Tag Archives: Arcadia

pea fowl

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One of these guys came over to the house while I was out last night . Ada saw someone , she thought , through the window . Who is coming to visit ?   It was a peacock pecking around the yard under the golden medallion tree  .street out front 013

Pea fowl were brought to Arcadia a long time ago by old man Baldwin , E. J.  “Lucky” Baldwin ,  when he went to India and spotted the ostentatious birds . Lucky lived at the spot which is now the L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia .  We find most of the pea fowl there .Arboretum june 2013 162

So I went over there today , to the Arboretum . I’m a member . Ada and I are members . We don’t pay the $ 8 entry fee . The membership is good , also , for other botanical gardens in L.A. county . Membership for a year costs , I think , $75 . Arboretum june 2013 007

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Of course , these show-offs are the guys . The girls are there , too . Busy . Not preening .

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And a squirrel had to run from one of these . But squirrel made it .Arboretum june 2013 141


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arboretum walk

Los Angeles County Arboretum is in my city , Arcadia , across Baldwin Avenue from the Santa Anita racetrack . Actually , right across Baldwin are the stables and , a little further down , one of the giant shopping malls that have taken over America .  But  , behind the stables , and as yet still a distance from the shopping mall , is the picturesque old track built in the thirties ,  and  its extensive parking lot .

Developers have been eyeing that parking lot , that open space ,  for years , salivating ( in a business sense ) , hoping to use the expansive  space to make more money . The mall ( Fashion Park ! ) has been spreading and spreading like an invasive and contagious  lesion across the town , like a pecuniary pustule on the face of the city .  I suppose though , that  progress is progress , that  time moves on , and that business is business . The racetrack , however , has been the golden goose for Arcadia . We’ll see in future years if the city kills off that goose , squeezes out the track , and how things go then .SantaAnita1

All of this area , the stables , the Fashion Park , the parking lot , was used to imprison the L.A. area Japanese , citizens or not , for a few months after Pearl Harbor ,  as longer-term  internment  camps were being built , as the high desert camp called Manzanar , in which  to keep them  , where most of these people would spend the years of the war . At a time  years later , as WWII dragged on , thousands of young men from these prison camps volunteered for the military , to fight for the country that had imprisoned them and their families , to win honors in combat .army medal of honor

Do the ghosts of these detainees still haunt this space ?  No doubt , yes , in some of the same horse stables used in 1942 to house people . What about in the mall , where tar paper shacks were once standing , having been built quickly ,  with  barbed wire  stretched around  ,  and armed Army guards  posted , bayonets and machine guns ready , to keep the Japanese , citizens and otherwise , within their cramped quarters ?santa anita 2

E. J. Baldwin , known as ” Lucky ” , once owned all of this land . Where the Arboretum is now was his home . He lived in the adobe house built by a previous owner , Hugo Reid  ,  a Scotsman , who married a native Tongva woman and lived near the small  natural lake that still exists on the property .Arboreteum 2013 April 119

Lucky Baldwin built an exquisite Queen Anne Cottage on the lake as his honeymoon cottage . He never lived there . Near the cottage is a beautiful coach barn built in the same style .Arboreteum 2013 April 114

Ada and I visited the Arboretum on Sunday . The sun was shining . As we walked we heard the continual calls of the peafowl , their  loud and uniquely annoying wail . Lucky Baldwin went to India in 1880 and brought back three pairs of the ornate birds . Now there are hundreds of their descendants wandering the Arboretum and also roaming the surrounding neighborhoods , walking the streets ,  perching  high up in trees , screeching , wailing , proudly showing off their brightly colored feathers on their decidedly decorous tails .  Proud as peacocks .Arboreteum 2013 April 001

The arboretum is a botanical garden . The gardens have expanded in recent years . When Ada and I went this Sunday , every flowered inch  seemed to be in bloom . We both had cameras and there were endless photographic possibilities .Arboreteum 2013 April 087

Some say the Queen Anne cottage is haunted . Sounds are heard at night , moans , and strange smells are said to  permeate the grounds .  There are those who say it is the ghost of one of Lucky’s wives . Others say a native American actor once lived in the cottage and died there , and that his phantom calls out  .   We were not there at night . The place closes to the public at 4:30 . Maybe there are ghostly sounds . Maybe they are the shrieks of the young girls old man Baldwin was known to have seduced . Maybe they are the moans of the Japanese Americans , their dignity accosted , living in stables across the road , imprisoned  because they happened to be of their  particular ancestry . Maybe their wails , proudly kept to themselves during the war , are released now and are wafting across the road , an audible release of decades-0ld frustration , the spewing-out of locked-away  humiliations  and indignities , overheard by whomever roams the Arboretum grounds at night .Arboreteum 2013 April 021

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There is a Japanese garden now there on the grounds of the Arboretum . It is a peaceful place to walk and to calm down , to let go of daily frustrations and to enjoy nature . The Arboretum area may have a rough-and-tumble history , but that can easily be overlooked on  a visit . It closes at 4:30  and the ghosts don’t come out  until night falls . Relax .  Enjoy  .

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I heard a buzzing in my ears . Something up the street , I thought . One of the mansions up on the hill , behind the gates . An alarm gone wrong .alley walk Arcadia 004

I saw some black plastic thing on the street , near the curb . I saw it yesterday and left it . Today is trash day . I figured when I put out the barrels I’ll pick it up and toss it into the trash . Unless my neighbor , Ed , sees it and gets rid of it first . I didn’t expect him to take care of it ;  he flies by so fast , back and forth from his house to his truck . He’s busy . Has his own business and hustles . But , then again , there’s always hope .

But , by today,  Ed hadn’t picked the item up from the street . So I did . I did , just as Ed was climbing out of his truck and heading for his house .clocks 012

The plastic was buzzing . The buzzing I’d been hearing all morning was coming from the black plastic device lying on the street . A couple of wires attached ; one of them cut .

” Hey , Ed “, I called . This was unprecedented . Ed and I had never had a conversation during the twenty years since Ada and I moved in next to him . ” This thing’s buzzing .”  I began to explain to Ed how I’d seen it yesterday , how I’d heard the buzzing all morning but had no idea it was emanating from the thing in the street .

” It’s not mine ,” he said . ” It might be a car alarm with a sensor . If it were me I’d report it to the police , ” he said . It was the longest conversation that Ed and and had ever had .

” That’s why I’m talking to you , ” I said . ” That’s what I’ll do .”

And I did . Two police cars arrived a few minutes later . I showed the cops the device . The older cop was in the same boat I was . He had no idea what the thing  was . The younger guy said it looked like those wires ” they tie up merchandise in an electronics store with ” . We all agreed that he was right , that that’s what it was .

The thing had stopped buzzing by then but was clicking . The buzzing had sounded like giant grasshoppers . The clicking sounded like a bomb about to go off . Maybe I’ve seen too many movies .

The older cop noted that it had no serial number or other identifying marks and that it was wet like maybe it had been out there on the street for a long time . We all agreed that I should toss it , trash it . I thanked them for responding and they thanked me for calling .

The officers chatted out there on the street in front of my house for a minute or two as their cars sat mid-street .  I’ll get questions later from the old folks on the street . Arcadia is a safe city . This kind of a mundane  thing is big excitement on my street . Good for a little gossip for awhile .cartoon country store

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ValenciaWay2I live on Valencia Way . The name comes from the orange named after the Spanish city . I have one orange tree in the backyard . I think that qualifies me to live here .

In the old days this was an orange-growing area . Not too far south is Orange County . And there is the City of Orange down there .  Closer to home , a few blocks away ,  is Orange Grove Boulevard . Ada and I made an offer years ago on a house on Orange Grove Blvd. It was a broken down neglected old thing , but solidly built once upon a time , and it had an unobstructed view of the mountains . And the price was right . Someone offered more , I guess , and we were out of the running .  It would have been nice in many ways , but Orange Grove is too busy of a street to live on . The orange groves are gone , of course , despite the name .

There were lemon groves around here , too . There is Lemon Avenue in Monrovia . Those groves are long -gone , too . Ada and I have a lemon tree out back , too , which I planted at her mother’s urging . It produces three crops per year ; it seems like an endless supply of lemons is always on the tree . And they taste great .

Arcadia . That’s the name of our city .  Old E. J. Baldwin , who owned all this land and more at some point in history ( 1880’s – 1910 )  started the city on part of his property and named it Arcadia . He could name it anything he wanted , I guess . He attempted an earlier city and called it Baldwin . That didn’t fly . No one bought lots in Baldwin , couldn’t vizualize a town on the dry land as old Lucky Baldwin had .  Couldn’t imagine farms and houses , businesses , and later on shopping malls and a racetrack , a golf course and a community center with yoga classes and inexpensive lunches offered to senior citizens .Picture 066alley walk Arcadia 028

Baldwin tried again . This time he named his imaginary city Arcadia . One of the early prominant settlers in the area was  a woman named Arcadia Bandini . Maybe she is where the name came from . This time the name stuck and a city started . One of the first laws passed was a liquor license ordinance . Bars sprung up like weeds , one of the wildest ones owned by Lucky Baldwin’s oldest daughter . Baldwin had dreams of building a horse racing track in the city . The first city council was made up of Baldwin relatives and employees . E. J. himself was mayor . With that the case , when you want a racetrack you get a racetrack .

Los Angeles was where the approval had to come from at that time . Lucky Baldwin swore up , down , and sideways , that he wouldn’t allow his new city to get out of hand . Gambling ? No way , Baldwin promised . With a straight face he promised . Newspapers in the area screamed and yelled that Baldwin was pulling the wool over everyone’s  eyes . Judges sided with Baldwin . Boards in L.A. County approved . Baldwin was o.k.  He got his city and he built his racetrack and the new Arcadia was swimming in gambling joints and bars . Baldwin produced his own booze , too , and the bars sold it to the crowds who took the train out from Los Angeles for a day in Arcadia . It must have been the Vegas of the day for the area .

Baldwin brandy won awards . The new city of Monrovia , nearby , had begun sedately and successfully . The founders had outlawed liquor in the town . It would be an upstanding , respectable city .  And the fledgling city succeeded . The early residents must have been proud .

And then came Arcadia . Part of Monrovia land had been bought years earlier from E. J. Baldwin . Now Monrovia would have to deal with existing near the Vegas of the day , a gambling , drinking , sporting city , run by a lying old reprobate with no known moral compass . Monrovia was in trouble . Noisy neighbors . Bad for the neighborhood ! The value of the neighborhood would slide down quickly , they feared .  Something had to be done !IMG_3352

Baldwin built his racetrack and two years  later California outlawed gambling , in 1909 . And ten years later came Prohibition in the U.S.   Already the Anti-Saloon League people in Monrovia were denouncing Arcadia and old Lucky himself in their churches and town hall meetings . Poor old Monrovia ! Poor old Baldwin !Picture 069

I hear that Arcadia is one of the few cities these days  without cash-flow problems . Lots of money here because of the racetrack ,  Santa Anita .  Yeah , of course , racing came back to California . Old man Baldwin , long long gone , would be proud !

The heart of his original ranch is there still , the L.A. Arboretum , with it’s rare trees , it’s peacocks whose ancestors E. J.  had brought back from India , Baldwin’s Queen Anne Cottage on the little lake that he had built , and his old adobe house which had once belonged to an earlier inhabitant of the land , Hugo Reid .

Baldwin named one of his daughters Anita . She was named for the racetrack  , not the other way around . E. J.  had a grandson named Baldwin . Yeah : Baldwin Baldwin . Old E. J. Lucky Baldwin’s  name remains around his old holdings : Baldwin Hills , Baldwin Park , Baldwin Dam , Baldwin Avenue , Lucky Baldwin’s Pub………………………IMG_3323

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