Margaret ‘Bonnie’ Savage has lived in the same house in the Alphabet streets for nearly 60 years. Fresh out of the Navy, where she did maintenance on propeller airplanes in Indiana during World War II, she moved in when she married her husband Alan, an architect, who designed their house and also purchased the house next door for his mother (see related story, page TK). Savage remembers well walking along the path in the open fields near her house to make her way to Jurgensen’s grocery store, ‘where the Bank of America is now,’ Savage said recently in the comfort of her living room. ‘There were very few houses in this area then.’ Savage’s modest two-bedroom, one-bath stucco house is familiar to several generations of Pacific Palisades residents. In 1968, a year after her husband died, Savage opened a daycare center. Known as ‘Bonnie’s Playroom,’ she entertained neighborhood children in her large back garden and converted garage. While she never had any children of her own, she said she thoroughly enjoyed caring for her young neighbors–playing games with them and sometimes helping with their homework. ‘My five children spent many happy hours at Bonnie’s,’ said neighbor Cheryel Kanan, who lives across the street. ‘She became my saving grace. In the beginning she watched them on Friday mornings just so I could get out. Then when all my children were older she watched them after school, which allowed me to work part-time. I felt comfortable working, knowing the kids had a loving place to go to after school,’ said Kanan, business manager of the Palisadian-Post. Almost 20 years ago, when Savage turned 70, she closed the daycare center and turned her attention to her garden, which is dominated by a stag horn fern that she grew from a small clipping. She also enjoyed carving birds out of driftwood and then painting them. Several are on display in the house. These days Savage, who at 88 and still cares for her home and garden herself, enjoys reading, walking to the village, and visits from Kanan’s grandchildren, which has thrust her into the role of ‘great-grandma,’ Kanan said. ‘She’s always giving them lollipops and baking them cookies. And Bonnie’s always there to celebrate a birthday or special occasion with our family. I think my grandson said it best when he said her name was really Bonnie Kanan. They all love her so much.’ Kanan said the bond between the two families began shortly after Kanan and her late husband Dan moved in. ‘We met in 1963. I remember admiring Bonnie’s beautiful garden. I also remember Alan and Bonnie playing outside with their adorable dogs, Billy and Josephine,’ Kanan recalled. The friendship was cemented a year later when the Kanans invited the Savages to a New Year’s Eve party, even though the Savages were considerably older that the 20-something crowd who would be there. The Savages turned out to be ‘the life of the party,’ Kanan said. ‘All of our friends thought they were the greatest.’ In 1968 Kanan’s mother died within three months of Alan, which bonded the two women even more. ‘I guess faith brought us together, because we both needed a shoulder to lean on at that time,’ Kanan explained. ‘And one of my most enjoyable times was in 1984 when Bonnie and I spent three weeks in Ireland, Scotland and England. We have shared so much–good times and down times. I truly do not know how I could have survived raising a large family without her love and support. She is my friend, confidant, surrogate mother and mentor.’ Savage, originally from Illinois, shares the same sentiment. ‘Cheryel always thinks of me, which is so wonderful. We are truly family now.’ ‘I’m not the only one who cares,’ said Kanan, who was raised in L.A. ‘There are several other long-time neighbors here who help Bonnie out on a regular basis’do errands for her, take her to the market. That’s what neighbors do.’
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