I label it this title because, on a photo shoot for something else in Huntington Beach, I met a man who was from Downey featuring his car in a car show on Main Street. His was the most beautiful car there although, I couldn't tell you a thing about it... "But look how shiny!" as Ross would say.
It was a perfect day today to fly a kite. I wasn't the one flying it but I got to enjoy it while it was above me. It reminded me of a quote I read one time about not being afraid to fly because kites fight the opposing wind too... but I couldn't find it. I found this one and thought it was cute.
“The optimist pleasantly ponders how high his kite will fly; the pessimist woefully wonders how soon his kite will fall.” William Arthur Ward
The entry to the Methodist church appeals to me, but the location has always puzzled me. It is in this set back area that you just don't see unless you go looking for it. I was surprised to read on the marble marker that the church has been in existence in Downey for over 140 years (although, apparently not in its current location).
According to the history of Downey, College Settlement began in the 1860's when John Ardis purchased a parcel of land in the southwest corner of Rancho Santa Gertrudes. Ardis opened a private school and in 1869, with the Methodist Church, established the Los Nietos Collegiate Institute. This school-church centered community attracted settlers who had traveled west hoping to settle and raise families. Nice to see (according to their website) the church still has the same grassroots mindset: a place to connect...to God to people and to faith.
I like to wander our local alleyways. For one thing, it's a change of pace from the usual scenery. But it's also a glimpse into the past, to the unvarnished truth of a home. It's a little like meeting people at a come-as-you-are breakfast.
From the front, this 1930s house looks like a typical post-WWII house. From the back, you can imagine how it was advanced for its time—two cars!—but a little bit worn, a little bit neglected, and a little bit undersized for today.
Here are a few more pictures from yesterday's Arc walk.
What a great way to start our day. It was encouraging to see the amount of support offered by family and friends for the consumers, as they are called at Arc.
Arc works toward creating a culture of more than just accepting people with disabilities. It is about teaching them the value of self-worth and treating them with dignity and respect.
These are just some of the faces from the walk—as different as they are, they all share the willingness to walk together, partnering with one another, knowing that each person is valued within our community.
Today was the annual ARC Walk for Independence at the Stonewood Mall. The fundraiser provides support for the 55-year-old organization that provides vital services and training for over 400 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
We went to take a few pictures and just see what it was about. I had no idea how big it was. It completely took over the mall and there were thousands of people who attended. Many carried signs for the individual, the family, or the sponsor they were walking for. No matter what sign they carried, it was definitely a "family" event.
The groups were fun to watch. It started with a marching band and the unveiling of a new logo for ARC. When the walk was finally announced, the groups enthusiastically took the ground. There was a lot of energy and smiles all around. Everyone was having fun.
One of ARC's goals is to be an advocate, to spread awareness in our world. Did you know March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month?
A couple of months ago, I wrote about the abundance of oranges in Downey. (See If you're an orange.) So what can you do with all these oranges?
These teens decided to create a treasure hunt while they waited for their friend to get home. It started with "follow the oranges." Then, if I remember right, it went to a clue at the side of the house, back to the porch, then to the mailbox, to the fireplace, to the basketball court in back, to a closed umbrella that, when opened, dropped flower petals and a note saying, "You're awesome!".
One thing I really hate about cities is the lack of open spaces. I loved this view because I could see, it felt, for miles. This is from the Space center and looking toward the Kaiser building over the baseball fields.
I have always thought my favorite time of the year was summer with the long days and strong sun. However, since we started this blog and started taking intentional daily pictures, I'm finding that late winter/early spring in Southern California is really beautiful.
This is a view of the mountains from one of my neighborhood streets. The funny thing is that this is the only time of the year we can see the mountains. Almost any other time, you would never even know they were there.
I promise I won't continue to bore you with the views from the top of the Embassy Suites forever. But after yesterday's rainstorm, today's view to the north of Downey was especially clear and pretty.
In the background, about 20 miles away, you can see the San Gabriel Mountains above Pasadena.
In the center, you can see the hills of Monterey Park. Seeing these hills requires a high vantage point and catching the sun just right. The hills are really green right now, with all the rain we've had. But it won't last — in a few months, they'll be golden brown.
Today is the first day of spring, but it's cold and rainy and just plain icky out. So let's go back a couple of days to when the sun was setting on the First Baptist Church of Downey.
As one of the earliest churches in Downey, First Baptist's history goes back over 140 years, to when a traveling preacher first starting meeting with several families from the Downey area. The congregation grew, moved, and expanded to their current location near downtown Downey. The original church, which also served as a schoolhouse, is currently located at Knott's Berry Farm. For a more complete history of the church, see this article from the Downey Patriot.
Today was Fill the Bucket day at Stonewood Shopping Center. Fill the Bucket, sponsored by the American Red Cross Rio Hondo Chapter, is raising funds for disaster relief, with 100% of the money going to relief efforts in Japan. In addition to the Rio Hondo Chapter, the participants included the Downey Police Department and Explorers, the Downey Fire Department and Explorers, and the Downey City Council.
I entered the shopping center at the back entrance, where the police Explorers were manning the entrance. I was told that the firefighters were covering the entrances on Firestone — and they were!
The firefighters left their Explorers, like the Police Explorers in back, in the safety of the parking lot, while they saw much more potential in reaching out to the traffic on busy Firestone Blvd. I think they were having a great time. And the response all around was heartwarming.
Thanks to all of you, who gave either your time or your money to help those suffering in Japan.
I have a European vacation planned for this summer, and I'm determined not to leave any tower unclimbed. So in preparation, I've started climbing the stairs at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Embassy Suites, at 8 stories, is probably the highest building in Downey. I walk up once (with one rest stop), then down, then up (with two rest stops), then down. When I can do that without the rest stops, I'll add another round.
And my reward? A spectacular view of downtown Los Angeles. The LA skyline is about 10 miles away to the west. On the rare clear day, you can actually see the mountains that lie behind those buildings. Today? Not so clear. But if I keep this up, one of these days, I'm going to get a great picture!
We have many birthdays in our family and, for this one, we decided to go with the Cuban Tropicana Bakery for the cake. What a great choice! It was huge, gorgeous, inexpensive, and delicious. I think we'll try the chocolate mousse next!
While there are many different styles of architecture in our city, I love the Spanish or Mission style. It does speak to our history and has a kind of casual elegance. I like the solidness of the adobe look and the arches add a repeated pattern that is appealing. I have to admit, the arches are my favorite.
It is interesting that although Downey is named after an Irish immigrant, the area has a rich history of both Mexican and Spanish influence. In 1771, under the jurisdiction of the San Gabriel Mission, Juan Nieto was granted 300,000 acres of land that encompassed a significant piece of Southern California. 96 acres of this grant was a parcel known as Rancho Santa Gertrudes, which as early as 1873 was called "Downey City." Click here for more info on the history of Downey.
I am someone who is always looking for new ways to use old items and I love to see how other people find ways to do the same. I have to admit, I laughed when I first saw this, but I was also impressed. Someone at this house wanted a chair swing, so they made one quick and easy!
This is a view of some of the buildings on the back side of Rancho Los Amigos - more of the abandoned area south of Imperial. This area is bordered by both old railroad tracks and barbed wired topped fencing. One of the reasons I keep photographing this area is because I'm afraid that one day it will just be bulldozed with no warning and then there will be nothing left from the legacy of the poor farm and polio wards that helped so many over the years.
There's a section of Downey that I almost never go through. It's a little residential section that's north of the Santa Ana freeway (the I5). Most of the time I forget that it's even a part of Downey. So the other day I took a drive through its streets.
The beautiful tiled picture of an old Roman galley was the first thing I saw. It made me long for those idyllic days when we could laze around while someone else worked the oars and served the grapes.
Guess what? Downey is a blank wall for artists! This one has been painted over (see my older post with the same wall.) I still love the sign next to it that clearly states no skating, and our artist's rebellious answer.
Today we had a couple of pine trees removed from our property. They were tall - at least 50 feet high. Since I'm afraid of heights, I was impressed by the way the trimmer climbed the tree, wizzed through the branches with his trusty chain saw and dropped them branch by branch to the ground. At one point, though, the tree was swaying enough I had to look away. All around, it was pretty impressive to watch.
I must admit, it's all a little bittersweet. I have wanted these trees (and others) gone for years. Now that they are gone, it looks so barren, it seems a little sad.
When we checked out the Banksy-like graffiti last weekend (see Did Banksy leave his mark in Downey?), I noticed this young man studying the painting—with a piece of chalk in his hand. Was he thinking, "I could do this"? Or just "She'd look good with a moustache."
One of the advantages to living in the Los Angeles suburbs is the nearness to big city attractions. Today I went to the Los Angeles Zoo, which is located on the north side of Los Angeles, about 20 miles from Downey.
My favorite exhibits are the cats. The two snow leopards, named Tom and Jerry, are usually well hidden in the tall grasses and trees. Today, only one was hidden, and the other one reluctantly opened his eyes and raised his head to check us out.
I couldn't resist seeking out these pictures after reading about them in the Patriot . Banksy, a British street artist (read tagger) has been around since the early 90's. He's known for his distinctive stencil artwork which he has painted in cities around the world. We don't know if this is his work in Downey, but it was fun to search for different paintings today and to discover we weren't alone in our quest. It seems quite a few of our Downey neighbors read the paper and had the same idea. There was a small crowd already gathered as we arrived at the first sight.
At the last sight, after spending several minutes maneuvering my car around so we could climb up to take a picture above the chain link, I looked down to notice a significant opening in the corner section of the fence- big enough to climb through easily...I always consider that an invitation.
Postscript: Further Googling indicates that the graffiti is the work of Los Angeles street artist Bumblebee. See this interview for more information.
This morning in a "security" guarded parking lot my dad's bike, his main mode of transportation, was stolen. Sadly, even in great towns such as this, we can never fully trust others. In this case, someone assumed that a locked bike on a secured bike rack meant that they only had to work harder, cutting off the lock, to take what wasn't theirs. A premeditated act of vandalism. Maybe we can work with these sad people to put all that hard work into something that they can actually claim as their own instead of having to steal what isn't.
Bouncing off of Joan and her history with a mystery theme, I took a picture of the alley right behind my house. I love the old alleys in Downey because so many of them (like this one) used to be long driveways of estates long ago split up into smaller properties.
I am so drawn to Rancho Los Amigos. There is history here and mystery too. I heard it aptly described this past week as urban decay. It is accurate, but it seems so odd because it is right here, in Downey, middle class America.
It feels like such a waste. It was once this thriving city within a city. Hundreds of polio patients were treated and housed here. Now, it is empty, silent and fenced off. There are acres of abandoned buildings falling apart as we look on. I read stories of asbestos and other improper building materials. I'm not sure what the resolve will eventually be, but it feels like it is dying right in front of us.