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My grandfather, Earl Loy White

February 3, 2012

I am the son of Perk H. White, builder developer and grandson of his father Earl L. White, an early pioneer in the San Fernando valley who came out from Kansas. The 1920’s saw a period of growth and real estate development with the population increasing from 2,913 in 1920 to 16,622 in 1930. Earl L. White knew the value of a connecting link from Burbank to the Cahuenga Pass. When he couldn’t get help from the City, he cleared the underbrush through Dark Canyon and graded the street. This link is now Barham Blvd. and Hollywood Way. On Sunday, March 4, 1923, a 450-acre tract opened in the Magnolia Park area. Earl L. White, a dairy operator, aimed his real estate promotion at the middle income group. White cleared the property with mule teams, graded and improved the streets, built some houses, and began a sales campaign. Two hundred fifty salesmen took prospective buyers around to view lots and houses. Mr. White knew the value of a connecting link from Burbank to Cahuenga Pass and asked for help from the city. When he was unable to get the help, he cleared the underbrush through Dark Canyon and graded the street. This “connecting link” is now Barham Boulevard and Hollywood Way. Earl L. White built and sold Magnolia Park’s first plat of 147 homes. His company handled $18,000,000 worth of real estate transactions in seven years by attracting customers with street dances and spectacular airplane stunts. Mr. White also built a shopping center at the corner of Hollywood Way and Magnolia Boulevard. It included a bank, sub post office, daily newspaper, radio station, dry goods store, beauty and barber shop, shoe store, hardware store, electric shop, and even a mortuary. The newspaper, The Burbank Tribune, had more paid subscribers than any other daily in the valley at that time. Publication of this newspaper stopped in the early days of the depression. KELW (Kall Earl L. White) started as a 1,000 watt radio station in 1927. The Hearst newspaper syndicate bought the station in 1935 and changed the call letters to KEHE. In 1939, the station was purchased by Earle C. Anthony and became KECA. In 1944, Mr. Anthony sold the station to the Blue Network. That same year the Blue Network was changed to the American Broadcasting Company and the call letters became KABC. By 1929, over 3,500 homes had been built in the Magnolia Park area. The “Big Depression” of the 1930’s robbed Magnolia Park of its radio station and daily newspaper, and stopped all real estate promotion. It was almost 10 years before the area again boomed. White developed the Magnolia Park area and by 1929, more than 3,500 homes had been built. The area had a shopping center at the corner of Hollywood Way and Magnolia Blvd., a bank, Burbank’s first radio station, KELW, and Magnolia Park’s own newspaper, The Tribune. Magnolia Park, established on Burbank’s western edge in the early 1920s, had 3,500 houses within six years after its creation. When the city refused to pay for a street connecting the subdivision with the Cahuenga Pass, real estate developer Earl L. White did it himself and called it Hollywood Way. White was owner of KELW, the San Fernando Valley’s first commercial radio station, which went on the air February 13, 1927. Magnolia Park was started in Burbank by developer Earl L White. He started working on plans for Magnolia Park in 1917 and before that he was operating a dairy business on 400 acres he bought in 1915 which is now a Warner Brothers lot and formerly Columbia Ranch. The city’s Magnolia Park area, bordered by West Verdugo Avenue to the south and Chandler Boulevard to the north, is known for its small-town feel, shady streets and Eisenhower-era storefronts. Most of the homes in the area date to the 1940s, when they were built for veterans of World War II. Central to the community is Magnolia Boulevard, known for its antique shops, boutiques, thrift shops, corner markets, and occasional chain stores. The motion picture business also moved to Burbank in the 1920’s. First National Pictures bought up a 78-acre site on Olive Avenue near Dark Canyon. The company was soon taken over by another young company founded by four brothers by the name of Warner. On October 23, 1927, motion picture history was made when Warner Bros. released the first all-talking movie, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson. Other companies soon followed. Columbia Pictures purchased property in Burbank as a ranch facility, using it primarily for outdoor shooting. Walt Disney’s company, which had outgrown its Hollywood quarters, bought 51 acres in Burbank. Disney’s million-dollar studio was completed in 1939 on Buena Vista Street.

My father, Perk White, graduated USC in 1939 with a Major in business and a minor in law. He worked at Lockheed on the P-38 Lightening which would become famous during WWII, he helped design the twin seat version and photographic version. In 1941, he went into the Navy as an Ensign and was assigned Submarine Chase boats between New York and the caribbean.

P-38 Lightning production line in Burbank. Site is now location of Burbank Empire Center.

My father, Perk H. White and his father Earl L. White built homes for returning G.I.’s in Encino hills, Burbank and Sherman Oaks.

Following the World War II, homeless veterans lived in tent camps in Burbank, in Big Tujunga Canyon and at a decommissioned National Guard base in Griffith Park. The government also set up trailer camps at Hollywood Way and Winona Avenue in Burbank and in nearby Sun Valley. But new homes were built, the economy improved, and the military presence in Burbank continued to expand. Lockheed employees numbered 66,500 and expanded from aircraft to include spacecraft, missiles, electronics and shipbuilding. Burbank’s growth did not slow as war production ceased and over 7,000 new residents created a postwar real estate boom and real estate values soared as housing tracts sprang up on formerly vacant land in the Magnolia Park area of Burbank between 1945 and 1950.

Grandpa White also supposedly did his Masonship with the famous actor commedian Harold Lloyd.

Grandpa White was also involved with the Burbank YMCA (as was my uncle Loy White). Grandpa White donated land and a YMCA camp was named after him and Grandma White, Anna.

For those who want to send their children on an adventure, there is Camp Earl-Anna, the YMCA resident camp. Camp Earl Anna, in Paradise Valley. 2 miles S of nunnery off Water Canyon Rd., Tehachapi Mountains.  7 miles S of Tehachapi.70-acre site in the Tehachapi Mountains, about 120 miles northeast of Burbank. YMCA camping trips to the site will be July 5 to 10, July 24 to 31, and Aug. 14 to 21, and will cost $160 for YMCA members or $170 for non-members. Scholarships are available.

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6 Comments
  1. Dave permalink

    Hey, I am wondering about Earl L. White a little bit.
    We have heard his name and are wondering about the stories we have heard…
    Would like to talk with you some…. Thx… Dave

  2. Peggy Peters permalink

    Who are you? Who wrote this article?

  3. Paul permalink

    Hello,
    I’ve recently came upon something you might be interested in having that once belonged to your grandfather. Email me if you are interested.

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