“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom.” Marcel Proust
Los Feliz has lost a dear friend and an invaluable asset in Howard Cremin. Howard is best known for the stories that he wrote for the Oaks newsletter, many of which have been reprinted in The Observer. In a style uniquely and charmingly his own, he delighted us with his tales of the early Oaks residents. He researched his stories meticulously with attention to detail and accuracy, no doubt a habit he acquired during his many years as a pathologist. Once he agonized over a slight discrepancy between an article he had written and another article that had appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Howard’s is probably more accurate. In chronicling the development and growth of the Oaks and its original residents, he gave the community a foundation on which to continue to grow and unite. Pathology was his profession, but local history was his passion.
Howard was a diligent volunteer on the History Committee for more than ten years. He assisted in every aspect of our survey of historic resources in the Los Feliz area. He photographed numerous homes in the Oaks. If the home was barely visible from the street, he wouldn’t accept a photograph that didn’t do justice to the home concealed within a hedge. He would contact the homeowner and get permission for a close up. Determined to show off the Oaks in its best light, if he couldn’t contact the owner personally, he persisted by writing letters to the homeowner.
Once the photographs were taken they had to be mounted to a working copy of the computer profile sheet on each building. Howard spent days walking the streets. This is probably the first time he’s been called a street walker, but walk he did to verify that the photographs had been attached to the correct profile sheet. In addition to checking addresses and photos, Howard added notes of historical interest about the homes. Walking the streets with Howard was a real treat as well as a learning experience–he was a walking encyclopedia of interesting tidbits about almost every home.
While working on the tedious task of transferring the photos from the working copies to the final printout of the survey, some members of the History Committee became discouraged because at the rate we were progressing, it would take another ten years to complete the project. Howard came to our rescue. He enlisted the help of his friends Ron Kinney and John Yeomans, and they tackled the job on their own. The Tremendous Trio, as they came to be called, completed nearly one-third of the survey by themselves thus allowing us to bring our long-awaited survey to fruition.
Howard brought an infectious enthusiasm to every task. Once on a trip to the cavernous Hall of Records he found an early map of the Bronson area. “Look at this!” he exclaimed, and we all gathered around to admire his treasure. He found joy in everything he did. He was extraordinarily kind and thoughtful. When he came to History Committee meetings, he always brought a box of Viktor Benes marzipan cookies. Proust had his madeleines; I have marzipan cookies. Once he arrived at a History Committee meeting with two bouquets of flowers, one for Diane Kanner and one for me. There was no special reason; he just wanted to thank us. He always made people feel special and important and brought out their best. Quite a gift–to make people bloom.