I have again started writing my weekly columns that run in Friday’s sports section. This week’s column (published today in the Star-News sports section on page 2) focuses on my move to South Pasadena and how quickly I acquaint myself to the area courtesy of a jog at nearby Garfield Park.
MIGUEL MELENDEZ COLUMN
SOUTH PASADENA — When I was a little kid, my mother, Cristina, worked numerous jobs to make ends meet.
One of her many jobs was cleaning the Kinko’s office on Colorado and Lake, ironically just less than a minute’s walk from where I now sit to write this column.
Our twice-a-week midnight trips in the summer from Los Angeles to Pasadena was a weak version of a road trip for me and my brother, Marco.
But the drive alone was pleasant.
Leaving our gang-infested neighborhood for the much safer and quiet suburbs — even if it was only for a few hours — gave us a feeling of that there was more that life had to offer.
Two weeks ago I moved into my new place in South Pasadena. It’s been a warm welcome thus far. Those who know my story say I’ve come a long way.
As a kid, I went to seven schools. It was annoying but eventually I got used to it. It’s the reason I plan to make South Pasadena my home because I’m done moving, hopefully for a long while.
And it didn’t take long for me to acquaint myself to my new hometown.
I went jogging last Saturday at Garfield Park, only minutes away from my new apartment, although people tell me it’s more of a town house.
As I stretched near one of the park benches, I noticed a black plaque which was engraved:
“In memory of Ted Colliau”
After putting two and two together I recognized the last name.
Steven Colliau is a three-sport senior at South Pasadena High School. He was a captain on the football team last season and the Tigers’ star wide receiver. Colliau currently is playing soccer and when the season is over he’ll pick up a bat and join the baseball team.
I put in a call to Michael Colliau, Steven’s dad, and asked him if he had any relation to Ted Colliau.
“Yes. That’s my dad,” Michael replied.
Bill and Mary Urquhart live in South Pasadena and, among numerous community groups, are big supporters of the South Pasadena Educational Foundation.
Bill, a successful trial attorney, sponsored the bench in memory of Ted for his longtime service at the YMCA Christmas tree lot.
Ted spent 12-16 hours a day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. That’s how many of the area residents knew Ted, but he also owned “Colliau Chevrolet” from 1945 to 1986.
“I remember when my son was in the fourth grade he would ask, ‘Why does everybody know my last name?’ ” Michael said.
I’m grateful I decided to move here because it’s evident South Pasadena is a close-knit community.
Steven’s high school principal, Janet Anderson, was one of Michael’s best friends growing up. She was one of Steven’s first babysitters. Michael and Anderson attended South Pasadena High.
“That’s the type of city South Pasadena is,” Michael said. “You’ll always run into that type of story here.”
Ted was a big follower of South Pasadena High athletics and spent a lot of time with Steven.
“His last few years he spent a lot of time with Steven while he was young, teaching him to play golf,” Michael said. “(My dad) was thrilled when Steven out-drove and beat him when Steven was in middle school.”
Ted got sick and went into a coma the day before hell week in Steven’s freshman year. He never got to see Steven play.
“That is a real regret, since I have no doubt he would have been at every game of Steven and his sister Taylor,” Michael said.
Steven and Taylor, a freshman, have more than a good idea where their good genes came from.
Ted was a member of the 1949 South Pasadena High School baseball team. He also played football and basketball before making the hockey team his freshman year while at the University of Michigan. He later transferred to Cal.
Michael, like his father, played football, basketball and baseball at South Pasadena High. Michael last played in 1974 and Steven continued the tradition that will end in 2009, 60 years after Ted last played there.
“He probably would have been beaming with pride if he could have seen it,” Michael said of his late father.
South Pasadena, like other surrounding cities, offers this type of multigenerational opportunity where children play where their fathers and grandfathers did, with teachers, coaches and even principals who coached, taught and were friends with their parents.
I finally understand Norman Rockwell’s paintings.
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