April 1st, 2020

carole lombard 03
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Be a good American. Come to your Census.

Meet Jane Alice Peters (right), 11, of 605 North Harvard Boulevard, Los Angeles. Jane, of course, is better known as Carole Lombard, the actress name she adopted when entering the film industry in the mid-1920s (and a name she'd take for official in the fall of 1936). While I believe this was taken in 1919, Jane was duly recorded the following April in the 1920 United States Census:

Jane is the youngest of three children, all of school age. Movie buffs will note a neighbor of theirs -- Delmer Daves, who later gained renown as a screenwriter and director.

Push the clock ahead a decade, and we find some changes in the Peters family.

Jane Peters, shown at left with an unnamed friend, now is known (for census purposes, at least) as Carole Peters; after some ups and downs as an actress, she just latched on with Paramount Pictures, whose studio on Melrose Avenue is a convenient drive for her from the family's resident at 139 South Wilton Place, at the eastern edge of Hancock Park.

Now let's go ahead another 10 years to 1940, and we find Carole not only is a top-tier star in her own right, but is married to the movies' premier box-office attraction (and her second husband), Clark Gable:

She and Clark call the San Fernando Valley home, specifically a ranch on Petit Avenue in Encino she had purchased from director Raoul Walsh the year before:

That would mark the last time Lombard was noted in the census, although Gable would be listed at that address in 1950 and 1960. (Those records will be made public in 2022 and 2032, respectively.)

Why are we noting all of this? For a very good reason. Today marks the unofficial census day for the U.S. in 2020 (don't get uptight, however; today is the reference day, not a deadline).

What's in it for you? Well, you help your community count in terms of federal funding, legislative redistricting and the like. Pretty important stuff. And while the coronavirus pandemic has postponed, canceled or rescheduled all sorts of things, the 2020 census will go on, although many fear an undercount, especially in minority or ethnic communities.

Fortunately in these days of social distancing, census takers don't have to walk through neighborhoods, canvassing residents in search of sundry information. (In 1990, I assisted the U.S. Census in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem, Pa., going through an apartment complex predominantly comprised of natives of India -- it seemed as if two-thirds of those I canvassed had the last name of "Patel.")

Many of you may have received a census form in the mail, though you can also respond online.

Frequently asked questions about the census process are at https://2020census.gov/en/what-is-2020-census.html?cid=20002:%2B2020%20%2Bus%20%2Bcensus:sem.ga:p:dm:en:&utm_source=sem.ga&utm_medium=p&utm_campaign=dm:en&utm_content=20002&utm_term=%2B2020%20%2Bus%20%2Bcensus. A sample form can be found at https://2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html?cid=20002:%2B2020%20%2Bus%20%2Bcensus:sem.ga:p:dm:en:&utm_source=sem.ga&utm_medium=p&utm_campaign=dm:en&utm_content=20002&utm_term=%2B2020%20%2Bus%20%2Bcensus.

Before responding, get the details at https://2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html?cid=20002:%2B2020%20%2Bus%20%2Bcensus:sem.ga:p:dm:en:&utm_source=sem.ga&utm_medium=p&utm_campaign=dm:en&utm_content=20002&utm_term=%2B2020%20%2Bus%20%2Bcensus. The form is at https://my2020census.gov, and takes about 10 minutes...a small price to pay for aiding your community.

Lombard noted in 1938, "I gave the federal government 65 percent of my wages last year, and I was glad to do it, too. ... Income tax money all goes into improvement and protection of the country. ... I really think I got my money's worth."

The census helps federal and local governments apportion all that money. Make certain you're counted to help your area. Carole wouldn't have it any other way.

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