Friday, January 27, 2017

Free panel discussion on authors and cultural appropriation

NOTED AUTHORS AND ALTADENA PUBLISHER DEBATE WHETHER AUTHORS’ RACE, GENDER LIMITS WHAT THEY CAN WRITE ABOUT

A spirited talk between an Altadena publisher and three of her acclaimed authors will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday Feb. 2 at the Altadena Community Center (730 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena, California 91001) The event is open to the public free of charge.

The panel discussion will be among Naomi Hirahara, an Altadena native who is author of a mystery series set in that foothill community; Rachel M. Harper, author of 2016’s notable novel, “This Side of Providence;” Joyce Gittlin, television writer and director and author of numerous movie scripts for Disney, Paramount and 20th Century; and Colleen Dunn Bates, founder and publisher of Altadena-based Prospect Park Books.

Their talk will focus on issues raised in the play “Bee-luther-hatchee” by Thomas Gibbons, being presented at the Sierra Madre Playhouse through Feb. 18.   The discussion is sponsored and produced by the playhouse, and is hosted by the Altadena Historical Society.

The play follows a publisher, Shelita Burns, who seeks to meet a reclusive author whose “biography” of a 72-year-old black woman has won a major award.  To her profound shock, the author is not whom Shelita expected.  The play is a provocative look at cultural appropriation and who has the right to tell someone else’s story.

Hirahara, Harper, Gittlin and Bates will discuss whether an author of one sex, or race, may write as another.  Hirahara, as a Japanese-American, writes primarily about Japanese-American characters and Harper, an African-American, wrote about a Puerto Rican family in “…Providence.”

The production and public discussion programs are being made possible by a grant to the Playhouse from the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Altadena' Most Memorable Floods

Although earlier flooding had taken its toll on Altadena decades before the 1934 flood that devastated La Crescenta, it was this flood that motivated the building of new infrastructure.

The 1934 flood took out large swathes of La Crescenta and Montrose
but most of Altadena was spared.

The New York Avenue extension bridge was finished soon after the La Crescenta Valley flood. Built by the WPA, it crossed Eaton Canyon wash to connect New York Drive to Sierra Madre Drive.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Free program on Jan. 23 on famed architects’ Altadena homes

Tim Gregory
CELEBRATED ALTADENA ARCHITECTS AND THE HOMES THEY DESIGNED FOR THEIR FAMILIES

Building Biographer Tim Gregory presents free Altadena Historical Society program Monday Jan. 23 on famed architects’ Altadena homes

Today, homes designed by Altadena architects Wallace Neff, Kenneth A. Gordon, Harold Bissner, and Theodore Pletsch are much sought after. But where did the architects themselves live?

Building Biographer Tim Gregory will present capsule biographies of these, and other, famous Altadena architects and of the Altadena homes they designed for their families in a free, public program presented by the Altadena Historical Society at 7:30 p.m. Monday Jan. 23.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

History of Grocery Stores in Altadena including Ralphs

Bye Bye Ralphs

Competition from the new Aldi's store on the corner of Lake and Calaveras is the likely reason that Ralphs will be closing at the end of this month. And although many of us will miss the local market with its neighborhood ambiance, history shows that Altadena's grocery stores come and go as time marches on.

Now Ralphs, the building at 2270 Lake Ave., 
constructed in the 1950s, was originally Market Basket. The
building will be vacant soon.
Photo: Leon Ricks

In 1930 Altadena boasted 35 grocery and meat market stores. Altadena Grocery Company (below) catered mostly to mansions like those along Mariposa, keeping kitchens stocked with fresh produce.


Altadena Grocery Store (Now Ms. Dragon Printing)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Altadena's Notable Residents - Mabel Normand

In 1922, silent film screen actress and comedian Mabel Normand  (1892-1930) lived in Altadena, residing in a house on Foothill Blvd (now Altadena Drive).

1917
Normand began her film career making a name for herself in slapstick comedy. She helped Mack Sennett launch Keystone Studios where they produced Keystone Cop comedies. Normand also wrote and directed many of Charlie Chaplin's earliest shorts, often acting in them as well. In 1916, she opened her own production company and studio.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Historian Michele Zack to Speak at Altadena Historical Society October 24, 2016

THEY CAME FOR THEIR HEALTH 
October Program Focuses on Illness as
A Southern California Immigration Driver

Historian Michele Zack will speak on illness as a Southern California immigration driver at the 7:30 Monday Oct. 24 program of the Altadena Historical Society.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Exhibit at AHS Showcases 51 Accomplished Altadena Residents

FIFTY ONE FAMOUS AND FASCINATING ALTADENANS
New Exhibit at Altadena Historical Society Showcases Scores of Accomplished Altadenans Then and Now

Fifty famous and fascinating Altadenans--movie stars, artists, authors, scientists, athletes and more--are highlighted in a new exhibit at the Altadena Historical Society.

“We’ve had great fun researching and producing this exhibit,” said Jane Brackman, Society president.  “The trouble has been choosing those to include, as we have far more than our gallery can accommodate.”

The show--which opens Monday Oct. 3--is in both the Historical Society’s gallery and in the lobby of the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive, just west of the Sheriff’s Station.

It is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and by appointment for groups and others, (626) 797-8016.  It is free of charge, but donations toward the Society’s work are welcomed.

“Many of the people featured are our current neighbors and gave their kind permission for us to include them, while others have passed on,” Brackman said.  “In fact, we didn’t include several Altadena residents who are major stars in their fields, but cherish the privacy they have by living here.“

Current or former Altadenans included in the new exhibit include:

*The Smothers Brothers.  Singers, musicians, comedians and television stars; as boys, Tom and Dick Smothers lived with relatives on Santa Anita Avenue.

*Noted contemporary authors Miles Corwin, Naomi Hirahara, Jervey Tervalon and Michelle Huneven; deceased best-seller Zane Grey.

*Entrepreneur Horace Dobbins.  Dobbins proposed an elevated bikeway between Pasadena and Los Angeles, some of which was built.  His beautiful and innovative home was near the top of Lincoln Avenue.

*Tennis great Stan Smith, who trained at the Altadena Town and Country Club, winner of the 1971 U.S. Open and 1972 Wimbledon, and LPGA golfer Mo Martin, winner of the 2014 Women’s British Open.

*Mary Colter.  One of America’s first and most celebrated female architects, designing and overseeing construction of iconic tourist attractions and hotels at the Grand Canyon and throughout the Southwest. 

*Famed seismologist Charles Richter; legendary astronomer George Ellery Hale; and brilliant physicist, exuberant adventurer and best-selling author Richard Feynman.

*Octavia Butler.  A science fiction writer who received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 1995 and was a PEN Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Butler’s work is still selling.

*Johnny Otis. Called “The King of Rock and Roll” and “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues,” he was a singer, musician, composer, arranger, bandleader, talent scout, disk jockey, record producer, television show host, artist, author, journalist, minister and impresario.

Society President Jane Brackman said the most frequent comments overheard from people viewing the exhibit are “No kidding!,” “Oh, really!!,” and “Come look at this!,” which is her invitation to the public: “Come look at this!”
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The Altadena Historical Society was founded in 1935 and is a tax-exempt non-profit whose mission is to gather, preserve and present information about the people, places and events that have shaped the community.