Stained Glass in a mausoleum

Have you figured out that I enjoy visiting cemeteries? I think it started 40 years ago, we were newly married and on our way from Israel to the US. We stopped in Germany to visit a college friend of Joel who had recently married a German woman. In a small town near the Rhine, she took us to the local cemetery. She wanted to show us the little Holocaust memorial there. What struck me, was that the cemetery was full of Jewish names, but the town had no Jews. Since then I find myself walking through cemeteries – to learn about the history of a place.

So when an opportunity came up to visit Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, I signed up. This was another Atlas Obscura event.I am going to have to look into the concept of Mausoleum, it appears to be a big deal. Some people not wanting to be buried in the ground. These structures are beautiful. Here is the exterior, as you can see, there is a lot of stained glass.From the inside, looking out through the windows.There was also beautiful tile work, this building was constructed in the 20s’ decorative tiles were the rage in the LA area.   No use asking our guide, he was more interested in the Hollywood connections. I didn’t even ask who made the stained glass. The historical society says the glass is from LA Art Glass companyI find it very interesting, people run to Europe to see this kind of beauty. It can be found here in Southern CA, in churches and also in mausoleums. This one was designed in 1925 by Cecil E. Bryan. His specialty was designing mausoleums, and this is his crown jewel, he is buried here. This was the most expensive structure built in the LA area at the time. It shows, they used a lot of expensive materials. Some more examples of the glass.  I know that spiritualism and communing with the dead was all the rage at the end of the 19th century. Is that why mausoleums became popular? Instead of returning the body to the earth, were they hoping to preserve the body in a beautiful temple in hopes that they could reunite the body and the spirit? I have no idea, just speculations on my part. A new wing was added in the 80s, guess who made the glass, yup, my buddies over at Judson Studios. One of the reason I love stained glass so much is that light is so much a part of the artwork. This artwork is in the Chapel of the Pasadena Mausoluem. Btw, these were separate from the cemetery. At some point Mountain View acquired both. The famous person buried in here is George Reeves,  Superman from the 1950s TV show.

Our guide, Denny is also an actor and funeral director.  His interest is in Hollywood, so he informed us of all kinds of filming that happens here. The mortuary built two large coroner examination rooms, sets for the movies. It costs a lot of money to maintain a cemetery, being close to LA, this is a perfect revenue source. They also have a fake grave out on the grounds that is often used for filming. No pictures, sorry.The cemetery is also beautiful. Sure, a lot of the grass isn’t as green as poeple might like. It is a combination of tombstones above ground and flush with the ground. It’s not cohesive like Forest Lawn, but not as haphazard as Evergreen.Of course, famous people are buried here, probably one of the most famous is physicist Richard Feynman. We can probably thank The Big Bang Theory for that. This is where Joel found out about him. So yes, the episode of the gang visiting his grave, probably was filmed right here at his grave. You’ll notice, plain and simple.Another famous person,  Octavia was a local girl who grew up here in Altadena. Although when she died she was living in Seattle, someone wanted her to rest back home.

Octavia became a science fiction writer in the 1970s, Harlan Ellison was her mentor. Parable of the Sower is probably one of the best distopian novels out there. It upsets me that in order to keep feminism alive – feminists feel they must erase the successful people of the past. Today they scream about few women in Science fiction, or in the gaming industry. In order to do so, they have to erase the likes of Octavia, because it disproves their point.  Needless to say, I have no time or energy for grievence groups of any kind. Me, I prefer to celebrate the likes of Ocatavia.

For those who can’t make it in person, here is a 7 minute video filmed entirely in the Mausoluem, enjoy.



Back to Judson studios

I haven’t been able to go on the once monthly studio tour this year. My Thursdays were tied up. So now that it’s summer, I went. About 3 years ago I had visited their studios, then just last summer, I had the opportunity to visit the new location in South Pasadena. Honestly, I could probably take their tour every few years, since they are always working on something new. Over the entrence to the original building is this terra cotta tile, We Can. This was the motto of the USC art school when it inhabited this building.  It is a great motto for the family owned company. They take all kinds of jobs, from very small to very very large. They do traditional stained glass as well as a newer method of fused glass. These glass chips have been in the windows for close to 100 years.  You can see the effect of gravity on lead, the formation is bowing out. That is what happens, which is why a lot of the work is restoration. The glass is fine, it’s the supporting lead that desintigrates. Very traditional stained glass. start with a design, today this is done on a computer. Then map out how it will be constructed and cut out the glass.The paper has been cut, and traced onto the glass. It takes a lot of patience and experience to acurately cut the glass to match the paper templates.

This will be a large installation in a private home. Since in this case it’s all straight lines, they use zinc instead of lead. Here these shapes are being created and soldered.Final product, these chunks of glass will seperate larger octogans of different colors. Just creating those glass chunks took a lot of work. Just like at the glass workshop at Forest Lawn, Horse nails are used to hold the glass in place. Here a restoration is taking place, that’s the old glass on a table. He is taking rubbings of the old lead and then removing it. The glass on the table just needs to be cleaned and releaded. I’m thinking OSHA would have a cow,  looks at this room. It’s a half basement, there is no air conditioning, just fans, and very basic tools.  The photo in the background is from a recent job,  The Resurrection Window for a church in Leawood KS. It is because of this project that the new studio was acquired and a whole new world is opening up. This is a commission for a church in Arizona, very traditional work. Another large project has been ongoing for over a year, with more to come. There are monks in Wyoming who are building a monastery, by hand. They have commisioned these panels for themselves. Three are complete, at least 3 more are in process. Once they are installed, the only ones who will see them will be the monks themselves.The Judson trademark is on every piece of work.Many great saying are painted on the walls, next post, the new studio.





Family vacation

In our busy lives it hard to get all the kids and grandkids together. It took a lot of planning to find a date and a location. We ended up going for the weekend to a resort near Legoland. A great time was had by all. The pool and the splash pad were loads of fun.The playgound wasn’t large, but was very different from the ones at home. Westley is becoming quite the climber.This got the biggest workout of all.Some people sat and relaxed.Enjoying time with the Aunt.And others treated it like a roller coaster ride.We did go down to the beach, most of the pictures I took there are on my son’s camera, so I have to wait for him to share.Two gorgeous smiles, with Westley no so sure in the background.Reading books before bed.We made it to Legoland.

Went on a couple of rides and saw the aquarium. The one ride I wouldn’t go on is one I took pictures of.First you go up.Ready for action!Yup, then you get tossed! No thank you!Princess Leah with Princess Leia, I always tell people that my name is like the princess but I had it first. Not only that, I’m still around and she is gone. Oh well, at least the Lego Princess is doing just fine. I like how our hair almost looks the same, just mine isn’t in those silly buns.


Evergreen Cemetery continued


Blacks were never denied burial here, you’d think they would be segregated out. The Tombstone is new, although Biddy was a pillar of the community, she didn’t have much of a gravestone until the 1980s. It is wonderful to see that a granddaughter, who lived to 100 is buried with her. I need to ask my son in law to do some research for me, I’m pretty sure a lot of her family is still around. For more info on her, come on my historic downtown tour! Biddy was an incredible human being.

I posted some pictures on Instagram and a friend tells me that her husbands’ mother and uncle are buried here! If only I had known!


This was always private, but when they opened the city asked for nine acres as a Potters Field, this is where the unknown dead are buried. By 1917, they were running out of room, so in 1924, the city sold that section back to the Cemetery, except for one corner where they built the city crematorium. Sorry, no pictures, I understand the need for a crematorium, as a Jew, it’s not something I share pictures of. These days, the old Potters Field is being reused as regular plots. Once a year there is a ceremony where the ashes of around 1,500 people are buried, with just the year. These are all the unknown and unlclaimed dead of the city.

The Chinese were not allowed to be buried here, or in any other cemetery. They came as single men to work the railroads and stayed, the thought was that without women, they would leave. The discrimination in very interesting, especially since until Roosevelt in WWII, The Japanese weren’t treated the same way – oh they suffered from discrimiation, but not like the Chinese. So for $10 a head, the Chinese were allowed to be buried in the Potters Field, at some point they wised up and simply created their own cemetary. Sad story, turns out, that most were buried in a mass grave that was only uncovered when the Gold line was built in the 90s. So There is a memorial garden from 1880 dedicated to the Chinese and this new memeorial and graves for the bodies that were uncovered.

History isn’t always pretty, there are a lot of terrible deeds done to all kinds of people. Remembering and learning is what matters. Harvard is one place these days that needs to learn the lesson that discrimination against Chinese or other Asians is not acceptable.One of the groups that started using the old Potters Field as burial grounds, were The Pacific Coast Showmen’s Association. This is an ongoing organization that offers burial as well as support for people in the ‘Circus’ industry. Back in the day, circus workers or performers often didn’t have a permanent home, they traveled. So they created this organization that helped with burials. What is interesting is men are on one side of the road and women on the other. I have no idea why.A current section, where burials are happening today. Aside from the fake flowers that don’t die, pinwheels are becoming a thing on graves. Also, looks like some of the families come and water their loved one’s graves.

One of the issues here is that no one is paying for all those old graves. There is always a possibility to pay an endowment, but when someone has been dead over 100 years, I don’t think the descendants feel much of a connection.There is a whole history just in this tombstone.  The daughter died first, then the mother, then the father. I wonder if Geraldine is Laptha’s daughter. I hope she is still alive today, if not, maybe she chose to be buried with her husband, not in the family grave. Also notice, people have been putting photographs on tombstones for a long time. Note that Gerladine’s is in color.I only took the close up of this beautiful African American woman with her lovely feather fan. The photos are of the person at their best, so although she looks young here, she may not have been.

And now, I need to go visit the Workman homestead, as well as the Jewish cemetery in Boyle Heights.


Cemeteries are a wonderful place to see history in action

On an overcast Saturday, I went to Boyle Heights to visit Evergreen Cemetery.  As the city started growing beyond the downtown area, Boyle Heights was one of the new neighborhoods, since it was wide open, it was also a place where people bought land for cemeteries, like this one in 1877. Evergreen is a popular name, although these days, due to water conservation, it quite brown.There is a wonderful old gate, the rest is surrounded by a simple Chainlink fence.As you can see, we are right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, one that is experiencing gentrification. Alongside the little old houses are now newer modern apartment buildings. The original chapel, still used today.This is a nondenominational private cemetery, today, everyone is welcome. In the past the Chinese weren’t and Jews always had their own places of burial. I find it interesting that the Japanese weren’t excluded and today there is a large Japanese presence, often just mixed among other graves. There were plenty of these kinds of graves, babies that died. In more modern Memorial Parks, like Forest Lawn, the babies have their own section. Because this was an early cemetery, many of the important families are buried here. William Workman was very influential in the Los Angeles area in the mid 19th century. He is buried on his homestead, but other family members were buried here.Not sure exactly where Nancy fits in the genealogy, I love how exact they were with her age.Two more important families, The Gilmores bought the land where Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax is today. They discovered oil, had a baseball team and although quiet today, are still and important business in the city.

The Bixby’s developed the Long Beach area. What is interesting to me is that there is a large monument, but many of the graves of the family are simply around these, with small stones of their own. Unlike later, when large mausoleums will be constructed in places like Hollywood Forever or Forest Lawn.    This family plot is dear to me, The Lankershims and Van Nuys families, the ones who really developed the Valley. 

Both men were Isaacs’, Lankershim ends up being Van Nuys’ Father in law, make sure the business stays in the family. Under this tomb lie both Lankershim and his wife as well as Van Nuys and his wife Susanna, Lankershim’s daughter.

This post is getting long, I will continue tomorrow…



Pasadena Chalk Festival

Every Father’s Day weekend, for the last 26 years there is a chalk festival at Paseo Colorado. This year it was overcast and cool, so the artists could work in comfort.June gloom in all its glory! I got there early on Sunday morning because by then, some of the images are finished, or close to it.There is a process of voting, I didn’t take part, I just walked around, enjoying the artwork.This one is so delicate with fine details.I am drawn to the ones that look like oil paintings. This guy here is really blending the chack. In some cases, they grind the chalk into powder, add water and paint.Plenty of cartoon characters, especially the Japanese Manga style. Probably my favorite, I just love the Art Nouveau style of drawing.Very appropriate to have this car here since at the same time there is a classic car show.I adore these old cars, so loved and well taken care of.Give me more of that Fire engine red, even if the original would have been a simple black. Everyone this year seems to have stopped at the carhop to get food and drinks.Love how this couple dressed for the occasion! It was very busy, a chalk festival, antique cars as well as Aliencon, I was expecting to see more people in costume. Very few were, I saw one couple in white capes and antennae on their heads. I guess most people are really serious about these aliens, it’s not another comic-con. In honor of my friend Becky, a 1947 Teardrop trailer. She owns a much newer one, but not a lot has changed. A very tight compact way to travel. It has everything except the bathroom. The best part about this one? A handmade quilt!



After my downtown tour, I had lunch here, yes the falafel was good. I’m sharing the image because in the 1980’s all the food stalls in Grand Central Market were made out of neon. Most of the newer stalls are following that tradition, I’m not sure if it is a requirement or not.

After that it was time to visit the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale.  I had gone on the Neon bus tour a few years ago, wonderful thing to do if you are in the LA area in the summer. During the day, the diving beauty shines, but no as much as she would at night.I don’t know if this installation lights up at night. Neon is a technology that became quite popular in the early 20th century in advertising.  All of the signs in the exhibit have come from buildings that are no longer around. I’m glad there are people out there who are saving these artifacts.

This is the sign from the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. There were two of these marquees, put up in 1957, they came down in 2001.  Thank God one was saved and was repaired back to good working condition.The orange-red is the color you get with neon gas. The blue comes from Argon gas. Using phosphates is how you manipulate these two into other colors.I had to take a selfie! I don’t quite understand these pop up museums that are just Instagram opportunities. The Neon Museum has a purpose, to educate and to share an art form that almost died. It wasn’t easy getting this sequence on my camera! This is one of the fun things about neon, the stop action motion. This is a very funny advertisement for a bar.Neon really is art, I do enjoy the creativity of the designers. Bars, peep shows, and motels, don’t forget the motels! Eric (a fellow conservancy docent who leads some of the Neon Bus tours) was there and was telling me that he could tell back in 2017 that the economy was roaring back, because so many old motels are being torn down for modern development. The museum tries to get the signage, but that is not always possible.There is a poster with images of motels around the country. This one caught my eye! The motel is no longer there, but look what I found a block away!The Carlton Motor Lodge, another Art Deco motel. Btw, the word motel is the combination of the word motor and hotel, the first of these was in San Luis Obispo. Clearly, this one is using the words motor Lodge instead. I don’t know if the neon sign still works.The blade sign is newer. I do like the Atomic Age star on the top. I hope this survives a while longer!




Columbia Memorial Space center

For a number of years now I have been enjoying event set up by Atlas Obscura. There is so much to explore in the LA area, I’m just scratching the surface.

Years ago I had been on another tour in south LA and it was mentioned that the whole space program, as in building the Capsules, rockets and shuttles happened here. So I signed up for this tour in Downey.In an area, the size of Disneyland was the birthplace of American Space exploration. Today, there is a hospital, large sports facility and a huge outdoor shopping mall. Oh and this little museum.All of the Apollos and the shuttles were built here. This one, sitting outside was the first to leave the atmosphere and come back intact.Here is Bill, the head of this museum. He is showing us a very important artifact, this is the coupling mechanism for the Apollo. I can’t explain it all, but somehow, this small device is what allowed the space program to jettison the boosters while leaving earths atmosphere, while being able to come back again. As I said, I can’t explain it, it’s a small thing thing that made a very big difference.

The LA area is the birthplace of a lot of the aerospace industry, during WWII this facility was busy cranking out airplanes. Afterwards, the push was to explore rockets and then space travel.

By the 1980s’ the space exploration industry was in major decline. It’s hard to describe how the death of this industry had such a massive effect on the region, hundreds of thousands of jobs gone over night. So by the year 2000 this museum was in the planning stages. Once the Columbia was lost in 2003, the Federal government designated this site as the official Federal memorial to the Columbia. The Columbia first flew in in 1981, had 28 missions and in 2003 the tragic end over Texas, killing all seven astronauts.

This image is of one of the successful liftoffs. It is made out of thousands of images of that last crew of seven who didn’t make it back. An image of the crew, which included an Indian woman and the famed Israeli pilot, Ilan Ramon.Of course, I have a special place in my heart for a fellow Israeli who flew this mission. He was part of the mission in the 1980s who bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. The world condemned Israel no end for that, although in private, I’m sure the world sighed a sigh of relief.  Condemning Israel for anything is what the world does.  Then, years later, one of his sons’ was killed while training with the Israeli air force. Life has not been kind to his wife, Rona.This museum is a hands-on location that is great for children, they have a robotics lab, they have all kinds of things to do. There is a real gap, these days kids don’t care much about space exploration, it’s just not in the conscientiousness of this generation. That is what happens when the world turns it’s attention to other pursuits. These days, it’s SpaceX and Space Virgin, private companies that are exploring opportunities.  The government is too busy wasting money on anything else it can. Not that space exploration is a waste, but most government spending these days is.Joel by the suit.Me in the suit, well, I’m not suited up, there is a ladder in the back. It’s just a photo op.Snoopy the Astrobeagle became a mascot for NASA. Oh and that table? I just got the corner of it, but this is a very large conference table that was used here at the facility. In the movie Apollo 11, the table is in Houston, but in reality, it was in Downey. When the trouble started on the capsule, all the info about the Apollo 11 was poured out on this table and the engineers who had worked on actual capsule put their heads together and came up with the solutions that Houston passed on the guys up in space.

Oh, and manned missions to Mars aren’t happening anytime soon. It’s not the money (well, that is part of it), it’s the radiation. The manned missions to the moon were exposed to radation for almost two weeks – and came back still healthy. The mission to Mars would be months – that amount of radiation is a death sentence to any human. Which is why JPL is doing all those unmanned missions. Who knows if at some point someone solves the radiation problem in space.


The Huntington

I probably have at least on post a year showcasing the Huntington Gardens. It’s such a blessing to have this so close to home. It’s also great to have a friend with membership so we went together and just walked around, enjoying the beauty. Many of the cacti and succulents are blooming, often in orange. These wonderful South African flowers are blooming. These are Protea, they grow very well in Southern California, we have the same climate.The cactus garden here is amazing. 40 years ago, when I visited for the first time, it was one big mess. They got control of it again and it is stunning. Some of the aloe are really huge.It had rained in the morning, we still have these gorgeous clouds in the sky.  It was Valentines Day, couples were out enjoying the beautiful day. How cute is this? This comes from the anime world. Dressing up in cute dresses, looking like a baby doll. It would be fun to make a dress for someone like this.Some people were busy working, three people on one bonsai bush.Chinese lanterns for the Chinese New year are still hanging around the garden.Looking down on the Japanese garden, what a view!A lizard grabbing some rays.

Speaking of Ray, we had a cup of coffee and talked quilting. A young woman approached, she works for Hoffman Fabrics. She is the daughter of Helen from SewkindofWonderul. So we proudly showed off pictures of quilts we both have made from their patterns. Chatted about the textile industry (oy!). And told her and her husband to enjoy a wonderful day. Through Instagram I got in touch with Helen and we both had a laugh about the small world story.



Missing the quilt show

There is an Art Quilt show in Santa Monica. I’ve been meaning to go, what better time than on a Tuesday when I have to be on the westside with my grandkids. So I looked up the information, wasn’t that easy to find. I drove to the museum, only to discover that it’s not open on Tuesdays. As I said, not easy to find details about this show.

So I took advantage of being so close to the beach and had a better time walking around then I would have at the show.It started with this, full of gratitude that I have the time to spend an hour on the beach.Santa Monica Bay is amazing, mountains with right up to the water on the northern edge as well as on the southwestern edge. Most of the bay has a very large flat sandy beach. Luckily for us, the harbor wasn’t placed here and they didn’t build right up to the water, so this is an enormously wide, white sand beach.The pier was supposed to be the start of a harbor, turns out that the underwater topography isn’t good for that at all. So the harbor is further south, and we enjoy an amazing beach. Today the pier is just for enjoyment, complete with an amusement park. It was a very warm day, but not many people out at the beach. In the summer, even mid-week, this place is very crowded. The bike and pedestrian paths are very wide and well maintained. Not only people come out to walk. So did this pony, I mean Great Dane.Walking back to my car, I took a side street and admired the multi-million dollar homes. They probably started out as beach cottages, not anymore. This one has the surfboard at the ready.You know me, I love the architectural details.People certainly take pride in these homes, they are all beautifully maintained.Being so close to the ocean means a lot of paint. I’m glad they are keeping these gems up.  I really like the reflection of the black detail in the window, allows me to see the design so much better.

I have to do this more often, leave an hour early and enjoy a walk on the beach. I get stuck in my routine and forget to do these kinds of things. I need to make this part of my routine.