In 1904, a brand new residential development was taking shape in a peaceful orange grove at the northern end of South Pas. Although it contained only one large oak tree, it was called Oaklawn. "The good life," South Pasadena Realty and Investment Company promised, "is in South Pasadena."
Now that the 2016-17 academic year is well underway, I thought I'd let you in on a little South Pas school history...
This gorgeous bronze bell was cast in 1889. It was the original bell for South Pasadena's Center Street School -- the first school in the city. In 1928, the bell was installed in the tower of the brand new brick building designed by Norman Foote Marsh. That building now houses the offices of the South Pasadena Unified School District, but until 1979 it was known as El Centro School.
The tower was removed for earthquake safety reasons in 1949, but the bell was saved and mounted in front of the school. For decades, graduating sixth-graders would march from the auditorium to the front lawn and strike a celebratory blow on the old bell as a rite of passage. (I have no proof, but I'll bet at least one teacher said "Don't chime in all at once!")
I'll bet most people in South Pasadena have no idea that they are living side by side with some pretty amazing authors. From children's books to political commentary, history to literary fiction, the scope of books penned by South Pasadena writers is vast and wonderful.
From time to time, I will highlight a few of these published works. Support your local writer! (And when I finally finish my first novel, you can bet I'll be asking you to support me.)
Here are a few of my picks for a well-rounded Fall 2016 reading list:
If you looked in the skies above South Pasadena in the fall of 1913, you might have seen aerialist Roy Knabenshue's amazing dirigible. Sailing over 800 feet in the air, the flying machine thrilled locals. For a whopping cost of $25 a ride, a brave traveler could experience what the press reported as "a daring adventure with spectacular views!"
Knabeshue, the first person to fly a dirigible in the United States, certainly knew he had picked a crowd-pleasing location. The majestic San Gabriel Mountains were nestled in a lush, green valley. It was an ideal setting to conduct pleasure flights for "brave gentlemen."
It's back to school time. Most of South Pasadena's kids are putting their noses to the grindstone in SPUSD's public schools. Others are attending private progressive schools like Waverly, Waldorf and Sequoyah or the highly academic Polytechnic. Some are in charter schools. A few are homeschooling. A few are even unschooling. But each child is preparing for a future we all hope is bright, happy and prosperous...
I want to thank readers Johnny and Greenman for emailing me after yesterday's post on the library tree. You guys asked if I had any video slideshows of my many (many!) tree pictures? I aim to please...
But before you click on the above video, I am reminded of my very favorite South Pasadena tree story:
Ever wonder about the history of the majestic Moreton Bay fig tree outside the South Pasadena Public Library? It certainly seems primordial -- like a remnant of our earth's distant past. My daughter once said that she thought the tree surely must have been around when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Even though I could imagine generations of pterodactyls making nests in that beautiful tree, I knew it wasn't that ancient. But I was genuinely surprised when it was revealed a few years ago that the tree is barely 100 years old...
When I first moved to South Pasadena, I thought the city's southernmost border was Huntington Drive. It's a logical assumption: Huntington is a major thoroughfare. It seems like some kind of line of demarcation.
As it turns out, the corner of Huntington and Fair Oaks was once the junction of the Pasadena Short Line and the Monrovia Line -- two important Big Red Car trolley routes. After Henry E. Huntington incorporated the Pacific Electric Railway Company in 1901, he began work on what would eventually develop into the largest interurban electric rail system in the world...
Take a look at the public art on display in South Pasadena
I love being part of such a creative community here in South Pas. I've already mentioned my love of the South Pasadena Arts Council. Membership in SPARC is a great way to connect with the city's artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and art afficianados. But it's also fun to be reminded of South Pasadena's rich, artistic history ... and there are hints of it at every turn.
During the Great Depression, Federal Relief agencies put many South Pasadena residents to work on projects ranging from building the control channel to constructing the high school fine arts and science buildings. The powers-that-be realized that communities not only needed structures to have good function, they also needed them to have beautiful form.
When I first moved to South Pasadena from the west side, I couldn't get over how beautiful it was. It's not that my former neighborhood near the Santa Monica Airport wasn't nice. It was great. But South Pasadena had so many different kinds of houses nestled among so many different kinds of trees ... it was kind of overwhelming. In a good way. I started exploring my neighborhood on foot, and kept walking until I'd covered most of the sidewalks in town.
Here I am, almost 9 years later, still looking around with a sense of wonder. (My dog Rocky is always game to join me on a walk.)
One of the things I love the most about my 116-year-old house is the large beveled mirror above the mahogany built-in. There are a few dings in the frame, but the mirror is crystal clear, and the bank of nearby windows offers the kind of soft-glow lighting that makes every day a good hair day. In the century since my home was built, a lot of people have looked at themselves in that mirror.
So how, exactly, has South Pasadena's reflection changed?
In December of 2007, after many years on the west side of Los Angeles (and at least a third of those years spent stuck in traffic on Pico Boulevard) my family settled into a happy little house in South Pasadena. This daily blog covered over 4 years as I put down roots in my new home town. While I no longer blog every single day, I add new posts every week.
For over 4 years, I presented a picture a day from South Pasadena, California -- an incorporated city within the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. All photos up to November, 2008 were taken with a Fujifilm Finepix E900 camera. I added a Fujifilm Finepix S2000HD megazoom in December 2008, a Nikon D3100 in 2010 and a Lumix DMC-DS8 in 2011. I shot with them all. In August 2010 I joined the iPhone camera craze and included pictures captured by my phone. I regularly cropped images and used basic editing software to adjust the brightness, intensify the contrast, and increase color saturation. Other than that, all images came straight from the camera with minimal alteration. (If I couldn't have done it in a darkroom, I wouldn't do it with a computer.)
In 2012 I took a break from the blog. I came back in 2016 and now post weekly with images from my Nikon, Lumix and iPhone 6.
The bigger picture:
Consider it a love letter to the place I call home.
You can click on any picture to see a larger version.
All photos and prose on this blog copyright Laurie Allee. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited. (Plus, it's really uncool.)
LA:Other. Inside the City ... Outside the Box. Check out my LA Stories, Photos and Video.
May, 2016: Thanks to the dedicated group of you who have continued to email me about resurrecting Glimpses, I am back! Check weekly for new posts, and be sure to visit the brand new Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forums and start a conversation.
July, 2014: It's been a long haitus but I'm ready to get back to my blogging roots! My new blog LA: Otheris officially launching in September. This blog will be very similar to Glimpses, but will include all of Southern California as a subject, not just my beloved back yard. I am also going to post a few video pieces as well as still photography, which will be cross posted on YouTube. (And, of course, there will be my usual commentary.) Also, as much as I loved daily blogging, I've got too much on my creative plate to keep it up at LA Other. Less is more, right?
Thank you Charlie's Coffee House for hosting my photo exhibit, South Pas: Observed. From October 2011 through January 2012 my pictures graced the walls of the best place in town to get a cup of coffee!
Read the nifty story on photo bloggers Petrea Burchard, Ben Wideman, Kat Likkel and little old me featured in the September, 2011 issue of Pasadena Magazine.
Novel lovers, look out! Everybody's favorite San Gabriel Valley daily photoblogger Petrea Burchard takes us on a journey back to King Arthur's 'hood in her wonderful debut novel Camelot and Vine. (If you don't fall madly in love with her smart-ass narrator, you definitely deserve to be put into an iron maiden.) Be sure to keep up with Petrea at her legendary blog, Pasadena Daily Photo, AKA: Living Vicuriously.
And while we're on the subject of great takes on old themes, be sure to pick up a copy of Margaret Finnegan's delightful debut novel, The Goddess Lounge -- undoubtedly the kookiest, most wonderful riff on Homer's Odyssey ever written. Margaret never ceases to inspire and make us laugh at her blog Finnegan Begin Again. Her book is magical, silly, smart and a wonderful love letter to the all the goddesses among us.
Kevin McCollister of East of West LA blows our minds with haunting images of Los Angeles. But since we can't put his blog on our coffee table, we can buy his fantastic book. I believe Kevin's images truly capture the quixotic and often heartbreaking soul of LA. Don't take my word for it, see what The LA Times had to say.