I knew the Osheroff family many years ago when I lived next door to them on 28th street in Venice, late 1960s. There was a plan to refurbish the canals by assessing the property owners in the canals and on the peripheral areas.
Abe led us – we who were so inexperienced – in our fight against city hall using his know how and expertise. We fought long and hard and when the decisive day came, created the Venice Canal Festival to say goodbye. But lo and behold, there were no bids. Our tactic of delaying the project as much as possible worked! Not to mention that we emphasized that the canals were city property and should not be privatized!
Our Canal Festival became a celebration! We closed off 28th Ave, and the community came out with free food, drink, music and camaraderie. The Festival became a yearly event for seven years until it became way too large and out of control as well as commercial. So we had a Canal Festival Funeral using the old barge and a huge paper mache duck.
I received my “hands on” political education from Abe’s leadership. He also led the struggle to create a children’s park in an empty city lot on the canals. We had a large population of small children living in the canals with no park. Other communities were getting small vest pocket parks, but we were denied. He took old telephone poles, donated wood and created a small park including a wooden sidewalk over the crumbling sidewalks. This became a media event as he and I watched his two young sons chain themselves to the fence, and be cut away and carted off to jail. We got the park as depicted in my JAYA mural on the corner of Dell Ave. at S. Venice Blvd., and it has been moved to another lot and still serves the toddlers of today.
His lively, creative and talented family are a monument to him. I still see his three Venice children, Nick, Dovie, and Sara from time to time and his former wife, Noel Osheroff, is still my good friend today.
Photo: Abe at a Canal Festival, circa 1970, by John Hider
*More about Abe’s life can be found at http://www.abeosheroff.org.