by Rosie Sinapi
He sits back in his recliner and remembers a time when he and his friends went to the top of the neighboring foothills and created an “L” on the side of it. He remembers when he used to live in the Miller Hall dormitory and even a time before the Campus Times.
The memories 93-year old Harvey Emley, La Verne College class of 1927, must be accessed through glances of his La Verne Academy Annual, The Orange Blossom (Lambda’s predecessor). He sits with his wife, Ramah, also an LVC graduate, and reveals the secrets only one of the oldest living former Campus Times’ staffers could.
Emley came to La Verne Academy, a pre-college curriculum offered by LVC, in 1918 after a chance meeting with the school’s president, Dr. Samuel Miller.
“Dr. Miller came through and talked me out of driving a truck to come to La Verne,” he said.
At the time, Emley was driving a truck in the San Joaquin Valley, one of many areas he called home while a child. The 16-year-old made the trek down south to a little college he had heard of only through Miller.
Of course, as many students at La Verne know, college can be expensive. So in order to pay for school, Emley began to work.
“I worked many different places to pay for the expenses,” he said.
Emley laughs when he recalls the places where he worked to put his way through school mostly because none of the places exist anymore and partially due to his longing for those days.
“I didn’t take part in athletics. I worked for a grocery store on Bonita and D (Streets), Bob’s Grocery. It was developed back then with two banks,” he said.
Emley remembers having time to participate in several scholastic activities. He debated several years on La Verne’s forensics team and even had time for the new school newspaper, the Campus Times.
He served as the assistant circulation manager in 1920-21, circulation manager in 1921-22 and business manager in 1924-25. He did not receive a pay check for being the manager, but worked on it for the experience.
“I don’t remember much about the Campus Times,” he said. “what I do remember is sending the Campus Times to many places where people had contacted the college. It was sent to interested and supporting people.”
Emley says the paper worked as a public relations tool for the school. Instead of covering hard news at the school, the paper focused more on the social activities occurring at both LVC and the Academy.
Besides debate and the paper, Emley found time to do one more thing—court his fellow classmate. Emley and his wife, Ramah, 90, entered La Verne Academy the same year and graduated in 1922 and although both spent an extra year to get their teaching credentials, they both graduated with bachelor’s in education from LVC in 1927.
Emley left his mark at LVC. He and some of his friends decided to make a large “L” on the side of the foothill.
He revealed the secrets of how the “L” was created only after a little nudging. According to Emley, a mirror was placed in front of Miller Hall in the direction of the closest foothill facing the school. A friend, Ralph Netzley, drove up to the mountain and placed a sheet where the mirror reflected. Netzley than delicately formed the sheet into the shape of the letter. Those helping at the LVC campus told Netzley whether the “L” was straight by moving the mirror. After some movement of the sheet to ensure correct placement of the “L”, a delegate of LVC students, formed the “L” with rocks. Unfortunately, there was a large crater in the stem of the “L”, but after some maneuvering of rocks, they were able to somewhat disguise it.
“I was one of the first people to ever pick the weeds around the “L’,” he proudly boasts.
Every good thing must end, so Emley said good-bye to LVC in the spring of 1927 to begin a long and illustrious teaching career. But before he moved to San Diego, where he was a principal for the Vista School District, he married Ramah.
“We both had to work to save money…it costs to get married,” said Ramah Emley.
He was a principal for 35 years in the Orange, San Diego and Vista School Districts. They have two “beautiful and intelligent daughters,” Esther Zerr, an insurance broker, and Helen Bugby, director of extended living at Hillcrest.
An active man, according to Ramah, Harvey taught well past retirement age. When he did retire, he continued to work as a rancher at the Vista avocado grove they called home.
“I got tired of looking at avocados, so we moved into a trailer park and from there to here,” he said.
Even after retirement, he has remained active. Emley is a co-founder of the Vista Scholarship Program, an organization that gives the top senior from each Vista-area high school a $600 scholarship. He is also a member of the Breakfast Club, a group of LVC graduates from the 1920’s that meet for breakfast once a month, and a student at ULV taking finance seminars.
He looks like another retiree enjoying life at Hillcrest Retirement Community, but he is not like any other person. From his window, he can see the “L” he created and when he takes his half mile walk as he does every day, he even passes the school he came to love.
“I enjoy a good life,” he said.