| Happy 90th
Birthday, Glendale, California (1996)
an interview by Hoover High student Monica Buhler (Mar '96)
Choosing California over Florida as a place to move to from Kentucky, the Doll family arrived with three boys: Randolds, William, and Henry Jr., at what was then Glendale in 1904. Mother Doll, had pneumonia, a disease hard to control in those days, and the doctor had said she would never live through another winter.
Vine Street seemed like a place to settle for the Dolls, where they built their first house and brought their fourth child Raymond. In 1908, they built their second house, still standing today, on 727 South Holy St. The next year Mother Doll was ready to bring to the world three more siblings, triplets, a girl Katherine and two boys, George Courtis, now resting in peace since the past fall, and Wheeler, now living in Glendale.
Mr. Wheeler Doll, tall, 87 years old yet healthy, straight and untroubled, still remembers a life with no great tragedies in the family, a time when the worst crime committed was stealing, a nebulous depression, two tribulating world wars, and watching Glendale's population grow.
As a younger boy, he played with his neighbors' kids. He recalls playing with the little brother of John Wayne, the Hollywood star of classic western movies and a graduate of Glendale High School.
His first years of school were spent in Sixth Street School, located at the corner of Louise and Colorado, where he graduated and went to an intermediate school called Wilson, where the Board of Education building now stands.
After graduating in eighth grade, he went to high school where the central library is today. The following year, Glendale High School opened. Doll transferred there and graduated in 1928. Hoover High School had not been built until the following year.
A newly born depression hindered him from going to college thus pushing him to look for work after graduating. It was not easy, but through a contact of his father's, he got work at Bishop in the Fresno Division which then went up to St. George Utah. He traveled to Mojave, Lancaster, Palmdale and to the desert of Las Vegas were his father's friend, a supervisor of the Standard Station out on the Fresno division, gave him a job. There he experienced a night he would never forget. He was staying at a hotel room, with two beds and no bathroom, and was sharing it with the supervisor. He remembers waking up at about 1:00 am, not seeing his friend in bed, walking over to the door, opening it, and seeing his naked supervisor walking the halls, "He was a character. I'll tell you that," Mr. Doll said as he shook his head and smiled.
It seemed as he had been brought there for more than to find a job. Doll met Francis Kramer, whose parents had arrived to Vegas when it opened in 1905, populated with around 3,500, at which they lived in tents with wood sides, near creeks so to have water.
The beloved were wed in sunny Santa Barbara in 1938. After three years of working at the station, Doll quit in 1936 and came back home to work for his brother Randolph in the electrical business, then owned by McTolf Electric. The owner passed away and Randolph bought the business. He later retired and sold the business to Doll who founded it to be Doll Electric.
The newly weds were just building their first house in 1949 when it snowed for the first and only time in Glendale's history. The family grew with three more, three boys whom he watched graduate from Hoover High and become successors in life. The oldest one Thomas is now working in the computer business, the middle one, Michael, graduated during the Vietnam war, was accepted and graduated from UCLA, and is now a business consultant, and the youngest, Steven, is now in Real Estate. All are married.
One cannot think of having his house being devoured by a hill fire, but the Doll's had to. A hill fire that apparently began in Montrose from a power line spread from there to the Chevy Chase and Glenoaks Canyons. It swept about 12 homes including the Doll's in 1954. With great efforts, it was rebuilt ten years later. The house, now in great condition, has served well. It was used for a tour of homes, an annual event sponsored by the Hoover PTA, right after being reconstructed in March 16 of that year when Mrs. Doll was the head of the PTA.
The earliest store he can remember is one still standing, though ready to be torn down, between Brand and Broadway, at which John Wayne's father, a druggist, worked. He also recollects that a train traveled up and down Glendale Ave. and also the street cars.
Editor's Note: John Wayne went by the name of Marion Morrison in those days, and attended Glendale Union High School
Baker Hardware is the new owner of Doll's business, sold to them 5 years ago. Mr. Doll is now retired, a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, the Investment Club and of the Historical Society in Glendale. Mr. Doll wishes to remain in this city, chosen by him above the rest, for the rest of his life.
Monica Buhler was a journalism student at Hoover High School in 1996.
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