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Friday, May 30, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events May 31 to June 6

Here are my top picks for free events scheduled Saturday, May 31, to Friday, June 6.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

Kimberly Senella, tournament director at Brookside Golf Course, says Pasadena residents will be welcome as spectators at the LAPD Memorial Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament Saturday, May 31, at 10 a.m. Park free at Lot 3. Dennis Quaid will be the celebrity host and several other celebrities will play in the tournament.

Family Fun Day at La Pintoresca Park and La Pintoresca Branch Library Saturday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include entertainment, face painting, arts and crafts and much more. 

Free Family Night at Kidspace Children's Museum is Tuesday, June 3, beginning at 4 p.m. There will be Irish-themed activities for your little ones and a 6:30 p.m. performance of Irish music and dance.

Baritone Aram Barsamian will perform Wednesday, June 4, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon concert series.

The Academy Award-winning film "The Hours" (2002, PG-13) starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Ed Harris will be shown in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library Wednesday, June 4, at 1 p.m.  Three generations of women are affected by the novel "Mrs. Dalloway."

More than 100 motorcycle officers from police agencies throughout Southern California will compete in the Pasadena Police Motor Competition Thursday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Lot F at the Rose Bowl Stadium. Spectators are welcome and food will be available for purchase.

Admission to the Pasadena Museum of California Art is free the first Friday of every month from noon to 5 p.m. On Friday, June 6, see the current exhibitions "June Wayne: Paintings, Prints and Tapestries" and "Time, Space & Matter: Five Installations Exploring Natural Phenomena" as well as everything else the museum has to offer.

You don't have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to see "The Heat" (2013, R) there Friday, June 6, at 1 p.m. starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. An uptight FBI special agent is paired with a Boston cop to take down a ruthless drug lord.

The first Friday of every month is free admission night at Norton Simon Museum. On Friday, June 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. see the current special exhibitions "In the Land of Snow: Buddhist Art in the Himalyas" and "Face It: The Photographic Portrait" as well as everything else the museum has to offer.

Norton Simon Museum presents the award-winning film "The Cup" (1999, G) Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. in the theater starring Orgyen Tobgyal and Neten Chokling. The film was inspired by the true story of young Buddhist monks swept up in the fever of the 1998 France vs. Brazil World Cup. (Tibetan with English subtitles.)


Make Music Pasadena will feature 150 musical acts on stages throughout Old Pasadena, the Playhouse District and in between Saturday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Pasadena Public Library's Summer Reading Challenge begins Saturday, June 7, and continues all summer long with plenty of activities for children, teens and adults. When you click on the link you'll see tabs for each age group.

Photo credits: IMDB, Waymarking, Lion Alert, Kidspace Children's Museum, La Sierra University, Guide Live, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Norton Simon Museum, Framingham Public Schools.

Monday, May 26, 2014

In Memory of My Fallen Ancestors - Updated from Memorial Day 2013

Whatever your plans are today, Memorial Day, please remember to honor the sacrifices of America's fallen military heroes. 

The photo above is of my fourth great-grandfather, Major John Bennett Dickson (1793-1876), who served in the War of 1812 under General Andrew Jacksonfirst in the 1814 Creek War and then at the Battle of New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815, the final battle of the War of 1812, where he was wounded. Had he been killed, I wouldn't be here.

This painting of the Battle of New Orleans is by the lithograph firm Kurz & Allison

Born in North Carolina, he moved to Bentonville, Ark., as a young man and became a prominent businessman. He later moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and helped establish the square in what is now that city's historic downtown district, where he owned a successful mercantile business. A widower, he raised several of his 12 children in Fort Worth.

Two of his sons, my third great-grand uncles Dempsey Powell Dickson (1843-1862) and Ephraim Albert Dickson (1840-1862), followed in their father's footsteps and volunteered for military service. They enlisted with the Texas Confederate Cavalry during the Civil War.

Dempsey, having enlisted upon leaving college in 1861, was killed in the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862. 

This painting depicting the battle is by Andy Thomas.

When John Bennett Dickson learned that Texans slain on the battlefield had been rolled in their blankets and buried apart from other soldiers, he sent a relative to have Dempsey's body exhumed and moved to the Dickson family cemetery near Bentonville, Ark. 

On July 8, 1862, Ephraim, who was his father's business partner, was shot through the head during the Skirmish at Paroquet Bluffs in Arkansas, which was also part of the Pea Ridge campaign.

He was buried at Paroquet Bluffs with other Texan soldiers, and later his father had his body moved to the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

Crippled by grief due to the loss of his two youngest sons, John Bennett Dickson closed his mercantile store and spent the rest of his life as a recluse on a farm near Fort Worth.

* * *
This photo is of Elizabeth Gaines Easley (1818-1894), my second great-grandmother, who was married to my second great-grandfather Joseph Easley Jr. (1805-1883). (Easley is my maiden name.)
It is difficult to imagine their reaction and subsequent grief upon receiving word that two of their beloved sons, my great-grand uncles Hamilton Easley (1837-1862) and William Easley (1841-1862), had been killed while serving side-by-side on the same day during the Battle of Perryville -- Oct. 8, 1862.

This sketch of the Battle of Perryville by Henry Mosler appeared in Harper's Weekly on Nov. 1, 1862.

Hamilton and William had enlisted in the Union Army together in August 1862. They served as privates in the 15th Regiment, Company B of the Kentucky Volunteer Infantry.

Hamilton's military records state that he stood 6 feet tall, had a light complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. There are no records of his burial; he is presumed to be buried somewhere at the Perryville Battlefield.

According to William's military records, he stood 6 feet, 1 inch tall and also had a light complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. He is buried in the Easley family cemetery near Harrisonville in Shelby County, Kentucky.
Hamiton's and William's brother, my great-grandfather Edward Merritt Easley (1846-1903), survived the Civil War, which is why I am here. He served in the Union Army's 20th Regiment, Company B and as a corporal in the 30th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Company G.
He fought in several Civil War battles and skirmishes, including the Battle of Lebanon and the Battle of Shiloh.

This drawing of the Battle of Shiloh appeared in Harper's Weekly:

Before the Civil War Edward Merritt Easley was a successful real estate agent.
After the war, he began showing signs of what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder and could not do much more than manual labor.

These kinds of disorders were misunderstood back then, and no treatment was offered by the U.S. government. He was still exhibiting behavioral issues when he married my great-grandmother, Ellen May Crouch Easley, in 1881 in Linn Creek, Missouri (they settled in his hometown of Lebanon, Mo.). She was only 16 and he was 34. She and their children simply had to put up with these ongoing issues, which became worse over time.

Finally, in 1902, he was admitted by court order to the Federal Soldiers Home in St. James, Missouri.

From there he was admitted to State Lunatic Asylum #3 (a horrible name) in Nevada, Missouri, where he died in 1903.

May Easley became a widow at age 39 with five children to raise, including my beloved paternal grandfather Jesse (Jess) Harper Easley (1891-1983). 

Jess served in France during World War I on the Western Front at Ch√Ęteau-Thierry and Belleau Wood.  Thankfully he survived -- another reason why I'm here.

This photo of American troops at Hill 24 at Belleau Wood is in the National World War I Museum:

There are many other stories of people in my family line who served in wartime, from the American Revolution to World War II.

I won't tell all the stories now, but I'm glad to have an opportunity to honor a few of them today.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events May 24 to 30

Here are my top picks for free events scheduled from Saturday, May 24, to Friday, May 30.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

Individuals and families are invited to put on your helmets and ride your bikes over to Hastings Branch Library Saturday, May 24, at 10:30 a.m. You'll learn life-saving tips from experts in bicycle safety and receive a complimentary bike inspection and tune-up.

The California Senior Games Championships are May 24 to June 29 with 28 competitive sporting events from archery to volleyball for men and women 50 and older. Come cheer them on!

Pianists Fureya Unal and Judy Huang will perform piano music for four hands Wednesday, May 28, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon concert series. 

The 2009 HBO film "Taking Chance" starring Kevin Bacon and the 2005 documentary film "Arlington: Field of Honor" will be shown in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library Wednesday, May 28, at 1 p.m. 

Journey with rail travel expert Tom Savio on Spain’s Al Andalus luxury railway Wednesday, May 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Distant Lands. Savio is the author of "The World's Great Railway Journeys" and "Extraordinary Railway Journeys."

With the theme Answering the Call of Duty, ordinary citizens, police officers and firefighters who have demonstrated extraordinary courage will be honored Thursday, May 29, at 1 p.m. during a very special awards ceremony at Ambassador Auditorium. Come hear the incredible stories about Pasadena's first responders and hero citizens and honor their efforts to safeguard our community.

The 1963 film "The Great Escape" starring Steve McQueen and James Garner will be shown Thursday, May 29, at 3:30 p.m. at La Pintoresca Branch Library.


The Pasadena Public Library system's Summer Reading Challenge begins Saturday, June 7 and continues all summer long with plenty of activities for children, teens and adults. When you click on the link you'll see tabs for each age group.

Photo credits: Green Traveller, Pasadena Senior Center, Biola University, HBO, Corbis, Ambassador Auditorium, LMdC, Framingham Public Schools.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events May 17 to 23

Here are my top picks for events scheduled from Saturday, May 17, to Friday, May 23.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

For Bike Week Pasadena's final event, experience downtown Pasadena in a whole new way as you walk, ride your bike, skate or use another non-motorized means of transportation through the streets of our community with other individuals and families Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. beginning at Pasadena City Hall. Registration is required. There will also be an organized bike ride with Mayor Bill Bogaard, who is an avid biker. Afterwards, stay and watch the top professional cycling teams with the AMGEN Tour of California as they race into Pasadena.

Teens will explore writing flash fiction during the Teen Creative Writing Workshop Saturday, May 17, at 2 p.m. at Pasadena Central Library. Writing experience is not required. Selected stories will be featured on the library blog and the new Teen Zine. 

Readings, author talks, performances and more will take place in the byways, bookstores, wine bars, theaters and streets of the Playhouse District as LitFest on the Prowl kicks things up Saturday, May 17, from 5 to 10 p.m.

Are you a closet florist who loves beautiful blooms? On Sunday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to noon in the courtyard at One Colorado, professional florist Stephanie Shur will lead Flower Arranging 101, a workshop for amateurs who want to hone their skills in flower arranging. Flowers and supplies will be provided. RSVP to with your name, email address and phone number. 

The Gamble House and Pasadena Museum of History are among the institutions that will participate in the 25th annual Museums of the Arroyo Day Sunday, May 18, from noon to 5 p.m.

See 140 vintage and modern Ferraris spanning three blocks on Colorado Boulevard between Raymond and Pasadena avenues in Old Pasadena during Concorso Ferrari Sunday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Clinging desperately to a masquerade of southern grace, Blanche DuBois's world comes apart in a spiral of violence and madness, A presentation by an LA Opera community educator Monday, May 19, at 1 p.m. at Pasadena Senior Center will explore the adaptation of the opera "A Streetcar Named Desire" from Tennessee Williams's classic play. You don't have to be a senior or a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.

In honor of Memorial Day, La Pintoresca Branch Library will screen the Academy Award-winning best film "The Longest Day" (1962, G) starring Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda and John Wayne Monday, May 19, at 3:30 p.m.

How can astronomers study what they can't see? Dr. Andrew Bensen, George Ellery Hale distinguished scholar in theoretical physics at The Carnegie Observatories, will describe the many ingenious ways astronomers have found, and continue to find, to understand the nature of dark matter, an invisible substance that holds together galaxies and clusters of galaxies Monday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. at A Noise Within as part of the observatories' 2014 Astronomy Lecture Series.

Random Acts of Music, the flash performance group from Pasadena Symphony & Pops, will be at Hastings Branch Library Wednesday, May 21, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Classical guitarist Isamu Nakashio will perform Wednesday, May 21, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon concert series.

Steve Kurtz, founding member of Critical Art Ensemble, will discuss the collective's use of scientific and sociological experimental methods to promote social change and create new cultural possibilities and how the meaning of experimentation has recently expanded in the arts Wednesday, May 21, at 6 p.m. at Caltech's Baxter Hall (#77 on this map).

In honor of Memorial Day, La Pintoresca Branch Library will screen the Emmy Award-winning film "Tuskegee Airmen" (1995, PG-13)" starring Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding Jr. Thursday, May 22, at 3:30 p.m.

From modest beginnings nearly 80 years ago to state-of-the-art propulsion systems on 21st century spacecraft, technologies at Jet Propulsion Laboratory have advanced dramatically through the decades. JPL's Todd J. Barber will highlight the history and the future of propulsion as it applies to solar system exploration Friday, May 23, at 7 p.m. in the Vosloh Forum (building UU on this map) at Pasadena City College. 

Photo credits: Cool Hunting, First Covers, LitFest Pasadena, The Gamble House, Examiner, Chicago Lyric Opera, Great American Things, National Geographic, Pasadena Symphony & Pops, Isamu Nakashio, The Influencers, AOPA Aviation Summit, NASA.