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Friday, December 20, 2013

Mystery History -- Solved!

Karen wins with her 3:57 p.m. guess "Looks like someone dressed as Aladdin, Ali Baba or Sinbad contemplating the place where he will sit on a Rose Parade float, which hasn't been covered with flowers yet."

In the Jan. 2, 1933, photo above, a young man in an east Indian or middle eastern costume (it's hard to tell) covers a seat on a float for the 44th Rose Parade.

Unfortunately I couldn't find which float it was. The photo description simply states, "Young man in costume constructing a Tournament of Roses Float, Pasadena, 1933." Of course he wasn't constructing the float -- he was doing some finishing touches.

There are photos of some of the 1933 floats and dignitaries here.

The theme of the parade that year was Fairy Tales in Flowers. Mary Pickford was the grand marshal -- the first woman to be selected for this honored role. . .

. . .and Dorothy Edwards (sitting at top) was the Rose Queen.

The parade making its way down Colorado Boulevard:

Fast forward 81 years and the theme of the Jan. 1, 2014, Rose Parade is "Dreams Come True."

Vin Scully will be the grand marshal (which means he'll also toss the coin at the opening of the Rose Bowl Game). . .

. . .and the Rose Queen is Anna Marie Acosta (center).

Do you have your tickets?!

Oh, and be sure to stop by one of the float-decorating areas to see the flowers and other plant materials being painstakingly put on by hundreds of volunteers.

Do you know there was one year when the Rose Parade was canceled? On Dec. 14, 1941 -- one week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor -- it was decided that the 1942 Rose Parade would not take place for reasons of national defense and civilian protection. The Rose Bowl Game, between Duke and Oregon State, was played on the opposite side of the country in Durham, N.C. The streets of Pasadena must have been eerily quiet that day.

On Jan. 1, 2012, it was the thrill of a lifetime when I rode on the Kiwanis International float in the Rose Parade thanks to my wonderful friends.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win lunch with me -- I'll buy yours and you'll buy mine.

Remember, leave your brief guess as a comment on this blog but don't try to give the entire back story (that's my job).

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Farewell, Erika...


Erika, you passed away at 2:50 p.m. yesterday. Your sister Emily said the Moore Brothers' Now Is the Time for Love was playing.

You had been on life support since Sunday when you were discovered unconscious at home. None of us could grapple with the fact that an unexpected, deadly issue had been lurking, silently and undetected, before it struck you down in the blink of an eye.

How can it be that our vibrant, beautiful friend is gone? Our hearts are broken.

You were so creative in every aspect of your life, from fashion to art. At an early age you discovered through photography that you could see the world and light in a whole new way.

You earned a degree in photography from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in 1995. Your works can be found in galleries and private homes, as well as in the books Greene & Greene: The Passion of the Legacy by Randell Makinson and Greene and Greene by Edward Bosley.

You were among the guests at my retirement party in 2012. We had such a wonderful time that night at the Castle Green! I love this photo of you swing dancing with Ed Razor:

You were crowned queen of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade in 1999. Here you are (center) with some other former queens at the 2013 parade -- Kavita Sharma, Rosie SchoenMichelle Mills and Dianne Patrizzi.

A child is never supposed to precede her parents in death. It's just not the way the universe is intended to work. But you did, leaving behind your mother Janeen Marrin, your father Jim Marrin, your sister Emily and her children Lucy and Leo whom you adored so much.

It seemed nothing could separate you and your dad. . .until now.

Last night when a few friends gathered with Jim, Janeen and Emily to hold them close, I leafed through this book that was on the dining table. It brought me a sense of comfort.

Some time ago you opted to be an organ donor. So you have given the ultimate gift of hope to a half dozen people who will live longer and fuller lives because of your selfless generosity. They and their families will be forever grateful.

Farewell, Erika. It was my honor and privilege to know you. 

 This is not the end; you will live on in our hearts and minds.

Photos are from Kavita, Erika's Facebook page and my own archives.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mystery History -- Solved!

Liz wins with her 6:28 p.m. Tuesday guess "Building the Green and Green Gamble house on Orange Grove."

David Berry Gamble, the son of Proctor & Gamble co-founder James Gamble, commissioned architects Charles and Henry Greene to design a home in Pasadena that would become a permanent residence where he would live out his days with his wife Mary.

They lived in Cincinnati where Gamble had taken over the reins at Proctor & Gamble years before, retiring in 1895 and spending several winters at Pasadena resort hotels. In 1907 David and Mary purchased a lot on Westmoreland Place along "Millionaires Row"; Greene & Greene completed the design of The Gamble House  in February 1908 and ground was broken the following month.

Charles (left) and Henry Greene:

Here's an invoice from the builder:

The completed house -- view from the north:


One of the terraces:

By summer 1910 the custom-designed furniture, artfully executed metalwork, luminous art glass windows and light fixtures were in place.


The coolest staircase ever:

After David passed away in 1923 and Mary in 1929, the house was occupied solely by Mary's sister, Julia Huggins. Following her death in 1946, Cecil and his wife Louise moved into the house and made plans to sell it.

When they learned the prospective buyer planned to paint all of the interior teak and mahogany woodwork white, they put a halt to the sale. They were well aware of the historic and artistic significance of the house and decided to keep it in the family.

Twenty years later the Gambles deeded the house to the City of Pasadena, which owns it to this day*; it is managed by the USC School of Architecture.

The Gamble House today:

The Gamble House is a national historic landmark and the only one of the Greenes' works open to the public. All of the original furnishings and fixtures designed by the architects remain in place. 

The Gamble House is open for regularly scheduled and special tours, all led by docents. Note to women planning to wear heels: Don't do it! You'll be required to take them off and don unattractive booties to preserve the wood flooring.

And the bookstore in the original garage is a must-visit!

* The City of Pasadena owns several other high-profile properties, including the Wrigley Mansion, the former National Guard armory occupied by Armory Center for the Arts and the lands on which the Norton Simon Museum and the Pasadena Senior Center are located.

Many thanks to the Greene and Greene Archives at Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens and the Gamble House.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?
The first person to guess correctly will win lunch with me -- I'll buy yours and you'll buy mine.
Remember, leave your brief guess as a comment on this blog but don't try to give the entire back story (that's my job).
I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mystery History -- Solved!

Loren wins with his 8:40 a.m. Tuesday guess "Well, there was a Thrifty on Colorado down close to City Hall, right? So it could be an anti-littering ad campaign that was shot on Colorado."

The April 11, 1955, newspaper photo above from The Independent is captioned "The litterbug in action." Of course the photos were staged.

Here's another photo from the article:

The Independent conducted what's now called an eyeball survey -- a reporter stood at various locations on Colorado Boulevard and observed.

Here's the article:

The litterbug nuisance along Pasadena streets, which has brought complaints
from many citizens here, was traced in part to the city's sparing use
of trash receptacles, in a survey conducted by The Independent.
Citizen indifference was a big factor, however. Some downtown strollers
were observed taking a dozen steps to drop empty cigarette packets in gutters,
when they were within three steps of a trash receptacle.
Citizens who were both lazy and indifferent failed to make the gutter.
They dropped papers underfoot on the sidewalk.
Some conscientious strollers carried crumpled up waste paper
for a block, looking in vain for a trash can. Some looked furtive
and conscience-stricken as they finally flicked their problem into the gutter.
City health officials have warned many times that accumulated
food wrappers, peelings and sandwich bits, lately standard items
along Pasadena's streets, are tempting come-ons for rats,
which grow fat and multiply when food is conveniently left out for them.
Rats aren't the only animals that forage for their food. Dog packs,
stray cats, insects, vermin, all head for the cast-off piles in the gutters.
In one block east of Allen Avenue, there are more mail boxes than trash boxes.
Another constant source of street litter is the outdoor eating places
and drive-in restaurants in some locations where careless eaters toss refuse to the winds.

I imagine the desks of city officials were littered with complaints about litterbugs at the time!

In modern times there is a trash receptacle at just about every block -- one at every bus stop.

There are also more than 40 of these Big Belly solar-powered trash compactors around town:

Leadership Pasadena brought a proposal for the compactors to the Public Works Department in 2007 as a possible environmental project, which led to a pilot program with four placed at key locations, followed by the Pasadena City Council approving the purchase of 36 more in 2009.

They take up as much space as ordinary trash receptacles but have five times the capacity and compact the trash using the power of the sun.

So note to those 1955 litterbugs: You have no excuse 58 years later!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?
The first person to guess correctly will win lunch with me -- I'll buy yours and you'll buy mine.
Remember, leave your brief guess as a comment on this blog but don't try to give the entire back story (that's my job).
I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mystery History -- Solved!

Bellis wins with her noon Tuesday guess "Starting to build the Church of the Angels?"
In the April 20, 1889, photo above, the cornerstone of the Mission of the Church of the Angels on what is now the Pasadena side of Avenue 64 is placed by Frances Campbell-Johnston as the vicar and parishioners look on. Construction was completed on Sept. 29, 1889. 
The site was once part of the Rancho San Rafael acreage. The mission became a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 1901 and has been called Church of the Angels ever since.
Design and construction were funded by Frances Campbell-Johnston as a memorial to her husband, Alexander Robert Campbell-Johnston, and a place of worship for the people of Garvanza, now known as Highland Park. She and her husband were the last owners of Rancho San Rafael.
 Here's an 1893 photo showing landscaping, pathways, a stone wall and a horse-drawn carriage:
A major restoration and retrofit was completed in 1990.
Church of the Angels today:
 The sandstone on the exterior was quarried in the San Fernando Valley and the clock on the 44-foot tower was produced by the Seth Thomas Clock Company.
The architect, Arthur Edmund Street, was inspired by the church at Holmbury St. Mary, a village near Surrey, England.
I'll leave you with some photos of the spectacular interior with its redwood and stained glass:

There is so much more information I could impart, but I'll leave it here for now.
Petrea has a couple of related posts on her blog.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?
The first person to guess correctly will win lunch with me -- I'll buy yours and you'll buy mine.
Remember, leave your brief guess as a comment on this blog but don't try to give the entire back story (that's my job).
I'll have the full scoop on Thursday. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mystery History -- Solved!

Karen wins with her 8:39 p.m. Tuesday guess "From the looks of that sago palm, I'm guessing it was a tea house at the Green Hotel?"
In Tuesday's post I cropped the photo, so here it is in full frame.
The Green Tea Pot was a restaurant in the 1920s inside the Hotel Green, now known as the Castle Green.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a photo of the café inside the hotel. But thanks to Pasadena Central Library, we do have some context by way of some articles in the Los Angeles Times.

Nov. 16, 1924:

Nearly $200,000 has been spent in remodeling the Hotel Green, famous Pasadena hostelry, and the Castle Green Apartments, adjoining that hotel, according to Charles B. Hervey, owner and manager of the Hotel Green. The hotel is now operated under the European plan the year around.

The Green Tea Pot Café is maintained in conjunction with the Green, offering excellent service. Mr. Hervey, who also is associated with F. W. Paget of San Diego in the management of the Maryland in that city, anticipates an unusually heavy business for the winter season.

Here's an ad in the L.A. Times on Feb. 27, 1925:

This item in the Oct. 20, 1926, edition of the L.A. Times is the first to indicate a name change:


The Green Tea Pot, unique café of the Hotel Green in Pasadena, has been enlarged to double its former capacity, now seating 250. Henceforth, it will be known as the Colonial Café of the Green. The chef and crew of the Colonial Café of the Green (all women), formerly of the Samarkand of Santa Barbara, are serving dainty home-cooked foods. Chafing dish luncheons and Saturday evening dinner-dances are featured. Mr. Alfred Koch, former steward of the Samarkand, is in charge.

Jan. 12, 1927:


The new and enlarged Colonial Café of the Hotel Green in Pasadena is attracting many large luncheon and dinner parties. It is fast becoming the center of the social life of that section of Pasadena, according to Manager J. Manning Murfee. Dainty menus prepared by a trained crew of women cooks are featured.

There has not been a restaurant there in decades, but the ballroom of the Castle Green has been the site of hundreds of happy catered occasions.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mystery History

With apologies for not posting since July, where are we and what's happening?
The first person to guess correctly will win lunch with me -- I'll buy yours and you'll buy mine.
Remember, leave your brief guess as a comment on this blog but don't try to give the entire back story (that's my job).
I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.