Neighbor of the Month

Neighbor of the Month – July 2014

We are delighted to introduce you to Ronald Muir as part of our “Neighbor of the Month” series-an effort started last November to highlight Elysian Valley residents. It is our sincere hope that doing so contributes in some fashion to better know one another, build, grow and appreciate the make-up of our community.  The NW thanks Ronald and his family for their contribution to EV.

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Ronald Muir was born in 1941 to James and Mary Muir in his grandmother’s house in Beaumont, CA. “Back then doctors made house calls and giving birth at home was common practice.” His father was Scottish/Irish and his mom Italian.  Ron lives on Meadowvale Ave. in the same two parcel lot property purchased by his parents in 1937 for $300 per lot. Ron attended Dorris Pl Elementary School in 1946, graduated from Irving Middle School in 1956 and from John Marshall High in 1959. He went on to earn an Associate Degree in Merchandising from LA City College.

Ron has fond childhood memories of his time attending Dorris Place Elementary School. “It was a happy place made up of a diverse mix of children having fun and getting along.” He especially recalls Mrs. Summers six grade class where they were read the Little House on the Prairie series books. He too remembers the school having an active garden where they grew carrots, radishes, bell peppers and other produce. “Summer activities at the Dorris PL playground were a lot of fun”, says Ron. “We participated in organized tournaments that included chess, checkers, and baseball.  A ball that was hit off the school building was considered a homerun.  The school handed out 1st, 2nd  and 3rd place winning ribbons. These activities helped keep children safe, healthy and off the streets.”

Ron remembers the Foix bakery on Barclay St., which was a popular stop for Ron and his friends. Here, workers routinely handed out round sourdough bread goods. The present location of the playhouse on Riverside Dr. back then was the Elysian Movie Theater. Richard Vandusen was the owner of the Malt Shop on Gatewood St. Ron’s good friend John Cervantes had a paper route at age 12 in EV and had also established credit at the Malt Shop. Further down from the Malt Shop was Young’s Printing at or near Fernleaf St. owned by Robert Young. There was a market on Meadowvale Ave. and a ceramic manufacturing place on Riverside Dr. that made display figurine models for stores. The Neff family owned People’s Hardware on Newell St. Sandy Neff, the owner’s daughter, was a classmate of Ron’s. Elysian Valley had an active Boy Scout program in 1963.  Mr. Scrivner was the scout leader and one of the original founders of the Four S Bakery on Blake Ave. The Safeway market on Riverside Dr. near Newell St. sold a pound of hamburger meat for 39 cents.

As a young child in EV, Ron collected baseball, movie star and airplane cards as a hobby. His dad worked for the company installing the Dodger stadium storm drains, and got to attend with him the 2nd game played at the Stadium—a night game against the Cincinnati Reds, which the Dodgers won. He remembers the Dodgers losing game one and Jim Gilliam hitting the 1st homerun. Ticket prices were $1.50, $2.50 and box seats $3.50 for the longest time. Ron recalls seeing the Rams at the Coliseum for $5.00 and attending Laker games at the Sports Arena before they moved to the Forum.

The LA River was nothing like it is now, recalls Ron. It had a sandy like bottom and much less water than it does now. It was mostly dry in the summer time with sporadic water pools housing the local frog population. “There were so many frogs back in 1954-55 that you could not avoid running them over with your car.” They were everywhere and mowing the lawn was both messy and difficult. This overwhelming frog “invasion” is why the area came to be known as Frogtown.

God is important in Ron’s life. He is a practicing Baptist that remembers attending the Shoredale St. Chapel, shepherded in 1950 by Pastor Bogden. Ron values his Christian upbringing and has done his best to pass on those same values to his children. He too appreciates that both his parents were disciplinary hard working people. His dad was a construction foreman and his mother a stay home mom, both originally from Illinois.

Ron met his wife Carol while both were working at JPL as computer operators. He courted her for approximately two (2) years and married in 1973. They have two children. Ron retired in August of 1998 as a union teamster from Irish Construction Co.

Having been too busy early on with work and raising a family, Ron is now enjoying the extra time to meet and reconnect with friends and neighbors. Ron and his childhood friends from Elysian Valley reconnect every 1st Monday of the month at Pat & Lorraines Coffee Shop in Eagle Rock—a tradition started by his childhood friend John Cervantes.  Ron loves the safety and friendliness of Elysian Valley and wants to be remembered as a “good caring neighbor”.