My childhood in the Tischlers’ Schindler house
Many, many thanks to Diane Garver, daughter of Adolph Tischler. Like her father, she generously shared her story of her life in their Schindler house.
Special thanks for Diane’s wonderful photographs of her family in their house. All her photographs are copyright Diane Garver, all rights reserved. They are used here with her kind permission.
This interview was conducted by email, starting 11/10/2012
Please also see my interview with Adolph Tischler, Diane’s father. It will help you understand the house and his history with it.
Steve Wallet: What is your job/career/passion(s)?
Diane Garver: I now am working part time in a home office for an 85 year old. My introduction to this man came through his wife who I met at the park pool water aerobics class. I had heard her talking about Westwood and so finally asked her where she had lived. It turns out she and her husband lived 8 houses up Cashmere from our (Schindler) house. I never met them in LA, their children were younger, but it really is a small world.
My passions for the last part of my life are building friendships, living with others and WATER AEROBICS.
The house and you on a personal level
I grew up in a suburban tract house and all my friends lived in tract houses. What was it like to grow up in your house? Were you or your friends aware of it as different? Was that fun or strange or both?
Because I lived in the house from when I was three years old until I graduated college I really never knew what it was like to live anywhere else. When we would go out to other neighborhoods I would notice that the houses looked the same and that they were especially close to the ground and had windows you could see into. When I was old enough to have friends come to my house their exclamations about the house made me very aware that it was different. They all commented on the blue roof. In those days my Dad had not added the panels covering much of the color so all my friends said we all looked like we had a blue tinge. When they looked in the mirror they said their hair and skin looked different. Again, since I had nothing to compare it to I never had noticed it, I still don’t. My friends also commented about all the stairs, several of them lived in tract houses or they were from the kind of Westside wealth that they had elevators if they were on a hillside like we were. They also were intrigued with the three levels and the room in the middle not being connected to the home except from the outside stairs. The stairs on the south at that time were hardly used. They were steep and had a very narrow tread.
All of our living was done on the top level. When I go to class reunions (University High class of 65) the first question I am asked is what happened to your house? They tell their spouses, she lived in the neatest house. They all have driven by to show their children and I am proud to say my father still lives in the house and they are welcome to make arrangements to see it. Although they all remembered it, I didn’t get the idea when I was younger that any of them would actually like to live there, it was too weird.
Did you enjoy growing up in the house? What features were your favorites?
I did enjoy growing up in the house, I knew it was different and liked the idea. I knew it was important to my Dad and his pride in it wore off on me. I had been around when it was being built so it also meant fun trips to the hardware store and nursery. I was shy and this gave me something to talk about or respond to.
Did you open up the folding wall between the two bedrooms?(Fig 5)
The Jack & Jill door (between the two daughters’ bedrooms) was almost always closed although the single door was open between the two rooms. I know when we were little it was one big room and I have a hazy recollection of the location of the crib for my sister. I also remember being in the side near the yard when I was very young and my visiting grandparents staying in the other side. Our boxer dog (Alexis) also slept on the yard side of the room right in front of the wall heater on her cushion. I got her when my parents got a new baby, my sister.
Which bedroom did you have, the one closest to the yard or the other? (Fig 2)
My major memories are of the bedroom closest to the other side, not yard side. All the rooms had doors leading outside but mine had a door that opened to my Dad’s silver shop. Also at the end of the side yard was an incinerator and a clothes line. It had small rocks as the landscaping and since I never wore shoes my feet got used to those rocks. I looked up at the ceiling wood and found faces and shapes in the grains and knot holes. The blue panels were also full of color and light, especially on a rainy night with lightening, no better light show around.
Did you play in the loft?(Fig 5)
The loft was not always accessible to play in when we were young. The staircase is movable and was usually in the up position. My Dad did store some silver stuff up there as well as holiday decorations, and other attic type storage. I do remember going up and playing with my sister but it was usually very warm up there with bad light and a low roof for most of it. We once had a dog that my sister and I tried to teach how to go up the stairs. She only seemed to make it up a couple before she would jump down. One night when we came home from a dinner out we couldn’t find the dog, as we got to the back of the house we heard her whining. She had climbed up but couldn’t get down, that trick kept the ladder in an up position for awhile.
Was it hard to sleep late with the translucent roof? How did you sleep late-pull the covers over your head?
I loved the blue roof in the whole house. I never was a late sleeper and so the light didn’t bother me. I loved that fact that you could hear the rain, even the very light rain on it and the thunder and lightning storms were worth staying up for. Although the roof leaked in many places, no leaks in the bedroom. Also I never wore enough makeup to see any blue cast on my face like my friends did.
Did you play a lot in the yard? (Figs 2 & 6) Schindler’s plan labeled the upper, rear section as “badminton” – did you play it there?
We played in the yard a lot. Both my sister and I played there and had great birthday parties there as well. The upper rear section turned out to be the kid’s play area. We had a sandbox, liberally used by the neighborhood cats, I got ringworm once and they had to shave some of my hair. I don’t ever hear about that anymore. The sand box finally came out but we also had a swing set and a slide back there. We did play badminton in the yard but set up the court on the first level of the yard. The whole family played, and we played with family friends during parties. We used the old fashioned birds with real feathers. My sister and I wanted Dad to put in a pool but he always refused as there was no way to put in the required fencing without cutting up the open space of the yard. He also knew that it would go unused as our friend’s pools did. My Dad was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and loved the beach. He learned to swim in the ocean and so did we, we went to the beach every Sunday and my Dad didn’t want to stop our beach lives. Dad continued to go to the beach every Sunday long after I had moved out of the house, really until about the early 90’s. He ended up going with some of his male artist friends at the end as my Mom had crippling rheumatoid arthritis.
Anything you didn’t like about the house?
Probably the only thing I didn’t like about the house was the stairs, although they kept us all in good shape, we were all thin. It took a long time to get down the stairs when we heard the ice cream truck, we had to beg for money and then tear down the stairs often to see the truck turn the corner at the end of the street.
Continued in part 2