Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pasadena: City of Learning

Pasadena: City of Learning is a monthly gathering of representatives from this community's major educational institutions -- from PUSD to PCC to Caltech -- plus JPL, arts and culture institutions, non-profit organizations with educational missions and the City of Pasadena.

P:COL encourages a climate for lifelong learning in Pasadena based on the unique resources here. It's a collaborative, community-building effort that has resulted in partnerships that otherwise may never have been possible.

For example, Scott Ward of Armory Center for the Arts is actively involved in grant-writing for new programs at Washington Middle School along with an advisory group made up of other institutions, neighborhood and community leaders, and community partners; and the Pasadena Education Network recently conducted a workshop to teach local parents to be effective leaders and volunteers in their children's elementary, middle and high schools, which impacts student achievement.

And, of course, there's this Saturday's first-ever competitive collaboration among Pasadena's institutions of higher learning.

This morning's meeting of P:COL was in the Crawford Community Forum at Southern California Public Radio's new headquarters on South Raymond Avenue, followed by a tour of the KPCC studios.

My long-time friend Larry Mantle was in studio preparing to go on the air with his daily "AirTalk" show, and he came out and gave me a hug when he saw me with the tour group. He's celebrating 25 years with KPCC!

Larry and I go way back to the days when he was the original moderator on "City Beat" in the early 1990s.

My most fun experience with Larry: When he and Larry Wilson of the Pasadena Star-News graciously agreed to appear together in the Pasadena Follies a few years ago as co-anchors of a TV news broadcast during an earthquake. The skit was really cute (if I do say so myself), along with singing and even dancing. They were really good sports. I wish I had the photos at my fingertips! I do have it on video if you want to stop by sometime and take a look.

The photos of the meeting this morning are mine. Many thanks to Terry Miller of the Pasadena Independent for the photo of SCPR, and to KPCC for the photo of Larry Mantle.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win a fabulous prize!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

I'm awarding this week's fabulous prize to Cindy for her 7:03 a.m. Tuesday answer "WWII (1943) Rose Bowl. The sheep were used to keep the grass short until games could begin again." (Cindy, please e-mail me at with your contact information and I'll tell you about the prize.)

Actually, the photo is undated and there is no cited information that it was shot during World War II, but sure enough, there was a time when sheep were used as natural lawnmowers to keep the Rose Bowl Stadium's field turf at a manageable length.

For many years sheep were part of the landscape in the Arroyo Seco, from the Indiana Colony days until the early 1910s.

In the photo below, a herd grazes at what was known as Sheep Corral Springs on the hillside area at the site of the present-day Brookside Park.

When the Indiana Colony was established, water from the springs was delivered via pipeline to orange groves and homes in the vicinity. The water rights to the springs were owned by the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association, made up of 12 of the colonists.

I feel compelled to write all about water in the early days but I'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win a fabulous prize!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

JM in Pasadena nailed it. (Email me, JM, to claim your fabulous prize!)

In the photo above, Mrs. C.G. Wopschall christens the USS Pasadena during launching ceremonies at Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Mass., on Dec. 28, 1943.

Mrs. Wopschall's husband was the mayor of Pasadena at the time. Here's his photo from the Hall of Mayors:

The ship was launched that same day.

The USS Pasadena was commissioned into official World War II duty in autumn 1944 to take part in the Pacific operations against Japan, during which she escorted aircraft carriers as they hit targets in the Philippines, the South China Sea and other areas. She also provided gunfire support during the difficult campaigns to capture Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and was in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945.

Here's a photo of the ship entering Pearl Harbor in 1948.

The very first rendition of her official emblem was designed by Walt Disney himself.

She was decommissioned in 1950 to begin two decades in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1970 and sold for scrap in 1972.

She was the second USS Pasadena, the first having been commissioned into World War I service in 1918.

And the third USS Pasadena is a U.S. Navy submarine that is in active service with its home port at Pearl Harbor. Her emblem is an updated version of Disney's original drawing, including a rose.

My dad was a Navy man, so this kind of thing is very close to my heart.

Many thanks to the Naval Historical Center and the USS Pasadena Foundation.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The person to come closest to guessing correctly will win a fabulous prize!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pasadena Urgent Care Center

This is an artist's rendering of the Pasadena Urgent Care Center. Construction is underway at 3160 E. Del Mar Blvd., just west of Madre Street in East Pasadena where such a center is needed. We had a groundbreaking ceremony on March 3.

Here's the money shot with the officials and their golden shovels. City Manager Michael Beck is third from the left, our city architect Segun Abegunrin second from the right, Mayor Bill Bogaard is two down from Segun, and Dr. Takashi Wada of our Public Health Department is next to Mayor Bogaard. The other smiling faces in the shot are those of officials from our partner agencies in this effort, including Huntington Medical Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (CHAP).

The City of Pasadena owns the property, Huntington Medical Foundation will operate the urgent care center and CHAP will have a primary care clinic there. The center will operate on a trial basis for an initial period of five years.

We'll invite everybody to the grand opening toward the end of this year.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

I stumped everybody again this week. It was hardly fair, actually, because as I mentioned in the original post, looks can be deceiving.

In the photo above, shot November 20, 1951, U.S. Marine T/Sgt. James B. Nash Jr. visits with Pete Meston, 13, of the Wilson Junior High School Band.

I told you this one would probably throw you. Here's why.

Nash wasn't a Pasadenan; he was from Durham, North Carolina, and had been awarded the Silver Star while fighting in the Korean War.

He was at Pasadena City Hall along with 23 soldiers from 18 nations who traveled around the country on a United Nations tour to bring attention to the importance of donating blood and purchasing defense bonds.

The GIs were from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Greece, India, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, New Zealand and the United States of America.

Mayor Alson Abernethy greeted each one personally.

Here's an excerpt from the Pasadena Star-News:

The flags of 18 nations flew in the City Hall plaza today when 23 decorated soldiers of the United Nations fresh from the fighting in Korea stopped in Pasadena on a nationwide tour.

They came to the Crown City, a living demonstration of United Nations' unity, as part of a coast-to-coast drive to stimulate contributions to the Red Cross blood bank and the sale of defense bonds.

Police cars escorted the cavalcade of automobiles into the plaza while the Wilson Junior High School band serenaded from the City Hall steps. Each car bore the name and nation of its occupant on its doors, from the front left fender of each car flew the U.N. flag and from the front right fender flew the national colors of each soldier.

Mayor Alson E. Abernethy termed the visitors "veteran heroes of Korea" in his welcoming remarks.

He told them of another Korea veteran, Marine Cpl. Bob Gray, who was grand marshal of last January's Tournament of Roses parade.

"He not only won the hearts of 1,500,000 people, but he won the heart of one of our fairest princesses," Mayor Abernethy said, referring to Corporal Gray's marriage to Rose Princess Betsy Josi.

"If you could stay longer maybe we could fix you up, too," he said.

The mayor said he knew the veterans would "be bombarded by more mayors than they were by shells in Korea" during their tour, so he ended his brief remarks with a simple reminder that "the mission you are on now is as important as any you have had in the past."

All of the 23 sailors, soldiers and airmen in the group, sponsored by the Defense Department, were recipients of medals in the Korea war...
Cpl. Robert S. Gray was the grand marshal of the parade on Jan. 1, 1951, after Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, had to bow out when he returned suddenly to military duty to assume command over NATO forces. As a last-minute replacement, Eisenhower and the president of the Tournament of Roses Association wanted to pick an active duty U.S. military man who had been wounded in service to his country. What a great honor for this young Marine, who represented all of the armed forces in Korea as he waved to the crowds.

And here's the Rose Queen and her Royal Court. I don't know know which one is Betsy Josi. I do know it was a whirlwind romance: They were married March 30, 1951.

In keeping with my tradition, here's the portrait of Mayor Abernethy from the Hall of Mayors:

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Tournament of Roses Association.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Everybody Loves a Big Red Fire Engine!

Pasadena firefighters and paramedics were out in force shortly before 1 p.m. yesterday when a big rig jack-knifed on the 210 Freeway near the Lake Avenue exit. There was a 20-gallon diesel fuel spill, an overturned vehicle with a person trapped inside, and another person trapped in a separate car. There were four injuries but thankfully everybody will survive. Officers from the Pasadena Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were on hand as well to lend their expertise to coordinating traffic during the incident, and Caltrans assisted with the hazmat cleanup. It's what we train for!

On Saturday the community came to Fire Stations 38 and 39 in District 6 for the dedication of shiny new fire engines.

People of all ages took a turn in the driver's seat.

Two long-retired former Pasadena firefighters, whose names I'm ashamed I didn't get, were at the Station 39 ceremony.

And here's our youngest future firefighter!

Look who was in town and came to Station 38 -- Bernard Melekian, Pasadena's former police chief who now heads up the federal COPS office for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. City Manager Michael Beck is on the left.

Kent Shocknek, a local resident, stopped by. Fire Chief Dennis Downs is on the left.

Drop by any Pasadena fire station one of these days and say hello to the men and women who help keep us safe every day!

Many thanks to the Pasadena Fire Department for the top photo.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win a fabulous prize!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Fair warning: This one's not as obvious as it looks in the photo, so think way outside the box! I promise I'll make it easier next week.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Looking for Something to Do?

Saturday, March 6, from 8:30 to noon – Jan Sanders, director of the Pasadena Public Library system, and Pasadena City Attorney Michele Bagneris will be among the panelists at the League of Women Voters forum “Access to Impact: Using Open Government to Create Change” at the Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd. The community forum addresses access to information issues around local open government from the perspectives of the media, libraries, city governments and civic organizations.

Saturday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m. – A very special mural depicting by noted artist Luis Ituarte will be unveiled on an exterior wall at 181 E. Orange Grove Blvd. between Marengo and Fair Oaks.

Saturday, March 6, at noon and 2 p.m. – Shiny new fire engines will be dedicated – the first at noon at Fire Station 38, 1150 E. Linda Vista Ave., and the second at 2 p.m. at Fire Station 39, 50 Ave. 64. Bring the kids for a chance to see the new rigs up close, meet Fire Chief Dennis Downs and talk to firefighters!

Monday, March 8, at noon – One City, One Story* event: “Gardens of Water” community book discussion in the Research Conference Hall at Huntington Hospital, 734 Fairmount Ave.

Wednesday, March 10, at 10:30 a.m. – One City, One Story event: Enjoy Turkish adventure folktales featuring Keloglan, Nasreddin Hoca and Kazan presented by the Pasadena Museum of History and featuring local storyteller Sunny Stevenson at San Rafael Branch Library, 1240 Nithsdale Rd.

Wednesday, March 10, at 1 p.m. – One City, One Story event: The documentary film “Inside Islam” will be screened in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut St.

Thursday, March 11, at 3:30 p.m. – One City, One Story event: Enjoy tales and songs from the Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian, Greek and Jewish traditions of ancient Anatolia presented by storyteller Alidz Agbabian at Lamanda Park Branch Library, 140 S. Altadena Dr.

Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. – One City, One Story event: Does “Gardens of Water” accurately portray Muslim-Christian relations? Find out during a discussion with Dr. Evelyne Reisacher, assistant professor of Islamic studies and intercultural relations at Fuller Theological Seminary, in Payton Hall (room 101) at Fuller, 135 N. Oakland Ave.

Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m. – One City, One Story event: Dr. Joann Stock, professor of geology and geophysics at Caltech, and “Gardens of Water” author Alan Drew will discuss the nature of the 1999 Marmara Quake, its aftermath and human toll at Caltech’s Cahill Center for Astronomy and Physics, 1216 E. California Blvd. Special tours of Caltech’s seismology lab will be offered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

* Click here to learn all about this year’s One City, One Story novel “Gardens of Water” and complete information about the author, a full calendar of events and more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

I stumped everybody this week.

The Nash Bros. Grocery Store was founded by Iowa-born A.K. and J.D. Nash in 1889 on the south side of Colorado Street. It became a social gathering spot where customers would stop by to visit with each other over a cup of coffee or tea, then shop for their groceries.

The Nashes were pillars of the community. J.D. Nash sat on the first charter commission in 1886 to establish the equivalent of a constitution for the City of Pasadena; Lydia Nash (Mrs. A.K. Nash) was a founder of Pasadena's Shakespeare Club and led the committee that raised money for the bronze statue of the Civil War soldier in Memorial Park.

On Dec. 1, 1895, the Nash brothers ran this ad in the Los Angeles Times:

Another ad, which I don't have a copy of but do have the text from a newspaper article about it, reads:

Are Your Chickens Sick? They ought not to be. They should be laying 2½ cent eggs. We have chicken medicine that will cure roup, swell head, cholera or most any disease."
Another ad told of a customer whose rooster -- slated to be Christmas dinner -- headed for the hills, after which the customer settled on two quarts of fresh oysters from Nash Bros.

Here's the exterior of the store in about 1900:

In 1921 the business morphed into general merchandise, becoming so successful that the Nash family built a two-story building at the northeast corner of Colorado Street and Broadway (later named Arroyo Parkway), where the AT&T building stands today. By then the name of the store had changed to F.C. Nash & Co. to reflect the next generation. In the photo below, the store is on the right under the American flag during the 1926 Rose Parade (click on the photo to enlarge it):

And here's a 1930 photo:

Frederick C. Nash had two claims to fame: (1) he was a civic leader and successful entrepreneur who took the family business into the future; and (2) in 1920 he founded Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena.

A few years later F.C. Nash's son, Hammond G. Nash, became president of the company and in 1950 expanded the business even futher, creating a Nash's chain with department stores in Pasadena, Alhambra, Arcadia, Whittier, Fullerton and Pomona. Here's a photo of the Pasadena store circa 1960, which by now was in a three-story building about a block east:

Carrying on the family tradition of volunteerism, Hammond Nash was active in the Community Chest, Pasadena Boys Club, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce.

Unfortunately the Nash reign began to unravel when the Pasadena store was destroyed in a fire. Forgive the quality of the photo below – I snapped the picture from a photocopy of a May 11, 1976, L.A. Times article about the fire.

Here’s an excerpt of that article:

A $1.5 million fire roared through Nash’s Department Store, a Pasadena landmark on Colorado Blvd., Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of more than 100 employes and shoppers and jamming the business district with onlookers.

The blaze apparently started in a trash can in a storage area in the hosiery department at the rear of the main floor about half an hour after the store opened at 10 a.m., firemen said.

One store employe was injured when she fell as she and a dozen other female workers clambered down a fire escape at the front of the structure. . .

. . .Three firemen were admitted [to Huntington Memorial Hospital] suffering from smoke inhalation. A fourth was treated for cuts on the forearm and released.

Clouds of smoke blanketed the downtown Pasadena area and could be seen for miles. . .

. . .The blaze was battled by a total of 75 fire fighters from Pasadena, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park, South Pasadena and Glendale.

At least 20 off-duty firemen who heard about the blaze were also on the line in civilian clothes.

Despite speculation that someone might be trapped inside the building, fire fighters who cautiously surveyed the weakened structure after the fire found no bodies. . .

. . .Traffic near the scene, just a block from Pasadena’s Civic Center, was tied up for hours. Police cordoned off Colorado Blvd. near the store, which is between Euclid and Marengo Ave.

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The person who comes closest will win a fabulous prize!

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.