Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

Karin wins with her 10:33 a.m. Tuesday guess "The Mother Goose Pantry Restaurant on Colorado Blvd, built 1929. Nathaniel West used it as inspiration for the Cinderella Bar in Day of the Locust."

From the looks of the photo above, the proprietor had so many patrons she didn't know what to do! But I doubt she beat them all soundly and put them to bed.

Diners were seated on the ground floor and in a dining room upstairs.

The architectural style is known as roadside vernacular, which dotted the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century.

Sure enough, one of the settings in "The Day of the Locust" by Nathanael West is the Cinderella Bar, shaped like the iconic glass slipper but made of stucco, where female impersonators entertain the clientele. The novel, published in 1939, takes place in Hollywood during the Great Depression. There's also a film based on the novel, produced in 1975.

And now there's a (rather tacky) collectible version of the Mother Goose Pantry.

For some reason there's not much information to be found about Mother Goose Pantry. There is conflicting information on the Internet about what year the restaurant was constructed and what the address was, but there's definitely agreement that it was built sometime in the 1920s somewhere on Colorado Boulevard.

So I turned to Dan McLaughlin, one of our crackerjack researchers at Pasadena Central Library, who looked in old city directories. These wonderful books were published for many years and can serve as a pretty good snapshot into the history of specific addresses.

Mother Goose Pantry is listed in the 1927 city directory as being at 1955 E. Colorado Blvd. So I'm taking that address as gospel. It was on the north side of the street near Berkeley Avenue, about three blocks east of Allen Avenue.

Here's a vintage menu from the Mother Goose Pantry that I found on an auction website, but I'm afraid I lost track of which one (it wasn't eBay). I wish an image of the inside of the menu had been included.

Thinking of constructing a building in the roadside vernacular style? Make sure the property's zoned for that!

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library.


Anonymous said...

You know, when I googled the shoe-- because I'll go to any lengths to win this thing-- (I think I put in Mother Goose, Shoe, Pasadena), I was led to all sorts of other architectural oddities, some still standing.

Bellis said...

Great detective work, Ann. Well done Karin - I can recommend the T shirts.

nobody said...

Sorry to bother you but you may want to know that PIO is being maligned. If not please disregard and delete post.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

When did it come down?
fire/wrecking ball/earthquake?

Mr V, after moving from the trailer camp (former Fedco) in Titlyville, ended a few houses up on Berkeley. I don't recall him ever mentioning this place. He would have been on that street throughout the 50's Anyhow, I think the last bit of roadside vernacular left in the area was (the Barn?) corner of San Gabriel...again, I think.

Mister Earl said...

I love everything about this.

WV: reeplon

A lot of that roadside vernacular is made of reeplon.

pasadenapio said...

I couldn't find any information about when or why it was demolished.

Thanks, nobody. Some of this old (two years ago) stuff, which was quite innocent and meant to be informative, still gets dredged up by people who'll find conspiracies in anything.

Mr. Earl, I just googled "reeplon" and came up empty. Do you have more info on the material?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Mr V came to Pasadena in 47 and vaguely recalls the shoe restaurant. He moved with his parents to the Berkeley address in 54. It was gone by then.

sorry, thats all I could get

Ken Rhinehart said...

Ann, I love the picture! I didn't know the funky buildings I love had a name, roadside vernacular. Those funky buildings and roadside attractions are one of the reasons I love Route 66.

LuvsPas-Alt said...

My 104-year old Auntie moved to Pasadena in 1932, and remembers the restaurant. It looks vaguely familiar, but I could only have seen it in the late '50s.

Petrea Burchard said...

I love everything about this, too. Comments included.

Unknown said...

I lived on Berkeley Avenue from 1941 to 1960. The shoe restaurant was probably torn down in either the late 40`s or early 50`s. My mother used to tell me as a small child that she got me from the little old lady who lived in the shoe. Always wondered about that! Lol. I remember eating upstairs. Later, I believe, it was used by Milne Brothers for their motorcyle shop. Anne (Davis) Whitaker

Catracks said...

The address was actually 1959 East Colorado St. This is from an advertisement in the ca. 1930 Crown City Cook Book by the Woman's Auxiliary of the Pasadena Fire Dept.