Dusk was falling so quickly ... and the treacherous curves in the Bouquet Canyon Road made me a bit uneasy. It was a welcome relief to see the clearly visible "head stone" at the entrance of the Logian cabin driveway, with the name of my date, George Logian, etched thereon. Their home, nestled possessively into the rugged hillside, glowed warmly with Christmas lights and in no way reflected my first impression of the morbid sight of the "head stone" that greeted me.
George and his wife, Armen, hustled me into the kitchen to warm my hands over the wood stove.
Settling comfortably in their living room, George puffed on his cigar and with that dreamy look in his eyes, he admitted he could remember the days in the old country almost clearer than last week's happenings.
George Louis Logian was born Jan. 1, 1905, to the Louis Logians in Aleksandropol (or Leninakan), Armenia. He was destined to come to America, marry a dark-eyed, raven haired Armenian beauty by the name of Armen, and rear three hand some sons, Mitchell, and twins, Art and Louis.
George and Armen have seven grandchildren, with another coming any minute.
George remembers at the age of 7 trying to get into school. It happened to be a "lottery" school, where they draw names every year for just so many students to be admitted. His name wasn't drawn until the following year.
"In 1913, my father went to the United States. It was a fad in those days to go to America, where it was said you could make enough money in three years to come back and retire. In 1914 the war broke out, and my father lost touch with us. In 1918 the Turks invaded our country and we had to evacuate and got involved in the war. My father read in the paper that we were all killed, so (he) gave up hope for us. In 1919 the Bolsheviks took over the country. Finally the Armenians got their independence with the help of Woodrow Wilson.
"I couldn't go back to school as it was made into an army hospital and orphanage. I worked there at the age of 14 in the office taking care of the records and books, while my mother, a seamstress, made clothing for the orphans. I soon decided to learn a trade, and at the age of 16, I became a full-fledged shoemaker."
Meanwhile, George's father had sent a letter over with a friend to Armenia — stating that "If you find any part of my family, tell them I will bring them to America if they want to come." The friend finally located the Logian family, consisting of George's mother, one sister and brother, and George.
"So, we sold everything we had and went to Constantinople to await passport to United States. My father, being a citizen of the United States, sent us an affidavit, so we had the first chance of getting a visa, although we had to wait 11 months because they could only let so many immigrants go across at one time. We were on the same boat as the Agajanian family, whose relatives live in and around this area and in Los Angeles today."
Click to enlarge.
Now, one would think at the age of 16 a boy would find a trip to another country one of fascination and excitement. It wasn't that way at all with George. He was in love! The whole world seemed to come to an end when he found he had to leave Margaret, a blonde, blue-eyed Armenian girl.
However, the past was soon to be forgotten when he came to Los Angeles and met the Armenian-born beauty, Armen, who had been over in this country since she was 2 years old. They met in 1927 and were married in 1928.
The biggest thrill of their wedding ceremony was being married on the Liberty Bell Rug — a rug on which all the meetings of the World League took place, and every soldier in World War I walked on this rug before leaving United States. This rug is now in a museum in New York.
George, coming straight to Los Angeles from Armenia, continued on with his leather work for a time, then soon went into the liquor store business. He sold out ... and at the insistence of some friends, came to Bouquet Canyon in 1946. They built the cabin they live in today, contracting out the work they couldn't do themselves.
Before long, George bought into the Big Oaks Lodge — with his shish-kebab becoming famous all over Los Angeles County.
"We accumulated a lot of friends, and my boys helped me, as well as Armen. It became a family business. We loved everybody, and everybody loved us. We were very much satisfied with the luck we had and the opportunity this country gave us to make good."
Finding my date to take life as it comes, I asked him why he decided to retire from the shish-kebab business.
"My wife was working too hard in the kitchen," he said, "so, I decided to retire two years ago last July."
George is the type who plans ahead, whether or not the plans work out, he still likes to plan. He has been just puttering around since his retirement, letting the world go by, so to speak ... and enjoying his hobby of stone and rock work — gathering and chiseling them. "Someday, I would love to travel — to take a trip back to the old country and visit some of my relatives," he told me.
The one thing my date finds fascinating about people, especially women, is their eyes. "Eyes tell you the personality of the person. I can look into people's eyes and tell them what they are," he said.
Throughout the interview, Armenian hospitality reigned ... and I felt like a Near East princess. The warmth of the Logians blended with the holiday spirit which pervaded the old country decor of their home. The Armenian cuisine was superb.
Discussing their many years at the Big Oaks Lodge brought back many fond memories.