I was invited over to the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage to join a group of about seventeen old-timers in the city who had been asked to look at several photographs that the museum has collected . The people and places in these photos had never been identified . Could these long-time city residents help ?
I am not an Arcadia old-timer . I’ve been living there for twenty years , which makes me the new kid on the block , a newcomer , a newbie . I was promised lunch , too , along with the group . The lunch , catered from The Corner Bakery , would be good , so I went . Besides , it might be an interesting event .
Some of the people there have lived in Arcadia since the 1940s ; none before that . They walked around the room , from table to table , diligently looking at each photo . Some recognized long-gone businesses that showed up in backgrounds . A few knew who people in the photos were. ” That’s S0-and-So ,” announced the former Arcadia police officer in the group . ” She was the first woman on the force . ” Others tried to place locations , or to identify clues in the shot that might determine the year.
They made some identifications . Some were disappointed that they couldn’t’ve recognized more .
I asked about the area south of First Street that is covered now with rows of apartment houses and condos . They all seem to have been built in the 70s . No older structures that may have been there survive . ” Was it all agricultural land ? ” I asked .
” All the chicken ranches were along Huntington , ” a woman who lived near there as a child said . She was unclear about the vast area south of there . Yes , she conceded , there were crops in that area ; but she didn’t seem sure of it . I read later that there indeed were chicken ranches along Huntington , but they had been outlawed by a 1960 city ordinance . They all seemed to have been gone by 1959 .
I was thinking about a party that Ada and I attended years ago with my mother . Her friends were old-timers then , and Ada and I felt out-of -place at first , like young party -crashers at an old-folks’ party .Richard Brautigan wrote a story called ” The Old Bus ” , in which a young man steps up onto a city bus and the entire world skips a beat , comes to a sudden stand-still . All the people on the bus are old . They stare at him and he feels awkward , like he didn’t belong there . I first read the story in the early 1970s , and I identified with the young man . When I read it again it’ll all be changed ; I’ll be sitting on the bus .
” Time changes everything but something within us which is always surprised by change. ” —Thomas Hardy