Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Holidays in South Pasadena

by Laurie Allee

Next week will mark 9 years since Jon, Raine and I moved to South Pasadena.  I will always remember our first Christmas in our new house.  We managed to decorate a tree and wrap presents, but 2-year-old Raine was more interested in all the new sinks she could use to "wash the decorations."  Needless to say, there were a lot of soggy bows.  (In fact, we never did turn the faucet back on in the living room wet bar.)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Craftsman Homes of South Pasadena

Take a look at some of South Pasadena's Craftsman homes

If you move to South Pasadena, chances are you have an affinity (possibly bordering on obsession) for the Arts and Crafts movement. You’ll find hundreds of Craftsman homes in these few square miles, one after another, tucked humbly under generations-old shade trees like little zen mushrooms.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Look up.

I think the one thing we can agree on about this election season is that we are all exhausted by it.  So,  regardless of your political views, let's stand on common ground together, look up, and reach for our better angels.  

Want to leave a message? Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum to start a conversation! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Halloween in South Pasadena

Halloween in South Pas

I get nostalgic around Halloween.  

More than any other holiday, Halloween reminds me of life's brevity.  How quickly kids grow up: last year's fairy costume doesn't fit, someone's too old to dress up like a pirate, this year the neighbor's giant blow-up monster no longer seems menacing...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Along the Arroyo Seco

Along the Arroyo Seco

The Arroyo Seco is much more than a weird concrete channel used by local skateboarders. Although the Spanish name roughly translates to “dry stream bed,” it usually flows with several cubic feet of water per second, and occasionally swells to near capacity with the runoff of an erosion-prone 46.7 square mile watershed. It starts near Mount Wilson in the Angeles National Forest of the San Gabriel Mountains and winds its way between La Canada Flintridge and Altadena through Pasadena, alongside the western boundary of South Pas and onward into the bigger concrete confines of the Los Angeles River north of Downtown LA. The Arroyo Seco stream assists in replenishing the Raymond Basin aquifer underlying Pasadena.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Horsing Around San Pascual Stables

Like the old west, just minutes from Downtown LA.

You'd think living next to a world-class equestrian center would be great.  But you know what it means to me?  Hearing the words:

"Can we have a horse?  Pleeeeeeeeeeeasssssse?!?!?!?" 

every single time we drive by.

San Pascual Stables is located right in the thickety brambles of the Arroyo Seco.  Specializing in Hunter/Jumper training, the riding academy and boarding facilities also host a pretty darn great kids' birthday party.  Just get ready for endlessly repeating:

 "No!  For the last time!  We can't have a horse!" 

You have been warned.

Want to leave a message?  Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum to start a conversation!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Exploring Oaklawn in South Pasadena

Explore Oaklawn with me!

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."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bell Epoque

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!")

For the most comprehensive history of South Pasadena, you can't beat South Pasadena, A Centennial History by Jane Apostol.

Want to leave a comment?  Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Recommended Reading List of South Pasadena Authors

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:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

South Pasadena: City with a View

A little city with big views...

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."

But ladies insisted that they be included, too...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Musings for a New School Year

My, how they've grown...

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...

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Post for Fellow Treehuggers...

Trees, trees and more South Pasadena trees!

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:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

South Pasadena Family Tree

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...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

South of Huntington

Check out the neighborhoods south of Huntington

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...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Art in the City

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.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Walking Around South Pas Neighborhoods...

So many different kinds of houses!

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.)

Isn't it pretty here?

Want to leave a comment?  Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!  

Friday, July 15, 2016

South Pasadena Portrait

Take a look at the faces of South Pasadena

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?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mayberry Noir

"It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in."
--Raymond Chandler

Come prowl around South Pasadena after dark with me...

Want to leave a comment?  Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Everyday Miracles

It's hard not to get caught up in the horrors of recent news.  I find my solace and inspiration in the ever-changing sky.  Clouds part.  Darkness turns to light.  

And for a few brief moments every day, it's magic hour.

Want to leave a comment?  (Come on.  Don't be shy.  I can see you thinking about it...) Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation.  (Or just say hello!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Explore South Pasadena's Historic Buildings

Then and now...

The Los Angeles region doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to preserving landmarks.  Despite the efforts of dedicated preservationists, many architectural wonders have been lost to the wrecking ball.  The Richfield Tower, The Brown Derby, The Garden of Allah, and The Ambassador Hotel are just a few of the historic structures that have been demolished in the name of progress.  (Many South Pasadena residents were worried that our very own Rialto Theater would meet the same fate.  Luckily, for now, that disaster seems to be averted.)

You won't find points of interest once the last art deco tile or Spanish arch has been hauled off to a landfill -- a parking lot here, a nondescript office building there.  What's left behind is a creeping blight of utilitarian sameness that has earned Los Angeles the title of "Strip Mall Capital of the World."  We've gained a lot of dry cleaners and nail salons, but we've lost a lot of our history and perhaps more than a little of our soul.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The South Pasadena Festival of Balloons Fourth of July Parade is Coming!

Buckle up, vintage car afficionados, and take a sweet ride in the South Pas 4th of July Parade

From the 7:00AM Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast to the 9:00PM South Pasadena High School Fireworks Show, July 4th in South Pasadena is jam-packed with all-American, small town goodness. There are many great things about the day's events, but I'm partial to the parade.  (It starts at 11:00AM downtown on Mission Street.)  Take a look at my video above for a vintage car lover's dream array of sweet rides, all gussied-up-for-the-4th.

Click here for a complete schedule of all the activities.

The only thing better than watching the parade is marching in it!

Want to leave a comment?  (I know you do.  I see you lurking.)  Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Classic Cars of South Pasadena

Buckle up, and go for a ride with me...

I see a lot of vintage cars cruising around South Pasadena.  They always remind me of our place in Southern California's transportation history.

I wrote all about it for Patch a few years ago.  You can read the article here.

Want to leave a comment or say hello?  Head over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Beautiful Decay

I have always looked upon decay as being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth.
--Henry Miller

Want to leave a comment? Head over to the Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Walking South Pas

This little guy is ready to walk all the way to Santa Monica...

Los Angeles has a reputation for not being terribly pedestrian-friendly.  While I certainly can't deny the reality of Southern California's car culture, I do think that much of LA's walkability is underrated.  South Pasadena offers a great little pocket of strolling splendor.  Besides the abundance of neighborhood sidewalks, there are great paths to hike around the stables, golf course, Lower Arroyo Park and skate park as well as rumored steps up the hillside in Monterey Hills.  (I haven't found those yet!)

And the bonus: you can walk over to your bike, get on it and ride along the Arroyo up to the Rose Bowl loop.  You can also walk over to Mission Station and hop on the Gold Line.  (I love to go to downtown LA and have drinks at this place.  No designated driver, cab or Uber necessary ... just feet and rail.  Take that, NYC!)

Last year my family took the train to Union Station, where we then took Amtrak to Santa Barbara for our vacation.  Imagine that: a SoCal vacation without a car.)

By the way, longtime readers will wonder about the little white dog in the photo.  Meet Rocky!  He's the newest addition to the Allee family.  He has already (literally) left his mark all over South Pasadena.

Check out this current exhibit of Car-Free Photography at the South Pas Library!

I see you lurking, people!  Head on over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Keeping up With Gus's BBQ

Gus's regulars will recognize this sign from the back room wall...

LA Eater recently featured a fantastic article about South Pasadena's very own Gus's BBQ, and they even included the above photo of mine.

Jon and I have a joke that if it hadn't have been for Gus's, our family might have starved when Raine was a barely-sleeping toddler.  We still have a collection of their plastic kiddie drink cups with lids, just perfect for car rides.  (Thanks, Gus's!) 

One thing the LA Eater article doesn't mention is Gus's utterly amazing wait staff.  Not only are these people super friendly and awesome at remembering weird menu requests or modifications, but they always have recommendations for people with food restrictions and they never, never, never freak out when your kid throws her plastic kiddie cup to the floor.  At least not in front of the customers.

I've included quite a few pictures of Gus's over the years.  Check them out here.  And check out Gus's menu and take-out/catering options here.  (The restaurant may be over 70 years old, but it's technologically hip.  You can order online!)

Want to leave a comment -- or wax rhapsodic about Gus's cornbread?  Head over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Community Forum and start a conversation!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gated Grandeur

This mysterious gate leads to a Florentine palazzo-inspired mansion designed by Reginald D. Johnson and built in 1916 as a winter residence the distinguished John S. Tanner of Chicago.  (How could Mr. Tanner ever go back to the hectic windy city after spending the holidays strolling around this dreamy spot?)

Known for years as the Tanner-Behr house, it was later dubbed Villa Arno by another owner, referring to both Italy as well as to her husband Arno Behr.  (I personally call it Villa Incognito, for obvious reasons.)

Want to leave a comment? Head on over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Forum and start a conversation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Homes Sweet Homes

I've been charmed by the homes in South Pasadena ever since my husband and I actually bought one of them and moved here 8 years ago!  I made the video above several years ago, highlighting some of the varied and beautiful houses around town.  I've been busily shooting more home pictures, so there will be a Part 2 video coming very soon.

Want to leave a comment? Head on over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Forum and start a conversation!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Storybook House

Every time I think I've found a favorite house in South Pas, I find yet another one that I adore.  This one is right out of a fairytale, don't you think?

I'm in a South Pasadena Home Tour kind of mood these days, so look for more shots of picturesque homes.  It's no wonder so many film crews shoot in and around our city.   Here's my highlight reel of famous South Pas film and TV production settings:

Want to leave a comment? Head on over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Forum and start a conversation!

Friday, June 10, 2016

When a Utility Box is More Than Just a Utility Box

Have you wondered why all the utility boxes in downtown South Pas suddenly transformed into colorful works of art?  We have the South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC) to thank for repurposing the dull box surfaces into whimsical public art pieces.  Here's a quote from SPARC about the project:

Traffic signal boxes, usually painted drab grey or green, have been enhanced and transformed into creative artworks in many cities around the country. The City of South Pasadena, in its update to the Strategic Plan has identified Art and Culture as one of its goals going forward. One of the recommendations was to include more public art throughout the City. As a result the City awarded SPARC funding to support the creation of the first ten (10) boxes.  The first boxes have been completed and this is Phase II, which includes an additional 10 traffic signal boxes.

Keep a look out for new boxes to be created in Phase II.  And if you are an artist with a perfect idea for a box, you can submit your proposal.  The deadline is June 24, 2016. ( Learn more and download an application here.)

I can't pick a favorite box among those in the collection, but the one above makes me smile every time I walk past it to go to Wells Fargo or Starbucks.  (For those of you wondering about South Pasadena's fascination with ostriches, here's a little history.)

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan (and member!) of SPARC.  The group's mission statement sums it up well:

SPARC promotes the arts in order to recognize local artists as a rich resource within our city and build appreciation and understanding of the value of the arts within the community.

SPARC is not only about public art projects, but also visual art exhibitions, music and dance events, as well as much needed school and community arts advocacy. A bonus? SPARC has some of the most fun, wine-filled soirees you'll ever attend.  If you're an artist, writer, filmmaker, musician or just all-around lover of the arts, I encourage you to join us.

I'll showcase more of the boxes here soon.  In the meanwhile, here's a map of where to find them around town.

Want to leave a comment? Head on over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Forum and start a conversation!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

So Many Parks, So Little Summer...

Kicking it at South Pasadena parks...

When Jon and I moved to South Pas 8 1/2 years ago, our daughter -- who many longtime readers still think of as Little Bit -- was only 2.  That meant many, many, MANY sunkissed afternoons spent in local parks.  

Of all the choices in South Pas -- from the newish playscapes at Lower Arroyo to the vast, green goodness of Garfield -- I was partial to Eddie Park.  Little Bit is 11 now,  and totally over "the park with the outdoor fireplace and the good slide," but occasionally she will still appease her mom and go there to kick around a soccer ball.  (Before wanting to head home to play Minecraft.  Tweens!)

Eddie Park is a quaint, quiet Marengo neighborhood park with a stretch of grass just right for tossing the frisbee or having a picnic.  It rests on the lawn of an elegant, moody old house that looks like it should be inhabited by the ghosts of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.  Go there for a charming little hideaway picnic or, if you have a 2 year old, a good slide.

For a peek at all the other parks in South Pasadena, check out my video above.

Want to leave a comment? Head on over to the new Glimpses of South Pasadena Forum and start a conversation.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mission Station

I haven't taken the brand new Expo Line from downtown LA to the beach yet, but I'm already an old fan of South Pasadena's Gold Line which now goes all the way out to Azusa and will eventually end up in Montclair.  I can't resist taking pictures whenever I wait at Mission Station.  Those columns!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

City with a View

I love grand, sweeping panoramas. For a city of only a few square miles, South Pasadena has an amazing number of beautiful views. (I actually wrote about it for Patch a few years ago.) Sure, a postcard view is an easy shot for a photographer when all you have to do is point your camera at a beautiful setting.

But what a payoff!

Former South Pas residents who have moved away often write me asking to post photos of specific views. A reader living in China asked if I had any stormy views from Monterey Hills looking toward the San Gabriels. Will you settle for snow?  Here you go...

For some truly remarkable view shots, check out The Library of Congress Panoramic Photograph Collection, 1851-1991. The images feature cityscapes, landscapes, bridges, waterways, natural disaster overviews and some pretty amazing old group portraits and beauty contests. I often go down the internet rabbit hole of vintage images.  Check out this great old shot of South Pasadena's historic Raymond Hotel. And for those of you who once read my Castle Green post, here's a great vintage image of Pasadena's famous Hotel Green. These photographs give us a long view of world history and offer a fantastic window into our shared past.

A version of this post was originally published in 2012

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Taijitu Revisited

Duality fascinates me. I love the way two seemingly incongruous things can exist together in a kind of light/dark, up/down symbiosis. Just think about how boring life would be if we only had the angel on one shoulder demanding that we mind our manners and eat our vegetables. Without that little devil on the other side encouraging us to speak out and choose the hot fudge (and maybe add a shot of cognac,) we'd never see the world in all its complexity: good and bad, full and empty, safe and dangerous.

South Pasadena is a great study in the yin/yang idea of opposites fitting together within a greater whole. On the one hand, we have all the small town baseball and apple pie goodness of a Norman Rockwell painting, but we're tucked into the exquisite chaos of greater Los Angeles -- and that keeps us from becoming treacly or naive.

Low and high, male and female, backwards and forwards ... interacting opposites that manifest the whole. Somewhere in the grey area, we find balance. Aristotle described it as the Golden Mean, "the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency." After I eat my broccoli, I'll lift my brandy snifter to that idea. How could we have balance without something else on the other side of the scale?

Originally posted in October, 2009

Friday, April 8, 2016

Welcome to South Pasadena

Welcome! You've found my virtual front porch.

For over four years, I posted a photo every day from South Pasadena -- Los Angeles' little town in the big city.  If you look through the archives you will find my daily musings, a few rants, a lot of history, some interesting little details and several thousand views of early 21st century South Pas.  I still live in and love my town, and still post new images monthly. I'm surprised to see so many page hits for a blog I no longer regularly update. Thanks for your interest!

You can click the label links to the bottom right for specific subjects, or just wander around. Everyone knows South Pas is a great place to explore...

Thanks for stopping by!

Best of Glimpses: A Hometown Poet Named Henry G. Lee

In the early morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Within hours they had also attacked the U.S. forces stationed in the Philippine Islands. Five days later, the South Pasadena Review reported that Lieut. Henry G. Lee of South Pasadena was safe in Manila. Henry was a member of the 31st US Infantry Regiment, and had been posted to the Philippines in 1940.

At the time of the surprise attack, The United States was unprepared to defend the Philippines. Henry was captured when the Japanese overran the Bataan peninsula. In February of 1942, he wrote his family this letter from Bataan:

I have seen some horrible things happen, and have had my share of narrow escapes, but I have also seen some very wonderful acts of courage, self-sacrifice, and loyalty. And I have found what I have searched for all my life—a cause and a job in which I can lose myself completely and to which I can give every ounce of my strength and my mind. And I have mentally and spiritually conquered my fear of death.

My prayer each night is that God will send you, who are suffering so much more than I am, His strength and peace. During the first few days of war I also prayed for personal protection from physical harm, but now I see that is something for which I have no right to ask, and I pray now that I may be given strength to bear whatever I must bear, and do whatever I must do so that those men under me will have every reasonable chance.

Life and my family have been very good to me and have given me everything I have ever really wanted, and should anything happen to me here it will not be like closing a book in the middle as it would have been had I been killed in the first days of the war. For in the last two months I have done a lifetime of living, and have been a part of one of the most unselfish cooperative efforts that has ever been made by any group of individuals... If the same selfless spirit were devoted to world betterment in time of peace, what a good world we would have.

Henry survived the Battle of Bataan. He held on through the horrors of the Bataan Death March. During his internment at the Cabanatuan prison camp, he recorded his experiences through a series of poems. He wrote them in a children's school book and later buried the book beneath a hut in the prison camp. On the first page, Henry wrote this preface:

I make no pretense to being anything other than a layman, who, during an intense mental and physical experience, found verse the most effective means of recording his reactions—and incidentally, of ridding himself of some otherwise almost unbearable emotions. The best I can say of the majority of these poems is that they are as true as I could make them; the worst, that they are not written by a talented nor experienced poet.

Henry's quiet modesty was upstaged by the poignant music of his poetry. While he may have defined himself as a soldier, he revealed himself as an artist. In the dark days of war, Henry's verses reflected a true poet's inner light.

Somewhere there lives a woman I suppose
Who once was you. All night I fought my brain,
All night with burning eyes that ached to close
I probed the whirling darkness while the rain
Played on the nipa with a rhythmic stamp,
And as forgotten memories seared my heart
The restless mutter of the prison camp
Mocked at the empty years we’ve been apart.
But now the hills that race the tropic dawn
Across a sky ablaze with pagan joy
Have touched me with their strength. Though you are gone
I guard one treasure nothing can destroy—
Across a spring green, a sunlit campus lawn
A golden girl laughs with her dark-haired boy.

A few months before the camp was liberated, Henry and 1617 other prisoners were sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila to work as slave laborers. After several months of hard labor, illness and near starvation, Henry and the others were placed on an unmarked Japanese ship. Thinking it was a legitimate target and unaware of the POWs on board, the U.S. attacked. Henry survived.

The prisoners were loaded onto another unmarked freighter called the Enoura Maru. Lieut. Henry G. Lee was killed when the U.S. sank this ship in Formosa on January 9, 1945.

In July, 1942, Stephen Vincent Benet included Henry's letter to his parents in a popular radio series called Dear Adolf. The letter was read for broadcast by actor William Holden, a private in the US Army and Henry's former classmate at South Pasadena High School. You can listen to the broadcast here.

Although Henry's body was never brought home, his poetry book was eventually recovered. In 1948, Henry's parents Thomas and Mable G. Lee published his poems and letters in a book titled Nothing But Praise.

If Henry G. Lee's life had not been cut short by war, might he have gone on to become one of America's great literary voices? Perhaps he would have come back to South Pas, claimed his golden girl and, in his own words, worked with "the same selfless spirit devoted to world betterment in time of peace." We'll never know.

I could not know the meaning nor the way,
I was not one with all that time must end,
Until one hopeless, joyless, bitter day
I looked at unmasked death and saw a friend.

--Henry G. Lee, 1915-1945

*  *  *
Originally published at Glimpses of South Pasadena on Memorial Day, 2011