Search This Blog

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mystery History -- Solved!

In the January 1990 photo above, a U.S. Department of Agriculture technician in protective gear passes a gardener on Coronet Avenue in Pasadena, one of many areas where malathion was sprayed to exterminate medflies. It was sprayed in neighborhoods where fruit trees are common.

Beginning in February 1990 our community became a test case for the rest of the nation in ongoing battles between the City of Pasadena, the State of California and the Federal Government after Gov. George Deukmejian ordered helicopters to fly low over Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, to spray the pesticide over houses, pools and gardens.

The State of California insisted that malathion posed no danger, and yet they warned everyone to stay indoors and cover their vehicles. That mixed message had people confused and upset.

A few people didn't mind:

But most in the community did, including a coalition of environmental groups and grass-roots protesters.

''There's a growing unease about the safety of long-term exposure to malathion,'' City Councilman Rick Cole told the L.A. Times. "'There's also a sense that the state has displayed an arrogant disregard for the right of citizens to informed consent, The state is saying, 'We know what we're doing and it's none of your business.' And Pasadenans, like most Americans, don't like being pushed around.''

There was little -- and sometimes no -- warning before the aerial spraying, which often wreaked havoc.

For example, the outdoor ball for Ambassador College's final graduating class was ruined when, with no warning, a squadron of low-flying helicopters from the California Department of Agriculture buzzed the event, spraying the chemical all over the campus. All the food and refreshments had to be destroyed and the party was over.

The Pasadena Board of Directors (now called the City Council) adopted an ordinance banning aircraft from flying lower than 700 feet and informed the governor's office of the new law.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was the only agency with authority to regulate aviation.

"We'll see about that," said Mayor Bill Thomson. "We're in court over this matter and we'll find out who's right."

"The whole point of this ordinance is to stop them from flying in tight formations over our city. That's what's dangerous," Councilman Bill Paparian said. "We think we have all the authority we need."

The City Council was gunning for bear!

This colorful little guy was at the center of the controversy:


And then it happened.

Pasadena Police Lt. Terry Blumenthal, one of our helicopter pilots (now retired), got word at 1 a.m. that six state helicopters, flying in formation, were heading toward Pasadena with more than 1,000 gallons of malathion.

In an effort to enforce the new city ordinance, Terry got into a Pasadena PD helicopter and tried to intercept the state helicopters.

Here's a photo of Terry taking off that night:

The transcription of part of the recorded conversation between Terry and one of the state helicopter pilots:

Terry: We have you flying in formation below 700 feet, in violation of Ordinance Number 9.42.010. I have to ask you to cease and desist.

State pilot: Affirmative. We acknowledge your transmission.

Terry: Are you going to keep on spraying?

State pilot: Correct.

Terry, in a lone helicopter against a phalanx of six, flew back to the Pasadena PD heliport and issued a citation to the State of California for violating the ordinance.

Media worldwide picked up the story.

Here's a better photo of Terry in the pilot's seat preparing to take off for an observation mission, along with

And this is the little guy that was at the center of all the controversy!

Many thanks to the Pasadena Museum of History and my own files.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my children. . .

. . .my grandchildren. . .

. . .that I had parents who loved me. .

. . .and that I have siblings who are very dear to me.

I have been truly blessed.

"Freedom From Want" painting by Norman Rockwell.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will sleep better for having done so!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mystery History -- Solved!

I'm calling a tie between Wonder Wanda, who specified the Old Mill at Busch Gardens and some sort of movie-making, and Barbara Field, who was spot-on with the name of the movie.
In the 1915 photo above, Charlie Murray, Vivan Edwards and cast stand in front of the Old Mill at Pasadena's Busch Gardens in the Arroyo Seco for a scene in the film "Hogan's Aristocratic Dream."

The Old Mill still stands, although it is now on private property.

Mack Sennett brought cast and crew to the location for production of the film short.

Here's an excerpt from the book "Mack Sennett's Fun Factory" by Brent Walker:

Tramp Hogan, with his bum "valet" Dunn, dreams he is living the life of royalty in an 18th century setting but is awakened by farmer Haye's pitchfork.

In addition to the Old Mill, the film's locations included the Grecian pergola. . .

. . .arroyo fountain. . .

 . . .and rustic bridge.

I haven't found a clip online of Hogan's Aristocratic Dream. I hope it's not lost to the ages!

Many thanks to Pasadena Museum of History and Pasadena Public Library.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win my undying devotion. Remember to leave your guess but not the entire back story (that's my job)!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What's the Future of Water in Pasadena?

In celebration of 100 years of water provided by the City of Pasadena, and in partnership with the Arroyo Seco Foundation, Pasadena Water and Power will host a very important panel discussion tomorrow evening:

A Future for Water in Pasadena and California
Tuesday, Nov. 13
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Armory Center for the Arts

I'll be moderator. The panelists will include the following:

This is a photograph shot inside Pasadena's Windsor Reservoir near JPL. Windsor is one of several underground facilities that store our natural water supply (that's PWP Water Engineering Manager Brad Boman leading a tour):

And pump operations at Jones Reservoir under Hamilton Park:

PWP provides about 10 billion gallons of water to 161,300 customers in Pasadena and some surrounding areas.

More than 40 percent is pumped from our local groundwater supply, made up of surface water from streams, rivers, lakes and rain that enters through the ground and into the Raymond Basin, a natural water-bearing zone. 

Most of our other water comes from MWD via the Colorado River and from the vast delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in Northern California, treated at the Weymouth filtration plant in La Verne and piped into Pasadena.

With so much concern about current shortfalls in supply and predictions of more long-term drought, PWP's Water Integrated Resources Plan is a blueprint for the continuation of reliable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible water supply for the next 25 years, taking into consideration available and alternative supplies, demand forecasts, conservation and more. Is the WIRP enough?

Aerial shot of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta:

Chronic environmental ills have befallen the delta and there are ongoing debates about related State of California water policies.

And water remains a huge issue globally.

So come over to the Armory Center for the Arts tomorrow evening and let's talk about the future of water!

Park next door in the city-owned parking structure where the first 90 minutes are free.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mystery History -- Solved!

Although there were some creative guesses, I stumped everybody this week.

In the 1910 photo above, a float passes by during the Shriners Electric Parade, which took place in Pasadena that year because the annual Shriners National Conclave was here. Other years it was everywhere from New York to L.A.

Thousands of incandescent bulbs were used to outline the designs of the floats.

This is the only other photo I have of the 1910 parade in Pasadena; can you find the people on and next to the float?

The floats were built on large wooden flats with wheels and operated by overhead trolley wires, which supplied the power.
Just for fun, here's a Pasadena & Pacific electric trolley car at Colorado Street and Raymond Avenue in the late 1800s, operated by those very same wires:

Many thanks to the Pasadena Museum of History.