Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Wanda wins with her 8:17 p.m. Tuesday guess "Charles Frederick Holder at the Valley Hunt Club?" (Wanda, you didn't link to any contact info, so please e-mail me at and I'll tell you about your fabulous prize.)

In the 1910 photo above, Charles Frederick Holder sits in the library of his Pasadena home.

The rectangular photo above the mantel is of Catalina Island where he explored and fished. The man in the framed photo above the mantel is Charles Darwin, one of his heroes.

Born to a wealthy Quaker family in Massachusetts, Holder was an explorer, college professor, philanthropist, conservationist, sportsman, master swordsman and author.

It's not surprising that he had a love of the great outdoors and all things nature-related: His father, Dr. Joseph Holder, was the curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. As a child, Charles hunted and fished with his father in locations along the eastern seaboard and spent hours on end exploring every corner of the museum; in 1871 he became his father's assistant at the museum and began writing about natural history.

When he was in his 30s, Charles was diagnosed with a lung condition. He followed the advice of his doctors and moved west, settling in Pasadena in 1885 with his wife, Sarah Ufford Holder.

They were active in Pasadena's civic and cultural affairs: He served on the boards of trustees of the public library and the public school system and was the first president of the Tournament of Roses, and she was on the board of directors of the Pasadena Children's Training Society, a home and school for what now would be considered foster children (it morphed into Hathaway-Sycamores).

Here's a charming illustration of the public library from Charles F. Holder's book All About Pasadena and Its Vicinity (1889, Lee and Shepard publishers):

Excerpt from the book:
The public buildings of Pasadena speak well for its future. On Fair Oaks Avenue is the Young Men's Christian Association, a large and expensive building in course of erection. On Colorado Street near the extensive Carr estate the Union Club-House is rising, and returning to Raymond Avenue we find the Public Library building, the finest of the kind west of Denver. Here is a fine collection of books, and a reading-room containing all the papers and periodicals of the day. The reading-room is free to all visitors, and books are obtainable by paying a small monthly fee.

In the library are the rooms and museum of the Pasadena Academy of Sciences -- which eventually will contain some of the finest collections in Southern California, among which may be mentioned the H.N. Rust collection of antiquities, ranging from the mount builders of the West to the California aborigines; the Carr collection of fossils, representing the great and varied field covered by New York State; the zoölogical collections of Delos Arnold and C.F. Holder, while many other citizens of Pasadena propose to contribute their private collections, which will make the museum one of the most valuable in the State.

Holder co-founded, along with Dr. Francis Rowland, the Valley Hunt Club* in 1888.

Here's a photo of Holder circa 1889 with Valley Hunt Club foxhounds. The photo is in his book Life in the Open (1906, G.P. Putnam's Sons publishers):

In 1890, members of the Valley Hunt Club invited their friends on the east coast to an annual mid-winter holiday in Pasadena where they could watch chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun.

Here's a chariot race (that's Throop University on the right, which would become Caltech):

Holder had an idea for expanding the event:

"In New York, people are buried in snow," he announced at a Valley Hunt Club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

And the Tournament of Roses was born.

He and Rowland were the grand marshals of the 1910 Tournament of Roses.

Holder founded the Tuna Club of Avalon on Catalina Island, where he fished and explored for many years.

Here he is in a photo captioned "Mr. Holder fishing for sheepshead, Catalina Islands" from his book Big Game at Sea (1908, Hodder and Stoughton publishers):

He lost his life in 1915 as a result of a terrible automobile accident. He was 66 years old.

Garrett Newkirk wrote this in an article the day after Holder’s death:
Dr. Holder was a man of the finest fiber, lover of all that is good, a hater of evil and despiser of shams. He will ever remain in the memory of those who knew him best as a type of the truest gentleman, a loving husband, a faithful friend, a patriotic citizen.
In 1998, Holder was inducted in the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library, Pasadena Museum of History and Tournament of Roses.

* Please note I very rarely link to Wikipedia pages, but in this case it was necessary because the Valley Hunt Club's site is available to members only.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

This is Pasadena Restaurant Week!

It's Pasadena Restaurant Week!

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, City of Pasadena and Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau are among the sponsors, and we had the press conference on the front steps of City Hall on Thursday.

Mayor Bill Bogaard was a great sport, letting local chefs and restaurant owners outfit him in the fashion and tools of the trade:

From A/K/A American Bistro to Yahaira's Cafe, each participating restaurant is offering a special prix fixe (fixed price) menu today through Friday, so get out there and eat something!

Many thanks to Terry Miller, editor of the Pasadena Independent, for the photos.

Terry also put together this fun YouTube video:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Looking for Something to Do?

Saturday, March 26, at 10 a.m. – Come to a community meeting to learn more about the next two phases of the Robinson Park Master Plan and provide your comments and suggestions.

Saturday, March 26, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. – Hillary Jordan, author of Pasadena’s 2011 One City, One Story novel, will join Pasadena Public Libraries Director Jan Sanders in the ballroom at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St., in a discussion about Jordan’s experiences envisioning and writing Mudbound. A question-and-answer session with the community will follow. Bring your copy of the book for her to sign!

Monday, March 28, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Pasadena police officers will be on the lookout for distracted and aggressive drivers.

Monday, March 28, at 11 a.m. – Join in the Mudbound discussion group at Lamanda Park Branch Library.

Through 9 p.m. March 28 - No outdoor watering (with few exceptions)!

Tuesday, March 29, at 6 p.m. РDo you blog or use other social media? The Pasadena Community Access Corporation Board of Directors presents the 2011 Citizen Journalism Series, with guest speakers monthly through June. On March 29 André Coleman, reporter at the Pasadena Weekly, will discuss his journalistic career and the future of citizen journalism in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library, then answer questions from the audience.

Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. – Join musicologist Carl Bergquist-DeVoe at Hastings Branch Library as he provides a history of film music, shows scenes from films throughout the decades, performs musical numbers and shares some great stories about film scores.

Wednesday, March 30, at 1 p.m. – This week’s film in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library is “Great Debaters” (2007, PG-13) starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Kimberly Elise in the fact-based story of a professor at Wiley College in Texas who inspired students to form the school’s first debate team that went on to challenge Harvard for the national championship.

Wednesday, March 30, at 3:30 p.m. – Local mezzo-soprano Gigi Johnson will sing jazz numbers from the 1940s, accompanied by pianist Bob Balbert, and shares the stories behind the songs at Hill Avenue Branch Library. This is a One City, One Story event that ties in to Mudbound themes.

Please note all events listed above are free and open to the public.

See an even more comprehensive list here:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Cafe Pasadena wins with his 6:42 p.m. Tuesday guess "Early 1900's foto of a grocery/bakery on 679 S.Fair Oaks here in Pasa. I pass this block regularly in search of, I don't know what. Was owned by Carrie McAdoo, widow of Booker. This is basically across from Huntington Hosp."

In the 1909 photo above, McAdoo Grocery is open for business on West Colorado Street.

Inside the store:

Booker McAdoo, his wife Carrie Woods McAdoo and their three children came to Pasadena from Hot Springs, Ark., by way of Riverside, in 1899. Booker had worked all his life as an attendant in a bath house and massage parlor. After he contracted tuberculosis, his doctors recommended a move to California.

In Riverside he worked hard as a laborer in the orange groves, which made his medical condition worse. He and Carrie decided to move to Pasadena and open a business.

Early images of Booker...

...and Carrie:

When the McAdoos first came to Pasadena, they owned a restaurant that Carrie managed on her own due to Booker's failing health.

Later they opened a grocery store at 53 S. Fair Oaks Ave. It was the first grocery owned by African Americans in Pasadena.

After Booker passed away, Carrie closed the store and opened a larger one at 670 S. Fair Oaks Ave. She was 37 years old at the time.

Excerpt from the 1977 oral history of their son, Benjamin Franklin McAdoo:
She was pretty young, so she wanted to get permanently located. We bought property and she moved in two buildings and got things started and we began there with our grocery store. It was very prominent because people all around in the neighborhood would come there to buy.

Here's Ben with Stella, one of his two sisters:

Carrie and her family operated the McAdoo Grocery at 670 S. Fair Oaks Ave. until 1907 when the San Gabriel Valley Investment Company, an African American financial concern, bought the business.


Then a black corporation was formed here in town called the San Gabriel Valley Investment Company and they bought the store out. They started to operate the store. They did a wonderful business, but there was some dishonest employees and that ruined the business. That was their end.

Carrie bought back the business in 1909, closed it right away and opened a larger store on West Colorado Street. The McAdoo family operated the store in that location until 1911.


Then we sold out to Caucasian people. I don't know how long they ran it or where they moved to. I've forgotten about that.

Ben had a long and fascinating history of his own, which perhaps I'll tell one day.

For now, I leave you with this wonderful photo of Carrie in her golden years, surrounded by her grandchildren:

I would love to say that's Carrie in the top two photos, but the woman isn't identified. I say it's her. What say you?

Nowadays the City of Pasadena offers free workshops monthly to owners and managers of small businesses. The next one is Tuesday, April 12, with the theme "Great Customer Service: Acquiring and Expanding Your Customer Base." See more information here.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bloggers Picnic

The 2011 Bloggers Picnic was yesterday (Saturday) at Farnsworth Park in Altadena. There were about 40 people who came throughout the day, including the merry bunch above.

Enter and sign in, please:

So many of my fellow bloggers have doubled as citizen reporters from time to time via their sites, often about City of Pasadena events, services and issues, which I appreciate.

Here's a closer look at a few local bloggers. You may recognize some of their names or blogs.

Petrea Burchard and Brigham Yen:

Roberta Martinez and Susan Carrier:

Irina Netchaev and Ibarionex Perello:

Lori Webster and Susan Campisi:

This guy (who wishes to remain nameless online) and Tim Rutt:

Ron Carter:

Karin Bugge:

Debbi Swanson Patrick (in red):

In addition to a Mandarin chicken salad, I brought along March/April PIFs and 2010 Annual Reports. I can't help myself -- that's just the kind of PIO I am!

Take a look here at last year's picnic.

It wasn't this kind of picnic. For one thing, we weren't dressed for it.

Many thanks to Tim Rutt for the top photo.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Coming and Going

Vince Bertoni (center), director of the Planning Department, was welcomed by city staff and the community during a March 10 reception in the grand entrance of City Hall.

Patsy Lane, director of the Human Services and Recreation Department, retired yesterday. She was honored during a reception Wednesday on the bridge on the east side of City Hall.

It's always exciting when someone new comes on board and sad when someone leaves. Vince is a great addition to our team. I'll be keeping in touch with Patsy, who's moving on to teach university courses in social work. Those students are fortunate.

Photos: the mighty Zack Stromberg of the Public Affairs Office

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Scullery Captain wins with his 1:07 p.m. Tuesday guess "During the early days of the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, a professor explains contours and aerodynamics to a group of vehicle design students."

In the 1960 photo above, automobile design students enjoy a day in the sun as Art Center College of Design professor Strother "Mac" MacMinn leads a class.

Now called transportation design, this in one of many disciplines offered by Art Center. Some of the finest designers for the most prestigious automakers in the world are Art Center transportation design grads.

Art Center College of Design is one of the institutions that will open their doors for free on Friday, May 20, for ArtNight Pasadena. If you've never been to the Williamson Gallery at Art Center, get there on ArtNight!

Many thanks to Art Center College of Design.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Everybody Loves a Big Red Fire Truck!

On Saturday a new ladder truck was dedicated at Fire Station 32, followed by a tour and celebration.

Yours truly with Grant Derderian (kid extraordinaire) and Beverly White (local resident and KNBC-TV reporter):

Grant's mom Lisa Derderian, Pasadena Fire Department's emergency management coordinator:

You should know by now that every time I mention Lisa in this blog, I have to bring up our bitter feud.

Deep cleansing breaths. OK, moving on...

There were families galore, with lots of children:

They queued up for a chance to climb aboard the ladder truck:

Firefighters explained the truck and its contents to visitors:

Fire Chief Dennis Downs chatted with guests:


What a grand afternoon!

Click here for a reminder of the last time fire apparatus was dedicated.

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!