they text.
Our ancestors who lived during the Roaring ’20s drove or dodged Henry Ford’s Model Ts which had to be cranked to get going. Now, in the texting ‘20s, the grands and great-grands of those folks drive Elon Musk’s Teslas that run on electric and self-drive.
The 23rd year of the 20th century saw the incorporation of two companies: The Disney Brothers Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures. While neither of them had yet to settle in Burbank, both Walt and Roy Disney, along with Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner, were all eyeing their future corporate homes, on the backside of Mount Lee, that had just been adorned with a huge sign reading: Hollywoodland on its south side.
As for Burbank, 1923 saw the city still a year shy of hitting its teens. The city council, under the mayoral leadership of an Ohio-born newspaper reporter-turned-real estate practitioner named James Crawford, transitioned the municipal marshal’s office into the Burbank Police Department, a small but mighty force that consisted of just a handful of officers who were responsible for maintaining law and order.
This past week, on the shores of Toluca Lake, staff and supporters of the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley looked back on 1923 as they gathered on the west lawn of Lakeside Golf Club for their annual gala fundraiser, staged under theme of “Roar Back to the 1920s.”
Guests, many sporting sartorial styles of the Jazz Age, were taken back in time as they were welcomed by a duo of lovely flapper girls surrounded by beautifully restored autos of the era.
Once on the Lakeside grounds, more than 370 supporters enjoyed tangling with Lady Luck at the casino tables, puffing on cigars rolled right in front of them, and partaking of the offerings from Martini and “giggle water” bars as they perused an extensive silent auction.
Following dinner, guests were treated to a live performance by a dance team composed of Boys & Girls Club members, and encouraged to bid in a live auction that offered attendance at a Dodger game in a luxury suite, a private tour of Jay Leno’s garage, tickets to see Katy Perry, and a round of golf at Lakeside with former Rams running back Justin Watson, who may just let the winner try on his Super Bowl XXXIV Championship ring.
The evening, hosted by award-winning journalist Lynette Romero who co-anchors NBC4’s weekday morning newscast “Today in LA,” also paid tribute to Warner Bros. Discovery and the club’s 2023 Youth of the year Julian Torres.
“It is very special for us to recognize Julian,” said the club’s CEO Shanna Warren. “Not only has he been an outstanding member, he represents the generational impact we have had on our community. When we first opened in 1995, his father was our 13th member and then went on to be named a Youth of the Year. So, this is a very special recognition.”
The event also saw honors bestowed on Warner Bros. Discovery represented by Dan Dark who serves as the studio’s executive vice president of worldwide studio operations and Sally Chan who is the vice president of community engagement.
“Our board has wanted to honor them for all they have done for us over the years, and this year, being their 100th anniversary, was the perfect time to do it,” Warren said. “Warner executives have had representation on our board since we first opened and they have done so much, from contributing to our capital campaign to fund a new club facility to funding our state-of-the art, 93-seat theater which we use for our performing arts programs, staff trainings, and to share with other nonprofits. They are more than a community partner, they are our friends.”
Dark, who was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2021 for his service to the United Kingdom’s film industry, said he and his colleagues also embrace the local Boys & Girls Club with friendship and love.
“As much as we care about being good corporate neighbors, and as much as I want to really get involved with our community, I want to do it because I know who the people are,” said Dark, who has visited the club’s downtown campus. “I want to see what they are doing to benefit the community and to be able to really feel it in my heart.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley currently operates in 23 sites and serves more than 4,200 local youth. Partnering with the Los Angeles and Burbank Unified School Districts, and with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, they provide teen, after-school, and deaf and hard of hearing programs.
For more information on club membership or to make a donation, visit bgcburbank.org.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.
First published in the May 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.