Saunders attended Plainview Avenue School. (Verdugo Hills High School now occupies the property.) She walked home from school, but her father was very protective, so when she reached Foothill, she had to wait until he heard her calling, then he would come over and cross with her.
As a child, Saunders heard that her Forster grandfather had died of bad lungs, and that the family came to Tujunga because of its healthful air.
She had a brush with tuberculosis herself. “I missed six weeks of school because I was so thin that they thought I might have that disease. They put me in the sunroom, a special class for students with tuberculosis. It was very contagious and they wanted to isolate the sick kids, or those who could possibly be sick. When my father found out, he pulled me out of school and I missed a big part of that year’s lessons.’’
Saunders said her mother was very close to her family. “My grandmother had given my mother a vacant lot; it had apricot trees on it. We picked them and spread them out to dry and we made jam, too. I had to keep stirring it or it would get hot and spit at me. I hated that, but we were healthy.”
The extended Forster family often had picnics up in Big Tujunga Canyon. The kids would pile into her mother’s old Ford, crossing 13 streams to get to their destination. “We’d put watermelon to cool in the ice-cold water, catch polliwogs and have our picnic.”
The cousins often played together. Most of the time their parents were very vigilant, but one day a year, they let their guard down. “My uncle had a grape arbor behind his house. They would make wine and have a party in the arbor. We would go out in the street and play games such as kick the can,’’ Saunders remembers.
Saunders has many memories of her Tujunga childhood in the days before the Great Depression. Read more in her new book, “The Love Boat Lady,” written by Sheila Farrell Murray.
Readers Write: Claudia Sysock writes that she always enjoys the Verdugo Views column. “It’s interesting to see old architecture.” She’d like to know more about where the old buildings are located.