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I " ME CARDINAL or over 40 years the student body of Whittier High School I bird. From the Red Birds at the pep rallies to the Sacred Cardinal seal in the foyer of the auditorium the stately looking bird has always been synonymous with Whittier High. But how many of us ever really stopped to ask " Why are we called the Cardinals? " For those who wondered but never found out this may be of interest. Unlike many other schools who pick a name for its " powerful sound " or associative popularity, Whittier ' s emblem has much significance to the Whittier area. In 1931, it was decided that Whittier should have a mascot. A committee was formed to go about acquiring one. A committee member, Mrs. Aborne, a biology teacher knew of some cardinals that inhabited the brush in the Whittier Hills. This fact was very unusual and unique for they are primarily indigenous to the warm parts of Eastern North America. The committee decided to check this out by going to the area and investigating for themselves. There was one young boy named Clifford Raney who was known to immitate the bird call perfectly. They decided to bring him along to call the birds. Clifford Raney P.O. Box 857 Fallon, Nevada 89406 Dear Mr. Nalley: Received your letter yesterday, and will tell you what I remember about the Cardinal. This would be going back about forty-two years to the Spring or late Winter of 1 93 1 . I was in the eighth grade at Mill School out on Workman Mill Road. I lived at the end of Cliota Avenue where it dead-ended at San Jose Creek. My father owned a walnut grove there, and the San Gabriel River and San Jose Creek came together just about a quarter of a mile below our house. At that time there were not many people in the area, and all along the creek there were many willows, cottonwood, pecan, Hazel nut, and wild grape vines. All the farm ground was in walnuts, so it made a wonderful habitat for cottontail rabbits, ducks, birds of all kinds and fish, mostly perch and bass in the creek. When I was not doing chores or working after school, I would go swimming or hunting, or just take a hike down in the creek or river bottom. There I would notice the red bird. Their call was a definite whistle and not just a chirp or twitter. I mastered their whistle and not whenever I would go down along the brush area that I have described I could call and in five to ten minutes, the red bird would come and answer back in the trees nearby. I always thought they were smarter and more tame than most birds. birds. They called them Cardinals, and told me that along this Creek was the only place they were found west of the Mississippi River. So I told her I could call them and did. From that time on, for about ten years, once or twice a month, some group of the Audubon Society would be out to see the Cardinals. They would phone my Mother in advance to make sure that I would be around on Saturday to call the birds for them. They would generally give me a couple of dollars and a lot of praise, both went a long ways in those days. This brings us up to the part you are interested in. This day. Miss Hillhouse. my eighth grade teacher, called me to the door where she was talking with someone in the hall. She said that this was Mr. Stauffer, principal of the High School, and that I might be excused to go with him. Out in front of the school were several cars, with about 12 or 1 5 high school students and Miss Wilson (later Mrs. Hodge.) The only one of the students I can remember was a big fellow by the name of Stanley McCaffery, but I do remember that the Student Body President and Secretary were there. Also the head of the Annual for that year was there, and a Committee chosen to go out and see the Cardinal and come up with their decision as to whether or not the Cardinal was to be the Mascot. At this point they wanted to know if I would take them down along the creek and see if I could call them a Cardinal or two. We spent a good hour down along the creek, and if I remember correctly, two males and one female came to my call. Everyone was pleased, and they drove me back to school and made a big fuss over my ability with the red birds, and said they would go easy on the initiation next year when I came to High School. I guess the Cardinal won out as the Mascot that day, for next fall, when I got to High School, the colors were Red and White, and the Mascot was the Cardinal. I am enclosing a little map showing where we went to see the birds. The only part I had to do with the Cardinal becoming the Mascot was in calling the birds for them to view. In as much as the Cardinal was so rare in the West and having become established in the Whittier Union High School District, probably had a great deal to do with it being chosen. I hope this sheds a little light on the past and helps you with your Annual Staff reporting. Sincerely yours. Clifford Raney In 1935, an art teacher Mrs. Ida Marks held an Art contest to see who could come up with the best design for the Cardinal Emblem. One fortunate girl won the contest and her work still stands today as the Insignia of Whittier High School. Now, there were several Audubon Societies in the Los Angeles area, and a Dr. Yerkee was the head of a group around Whittier. One day, probably about 1929, they were hiking in the area, looking at birds, and had not been able to see and red Written by: Cathy Pascal Researched by: Kurt Nalley
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