By Levi Clancy for לוי on
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF DONALD LE SINGER AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF JOANNE DEBORAH SINGER, LAWRENCE STUART SINGER, BETH SUZANNE SINGER, AND JENNIFER RUTH SINGER. ALSO, SOME WORDS ABOUT ELI SINGER AND ADA (ITKA) SINGER. (Written by Donald Singer)
As I keyboard these words in the fall of 1988, I think about the Singer family, stretching back (insofar as we can know and go at this time) to Eli and Ada Singer in Lithuania in the late 19th century to the urban, "high-tech" environment of Southern California in the latter part of the 20th century, and can only dream about the living conditions and environment, both social and physical, in which future generations of the Singer family will live in the 21st century and byeond. The world has changed a great deal since Eli and Ada's time and will certainly change a great deal more in the next century. My fervent hope is that social and political progress willcome along with the inevitable technological progress which is to follow.
I was born in the California Hospital on Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles, California on September 15, 1936. (The California Hospital is still in existence and each time I go through downtown Los Angeles I invariably go on the Interstate10/Santa Monica Freeway and see, as I approach or leave the interchange (the place at which the Santa Monica Freeway and the HarborHollywood Freeway intersect), the hospital in which I was born some 52 years ago. The change in the socio-economic composition of the city of Los Angeles can be seen in the patient composition at California Hospital. WHen I was born I am sure that the vast majority of its patients were middle-class Anglos; today, most of its patients are recent immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and Asia and most are in the low income bracket. The hospital is still performing its function, but in an entirely different millieu than it did over half a century ago.
My father was Louis Singer, who was born in Leeds, England on April 3, 1906; and my mother was Jean Singer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on June 17, 1907. My father's parents were Eli and Ada Singer who immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada about 1911 and subsequently moved to Turlock, California (a small agricultural community in the San Joaquin Valley) about 1920 and to Los Angeles about 1923.
I know very little about my father's early years but do not know that he always liked to play sports and was always good in them. He played baseball for Lincoln High School, the high school from which he graduated in 1924, and for Occidental College, the college from which he graduated in 1930. (Not so incidentally, he was the first person in his family to have graduated from college.) Lincoln High School is located in East Los Angeles, an area which is now and has been since at least the end of World War II heavily Hispanic in population but, which in the 1920's was predominantly Jewish in population. The year in which my father graduated from college was, of course, the year in which
the Depression really began and he could not find a full time job until the year I was born, which was six years after he received his degree from Occidental. He was a physical education instructor and coach, first at Bell High School in Bell, California, a small city located east of downtown L.A. (which was and is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District) and then at Audubon Junior High School, located in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. He was at Bell, at which he coached basketball, baseball, and gymnastics, from 1936 until 1950 and at Audubon from 1950 until his death, on January 6, 1956. My father was a wonderful husband and loving father and I am very, very sorry that he did not live to see me grow into manhood, get married, raise a family, and enter the same profession of which he was so proud -- teaching.
My mother's parents were Abraham Ben Marquis and Rose Epstein. My maternal grandfather was born in Denver, Colorado about the year 1880 and my grandmother was born in Russie about the same time. I remember my grandmother telling me that he family was not too bad off for a Jewish family in a small town in Czarist Russia. Her father managed, I believe, a lumber mill and they were considred middle class for the time and general circumstances. My mother's family moved to San Francisco shortly after her birth and then came to Los Angeles about the year 1920. She graduated from Manual Arts High School in 1925 and then went to work at a Western Auto Parts store in Los Angeles. She and my father were married in July of 1930 and were happily married until my father's death in 1956.
We moved around quite a bit during my first years, moving just about every year or so. My first memories are of our apartment on 10th Avenue, near Jefferson Blvd, in the Crenshaw area, to which we moved in 1941. We stayed there untl the fall of 1947, and I spent almost all of my elementary years in the local Sixth Avenue Grammar School, until we moved to Ridgeley Drive, in the Baldwin Hills section of Los Angeles. I finished my elementary days at the Baldwin Hills Elementary School and went to Audubon Junior High School and Dorsey High School, both of which are in the Crenshaw/Baldwin Hills areas.
Following graduation from high school I received an academic scholarship from the University of Southern California and went off to U.S.C. in the spring of 1954. (Those were the days in which the Los Angeles Unified School District had mid-year graduations and I graduated in January, 1954.) I stayed at U.S.C., although not consecutively and certainly not full-time, until 1970, and received the following degrees from the University: 1958, B.A., cum laude; 1961, Master of Science in Secondary Education; 1966, Master of Arts in History; and 1970, Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education. I enjoyed both my undergraduate days at U.S.C. and all of my graduate study at the University and have a soft part in [my] heart for this institution of higher education.
Following the completion of my B.A., and the obtaining of the proper credential from the State of California, I entered the profession of which I am still a part -- education. I got a job at my high school alma mater (Dorsey) and taught there for a year and one-half; unfortunately, there was a drop in enrollment and I was forced to seek greener pastures. I then went to my junior high school alma mater (Audubon) and taught there for five and one-half year. (I was at Dorsey from 1958-1961 and at Audubon from 1961-1966.) I was then fortunate enough to obtain a position teaching history and political science at El Camino College in Torrance, California and taught there from 1966-1970. From there I went to Cerritos College in Norwalk, California as Director of the Division of Social Science and stayed there for two years. In the fall of 1972 our family moved to the San Diego area and I was fortunate enough to be chosen as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Southwestern College in Chula Vista and stayed at Southwestern for almost 10 years. In the Spring of 1982 I was selected to be the President of Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. (Yucaipa is an unincorporated area just east of Redlands and about an hour's west of Palm Springs.) As of this writing I am still at Crafton Hills College and have completed about six and one-half years at the presidency.
My wife is Joanne Upin, whom I married on August 26, 1962. She was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota in 1941 and moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1952. Like me she graduated from Audubon Junior High School and Dorsey High School. She attended several State university campuses and lacks only a few units of getting a degree. At the present time she is a teaching assistant in Special Education in the Redlands Unified School District. Joanne and I have bee married for over 26 years at this writing and I can say that our life together has generally been a good and happy one; we have gone through both good and bad times but we have done so together and I believe that we are the stronger for having done that.
We have three children: Lawrence Stuart, born on June 23, 1963; Beth Suzanne, born on May 12, 1966, and Jennifer Ruth, born on October 7, 1973. Larry is a graduate of San Diego State University and, since his graduation, has ben working the Executive Training program for Macy's of California in San Francisco. He is presently a department manager of a store in the suburban San Francisco and will soon be moved into the buying office in San Francisco as an Assistant Buyer. He is single and lives in San Francisco. I believe that Larry is a mature, sensible young man who has a good future, should he so desire it, in the retail field.
Beth, our oldest daughter, is completing her senior year at San Diego State University at this writing and will get her degree in December of this year. Her major is in Fashion Merchandising and will probably go into the retail field, like her brother, after graduation. Beth is very outgoing, very pretty (and that's not just a father talking), and has an
engaging personality. During her years at San Diego State, she was active in her sorority and made a number of friends through the fraternity-sorority system.
Jennifer, our youngest child, has just started high school in Redlands at this writing, and of all our children is certainly the most studious. She gets good grades and for the past year has started participating in interscholaistic sports, including track and basketball.
Each of our children are different form one another but they are all good persons and we can only hope that each enjoys health, happiness, and (even) prosperity as the years go on. (Those persons reading these pages in the mid-21st century can say if my hopes have been realized.)
A biography of the Singer family certainly would not be complete without some words about one of the "founding mothers," Ada (Itka) Singer and her husband, Eli, my paternal grandmother and grandfather. Grandpa Eli died in 1943 when I was but five years old and thus I really do not have too many memories of him. I do remember that he was bald, somewhat fat and would rock me on his lap from time to time. I heard (probably from my parents) that he could not read or write English. I have vague recollections of visiting him and my grnadmother when they lived in Venice, Caliornia, a seaside community in Southern Caliornia inhabited at the time, by a number of elderly Jewish men and women. I believe that my grandpa was a tailor in Venice but I must confess that I cannot remember much about him.
I remember more about my grandma Ada because she did not die until 1957, when she was (we think) 83 years of age. I remember her as a kind, benevolent, (always old) grandmother who spoiled me when I was a youngster and always had my best interests at heart. In the early 1950's she was living in the Jewish Home for the Aged (which was still in East Los Angeles) and my [sic] remember my parents getting very agitated when she indicated that she wanted to marry some elderly gentleman whom she had met at the home. She did marry him and they moved out of the home to a small apartment in East Los Angeles and I think that my parents finally did reconcile themselves to my grandmother's marriage and recognized that the two older people did have something to give one another.
I well recognize that when you are young that people in their 40s and beyond seem very old, if not at death's door; and yet when I look at pictures of my grandparents and see the clothes they were wearing I have come to believe that they looked old because they thought of themselves as old, as reflectedin the types of clothing they wore. As I am now older than my grandfather was when I first have remembrance of him, I am more convinced than ever that age is, to a large degree, a state of mind, and I hope that, through proper diet and exercise, a proper psychological framework, and clothing that is in style, I can feel, and look healthy for many years to come.