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.


Cafe Pasadena said...

I wasn't gonna give a serious answer but I lucked out.

Thanks, again, Ann.
btw, i hope u like cupcakes.

Margaret said...


Jean Spitzer said...

Congratulations, CP!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

the dog got the bone. congratulations

Cafe Pasadena said...

Thanks, the artists aka PA & JS.
I believe it's my 3rd bone. This dog is gonna try to go back in hibernation so others can win their 1st fabulous prize.

Petrea said...

I missed it! I wouldn't have gotten this one either, though. Congratulations, Cafe. And a very interesting post, Ann.

I hope those top two photos are of Carrie. Seems like they would be.

Anonymous said...

Ain't history interesting. An important story from our community story. Thanks Ann for putting it out there . Brad Macneil

Susan Campisi said...

I learn so much about Pasadena from all you brilliant bloggers. Fascinating bit of history. Thanks, Ann.