Friday, December 30, 2011

A One-horse Open Sleigh!

Thanks to a couple of dozen generous friends, I'm going to be in the Rose Parade -- on the Kiwanis International float.

Here are some of those fantastic folks who are making this happen:

And those were just the friends who could be at McCormick & Schmick's on Dec. 21 to surprise me! There are several others as well.

I'm told it's a combination welcome-back-to-life and happy-retirement gift. I will be forever grateful for their generosity and friendship.

On Wednesday afternoon I visited the float in the Rosemont Pavilion near the Rose Bowl Stadium, thanks to Phoenix Decorating Company's Chuck Hayes, director of sponsor relations, and Dave Wallach, Kiwanis International Rose Float riders coordinator.

Rough illustrations for all 2012 Rose Parade floats had to be submitted and approved long before the 2011 parade, then the long process of 2012 float-building began just days after the 2011 parade.

Welders, engineers, designers, floral directors, scads of volunteers and more bring the floats to life.

I borrowed these photos of the Kiwanis International float in progress from Phoenix:

Horse head in the making:

Welder working on base:

Wire mesh icicles for the base:
Wire mesh fully in place everywhere:

I took the remaining photos below, all related to this float.

Every square inch of float exterior, even the wheels of the chassis, must be covered in natural plant, vegetable, fruit, tree, seed, grain and/or flower materials. Deciding which types will be used is a meticulous process decided a year in advance (which is why this board is pretty faded):

If you look closely, you'll see that the sleigh is covered with seeds of various natural colors (no dye allowed) and the trunks are covered in seaweed and other material. Those pink pads on top of the trunks will be covered with huge cascades of flowers.

Volunteers carefully attached thousands upon thousands of seeds to the horse, along with what looks like it might be pampas grass on the mane:

Two floats down from Kiwanis International -- the Roy Rogers Riders Club:

Yep, that's the honest-to-goodness Trigger, as good-lookin' as when he was taxidermed many years ago! Bullet will be his side. This massive float will celebrate the 100th birthday of the late King of the Cowboys. I grew up watching Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on TV in the 1950s, so this is a particular thrill!

Look for me on the Kiwanis International Float! I'll be sitting on one of the perches near the top of the base. On Orange Grove Boulevard I'll be on the west side, on Colorado Boulevard you'll see me on the north side and on Sierra Madre Boulevard I'll be waving from the west side. So what if I won't be on the "TV side" at Orange Grove and Colorado -- there'll be plenty of open spaces between the horse's legs, so you should be able to see me (and I you) just fine!

All the floats, including the riders, have to be on Orange Grove Boulevard for judging on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.. The parade will begin at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 2, since it's never on a Sunday.

Oh, boy!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Remembering Bob O'Rourke

Bob O'Rourke passed away yesterday.

He was a great friend. When I first knew him he was the director of public relations at Caltech, then he moved up in the world and became the vice president of public relations there.

Bob called me on Jan. 2, 1991 -- my first day on the job as Pasadena PIO -- to introduce himself, welcome me to Pasadena, set a date for lunch and ask what he could do to ease my transition. He was the very first person to call me and I've never forgotten that.

His Irish sense of humor, impeccable professional demeanor and that unmistakable Boston accent set him apart from anyone I had ever known.

Over the years Bob and I spoke on the phone quite a bit, visited each other's offices from time to time and ran into each other out in the community alot. He always showed a genuine interest in how I was doing and what I was working on, and had an easy-breezy way of switching gears from mentor to friend at any given moment.

After being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and while patiently waiting, longer and longer, for a lung transplant, Bob devoted much of his time and energy to promoting awareness of IPF locally, regionally and nationally. From KPCC Radio to the Today show, he did what he did best as a lifelong PR man. The oxygen tube seemed to become part of him and never seemed out of place during his interviews.

He took a hiatus from his standard Caltech duties and served part-time as interim CEO of Kidspace Children's Museum, shining a light on that lovely institution and bringing in donations through special events and his unique personal touch. He was also the special advisor on external relations to Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau.

I spoke to Bob by phone and e-mailed him many times during that period, and each time he responded personally and showed no signs of self-pity whatsoever. In fact, he encouraged me.

Many people, including me, looked in on the We Love Bob O'Rourke page on Facebook for updates.

Finally the news came that he had been accepted for a lung transplant. Huzzah! It was a very happy time indeed, especially since Bob had waited for so long.

The transplant took place and everything looked good at first. And then his body began to reject the new lung. It was a stunningly horrible turn of events.

He was home the past few weeks on Hospice care and surrounded by his immediate family.

Although friends and family knew the day would come, the news yesterday that he had passed away took my breath away.

I will miss him.

A memorial is scheduled Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 2 p.m. at Holy Family Church. I'll be there.

Caltech has a nice obituary here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Gregg G wins with his 1:34 p.m. Wednesday guess "That isn't one of Phil Hawkey's Halloween costumes is it?"

In the photo above, former Pasadena City Manager Phil Hawkey emerges on the "bridge" at City Hall as Hawkman during a Halloween event for city employees on Oct. 27, 1994.

Hawkman stood for truth in government, justice for all employees and the Pasadena Way.

Every year Phil, aided by the inspiration of his wife Dena, would don a different getup and entertain employees who gathered in the courtyard at noon for a costume contest, refreshments and fun. It was a great employee appreciation event that continued throughout Cynthia Kurtz's tenure as city manager.

There was always a little skit. Here's Phil and yours truly in 1994:

Don't ask me what my costume was -- I don't remember! I guess I was dressed as a hag!

Phil's other costumes over the years included Count Hawkula rising from a coffin ("I'm not dead -- I just got a two-year contract!"). . .

. . .Philip Scissorhands the Budget Cutter, Biker Phil, Energizer Bunny Phil and more.

When Cynthia was city manager, she incorporated a contest for the best-decorated office lobby into the mix and even served as one of the judges.

Those days are gone now, but so many city employees have happy memories of Halloween fun.

Phil is executive vice president and professor of public administration at the University of LaVerne. Cynthia is president and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership.

Our current city manager is Michael J. Beck, who hosts an ice cream social for employees every summer.

Many thanks to Pasadena Museum of History and Dena Hawkey.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will be able to put a large feather in his or her cap.

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Roof

During the hurricane-force windstorms last week, aside from the fact that everything got blown all over the place (including onto and off of my property), I lost most of the shingles on my roof and it's buckled near the chimney.

It looks like someplace on Tobacco Road!

Thank goodness there's no rain in the immediate forecast.

The insurance adjuster is coming on Monday.

I still haven't found the porch rocking chairs. They're literally gone with the wind. And there's debris from other properties on my porch and in the yard. I'll get to cleanup duties this weekend. Thank God for great neighbors.

Like so many at the City of Pasadena, I've been pretty crazed since the Wednesday and Thursday windstorms.

I had absolutely no time to do a Mystery History posting this week. Hopefully I can do one next Tuesday.

Bear with me!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Soiree at the Castle Green

I serve on the board of the Friends of the Castle Green. This afternoon (Sunday) there was a private get-together for residents of the historic former hotel, now filled with privately owned flats on several stories above the first floor common areas. The event took place in some of those common areas: the salon, sun room, Turkish room and Moorish room. About 50 people were there, entertained by Janet Klein and Her Parlour Boys.

The Turkish room, like all the others, was decked out for the holidays.

Long shot from the corridor between the lobby and the ballroom:

The gorgeous lobby:

With Tom Coston:

Another shot of Janet Klein and Her Parlour Boys. They performed music of the 1920s and were so entertaining!

Mashed potatoes, tri-tip beef and gravy in a martini glass. Now that's catering!

I love every inch of the Castle Green and was happy to be there today. Nearly 20 years ago the building was the first and only designated by the Pasadena City Council as an official city architectural treasure.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Love My Family

This photo was taken in 1967. Brother Jamie in front; l-r next row Charlou, yours truly and Rick; Daddy and Mommy in back. Grandma and Grandpa, my mother's parents, lived in Kansas City (where my sister and I were born) and had a winter apartment in Chula Vista, where this photo was taken.

Daddy and Mommy are in Heaven.

Jamie is a music teacher and lives in Bonita with his wife Annie and young sons Ryan, Jesse and Christopher. I blogged about Jamie here.

Charlou is a registered nurse and lives in Bella Vista, Ark., with her husband Bill. My nephews Rich, Mark and Matt live in Clovis, Fresno and Arcata respectively. Rich is married to my niece-in-law Nicole.

Rick is an independent construction contractor and lives in San Diego. His daughter Tara is a forestry student at Humboldt State University.

Oh, me? I have two daughters -- Becky lives in Clovis with her husband Mario and their fraternal twin sons Phillip and David, who are students at Fresno State. Daughter Jessica lives in Chula Vista with my grandson Steven (I blogged about Steven recently here) and honorary grandson Johnny. My granddaughter Kimberly lives in El Cajon and is a student at UEI (I blogged about her high school graduation here).

My siblings and I have always been very close and have also had some "precious moments" over the years when we were at odds from time to time. But we always come together in love, with the legacy of Mommy and Daddy and our strong family history.

Thank goodness for Facebook! Many of my family members, from siblings to grandchildren, have Facebook pages -- a great way to communicate since there are so many miles between us.

I love my family!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

UPDATE: I always write up the big reveal well in advance and add the winner's name the night before it publishes. This week, with the wind storms and being called to duty, I didn't have a chance to announce that Roberta Martinez won this week's contest. Congratulations, Roberta!


In the photo above, taken on Nov. 26, 1952, members of the Shakespeare Club of Pasadena pose in costume for the club's American Heritage Day pageant.

Left to right are Mrs. Don C. McMillan (wife of Pasadena's city manager at the time), Mrs. I. William King, Miss Helen C. Houson, Mrs. Anne Mellor, and Mrs. Harold Shirk.

Here are, left to right that same day, Mrs. Leo G. McLaughlin, past president, Miss Helen Louise Taylor, director of public affairs, Mrs. Arthur L. Howells, founder/chairman of the American Heritage Day Pageant and Mrs. Brown S. McPherson, president of the Pasadena Shakespeare Club.

This was when the Shakespeare Club was at 230 S. Los Robles Ave., its home from 1905 to 1971:

In 1972 the club moved to 171 S. Grand Ave.:

I had the pleasure of speaking to the club a few years ago about city issues during one of their monthly luncheon meetings there.

I included a photo of Mrs. McMillan in this blog post in June.

The Shakespeare Club of Pasadena is the oldest women's club in Southern California. There's some wonderful history here.

Many thanks to the Shakespeare Club of Pasadena, Pasadena Public Library and the University of Southern California.