Thursday, August 1, 2019

Marlene and Lloyd Hitt's Lifetime Achievement Award from Village Poets

Marlene and Lloyd Hitt with Village Poets. Photo Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

On July 28, 2019, at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga, Village Poets presented its "Lifetime Achievement Award" to Dr. Lloyd Hitt and Marlene Hitt during a crowded poetry reading, MC-ed by poet Joe DeCenzo, and filled with loving tributes and gifts to the wonderful couple, retiring from their active duties as members of Village Poets, an organization that they co-founded in 2010 with Dorothy Skiles, Joe DeCenzo and Maja Trochimczyk.

After the initial warm welcome by Joe DeCenzo and tribute poem by current Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, Pamela Shea, a representative from the office of State Senator Anthony Portantino, presented the Senator's Resolution in praise of the lives and achievements of the distinguished couple.  In addition to their volunteering efforts for the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council, Bolton Hall Museum and Little Landers Society, they served as Grand Marshalls of the Sunland Tujunga Independence Day Parade in 2017. 

Photo Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

The manifold achievements and contributions of Dr. Hitt and his wife, Marlene to the local community were summarized by Sunland-Tujunga Poet Laureate, Pamela Shea in her poem that opened the proceedings. 

Marlene and Lloyd Hitt with their award, poets Beverly M. Collins, Dorothy Skiles, 
and Mira Mataric. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

7-28-19 by Pamela Shea

Marlene and Lloyd Hitt, Two accomplished halves,
One amazing whole, Achieving noble goals.

A lifetime of love, Giving and living,
Creating strong family, Involved in community.

His-story, her-story— Combined, a tale of glory;
Gifts for posterity, Together, legacy.

Both were educated locally;
Lloyd worked long and hard in Hober’s Pharmacy;
Marlene was an adored preschool teacher;
Their strong work ethic is a lifelong feature.

Lloyd was a Neighborhood Council Founding Member,
Established the local Land Use Committee,
Championed Overlay Zones and “Only the Oaks Remain”;
Lloyd’s years of service have been our gain.

Marlene, our inaugural Poet Laureate,
Writer, literary ambassador, and advocate;
She is the ultimate “career volunteer”;
Her influence extends both far and near.

Beloved Bolton Hall Museum
Became their home away from home—
Marlene, Director and Archivist;
Lloyd, President—their love is in these stones.

So we now salute and applaud them
As the outstanding people they are;
We are indeed the fortunate ones
Sharing their great space under the sun.

More information about the honorees may be found in the previous blog with announcement of this ceremony.

Pamela Shea, photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Pamela Shea brought to the event more than a poem, she ordered a wonderful chocolate cake from Backdoor Bakery.

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Chocolate cake from Backdoor Bakery

The manifold achievements of Marlene were later highlighted by poet KATHABELA WILSON in her post on Colorado Boulevard:

Kathabela Wilson writes: "Marlene Hitt was recently honored, along with her husband Lloyd, for their decades of service to the Sunland-Tujunga poetic and historical community. Working as hosts and volunteer docents at Bolton Hall Museum there they host Village Poets and the Poet Laureate program. Marlene, an accomplished poet, tells me “I love to learn.” Her tanka in our Simple Beauty Salon are new. Inspired when I introduced tanka at Bolton Hall, a few months ago, her unique voice, so sensitive to detail, shines through like the moon through clouds. In her interview with Kath Abela, in 2015, she tells the story of her grandmother who was a fine poet. She called Marlene, as a child, “The Sunland Rose.” She recognized Marlene’s poetic talent speaking her “inner voices” aloud. Marlene went on from there, inspired to be a poet. She has published in anthologies and journals and her recently published book Clocks and Water Drops, published by Moonrise Press, is available on Amazon."

Kathabela presented Marlene with a copy of the interview she published with her on Colorado Boulevard:

Lloyd and Marlene Hitt's Wedding Photo

The covers of Marlene's Hitt books and anthologies that included her work were portrayed on the large banner from her Independence Day Parade ride, an old pick up truck. It served as the centerpiece for the ceremony.

Joe DeCenzo presents Marlene's banner from the Parade.
Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Marlene read an excellent selection of her poems, selected to serve as a counterbalance to poems by her husband Lloyd, read  later by Joe DeCenzo.  Many of these poems were never published, though some came from her 2015 book, Clocks and Water Drops (Moonrise Press).   After a joint reading of a poem "The Remembering" with Joe DeCenzo, who represented the voice of Lloyd, he remained on the stage to present Lloyd's own poetry. 

Marlene and Joe DeCenzo read "The Remembering." Photo by Maja Trochimczyk 


She says she remembers
the dark meat of grouse
chunky with bites of buckshot,
cabbage fried in bacon grease,
one pot of potatoes for eleven children.

He says he remembers

sugared tomatoes stewed in the warm kitchen,
flour-and-milk pudding on a snowy day
with brown sugar and nutmeg.
The days they salted the pork.

She remembers

the root cellar full of salamanders,
chickens and peas and jams in jars,
muddy prints on the scrubbed floor,
hot water on the side of the stove.

He remembers

digging the well. Twilight harvests.
Piling manure on the side of the house,
ferrets in the henhouse,
the cow that nearly gored his mother.

She remembers

the one tin dipper in the wooden water bucket,
the babies coming one after the other,
the grandmother, the hired hands,
Sunday dinners, so many pies.

He says he remembers

the day they brought the Rumley home,
the joy of an easier days’ work,
the calving, the horse with colic,
the Northern Lights.

She says she remembers the story

of her father coming home
over unmarked prairie,
the horses leading through blizzard,
the dot of lamplight in the frosted window.

He remembers the story

of the day a mother loaned blankets
to fevered, trail-weary men.
In a month children died,
throats closed, breath trapped inside.

She remembers

her first sight of the city
the day after they eloped,
the room they stayed in,
the frame garage that became their home.

He remembers

the job that took him from her,
the full, sweet moments of coming home,
their small corner drug store,
built together. The children.

They say they remember

as they hold hands,
speak about the new ways of things,
and of their old world
which has passed away.

(c) Marlene Hitt, from Clocks and Water Drops (2015)

Joe DeCenzo reads, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Grandfather Clock

I sip my coffee, the clock chimes six. 
In that slow, honest pensive way, the brass pendulum swings. Stops. 
The early morning sun reflects
when time stands still.

When I was eight, I believed
I could enter that split second,
that time was frozen and I could live forever. 
When I was young
there was so much time.

When I was fifty,
time was filled with family and work, 
now my children are me.

I watch and remember.

Dad was eighty, wan and bent,
one hand gently pulling the clock chain 
the other cradling the weight 
in white cotton gloves, as if to nurse 
the minutes, that time might
                                                    stand still.

(C) 2018 by Lloyd Hitt, from The Earth Time (Moonrise Press, 2018)

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Joe DeCenzo read an extensive selection of poems from The Earth Time, Lloyd Hitt's first poetry collection, published in 2018 as a surprise Christmas gift from Marlene, and edited by her, with help from Maja Trochimczyk (Moonrise Press, 2018).  Since Lloyd, during Village Poets readings, contented himself with setting and putting away chairs and with reminding the poets not to make a mess, the quality and scope of his poetry surprised and delighted the audience. 

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

The Presentation of the "Lifetime Achievement Award" concluded the first half of the proceedings.  On behalf of all Village Poets gathered on the stage Maja Trochimczyk thanked Lloyd and Marlene for establishing the Poet Laureate program and helping organize and manage the monthly Village Poets readings at the Bolton Hall Museum, held since 2010.  

Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Photo by Kathabela Wilson

Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

The intermission was filled with sweets, congratulations for the honorees, and wonderful chocolate cake from Backdoor Bakery and organic fruit tart on almond-flour crust by poet Chris Cresset.

Organic fruit tart with almond crust, by Chris Cresset 

The second half of the celebration brought in tributes and thank-yous to Lloyd and Marlene, for their lifetime of efforts to unify, protect, and beautify the community and enrich the literary scene of the foothills.

Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

JOE DECENZO, the talented MC and the Fourth Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga wrote a villanella, based on the famous poem by Dylan Thomas. 

You'll NOT Go Gentle into That Good Night

~ after Dylan Thomas,"Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night"

You'll NOT go gentle into that good night,

Your dreams to build this town inspired all;
Your lantern of the village burns too bright.

Your passion and persistence did ingite

The challenge to look past the boundary walll.
You'll NOT go gentle into that good night.

The power of your love and inner light

Will resurrect the circle should we fall.
Your lantern of the village burns too bright.

We;re grateful for the depth of appetite

You nurtured from the moment we could crawl.
You'll not go gentle into that good night.

Examples of your deeds will guide our flight

To grow our future ventures strong and tall.
Your lantern of the village burns too bright.

The spirit of your lessons we'll hod tight

Beyond the mortar's strength of Bolton Hall.

You'll NOT go Gentle into that good night

Your lantern of the village burns too bright.

(C) 2019 by Joe DeCenzo. To honor Village Poets founding members Lloyd and Marlene Hitt on the celebration of their achievements, 28 July 2019  "A Life of Love, Leadership and Literature." 

Dorothy Skiles, Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

DOROTHY SKILES thanked Marlene from getting her out of a writer's block and read two poems from the book they published together, Riddle in the Rain (2003).


Perhaps wind gusted
across rooftops
to the dive onto that balcony
and through the white dress
left all day to dry,
caught that one white thread.
Perhaps a rag tied on a fence rail
frayed and dropped away,
night-blown across fields,
or maybe this light thread
drifted all the way from Tory
where a little girl
climbed a fence in a rush,
ripped her dress. Perhaps.
Maybe.  No way to know.
How far did it travel,
this piece of thread
come to rest beside my boot?

Marlene Hitt

From Riddle in the Rain (Copyright 2003 by Marlene Hitt and Dorothy Skiles) All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Dorothy picked a line from Marlene's poem “and through the white dress / left all day to dry” and wrote her response as follows:


On a day like this
with nothing in the
way but blue sky
and memories of

            my mama’s
            navy blue skirt
blowing in the
wind, while
she hung the
white cotton
sheets out to dry.
I’d get lost
between the sheets
and Daddy’s boxer
shorts smelling of Tide.
She calmed my panic,
once I found her
and buried my head
in her navy blue skirt.

Dorothy Skiles

From Riddle in the Rain (Copyright 2003 by Marlene Hitt and Dorothy Skiles) All rights reserved. Used by permission. 

Elsa Frausto's Bouquet

ELSA S. FRAUSTO brought to the reading some of the earliest publications by Marlene, Poetry Calendars published by Chupa Rosa Writers in the 1990s.   She read one poem of her own and one by Marlene. She also brought a lovely bouquet of  small flowers from her garden as a token of appreciation. The layout and the vase, were designed to remind the audience of an inkpot with a feather pen in it... 


The eye likes what it sees.

It doesn’t want to become
the thing looked upon.
Her ample hip carrying a child
moves to an old music
in her bones.
The feet are two large fans
that cool the crusty earth.
The meeting is halfway
between the eye that loves
and the call of her swaying hips.

by Elsa Samkow-Frausto

Chuparosa Calendar Diary 1994



      (four babies fit in a teaspoon),
              drink deep the deep nectar from the deep cup.
                             behind you the mountains stand
              before you, flowers of sage and the chuparosa.
                                          then fly,
                                                                     buzzing like the bee
               your colors shine in the sun and in my eye.
               Colibri, picaflor, touch every blossom
As you fly.
                                  Take me with you

By Marlene Hitt

Chuparosa Calendar Diary 1993

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk 

MAJA TROCHIMCZYK talked about the role of Marlene and Lloyd in the start of the Village Poets and Poet Laureate Program in Sunland-Tujunga. She thanked the  honorees for years of poetic inspiration and community involvement. Instead of reading her own poems, she presented Marlene's "Fifteen Ways of Hearing the Wind Chimes" published in the Chopin with Cherries anthology that Maja edited in 2010  as her own Poet Laureate project, celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin.

Photo Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Peter Larsen, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk 

Other poets also read Marlene's poetry instead of her own. Village Poets regular member, Peter LARSEN read the wonderful poem "Silence" from Clocks and Water Drops (Moonrise Press, 2015).


There is something about 

silence...its weight,
the way it inhales,
leaves the room clear 
for thought.
Though quiet is never pure
as all the world knows.
Take away the whirr of fans,
traffic’s drone, 
and leave the sky
clear and quiet. 
Turn the voices off,
quiet the old record.
Sound still creeps in 
with the call of birds,
scrambled scree 
on the hillside,
bees, or a night 
full of crickets. 
Without these, 
the beating sound 
of one’s own heart.
One evening 
we sat moon-bathing, 
listening for nothing. 
But the silence,
so light, so fragile,
just slipped away.

(c) 2015 by Marlene Hitt, from Clocks and Water Drops

Standing room only. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Many poets expressed their gratitude by reading their favorite poems dedicated to the honorees. We heard from Dr. Mira MATARIC, Alice PERO, Ed ROSENTHAL, Beverly M. COLLINS, John ASKEW, Chris CRESSET, and other guests - including artist Cory STEIN and muralist Gerardo BARRIENTOS - that came to congratulate Lloyd and Marlene for their impact on the poetry world and the community. 

Cile Borman, Photo by Emil "Gene Schulz Jr. 

The poetic and artistic tributes ended with wonderful poet and song-writer, CILE BORMAN Vice President of Lake View Terrace Improvement Association, who wrote and presented a tribute song.


~ To the melody of "It's a wonderful world, "as sang by Louis Armstrong

(Verse 1)

Today is your day and we are all here to say
Lloyd and Marlene, we love you, for your many giving ways
What  you've done for the community can never be repaid

(Verse 2) 

The smiles on your faces are wonderful to see
There's no other place that we'd rather be
then here with the two of you on this special day


The love on the faces
Of the people that are here
Say that you both are very special
We all hold you dear
Are so glad to know you
As a relative or a friend
Are were lucky to be with you again

(Verse 3)

What you have contributed to Bolton Hall
can never be repaid
Your time given unselfishly in so many ways
Is an example for us to follow in the coming days

(Repeated Bridge)

The love on the faces
Of the people that are here
Say that you both are very special
And we all hold you dear
Are so glad to know you
As a relative or a friend
Are all so very lucky to be with you again

(Verse 4)

Lloyd and Marlene we all looked forward
to being here today
To return the love
That you've shown in so many ways
WE gathered here to let you know
Just how much we love you
And we will always hold you dear

(C) 2019 by Cile Borman. Used by Permission

Cindy Cleghorn photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr. 

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Mark Siegel, Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

In addition to the poets and artists, many community activists and organizers thanked Lloyd and Marlene Hitt for their multitude of achievements in building up the twin cities of Sunland and Tujunga.  Someone even quipped that they should be called "Mr. and Mrs. Sunland-Tujunga." The speakers included Mark SIEGEL, past president of the ST Neighborhood Council; Cindy CLEGHORN, local business owner, past president of the STNC and its current Secretary; as well as representatives from  Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition (where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during the war) - Nancy ODA, President and Kanji SAHARA, Vice President.  They read haiku written by Lloyd Hitt (President Emeritus of the organization) and Marlene Hitt, that were printed on posters with biographies  in order to provide a poetic commentary about lives of individuals associated with the Camp's history, such as its commandant and a local pastor who strongly opposed the internment. 

Mr. Kanji SAHARA of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition
Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Roger KLEMM of the Sunland-Tujunga Rotary Club presented a certificate of appreciation from the Rotary, the organizer of the Sunland Tujunga Independence Day Parade and many other community projects.  

                              Roger Klemm of the ST Rotary. Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Artist Abby DIAMOND gave the honorees a print of her torn-paper mosaic Yucca, that was earlier used on the cover of the California Quarterly 44:1 edited by Maja Trochimczyk and including poems by Marlene among other Californians. 

                                                   Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Local community activists Jon and Karen Von Gunten, long-time members of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council wrote funny limericks to honor Lloyd and Marlene. 

Jon and Karen Von Gunten, photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Jon and Karen Von Gunten sent in their presentation:

"This is a pretty intimidating crowd! I know... Karen and I can't hope to compete...with poets who think in rhymes and feet. So if we offer some modest treat, we only hope it keeps your beat.

Karen to Lloyd...

There once was a man we call Lloyd
Whose passions were never alloyed.
Instead of just yelping
He always was helping
To make this a place we've enjoyed.

Jon to Marlene...

  Marlene and I have occasionally talked about the pros and cons of using rhyme in poetry, so...

This lady we love named Marlene
Thinks my limerick rhymes are obscene.
No charging equestrian...
They're completely pedestrian
And sometimes they don't rhyme at all.

With huge affection and a nudge in the ribs!"

   - Jon & Karen von Gunten

The Hitts with ST community activists. Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

The proceedings completed with presentation of huge bouquets of roses by current President of the ST Neighborhood Council by Lilian Sanchez who credited her involvement in civic affairs to lessons from Lloyd and Marlene. 

Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Marlene and Lloyd with their children. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Village Poets with Lloyd and Marlene Hitt. Photo by Emil "Gene" Schulz Jr.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful tribute page. This should become an archive and be accessible somewhere...perhaps on display at the Sunland library in photo and print form.