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Start the Presses: Living library offers pages from the past

December 01, 2012|By Dan Evans

They say when an older person dies, a library is lost. If that's the case, I met a university-sized one Monday, and I'd like to preserve at least some of the stacks for perpetuity.

Enter Genevieve Fisher, a 98-year-old woman who has lived in the same house on Norton Avenue in Glendale since she was 23. For those of you keeping score, that would be during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first term, and just a few blocks away from the high school named for FDR's predecessor.

Fisher got in touch with me after reading my last column, in which I mentioned a business story that ran in the Oct. 4, 1955, edition of the Glendale News-Press. The company featured, the Royal Egg Co., was run by Fisher's husband.

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I had no particular reason to use that particular story, as I only mentioned it to illustrate that our community papers had not changed their mission or focus throughout the decades. But because I brought up Royal Egg, I got to sit down with Mrs. Fisher and chat it up about Glendale's past.

Fisher's father, Mike Berman, moved his family to Glendale in 1911 and had a tailor shop on Brand Boulevard, between Broadway and Wilson Avenue.

On March 13, 1914, when it was time for Fisher to come into the world, her mother was at the shop, so her parents simply went to the Woods Hotel next door.

“So that's where I was born,” she said with a smile as we sat at a round, white table in her kitchen, centered with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

The home is filled with pictures, memories and history. At one point she handed me a picture of her father, looking sharp in a suit.

“That was my father,” she said. “Anyone that wanted to look nice went to S. Berman.”

I was perplexed. Wasn't your father's first name Mike, I asked? Oh yes, she answered. So what did the S stand for?

“Simon,” she answered. “That was his first name, but he went by Mike.”

“Was Mike his middle name?” I asked, deciding to use my investigative journalism abilities get to the bottom of this.

“No,” she answered. “He just liked the name Mike.”

Fisher's late husband's name was Maurice, so perhaps she had a genetic affection for the letter “M” in addition to longevity. Her sister, Anne Lane, turns 103 in a few days.

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