Friday, April 29, 2016

1939, Ansel Adams and Los Angeles

Olympic Trailer Court on Bundy Dr., south of Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

All photos by Ansel Adams, 1939, collection of the Los Angeles Library

In the 1960s, after going through some of his old files, photographer Ansel Adams came across many photos that he had shot in 1939 for an article in Fortune Magazine about aerospace workers in Los Angeles. Adams said that there had been a long period of bad weather during the time he was shooting and most of the photos were inferior. Fortune only used a few of his photos for their article. Adams wrote to the L.A. Library, nearly 20 years after taking these photographs, asking if they would like to purchase all of them for their archives. He thought a fair price would be about $100 for the collection, since he felt the photos were of inferior quality. Adams shot over 225 photos of daily life of these workers, mostly at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank and Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. The L.A. Library jumped at the chance to own this collection of Los Angeles photos by the renowned photographer and paid him $150!
I'd only seen the Lockheed and Burbank area photos. I hadn't seen the Douglas Aircraft photos and the shots in and around West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.  Wow! I found a treasure trove from the Olympic Trailer Court located at 2121 Bundy Drive on the border of West L.A. and Santa Monica. This location is between Olympic and Exposition Boulevards, actually at our newest Metro Train Line location. 
Just before and after World War II, housing in Los Angeles was scarce. The need for trailer courts and temporary housing was fierce. These little enclaves popped up all over Los Angeles during that time, especially in the outlying areas. There are still a few old trailer parks in the industrial areas of Santa Monica and Culver City. My Dad's family had a home just east of the Olympic Trailer Court, near Barrington and Pico. Dad used to say that most of the area consisted of bean fields...plenty of space for temporary housing.
Indoor - Outdoor Living at the Olympic Trailer Court

A little girl, holding her dolly at the corner store

The electrical box for the nearby trailers

White Picket Fences 

Laundry Shack at the Olympic Trailer Court
West L.A. Apartments and homes in the background

Thank you, Ansel Adams, for taking all of these "lifestyle" photos of my town in 1939. Thank you, L.A. Public Library for making the collection available to all of us! Boy, our town has certainly changed a lot in the past 75 years! Now, we need to find photos of the Cozy Courts on the South/East corner of Sawtelle and Olympic!

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Game of Yarn Chicken

The Chickie Run Scene in Rebel Without A Cause, 1955

When I first heard the term, "Yarn Chicken" I immediately understood the reference. I am a child of popular culture. The classic movie, "Rebel Without a Cause" is my yardstick by which I measure my life. In the movie, the kids end up playing "Chickie Run" which is a game between two rivals in the movie. They get a couple of beat up old cars and drive them to a clearing on the top of a hill that ends in a cliff above the ocean. They start to race. The first person to bail out of the car before the car flies off the cliff's edge is dubbed "Chicken." Poor "Buzz" got his sleeve caught in the door handle. This was a fatal mistake. "Jim" is the chicken, but at least he's still alive! Oy! Those kids! 
Chicken is a game designed to test the nerve of the players involved. There are no deaths in Yarn Chicken. Yarn chicken is a game in which a crocheter or knitter is not exactly sure whether or not there is enough yarn to finish a project and continues with the project anyway, yardage be damned!  Whoa! If that's not rebellious behavior, I don't know what is!
After my yarn stash purge and organization last week, I saw that I owned two beautiful, sock-weight yarns, one in gray tones and one in a kettle-died black. Both were ABOUT the same yardage. Perfect for one shawl! Instead of striping the yarn, I decided on the color-block method that is so popular right now. I found a nice pineapple crochet chart pattern on some Russian crochet website. 
Crochet Chart and Gray Section of Shawl

In order for the pineapples to be facing in the correct way for each end of the stole, you must join the sections at the center of the piece. I started to crochet with the gray yarn and finished 10 pineapple pattern repeats. I even had a bit of yarn leftover, just in case.

When I joined the black yarn in the center, I merrily crocheted along. I had ALMOST 10 repeats of the pattern and saw that I was running out of black yarn.  Oh no! Yarn Chicken! I started to crochet tighter. My heart was beating faster. I skipped a few chains, thinking that might conserve yarn!  Phew! I made it with about 10 inches of yarn to spare. I ripped back that last row and added back the chains I'd skipped.
OMG! I have so much excitement in my life!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CRestview 6-1793

Click on image to enlarge.
Thanks to Larry Ziff for posting this on Facebook today!

What's your exchange? For years, growing up, ours was CRestview. The CR was part of the phone number.  If you were to dial my family's home phone number on your rotary dial phone, you'd dial 276-1793. Look at the buttons on your phone, the "C" and the "R" correspond to "2" and "7." For added confusion, there was BRadshaw, also a 2-7 number! It seemed to me that CRestview was REALLY Beverly Hills. The BRadshaw numbers showed up on the periphery of BH. Then there was OL. The diagram above says that OL was for OLympia. I remember it being OLeander! The OL area was usually the east side of Beverly Hills. See this list for more exchanges. 
Our typical home phone instrument

You could always tell where someone was from by their phone exchange. A GRanite phone number was usually Westwood. EXbrook was Santa Monica. STate was the San Fernando Valley. HOllywood was, of course, Hollywood. These were the most used exchanges of my youth. I do remember television and radio commercials that used exchanges in their jingles, usually for businesses in the Downtown LA area, like MAdison and ANgelus.
In the kitchen we ALWAYS had a wall phone with a long chord so Mom could talk while cooking. It was usually in a festive color to match the kitchen, like Harvest Gold, Avocado or Sand Beige

When I was 16 I was given my very own telephone and NEW NUMBER, all to myself! I vaguely remember having to do chores like washing dishes, etc. as payment for said phone. I was very sad that my personal phone number was NOT CRestview! This was around 1968 or '69. By that time, any new phone numbers assigned were all numerical. The 2-7 / Beverly Hills numbers had been used up. My new phone number was 552-3692. My only consolation was that I could have any color, standard-sized phone (Princess phones were extra) I wanted. Naturally,, I ordered red, just like the Bat-Phone
Ellen's Teen Years Phone

Larry and I now live in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles, near Fairfax Avenue. The first two numbers of our home phone are 9-3...WEbster! Do you still have a land line with a recognizable exchange?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Arbor Day and the Ebell of Los Angeles

Officials of the Ebell Club of Los Angeles and two gentleman from the L.A. Chamber of Commerce plant a Washingtonia fan palm on Wilshire Blvd. in honor of Arbor Day, 1935. Herald-Examiner Collection, LA Public Library
You don't see much hoopla about Arbor Day in Los Angeles anymore. I guess we have enough trees planted in our urban landscape. In fact, many of those fast-growing ficus trees with their overgrown roots should be torn out before they disrupt our sidewalks more!

Arbor Day is usually celebrated toward the end of April or beginning of May. The date differs in each State, depending on their growing season. This is the day that we celebrate the role of trees in our lives and promote tree planting and care. The holiday originated in 1872, Nebraska. Those dusty plains needed trees!
Hmmm? It seems that Arbor Day and Earth Day are quite near each other! Coincidence?
I like this photo, above, of the members of The Ebell of Los Angeles planting one of those ever-present palm trees on Wilshire Boulevard on a rainy day. Today, I'm sure that tiny palm tree towers over the street! I wish it would rain again! Here are a few vintage photos of the Ebell building (1927, Sumner P. Hunt, architect).
Wilshire Ebell Theater, 1937. LA Public Library Collection

The Ebell looks much the same today:
The Ebell in 2014, during L.A. Conservancy Event 

This is a beautifully preserved cluster of buildings, encompassing banquet halls, a huge theater, patios, ballrooms and more. The Ebell of Los Angeles are still going strong. The club was founded in 1894 to further the education of women in America. Read more about it here

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Granny Square Handbags

I've made my share of Granny Square handbags and tote bags. I usually construct my bags with the squares positioned at right angles, not on the diagonal. The diagonal granny tote is sometimes called the Häkelbeutel bag. I've seen many of these on German crochet sites. The handles for many of these bags are also crocheted in one or two long strips, then attached to the bag.
I've noticed that when I've made straps in this manner, they tend to stretch out. That's why I've crocheted many bags using existing canvas totes with machine-made handles, as linings for my bags. Essentially, these are just bag cozies!
I was looking through my Ravelry friends' blogs the other day and noticed this bag by Leslie (aka CrochetBug13). I really like the way Leslie made the straps for her bag out of tiny granny squares and then attached the strap to the entire edge of the bag, not just at one point. I believe this will give the bag more strength.
Leslie's Flamingo Tote with Tiny Granny Square Handles

I also found this wonderful diagram on how to assemble different sized bags with diagonally placed squares. Bonanza! 
Summer is near. Time to crochet a few market totes on the diagonal. 

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple in the Air

It seems that the jacaranda trees of Los Angeles are blooming in acknowledgement of the death of Prince, often called the Purple Prince. Yesterday, when I looked up at our blooming jacaranda tree, I thought, how appropriate...nature is sending a tribute to Prince on the day of his death. I was saddened by the news of Prince's death at the young age of 57. He had so much more music to make. I never did see one of his shows in person, even though there was ample opportunity in Los Angeles to experience his music live. 
Jacaranda Trees on South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles

Prince's music always came as a surprise. He could reach back into old-school blues, R&B, funk and make it sound current and new. Visually, he was fresh and surprising and whenever I came across one of his performances on TV, I always stopped to watch and listen. Prince was the perfect fusion artist for our generation. RIP Purple Prince.

Why did Prince like purple and make it his signature color?  There are many theories. No matter which theory you like the best, from now on, every year when the jacaranda trees bloom on our street they will remind me of Prince.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

StayCation Week

I'm off work this week, just doing things around home and in the neighborhood. It's spring cleaning time and pre-Passover prep week for me. Yesterday, after annual doctor's appointments, Larry and I FINALLY had lunch at Trejo's Tacos on La Brea. I say FINALLY, because the lines have been down the block for this place since it opened.

Actor, Danny Trejo opened up this taco place in a very remodeled Taco Bell restaurant that had been sitting empty for years. Trejo's is on La Brea Avenue, just south of Olympic. It's just around the curve from another art-directed fast-food place called Top Round. Yes, our little section of La Brea in Mid-City L.A. just got a bit hipper.
Since the opening, Trejo's has had a long line out front. We thought going on a Monday for an early lunch might be a good idea...less of a crowd. We were right. We stood in line for about 10 minutes, ordered our tacos and then found a seat at a long communal table in the shaded patio.
These are not your regular street or truck tacos. Trejo's tacos are served on a larger tortilla than the usual tiny street tacos, so $4 for Trejo's versus $1 or $2 for street tacos is justified. The tacos are packed with meat and fresh veggies. We each had a beef brisket taco. Larry also ordered the braised pork. I tried the fried chicken wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla. Everything was tasty and fresh. 
Brisket Taco and Fried Chicken Taco

There's a body shop across the street with lots of cool cars

Trejo's face is branded EVERYWHERE!

Our tacos were brought to our table by a server. This server came back often to ask if everything was OK and if we needed anything else. The ambiance is good on this steel and wooden patio with canvas umbrellas for shade. It's pleasant sitting on La Brea and watching the traffic whiz by. I like looking at the cool cars in the body shop across the street while eating my tacos. You can't eat ambiance though.
My personal review: The tacos tasted fine, but not supremely delicious to me. I'm glad we have a more upscale place in the neighborhood, but I will not be making special trips for Trejo's tacos. I prefer the taste of Pinche's tacos in East Culver City, Leo's Taco Truck on La Brea or my ultimate favorite, Guisado's in Echo Park (now in West Hollywood). The corn tortillas at Guisado's are legendary! 
Welcome to the neighborhood, Danny! I hope you prosper for a long time at this location. I'm still waiting for Zankou Chicken to take over our local KFC, just down the street!

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Yarn Crawl 2016

I really didn't participate in this year's Los Angeles County Yarn Crawl, but I did manage to visit two of my favorite shops on Sunday, in addition to knitting a bit with my West Adams peeps!
After having breakfast at Piper's Coffee Shop on Western Avenue, Larry accompanied me to one of my favorite little yarn shops in the City, The Little Knittery in Atwater Village.
This store is compact, but really packs a lot of color and texture into a small space.  The shop was busy with shoppers on a hot Sunday afternoon. All of the store displays are so inviting! There are a lot of weaving and macrame examples too.
Chunky Knits are very popular right now
Shawl Pattern Giveaway for the Crawl

Cat, the Queen of the Little Knittery

Knitter, Pattern Designer and Jewelry Maker, Edna Hart. Edna is wearing one of Tina Marrin's needle-felted dogs!
Larry had a delightful one-sided conversation with a model at The Little Knittery
Yes, I bought something at The Little Knittery.  I'm obsessed with the Kauni Effektgarn. I bought a huge skein in a mulberry color way.
I dropped Larry at home and proceeded to the Blu Elefant Cafe in Harvard Heights/West Adams. The third Sunday of the month is our regular meeting time for the West Adams Knitters. We meet from 1-3. Dommy was working on this beautiful piece in a perfectly speckled yarn!
The Blu Elefant Cafe and Dommy's Knitting
It was a quick trip on the 10 Fwy to La Cienega and the Slauson cut-off to The Knitting Tree in South Culver City. There were ladies outside the shop knitting, spinning and generally having a great time! Inside the shop, on this final day of the 4-day L.A. Yarn Crawl, there were plenty of people buying yarn and talking about patterns.
Spinning and Knitting Demonstrations
I wasn't going to buy anything, but I saw ANOTHER skein of the Kauni Effektgarn that I'd purchased at The Little Knittery, so I pounced on it. Now, I know I will have enough of this gorgeous color way for a substantial garment, my remembrance of my shortest yarn crawl ever!
Christopher and Lenora, happy that the crawl is over!
I may not have made it to all 25 shops, but the two that I visited were fun, colorful and worth the trip!

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Grandmothers Club!

Mrs. F.L. Hanlin, President of the North Hollywood Grandmothers Club. Valley Times, 1963. Corsages for everyone!

Once again, while perusing the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection, I came across a group of photos from the late 1950s and early 1960s depicting the National Federation of Grandmothers Club of America. There's a club for that?  Wow! 
I just love the fancy dresses and hair-styles of all these lovely ladies! Grandmas sure look different today!
Officers of the Verdugo Hills Grandmothers Club, Valley  Times, 1958. The lady with the gavel in her hand (lower right) must be the new president!

The Grandmothers Club was founded in 1938 to help with the welfare and health of children and grandchildren everywhere. It seems that the various chapters of these clubs around the country raised money for medical research relating to childhood diseases. A noble cause!  I checked the current website and there are chapters around the country. The group for California is located in Pomona. I'm guessing that the grandmothers of the Los Angeles area have filtered their charity activities into other groups.
I particularly like the photo below. The caption reads, "Meeting to discuss plans for annual Festival of Friendship."
Planning Meeting. Valley Times, 1958. Look at that fancy crocheted tablecloth in progress!
I think for our next Stitch 'n Bitch we should all wear party dresses, corsages and pearls!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Good Ol' Chabelita

Parking lot side of Chabelita, 2012

Way back in 1999 I read Jonathan Gold's review of Chabelita Tacos in the L.A. Weekly. I've been a devotee ever since. I do believe the place has changed hands a few times since 1999, but the food is still really delicious. I usually order the fish or chicken soft tacos, rice and re-fried beans. Their rice is divine. They must cook it in some sort of stock. The beans are creamy and flavorful. The fish taco is served with salsa and some crema, curtido on the side. Last weekend, Larry ordered the el pastor burrito. Wow!  It was huge enough for two meals and completely tasty.
Fish Taco Combination Plate
Burrito El Pastor

We wouldn't still be patrons of Chabelita if the food wasn't terrific. However, the murals on the walls of this place always knock me out. I see something new every time we visit. Jonathan Gold described the ambiance beautifully, "While you wait, you will have plenty of time to admire the paintings airbrushed onto the plaster, of a beautiful young Latina woman -- Chabelita herself? -- posed with burritos, tacos and a watermelon-size triple-deck cheeseburger that threatens to drip onto her blouse.  My favorite painting is of Chabelita rising from the churning, blue waves like a Venus of the Mariscos, beatifically bestowing octopus tostadas on us all."
I recently noticed that part of the exterior signage on the roof overhang was being repainted. I truly hope that the combination plates, burgers and mariscos paintings return!! 
...and the cow jumped over the table. Parking lot, Chabelita

Chabelita Tacos is on Western Avenue, just north of the Santa Monica Freeway, next door to the Fire Station (convenient) and across the street from this really fantastic A-Frame church!
A-Frame Church across from Chabelita
Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you, Chabelita is open 24 hours! So, if you're just dying for a taco or burrito in the wee hours, stop by...just watch your back at night. I'd take my order to go and make a fast get-a-way on the nearby SM Freeway!

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery