By MAGNOLIA LAFLEUR | Reporter
The Pacific Palisades Historical Society planted a “Centennial Oak” to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Palisades on Friday, January 14.
With the help of the Forestry Committee, a Quercus agrifolia was planted on Founders Oak Island—where the town’s settlers gathered on January 14, 1922.
The Founders Oak Island was donated to the Historical Society on August 12, 1973, as a way to honor the history and people of the Palisades.
President of the Historical Society Barbara Kohn was on-hand to shovel the dirt onto the first of what will be 100 oak trees planted in the Palisades this year.
Notably, the Kohn family was the thirteenth family to move into the Pacific View Estates. Barbara joined the Pacific Palisades Residents Association in 1973 and served as president for 20 years.
“I think it’s very significant. I’ve lived in the community for 55 years … for half of the hundred, so it’s exciting to celebrate the Palisades this way,” Kohn said to the Palisadian-Post. “When I first came here in 1965 there were no street lights, it took five minutes to drive up here from the beach.”
At the Founders Oak Island meridian in Haverford Avenue near Theatre Palisades, community members joined to say a few words and to “honor the spirit of Chautauqua,” the Native Americans that originated on the land.
The Palisades was first inhabited by the Chautauqua tribe, who had reportedly been settling along the canyons for thousands of years. In 1921, it was founded by Reverend Charles H.Scott as a site established for the Methodist Church Sunday teachers, named the Summer Assemblies of Chautauqua Movement.
At the event, Cindy Kirven, chair of the Palisades Forestry Committee whose mission is to “protect and improve the quality of life in [the] community,” spoke of the Methodists on the same day 100 years ago.
She also read a poem by Johnny Ray Rider Jr. titled the “Oak Tree.”
The poem offers a message that despite the occasion of losing its leaves, the oak tree, a symbol of fortitude, will always be there.
“A mighty wind blew night and day, it stole the oak tree’s leaves away,” Kirven read. “Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark, until the oak was tired and stark.
“But still the oak tree held its ground, while other trees fell all around. The weary wind gave up and spoke, ‘How can you still be standing Oak?’”
With the goal to plant 100 trees in the community this year, David Card, chair of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, explained the need to plant more trees.
“Our mission is to reforest every public space and to encourage individuals to buy trees or get free trees from the city when they can and to plant them in your own yard,” Card said. “In this calendar year, hopefully we can plant 100 trees. And anyone who wants to plant a tree, give me or Cindy the word that you’ve planted one, and we will count that towards the 100 trees.”
The event ended with those in attendance grabbing shovels, taking turns and laying roots for the first of many trees to come.
Later in the evening, Jimmy Dunne, a long-time Palisadian, invited community members—near and far—to celebrate at sundown by banging their pots and pans at 6 p.m.
“A hundred years ago, 150 families drove up a naked Temescal Canyon in their old cars around those oak trees with a dream to create a place where they would all belong. Share their lives together,” Dunne said to the Post. “We’re doing the same thing today. Everyone banging pots and pans as the sun set[s] was all of our way of saying thanks to them. To give thanks to the abundance of life that we have.
“The extraordinary homes, our new village, Veterans Gardens, the majesty of the mountains and the sea … they just frame the thing that’s so beautiful, Palisadians,” Dunne said about the Palisades. “The young families in our schools and places to worship. Couples heading up Temescal Canyon for a stroll through the mountains. Senior citizens rolling a bocce ball or two at Veterans Gardens. The ‘glue’ in the town is our people.”
The Historical Society announced that due to COVID-19 concerns, the Centennial Anniversary Celebration—originally slated for Saturday, January 15—had been postponed. The organization is now eyeing a celebration in the spring, on May 7.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.