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Memories of his first job at Tower Market

March 24, 2011|By Katherine Yamada
  • The new Tower Market on the corner of Central Avenue and Vine Street offered a coffee shop, bakery, groceries, dry goods and meats, all with convenient parking in front. Photo circa 1928. (courtesy Special Collections, Glendale Public Library)
The new Tower Market on the corner of Central Avenue and…

When Art Cobery drives along Central Avenue and passes the old Tower Market on Central and Vine Street in Glendale, he thinks back to the days of his youth. Cobery got his first job — and his Social Security number — at Proctor’s meat market. That led to an exciting job out in the desert for two summers.

“This was during World War II, when many men were overseas,” he said. “I was in the sixth grade, but I was older than the others and working already.”

Tower Market had several small businesses, Cobery recalled.

“George Proctor ran the meat market, the grocery was run by Germans, and a Greek ran the restaurant.”

There were four children in the Cobery family and they lived in a big house on Vine. Like many in those days, his mother took in three or four boarders and feeding those boarders became a challenge when food rationing was introduced at the beginning of the war.


Everyone had ration books, he said, and, since he worked in a meat market, he knew the value of the ration stamps, especially the red ones.

“You couldn’t buy red meat without them.”

Cobery got to know many of his customers, including Dora Verdugo, who had a boarding house on nearby Elk Avenue.

“She used to come in two or three times a week. We all knew that she was of Glendale’s founding family. I thought it was pitiful that she, too, had a boarding house.”

He laughed as he added that Verdugo seemed old to him in the early 1940s when he was a teenager, but that she was still around for so many more years. (She died in 1984 at the age of 102, according to George Ellison of Special Collections at Glendale Central Library.)

Another of Cobery’s customers was a man named Sidney Smith.

“He came in frequently and bought large quantities of meat. I found out he had a large ranch out past Barstow. They ran 600 head of cattle but didn’t butcher, so they had to buy their meat from us.”

Smith offered Cobery a summer job on his ranch as a cook.

“I was 16 or so.”

On his first day of work, Cobery went to Smith’s house on North Central.

“It was opposite where Mountain Street ends at Central. His property went way back to the next block. The house was huge,” Cobery said. “There were barns and a 15- to 20-foot-high aviary. It was all there until the 1950s.”

Smith had a son, Lee, and a daughter, he added.

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