Maxine Watson, former DUSD secretary, dies at 94

DOWNEY -- Maxine Caroline Watson, a former Downey resident who lived most recently in Peoria, Arizona, was born April 22, 1924 and died April 22, 2018. She was 94 years old.

Maxine spent the majority of her career as a school secretary in Downey Unified School District serving at Griffiths Middle, district office and Downey High. 

She is survived by grandchildren Mimi (Mitchell) Gransden, Wendy Mitchell, Jennifer (Worden) Berg and Jill Worden as well as six great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Her children, Sharon (Worden) Mitchell and Vern Worden Jr., as well as her grandson Dave Mitchell, preceded her in death.

Shared Stories: Queen for a Day

TV game shows have been a reality of broadcast television for over seven decades. Sharon Smith remembers a neighbor who attended a popular show and won. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Sharon Benson Smith

The Danielson family lived directly across the street from us. We kids always referred to them as them as the “rich people” on the block. They had the loveliest home (both inside and out), the nicest cars, a rental behind their home, and a separate structure in their front yard that housed a bar that was fully stocked with liquor plus non-alcoholic beverages.

Mr. Danielson, Fred, was a conductor for the Santa Fe Railroad, so they were able to travel a lot too (most likely for free). His wife, Ruth, was a homemaker, and came to visit our mom quite often to have a cup of coffee from her 20-cup aluminum percolator. 

One day, Ruth came to ask Mom if she would take care of her boys, Fred Jr. and Gary, while she went to the “Queen for a Day” show to, hopefully, become a contestant.  Mom was pleased for her, and agreed to watch the boys. 

It was a very popular show at the time, hosted by Jack Bailey.  The premise of the show was that whichever contestant needed the most help, (or had the saddest story), she would be chosen as Queen. 

Ruth’s sad story was that the foundation of their home had been in desperate need of repair for several years because when it rained, puddles formed inside the house, the boys would splash in it, and come down with bad colds, often requiring a trip to the doctor’s office.

As the Danielson’s luck would have it, lo and behold, she won Queen For A Day, and that meant prizes galore! Among the prizes was a mangle – a large machine for ironing sheets or other fabrics, usually when they are damp, with heated rollers.  

Ruth taught me to operate the machine and I earned 10¢-25¢ per flat piece that I ironed for her. Boy, was I glad when I got a “real job” and didn’t have to “mangle” anymore.  Additional prizes included all new kitchen appliances, mainly one brand spankin’ new electric stove. 

Ruth didn’t need a new stove, so Dad bought it from them for our mom.  Dad’s heart was in the right place in getting Mom a new stove, but it became such a thorn in her side - it was electric and she preferred gas, saying the heat was just too difficult to control - it got too hot, or not hot enough, etc. 

Mom had that stove until our home sold in 1961, and they moved to La Mirada where she was cooking with gas once again. She was so happy to be rid of that electric stove that Ruth Danielson won on “Queen for A Day.”

Downey High softball ranked No. 40 in California

DOWNEY – The Downey High School softball team currently has an overall record of 15-5 and are 3-0 in San Gabriel Valley League play. 

For their hard work this season, the Lady Vikings are currently ranked 40th in California and 1st in C.I.F. Division 4.

The Lady Vikings defeated Paramount at Downey, 10-1, on April 10, defeated Dominguez at Dominguez, 20-1, on April 12 and defeated Lynwood at Downey, 10-0, on Tuesday. 

Downey was defeated by La Serna, 3-0, and defeated Santa Fe, 12-2, in non-league play at the La Mirada Tournament last Saturday.

Downey played cross-town rival Warren at Warren yesterday (score unavailable at press time) and will travel to Paramount to face the Lady Pirates next Thursday. The Lady Vikings will host Dominguez on May 1 and will travel to Lynwood to face the Lady Knights on May 3. 

Downey will also be competing in the Brea-Olinda Tournament next weekend where they are scheduled to play a “To Be Determined” opponent and host school Brea-Olinda at 11 a.m. 

Coach Ed Garcia, his staff and players are all looking forward to finishing league play strong, competing for a league championship and making a deep run in the C.I.F. Division 4 playoffs. 
Gahr and cross-town rival Warren are certainly the teams to watch out for in S.G.V.L. play. Things will definitely get interesting once these three teams play one another.

WARREN SOFTBALL:The Warren High School softball team currently has an overall record of 11-6 and are 2-1 in San Gabriel Valley League play. 

The Bears defeated Lynwood at Warren, 16-0, on April 4 and defeated Paramount at Warren, 6-2, on April 12. Warren was defeated in a nail-biter at Gahr, 10-9, on Tuesday. The loss to Gahr on Tuesday was Warren’s first league loss.

As of Wednesday, Downey is 3-0, Gahr is 3-0, Warren is 2-1, Paramount is 1-2, Lynwood is 0-3 and Dominguez is 0-3. Things will certainly tighten up once Downey, Gahr and Warren play one another. 

Warren is currently ranked 112th in California and 17th in C.I.F. Division 2.

The Bears competed in the La Mirada Tournament last Saturday and defeated Chino in their first game 8-0 at 11 a.m. and defeated Bishop Amat, 11-2, in their second game at 3 p.m.

Warren hosted Downey at Warren yesterday in their much anticipated cross-town rivalry game (score unavailable at press time). The Bears will compete in the Thousand Oaks Tournament tomorrow against “To Be Determined” opponents and will return next Saturday for two more games.

The Bears will travel to Dominguez next Tuesday, will host La Serna at Warren next Wednesday and will travel to Lynwood to play the Lady Knights next Thursday. 

Coach Starksen, her staff and players are all looking forward to finishing league play strong, competing for a league title and making a deep run in postseason play.

WARREN HIGH BASEBALL: The Warren High School baseball team currently has an overall record of 16-5 and are 5-0 in San Gabriel Valley League play. 

The Bears defeated Lynwood at Lynwood, 12-0, on April 10 and defeated Lynwood at Warren, 14-0, on April 13. Warren defeated Paramount at Warren, 7-3, on Tuesday and will play the Pirates later today at Paramount to complete their home and away series.

Warren swept a double header from Valley Christian at Valley Christian last Saturday, 13-7, in the first game and 7-0 in the second game.

The Bears will travel to Gahr next Tuesday and will host the Gladiators next Friday at Warren. Warren will host cross-town rival Downey at Warren on May 1 and will travel to Downey for their much anticipated second game on Friday, May 4. 

The Bears will travel to Dominguez on May 8 and host the Dons on May 10 in their regular season finale.

Gahr is currently 5-0 in S.G.V.L. play, Warren is 4-0, Downey is 2-0, Paramount is 0-3, Dominguez is 0-2 and Lynwood is 0-4. Things will certainly heat up once the current frontrunners of Downey, Gahr and Warren start playing each other. 

The Bears are currently ranked 225 in California and 20th in C.I.F. Division 3. Coach Pearson, his staff and players are all looking forward to finishing league play strong, competing for a league championship and making a deep run in C.I.F. postseason play.  

DOWNEY BOYS VOLLEYBALL: The Downey High School boys’ volleyball team currently has an overall record of 15-3 and is 6-0 in San Gabriel Valley League play. 

The Vikings defeated Warren at Warren 3-1 (33-35, 25-19, 25-19 and 25-22) on April 10, defeated Gahr at Gahr 3-0 (25-19, 25-23 and 25-17) on April 12 and defeated Paramount at Paramount 3-0 (25-13, 25-20 and 25-15) on Tuesday.

The Vikings hosted Dominguez at Downey yesterday (score unavailable at press time), will travel to Lynwood next Tuesday and will host cross-town rival Warren at Downey next Thursday in their rematch. Downey will conclude its regular season schedule when they host Gahr at Downey on May 1.

Downey is currently 6-0 in league play, Warren is 5-0, Gahr is 2-2, Paramount is 2-3, Lynwood is 2-5 and Dominguez is 0-5. Much will be determined when Downey and Warren play each other next Thursday at Downey. Downey currently has the inside track to the league title but Warren can spoil that with a second round league win against the Vikings.

Coach McCarthy, his staff and players are all looking forward to finishing league play strong and sweeping the season series against Warren. 

The Vikings are currently ranked 71st in California and 4th in C.I.F. Division 3. The Bears are currently ranked 119th in California and 14th in C.I.F. Division 2. Things are certainly heating up in S.G.V.L. play.

ST. JOSEPH’S SOFTBALL: St. Joseph’s junior varsity softball team rallied to beat Orange Lutheran, 10-9, on Tuesday. 

Facing a two-run deficit entering the bottom of the seventh inning, the Jesters’ Julia Magrini smacked a two-run double to tie the score at 9-9. 

Magrini later advanced to third base. Then with one out, Coach Izzy made the gutsy call for a squeeze bunt. 

Sophomore Alexis Serrano laid down the perfect bunt and Magrini raced home with the winning run for the Jesters.

Downey Patriot earns 3 awards in journalism competition

DOWNEY – Downey’s own community newspaper, The Downey Patriot, took home three awards in a statewide journalism competition. 

Winners were announced Saturday at a gala luncheon in Sonoma, Calif.

The journalism contest is sponsored annually by the California Newspaper Publishers Association and includes newspapers of all sizes from throughout the state. 

The Patriot competed in categories against other weekly newspapers. 

Staff writer Alex Dominguez took home third place in the Breaking News category for his story titled “Downey resident escapes Vegas attack with minor injuries.”

The article chronicled a Downey woman’s narrow escape from last October’s deadly mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Featival in Las Vegas. Fifty-eight people were killed. 

“This is a harrowing story succinctly told, which is notable because accomplishing such a feat with such a widely reported subject covered from countless angles isn’t easy,” judges wrote in their comments. “That the victim’s mental anguish in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting was addressed is commendable & humanizing.”

Downey resident and Patriot contributor Lawrence Christon won second place in the Best Writing category for his piece titled “Searching for Jerry Baxter.” 

The essay chronicled the mysterious life of Jerry Baxter, a homeless tennis player at Furman Park. When Baxter stopped showing up for tennis matches, Christon called the L.A. County Coroner and discovered that Baxter had died of metastic head cancer. 

No one had claimed Baxter’s body, which was cremated. 

In the same Best Writing category, editor Eric Pierce was named a finalist for his feature story on Dr. Mary Stauffer on the occassion of her 100th birthday. 

The article revealed details about Dr. Stauffer’s early life and her transition from medical doctor to philanthropist. 

“I’m extremely proud of the Patriot staff for their hard work and commitment to high journalistic standards, week in and week out,” said Patriot editor Eric Pierce. “We work hard to produce a newspaper the Downey community can trust, enjoy and be proud of.” 

The Downey Patriot began publication in 2002. It prints 25,000 copies weekly, delivered to Downey homes and businesses. 

Jennifer DeKay is owner and publisher of the Patriot. 

Letter to the Editor: Ugly development in Downey

Dear Editor:

I, too, share frustration with the City of Downey's (lack of) planning. Everywhere I go, I can point to "developments" and "projects", both large and small, which have at least one essential flaw.

In many cases, the developments either fail to create opportunities, or actually "develop" Downey in the wrong direction. Here are several examples:

The KB development on Paramount. This an eyesore in the making. It is stylistically bleak, intrudes on the sidewalk, has no greenspace, and creates traffic, water, school, and other demands on city services and infrastructure. How could it have been done better? Well, it could have been required to have a reasonable setback so that a "green screen" could be planted to help protect the owners from noise and pollution from Paramount Boulevard and cool down the dwellings so that the residents don't need to use so much electricity, and it could have included more amenities such as a playground and a walkway and common space, but thinking outside of the box: A 117-townhome development - which could mean as many as 500 residents - should be a candidate for mixed-use planning.

What would be so terrible about making space for a coffee shop, a small restaurant, convenience store, and a community garden and greenspace for the residents? Yes, it would have reduced the amount of money that KB could have sold as residences, but it would also have reduced the number of cars being driven to and from the complex for those "quick trips" which are - inconveniently- out of walking distance for the residents, and it would have reduced the amount of traffic on Paramount. 

By the way, doesn't Downey have a traffic mitigation plan? If it does, I fail to see it in action. Anywhere. Also, not having driven through the complex, I don't know whether there is space set aside for guest parking, but all well-planned complexes have spaces for guest parking, and this is especially important in Downey, where parking is such a problem. 

The "Village Walk" development. Yes, this is prettier than the horror on Paramount, its sidewalks and landscaping invite a few walks, but I don't see any provision whatsoever for guest parking. Did the development company and the City of Downey imagine that people living here have no friends or family who might, on occasion, like to visit? There should be at least 10% extra parking spaces. 

The recently developed retail space. The city's financial reports find that city revenues are highly concentrated in retail and services. But economic projections indicate that retail space is overbuilt, and malls across the region are hollowing out as big-box stores like Sears and Macy's implode. It looks as if Downey is committed to following a downward trend.

I know that Downey did try to diversify this space by wooing Tesla Motors (it may be a blessing in disguise that we didn't become one of their locations) but the question still remains: How can we develop Downey in a more balanced fashion, one which doesn't depend on retail and "development" to generate revenues?

Well, some cities have large entertainment complexes, others have microbreweries or hot sauces. In our case, we have the historic NASA facilities. It's great that we have a museum about those efforts, but what about something forward-looking? The site includes the old office buildings- has anyone thought of developing this into a nascent community college? 

The "pedestrian-friendly" lights along Lakewood Boulevard. I know it was the fashion to install lights over sidewalks, and not just for streets, but has anyone looked at the miles and miles of Lakewood Boulevard where this lighting was installed? Nobody walks there. There is no place to walk from, or to. It was a waste of money and effort.

"Bike routes" with no bike lanes.

The continued destruction of historic homes, and the allowance of oversized McMansions on split lots, which morph the character of our neighborhoods from family-friendly homes to statements of wealth. If Downey were on a mission to crush any charm that the city might have had out of existence, they're doing a fine job. Ultimately, the less desirable a city, the lower the property values. 

And finally, the lack of parks - noted by a recent LA County study - which deserves a whole letter of its own. 

What these examples point to is a lack of overall vision for our city. There doesn't seem to be any recognition that the city, its residents, and finances, will still be living thirty years hence with the consequences of decisions made today.

Frankly, I don't know what's driving these haphazard decisions. Is it the pressure of coming up with a balanced City budget each year? Are these developments shining bright dollar signs into the eyes of the planners and City Council? Is the city too financially strapped to avail themselves of a good city architect, and too insular to consult with urban planners who will take traffic mitigation, urban heat, economic forecasts, population growth, and other long-term factors into account? 

I may be wrong, but I'm sensing a growing frustration with the traffic, ugliness, and irritations that the City of Downey increasingly presents to its residents. In the meantime, you might find this TED Talk amusing, but please be aware that it includes some profanities. 

Joan Niertit

Crime Report: April 17, 2018

At 5:15 p.m., officers responded to a robbery at a residence on the 10700 block of New Street. A male and female suspect entered the residence by kicking in the front door. Once inside, the male suspect punched the resident and threatened to stab him with a knife. The suspects fled the location with the victim’s backpack containing a camera. Detectives are investigating.

At 7:00 a.m., Police Corporal Jose Barajas, in full uniform, participated in the City Of Los Angeles Run To Remember Race. The Run to Remember pays tribute to fallen first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Corporal Barajas ran the race in honor of fallen Downey Police Officer Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez. The course spanned 13.1 miles.

At 11:50 p.m., officer located a wanted vehicle at Woodruff Avenue and Firestone Boulevard. The suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Contributed by the Downey Police Department.

Letter to the Editor: Thank you, Downey

Dear Editor: 

I read all the political stories in the Opinion section, the angry resident complaining about someone else, the "they should do this" stories people write, but I wanted to take a moment and thank the City of Downey. 

I was born in Downey over 50 years ago, grew up in one house on Guatemala Avenue, next to the riverbed where me and my brothers would ride mini-bikes, catch snakes, catfish, pollywogs, you name it. I attended Maude Price, Griffiths and graduated in '86 from Warren High. 

I bought my first house in Downey and both of my children were born there as well. I got to experience Downey as my hometown. A great place to grow up, to learn, to experience community and a city that had it all for me growing up. 

All of my neighbors were (and still are) great people. They were our friends and could be counted on day in and day out. All of my teachers were wonderful educators; Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Reagle, Mrs. Drawbond, Mrs. Miles, Mrs. Sullivan, Mr. Soulter, Mrs. Huey, Principal Cosgrove, Mrs. Morris, Ms. Lavornia, Coach Cunningham, and on and on into high school, with my favorite being Mrs. Lords. Wonderful people that took the time to educate, guide and shape the lives of the young people coming through their classes.

Business owners from Russell's Bike Shop where I got my first bike, A's BBQ at Florence and Paramount, Pina Pizza, Beyrooty's Burger Bar, Marmac's, John Riley's Swimming Pool / Dive Shop where I learned to swim, Downey Archery Lanes where I spent countless hours racing my slot car, Dr. St. George who kept my teeth straight, all were/are outstanding to deal with and treated me with kindness and respect. 

The parks were great as well. I spent a lot of time at Furman Park with friends and family. At Treasure Island Park playing on the ship and at Wilderness Park with the museum and live bee hive in the wall.

Due to work and life itself, I no longer live in Downey but still follow the happenings and consider it my hometown. Wonderful memories of people and places that shaped my life in a positive way, and for that Downey, I thank you.

Troy Henshaw
Orange County