Friday, September 18, 2020

Happy New Year!

Today is the start of the Jewish New Year, 5781. L' Shana Tovah to my family and friends. One of the many traditions during this holiday is to eat something sweet to make sure that you will have a sweet and happy new year.  We dip apples in honey or eat some delicious honey cake.  

It is also customary during Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, to start fresh and cast your sins into the water by throwing pieces of bread into the nearest lake, ocean, river, etc.  This is called the tradition of Tashlikh The closest body of water to our house is the Ballona Creek, a waterway used as a flood channel. It looks more like a concrete road during our drought.
Later today, we will walk over to Ballona Creek and toss a few crumbs of bread into the channel.  I'm sure the pigeons will love it!
Ballona Creek, Los Angeles

Since this is the year of the Pandemic, our celebration will be small. Larry and I will sit down to a dinner of roast chicken, Aunt Luba's lokshen kugel, candied carrots cut into the shape of little 
coins to insure wealth and good luck in the New Year and maybe a bit of honey cake for dessert. Happy New Year, my friends!

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Corner History on The Miracle Mile

I was perusing the "Miracle Mile" photos on our Los Angeles Public Library photo archives site and came across some interesting history about the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Masselin Avenue, Los Angeles. 
Click on photo to enlarge
Most of the buildings along Wilshire Boulevard's Miracle Mile were originally built between 1925 through the mid to late 1930s, many in the Art Deco style. You can read about the development of the Miracle Mile here.  I came across a photo of The Wilshire Bowl on the corner of Wilshire and Masselin.  After further research, I found out The Wilshire Bowl was NOT a bowling alley.  It was a very popular restaurant and nightclub that opened in 1933. The nightclub offered dinner and dancing to the big band sounds of Phil Harris' orchestra for the flat rate of $1.50 ($2 on Saturdays). 

Click on Photo to Enlarge

The Wilshire Bowl must have been very popular with the Hollywood crowd. In 1941 artist John Decker created a set of four caricature murals for the restaurant.  They were installed in September 1941 to accompany a cabaret production about the golden age of film entitled "The Silver Screen."  The actors, from left, are Bob Hope, Joe E. Brown, Charles Winninger, Charles Boyer, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Humphrey Bogart, W.C. Fields, Mae West and George Arliss.  This mural now resides in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.
Caricature by John Decker for The Wilshire Bowl
In 1942 this same building became The Louisiana Club, but that only lasted a year.  In 1943, Slapsy Maxie's, which had been on Beverly Boulevard, moved into the building.

In 1950 Van de Kamp's took over the lease on this building and turned it into a coffee shop. I do believe that Welton Becket's firm were the architects for this mid-century transformation. By 1981 it was the Chinese Furniture Center. 
Van de Kamp's Restaurant, Wilshire Boulevard
The area was cleared for a large commercial development in 1982 and now our local Office Depot is on this corner. This mile is not such a miracle anymore. Sigh
Today, 5665 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
If you're out and about, be sure to snap some photos of the streets and buildings. They might have an interesting history and THEY ARE GOING TO CHANGE! Check out The Getty Library for historic photos of Los Angeles by artist, Ed  Ruscha online. 

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Friday, September 04, 2020

Labor Day

Female workers in Labor Day Parade, NYC, 1936. NY Daily News, Getty Images

Female workers in Labor Day Parade, NYC, 1936. NY Daily News, Getty Images

Happy Labor Day! Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century became a federal holiday in 1894.

I am thankful to all the workers who came before me, standing up for equal rights on the job.

I spent over 45 years in the work force. Some of that time was spent as a union member, working at various movie studios throughout Los Angeles. Today, I am reaping the benefits of full-time, corporate employment thanks to the labor movement's accomplishments over the years for equal rights, better working conditions and equal pay. Thank you.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Play Music on the Porch Day

Saturday was International Play Music on the Porch Day. An acquaintance of mine, Brian Mallman, started this wonderful movement.  Play Music on the Porch Day has become an annual international day of music where musicians perform outdoors on a porch, front yard, sidewalk, or balcony. They play music for everyone to enjoy. To see other performances just Google the hashtag #playmusicontheporchday.  

I sang a great, uplifting song written by my ukulele teacher, Cali Rose. The song is called BRAND NEW DAY.

Click here to listen.

I hope we can all have a BRAND NEW DAY very soon!

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Where Were You When Elvis Died?

"Young Elvis," painting by Sharon Furrate

Tuesday, August 16, 1977, 43 years ago. I'd just started a new job at Twentieth Century Fox Studios the month before. I was sitting in my cubicle in the old Administration Building, across from Stage 9 ("M*A*S*H" Stage). I was working in the International Accounting Department as a secretary. One of the managers came out of his office and told us the news about Elvis' death. Jerry couldn't believe what he'd heard. The secretary next to me, Jeanne, started crying. The news traveled quickly through the building. Everyone was turning on radios to hear the details.

While I realized Elvis' importance to the history of rock and roll (I wasn't one of his super-fans). By the time I was REALLY interested in popular music, it was all Beach Boys, Beatles and Rolling Stones for me. Elvis was considered passe'.  

In the mid-70's some of my girlfriends were traveling to Las Vegas regularly to catch his shows. I was invited, but decided that this was not a hip thing for me to do. I, of course, only wanted to be the hippest of the cool. I regret that I never saw Elvis perform live. Even toward the end of his career, he was still a very powerful presence on stage. Sigh.

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Beverly Hills History

The caption for the photo above that appeared in the L.A. Herald Examiner in 1960 reads, "Commemorating the work of eight film pioneers who led the fight against Beverly Hills' annexation by Los Angeles in 1922, a 30-foot marble monument was dedicated at Beverly Dr. and Olympic Blvd. on March 9, 1960. A spiraling bronze replica of a strip of motion picture film is topped by a 14-karat gold star. Among filmland personalities taking part in the fete are, left to right, Conrad NagelCorinne GriffithMary Pickford and Harold Lloyd."
I was at this dedication. Sooky Goldman, photographer and reporter for the Beverly Hills Courier, recruited our Brownie Troop from Beverly Vista Elementary School to participate in the dedication ceremony for the statue. There was a photo of our troop, saluting in front of the statue in the BH Courier. My copy of the photo is long gone, but I still remember the day.
Beverly Vista Brown Troop, 1960 - L-R: Jeri, Denise, Allison, Erica, Jody, Ellen, Nancy, Leslie, Sharon, Eva, Ria, Mandy, Dana, Sandy, Karin, Gayle - Back row: Troop Leaders, Mrs. Milner, Mrs. Martin

 Our neighbor, Sooky Goldman, later became active in the preservation of Franklin Canyon Park

The statue is still on Olympic Blvd. at Beverly Drive, right near Von's Market. It's in the middle of this traffic triangle. I must go over there again and photograph the statue! I feel proud to have participated in this small piece of Beverly Hills history.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Eating Out, Inside

Argh! This pandemic is driving me stir-crazy. Yes, I'm lucky to live in Southern California where the weather is almost always nice. During the Covid-19 crisis, if we're not inside our homes, we cannot gather with any amount of people in a public inside space. No crowded clubs, theaters or RESTAURANTS. I want to eat INSIDE a restaurant....a coffee shop interior being my preferred favorite!
Denny's Coffee Shop Interior, 1970
Like many people, I've always been attracted to mid-20th century coffee shop design, especially the interiors. They have large windows so you can see the warm and inviting atmosphere inside. This type of architecture was designed to lure people sitting in traffic to visit. Coffee shops of the late1940's to the 1970's usually exhibited "theme" architecture known as "Googie," after the premier coffee shop space-age design. You can read about the origins of this type of architecture here.
I came across some coffee shop interiors on Facebook, highlighted in the group, "Photos from Mid-Century Modern and Historical Los Angeles in the '60s, '70s, and '80s." I was immediately captivated by the bright and cheerful interiors. The early coffee shops remind of Tomorrow Land at Disneyland!
International House of Pancakes, 1970
The architecture firm of Armet and Davis desgined many of these space-age style coffee shops in Los Angeles, including Denny's and Pann's, featured here. 
Pann's Coffee Shop, 2010 and 2020
I'm not sure who was responsible for the IHOP (International House of Pancakes) A-Frame design, but I love it!  Johnnie's Broiler in Downey, now a Bob's Big Boy was originally designed by Paul B. Clayton.
Bob's Big Boy, Downey, 2010 and 2020
One day we'll be able to gather together at a google-style coffee shop. I'm so looking forward to that time. Sigh.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Then and Now

Let's look back to a corner of Culver City.  This area of Culver City is called Fox Hills, adjacent to what was known as The Fox Hills Mall, now known as the Westfield Mall.  Fox Hills was annexed to Culver City in 1964, at which time it consisted of undeveloped land, riding stables, and golf courses. In the 1970s, the neighborhood was developed with apartments, condominiums, and the Fox Hills Mall, an indoor shopping center that opened in 1975
Slauson & Hannum Avenues, Culver City, February 1941
Notice the oil fields of Blair and Baldwin Hills in the background
photo courtesy of LAPL archives
It was raining like crazy on February 17, 1941. The caption for the above photo from the Herald Examiner reads: "Caught in the grip of the storm, autos are shown stalled hub-cap deep in mud at Slauson and Hannum Avenues in Culver City on February 17, 1941. Overnight nearly an inch of rain fell in Los Angeles, forming lakes of water and mud over the main streets in a number of outlying sections. The four-day storm brought a total of 3.06 inches of rain."
Today, the corner of Slauson and Hannum is occupied by the Westfield (Fox Hills) Mall and a number of other big box stores, as well as the 405 Freeway. The streets and the storm drains seem to have been upgraded in the past 79 years.
Slauson & Hannum, Culver City. Screen Grad, Google Earth
Whenever I drive around town and see large developments, I always wonder, "what was there?" Does that happen to you?

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Calming Obsession

Kaoru Kobayashi, "Master" from "Midnight Diner"
In these troubled times for our world, we watch a LOT of television to escape. One show that we have been watching is called "Midnight Diner. Tokyo Stories" on Netflix.   Each episode is 30 minutes. The show gives me a sense of peace and meditation. Master runs a diner from midnight until 7 am. Master is like a wise man, listening to his customers, speaking briefly. However, when Master speaks, it is always eloquent and filled with meaning. His customers range in age and profession. Often, they are night workers, coming off their shift for food and conversation. Master only has one thing on the menu, a pork and vegetable soup, plus beer and saki. However, he will cook anything his patrons desire, so long as he has the ingredients on hand.
Each episode is named for a dish. Often this dish has been swooned over by one episode's character. After the swooning, many times, others at the diner request the same dish.  At the end of each episode. One of the characters explains the recipe of this dish while Master demonstrates how to make it.
Butter Rice. My favorite recipe from the show. Yes, it's rice with butter, a few green onions and 3 drops of soy sauce. Delicious!
The characters often return to eat their favorite dish. Master listens to their troubles and serves them comforting food. I've noticed that almost every character says, "Thank you for the food," on their way out the door. 
The Ochazuke Sisters, called this because they all order ochazuke which is rice with green tea poured over, topped with different items like salmon, roe or pickled plum
Sometimes, the scene changes from the Diner and you are taken into the world of one or more of the characters. Eventually, everyone comes back to the diner.  The show is rather melancholy and noir and reminds me of the painting, "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper.  Like I said, we're obsessed.
The cast of characters can include prostitutes, trans-people, gang members, working folks, policemen, lawyers and more
"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper, 1942
"Midnight Diner" photos, courtesy of Netflix

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Monday, July 06, 2020

Armstrong-Schroeder's Restaurant

Armstrong-Schroeder's Restaurant, Wilshire Blvd. @ Spalding Dr., Beverly Hills, 1932
I have fond memories of eating Sunday breakfast at Armstrong-Schroeder's Restaurant on the corner of Spalding Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.  I wish it was open today!  My Dad just loved the kippers and scrambled eggs.  I remember it being an old-fashioned place with green upholstered and wooden booths and colorful linoleum.
Interior, Armstrong-Schroeder's Restaurant, California State Library Collection

In the mid-1960's Armstrong-Schroeder's closed.  The building was radically remodeled and it became the first Nibbler's Restaurant.  I remember the architecture of this new restaurant being different from the usual coffee shop / Googie style.  It was very sophisticated, brick with lots of smoked glass, low-slung and attractive.
Nibbler's Restaurant, Wilshire Blvd. @ Spalding Dr., Beverly Hills. Photo by Nick Faitos, 1976
The Nibbler's Menu looked just like the building, turned on it's side
Nibbler's was a big hangout for all the kids from Beverly Hills High School, just a few blocks from campus.  It was a classy coffee shop, plush carpet, low lights and cushy booths.  Years later, Nibbler's opened up another location in an office building at the other end of Beverly Hills on Wilshire at Gale Dr., just west of La Cienega.  Both restaurants are closed today.
The Wilshire/Spalding building later became a bank. Now it is a small office building. The low-slung, clean lines still remain.  I'm hoping that some of my architect historian friends chime in with the name of the architect of the original Nibbler's.
9766 Wilshire Boulevard @ Spalding Dr., Beverly Hills, 2015. Photo, Google Maps
There have been LOTS of changes on the streets of my youth! I wonder if anything is left of Armstrong-Schroeder's in the hiding places of this building?

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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Bean Fields!

Photo by Ansel Adams, 1939. La Cienega near Beverly Blvd., Oil well Island in the center of the street. LAPL Photo Archives

Whenever my Dad would drive us around town, he'd point out different buildings that he thought were interesting. We would sometimes ask, "what was there BEFORE that building was built, Dad?" He'd always yell out, "BEAN FIELDS!" It seems that our end of Los Angeles was filled with bean fields. Really? Green beans? Soy beans? What kind of beans? Do we really eat that many beans? Beans are not glamorous. ORANGES are glamorous and give us an uplifting and sunshine-y view of Los Angeles. We never drove around and heard that different areas around town were orange groves. The oranges were out in the Valley. On the west side, we got beans, or as my Grandma would say, bupkis!
I came across two photos by Ansel Adams on the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection of former bean fields, turned into oil fields. It seems that the very busy street of La Cienega Boulevard between Beverly Boulevard and Third Street in what is now known as the Beverly-Grove Area (I still call it West Hollywood), had an oil well right in the middle of the street!
Here's an interesting story about that oil well written by L.A. Times columnist, Steve Harvey in 2010:

An oil well on La Cienega? A bit unusual

When the wooden derrick was constructed in 1907, it was in the middle of a bean field. After the boulevard was extended in 1930, motorists had to zigzag around the well.

August 21, 2010|By Steve Harvey, Special to The Times

Driving around Southern California, you never know where you'll find oil.
Drilling platforms, for example, can be seen on the Coyote Hills golf course in Fullerton, in the parking lot of Huntington Beach's City Hall and outside Curley's Cafe in Signal Hill.
There's even a derrick tucked inside the Beverly Center, near the parking area for Bloomingdale's.
But one of the area's most unusual drilling sites is just a memory now. It was a well that stood in the middle of La Cienega Boulevard from 1930 to 1946, forcing drivers to zigzag around it.
"Pictures and stories about it have been sent all over the globe," The Times noted in 1945.
The oil island, between Beverly Boulevard and 3rd Street, became a running gag.
Times columnist Fred Beck quipped in 1944 that it was "squeaking badly and needs oil."
Originally part of the Rancho La Brea land grant, the well helped "give Los Angeles a reputation for eccentricity," The Times noted.
Of course, when the wooden derrick was constructed in 1907, it wasn't in the middle of La Cienega Boulevard. It was in the middle of a bean field. La Cienega didn't run that far north.
Then, in 1930, the city extended the roadway from Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset Boulevard. Who knew? There was always a chance that it might be needed if traffic on the Westside ever increased.
But "there was much discussion and controversy over the fate of the well," The Times said. "The city refused to pay what the owners believed the well to be worth. The owners refused to accept less."
So the well stayed.
In later years it was given a bit of ornamentation: whiskey billboards on the north and south sides.
"The well is fenced and parked as if it were an ornamental fountain or statue," The Times wrote in 1938.
Eventually the owners decided it would be more profitable to operate a drugstore in the area, so the land was rezoned and the oil well dismantled.
The Beverly Center stands a few feet from the old well site.

There are still numerous oil wells pumping away in our crowded urban zone. In fact, there's one INSIDE the Beverly Center. This oil well must be a cousin to the one in the above photo. I've seen men in hard-hats enter on the San Vicente side of the building. Many of our city oil wells are disguised to look like buildings. We live one block from the one on Pico Boulevard and Spaulding Avenue, just east of Fairfax. There's another one on Pico and Doheny with a lot of rocky mountain stone on the exterior...fancy! The most famous oil well is the one on what we used to call the Girls' Athletic Field, behind Beverly Hills High School. This one was recently dismantled.
As you drive around the City, start looking for nondescript, very tall buildings without windows. Chances are, there's an oil well in hiding!

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Summer Solstice

Sun scarf designs by VERA Neumann
SUMMER SOLSTICE! It's the longest day of the year. Living in Southern California, we are fortunate to almost always have sunny weather. I'm a native. I love sunshine and all it represents. Of course, I do not like it when the temperatures reach over 90 degrees. In parts of sunny Southern California today, we're having record temperatures.
We live in Mid-City Los Angeles, on a mild hill. The cool breezes from Culver City waft over our neighborhood. I visited Santa Monica yesterday, not far from the beach. It was relatively cool there too, while other parts of the City, especially the San Fernando Valley are rather warm.
This type of weather makes me want to crochet sunny things in golden colors.
Amigurumi Sun
Sunny Spread
I added a sunny Willow Square to an afghan
Floppy Brim Hat

I think I'll look through my yarn stash and see how many different shades of yellow I can find. Maybe I'll crochet another Welcome Blanket in sunny colors!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Looking Back, Century City 1969

Ellen, in the Century City Fountain on Avenue of the Stars,
Century City Apartments on Olympic Blvd. in background, 1969
I came across a few photos that I took, along with my good friend, Barbara Edelstein, in Century City in 1969. They were what we called "art" shots. Century City was a relatively new place, built on the former backlot of 20th Century-Fox Studios. There were sculptural buildings, exotic fountains and lots of concrete! The area is named for the Studio. TCF sold the property in 1961 to developers. In the very early years, 1925, this property was part of cowboy star, Tom Mix's ranch. There have been numerous additions and changes over the years. I hardly recognize it now.
Ellen, New Construction, Century City, 1969, near Santa Monica Blvd.
Barbara, Century City, 1969
Century Plaza Hotel in Background
Ellen, Century City, 1969
Another fountain, Century City, Avenue of the Stars, 1969
Barbara, on the low-slung roof of the Century House Restaurant, Century City, 1969
I've been looking for an architectural photo of the Century House. I can't find any record of it. It is heavily chronicled in the movie, "A Guide for the Married Man" in 1967. There are many scenes taken in and around the Beverly Hills and Century City area in this movie.

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