Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gardener needed

gardener needed

I just had to snap this picture. I can't imagine how hard it would be to get to the front door...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The wheel thing


Classic cars have so much character and they are fun to photograph. So, I'm always on the lookout. I spotted this beautiful old Ford in a restaurant parking lot and had to pop out and snap a picture. If you enlarge it, you can see my reflection in the hubcap. 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Downey Patriot headline

I work as an editor in my day job, so I enjoy seeing the occasional typos and unclear statements in the newspapers. In fact, I check for a little bit of daily fun. But I don't generally get to see these things in my local paper—except for this week, when I spotted this headline in our Downey Patriot.

Of course, the Patriot can say that they're just reporting the news. It's the CDC who is spending our tax money to tell us the obvious.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meet Mr. Mambo

Mambo Grill David

While I was taking pictures of the new Avenue Theater facade, I noticed the chef next door at the Mambo Grill cooking some delicious-looking items. When I asked if I could take his picture, he agreed and introduced himself as David, or Mr. Mambo. Then he challenged me to find where he appears in the painting next door.

Avenue Theater mural closeupI searched and searched, but couldn't find him without help, so David took a quick break and pointed him out. There he is, in the corner of the ad, in the corner of the movie poster.

Click here to see my original post of the full facade, to see why I had such a hard time spotting him!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nighttime Bob's


This is a Downey classic. Bob's Big Boy Broiler at night.

I like how the retro signs and lights look after dark, so I headed there tonight expecting some car culture.... I guess I had my dates wrong. So, while there are no pictures of classic cars, the restaurant itself is still fun.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adults 65 cents

Avenue Theater mural

Vacation and work have left me with no backlog of Downey Daily pictures. Which explains why, after a full day of work and dinner out with my parents, I'm driving around Downey at 9pm looking for a picture.

As is often the case at night, I'm drawn to downtown Downey. And the first thing I notice, with its bright marquee lights, is the completed Avenue Theater mural. (You can see the work in progress in Joan's post from a few weeks ago.) It looks inviting enough to walk on in. I wonder if 65 cents was expensive when West Side Story played here in the 1960s.

Avenue Theater mural closeupIn the closeup of the movie poster, you'll see Mr. Mambo. I'll introduce you to today's Mr. Mambo on Sunday.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Police promotion

police man

Along with several city announcements (like the last Concert in the Park and a few Community Watch BBQues) going on this week, the city of Downey promoted some Police officers. It was strange seeing one of our "City's Finest" tear up while mentioning his family in his speech.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hope is high

Brenda's speech

It's 3:00 am. You wake up with a chill and see the bedroom window is cracked open. You shuffle out of bed to close it and grab another blanket from the closet. On your way back to bed you see the cradle in the corner still has the "auto rock" on and is swaying gently. You go over to see your month old baby sigh deeply in her sleep. She's perfect. All ten toes and all ten fingers. From the perfect puff on her head to the tiny freckle on her pinky toe, she's perfect. Suddenly you're seeing her first birthday, her first boyfriend and Prom and college flashing before your eyes. You softly touch her cheek, tuck the covers in around her a little tighter and slide back into bed.

Two months later.

It's 3:00 am. You wake up with a chill and see the bedroom window is cracked open. You shuffle out of bed to close it and grab another blanket from the closet. On your way back to bed you see that you still haven't moved the cradle. The empty cradle. The cradle that once held your perfect depiction of Love. The cradle that you and your husband put together three months ago. Then, after a month of pure joy, your world turned inside out. The day you realized you would never see her first birthday, her first boyfriend, Prom or college.

The day you found out your baby girl was diagnosed with SMA.

This is a situation no mother or father ever wants to find themselves in. But unfortunately, more than a few do. According to a study, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is the #1 reason for infant death. And even more unfortunate is the fact that it doesn't have to be this way. There are cures just over the horizon in labs and minds of Scientists. But there is no funding for something so few of the population know about. In these situations, people grieve in a variety of ways, some strange, others wondrous.

Brenda Barberena lost the little love of her life to SMA almost two years ago. Since then, she has been an advocate for various teams fighting for a cure for SMA. She has been a spokesperson, a campaigner, and a friend for those grieving their own loss. This August, she became a board member and director for a non-profit organization called It is a voice in the darkness for those who are fighting and those who have lost. The plea for awareness encourages those who feel that no one knows what they are going through. "Hope for SMA" speaks publicly for those whose hearts are aching. It reaches to people outside the circle of pain. It raises hope.

City Council Proclemation

This August was a huge stepping stone for Brenda and her cause. Not only was her organization started, but our beautiful city of Downey proclaimed August as SMA awareness month. The City Council awarded her this Proclamation last night at their meeting where Fire fighters, Policemen, and people of the city listened to her story about her baby and her fight.

This fight is far from the end, but steps like the one our city took raises hope that soon, others will be making these steps to funding and finding a cure.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bloomin' things


I like flowers and growing things. And, I never fail to find joy in the discovery of new blooms in my garden. These flowers are not mine, they peek over the fence of a neighbors yard. But, I get to appreciate them on my walks around the neighborhood.
The earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stocking up on school supplies

Target back to school shopping shelves

Target back to school shopping signA shelf that looks like this can mean only one thing—it's time to shop for school supplies. (Maybe past time, judging by the picked-over state of the inventory here.) And choosing just the right notebook is an important part of the process.

School starts in just a couple of weeks, on Wednesday, September 7. Already, teachers are back at school, attending meetings and getting their classrooms ready for the new school year.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The asphalt business

CEI Enterprises

The logo on these huge tanks indicates that this is CEI Enterprises, located in the manufacturing section of Downey. I've never heard of them before. According to one of their neighbors, they have something to do with asphalt. Beyond that, I can't find out much about them.

Hmmm, I think this is going to require some more investigation. I'll let you know what I find out.

Saturday, August 20, 2011



I have been working Saturdays so I haven't been to the Farmer's Market in weeks. I come for the organic eggs and fresh veggies and these brilliant, yellow melons.


Then, I'm tempted by these dangerously beautiful caramel apples. It just isn't fair!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Payless is gone...Welcome to the Marketplace

Marketplace Grill and Cafe

If you'd told me a few years ago that I'd spend a pleasant evening eating dinner in the Payless Shoes parking lot, I'd have laughed.

But that's what I did tonight. Actually, Payless has been gone a couple of years now, and in its place, the Marketplace Grill and Cafe opened this week, with its patio dining area where we ate our dinner.

Marketplace Grill and Cafe manager
Assistant general manager Sandra Efstathiou
making sure that everything was good at
our table. (Also shown: Don Lamkin, a fellow
Downey Arts Coalition member.)
There are hints of Greece here and there, from the sign at the order desk ("everything is cooked with Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil," or "liquid gold") and the Greek salad served with dinner to the assistant general manager ("I'm not Greek, but I'm married to one"), Sandra Efstathiou.

What was most astonishing was the service! Because we ordered and paid at the counter inside, I didn't expect to be taken care of. But we were, from the time we were seated to the take-out boxes cheerfully provided before we left. And not just the rote "Welcome to..." greeting. Everyone, from Sandra down to the busboys, was determined to see that we had a magical experience that would ensure that we will come back.

And it worked. I'm already looking forward to my next meal there.

See ‘Hip, cool’ restaurant sees an opportunity for more information about the restaurant from the Downey Patriot.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Making Downey beautiful

Library Electrical Box

The Downey City Library has been serving the community for over 50 years. I noticed the other day on one of my morning bike rides, that they have curbside service on Brookshire. Oh wait, that’s actually an electrical box painted to look like bookshelves!

The City Council authorized a campaign recently to make Downey more beautiful. You can see this fun take on the movement with these splashes of color all around Downey. To learn more about this project, see The Downey Patriot - Public art coming to a theater near you.
“I go into my library, and all history unrolls before me.”
Alexander Smith (1830 – 1867). Dreamthorp, 11, 1863
Guest Blogger, Steve Mansell

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hot rods

old car

license plateWith all our other old cars, I had to put this one in. I thought it was so cute with the side panel writing and the old school looks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Singing the blues...


One of Don Lamkin's creations.... Otis Rush, famous blues performer, is depicted on the back of a guitar. This guitar, along with many other art pieces, are on display (and for sale) at Mari's wine bar on Firestone Blvd. for several more weeks to come.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Water conservation

Water wise garden

Downey is fortunate to have its own water supply, so we are not subject to the water rationing that sometimes take place in the surrounding areas that are served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Even so, it's important that we all do our part to conserve water.

One way to conserve is to eliminate the need to water your lawn. Ever.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Retro restaurant

Bob's Big Boy juke box

Bob's Big Boy, originally located on Florence Avenue in Downey, was the Friday night restaurant of my youth.

Bob's Big Boy waitressBob's Big BoyNow, in its reincarnation at the site of the old Johnie's Broiler, Bob's is a favorite dining spot for fans of classic cars. From its juke box with selections of music from the 60s and 70s and its retro waitress shirts and scarves to its namesake plump logo and Friday night carhop service, it's a retro paradise.

Bob's Big Boy event scheduleBob's wasn't very crowded when I ate there tonight. But that's because I happened upon an off night in their otherwise full schedule of class car events. We'll be back next weekend, so that we can show you some of those classic cars—and their classic drivers.

Click here for a previous Bob's Big Boy post.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Downey Symphony in the park


IMG_7232I finally made it to one of this summer's  Wednesday night "Concerts in the Park"! This week the Downey Sympony Orchestra performed. For a list of the musical line up, click here for the Downey Arts Coalition.

I like the whole experience of the concerts in the park. You can bring dinner, chairs, blankets, pets, friends...and it's free!

IMG_7221While trying to take pictures without blocking anyone's view, I placed myself in front of a tree. Not really thinking about it, I leaned back against the tree—bad idea. It didn't take long at all for me to figure out the tree was "alive" with ants. So, the orchestra was playing a Cuban mambo song, the audience was shouting "Mambo," and I was doing what I'm sure looked like some kind of interpretative dance as I was attempting to get ants off my arms, my back, and out of my hair.

Sunset at the beach

Woman sitting on Seal Beach

One of the nice things about living in southern California is our nearness to the beach. Seal Beach, just 20 miles south of Downey, makes the perfect destination on a summer Friday evening.

You can sit on the beach and read while watching the sun set, or you can walk out to the end of the Seal Beach pier and have dinner at Ruby's Diner.

Sunset at Seal Beach Pier

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Swim meeting


swimmer blue capMany activities happened at the USA Swimming meets this past weekend. Swimmers like Olivia Aguirre, pictured here, swam to have minimum time requirements for other swim meets. Olivia enjoys the sprint lengths of 100-meter freestyle and breaststroke but will swim longer lengths if her team needs her.

Also at the meet were concession stands of energy drinks and the latest in swimwear among others.

concession stand

It takes a lot of volunteers to put on a meet this size and the ones in the administration tent were very helpful in giving me a background of the meet and making sure I was legitimate before letting me take pictures of the activities. If you are interested in having your children be involved in organized swimming, contact our local swim club, the Downey Dolphins.

Guest Blogger, Steven Mansell

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

USA Swimming comes to Downey

pool sign

Imagine, 2 days, 1500 meters of water, parents behind you screaming to "focus and stick to the right and watch the girl on the left", swimmers ages 5-18 all waiting for their turn to show what they can do.

This is the USA Swimming meet and Downey High School is holding it this time. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

View from above

Embassy Suites in Downey is a beautiful hotel. I really like how they have designed the interior - like a courtyard and open on the inside to all the levels. 
Looking down from the 8th floor, this picture is of a cozy-looking little eating area set in a gazebo on the ground floor level. While I have admired it several times, I've yet to have the chance to actually eat there.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

More from the Farmer's Market

Farmer's market fresh veggies

Whether it's fresh fruit and veggies, or dinner ready to go, browsing through the Farmer's Market on a Saturday morning is always incredibly tempting!

Farmer's market dinner to go

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Demolition time

Demolished Verizon building window

Demolished Verizon buildingMost of the time when I compare "then" versus "now," many years have intervened. Not so in the case of the Verizon building, which is being demolished to make way for a new six-story, 50-unit affordable housing development.

"Then" was just over a month ago. See The old Verizon building for a photo of the vacant building before it was demolished, and for a photo of the building from the 1950s.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Art on the Vine at Mari's Wine Bar


Art, music and wine...a natural combination. Tonight Mari's Wine Bar hosted an art exhibition of four local artists. The turnout was great, the bar was full and the atmosphere was welcoming. I enjoyed wandering around with my Cabernet, admiring the art and chatting with old friends and new (I even ran into my neighbors). 

Presented by the Downey Arts Coalition, the event is intended to be a recurring opportunity to experience a wide variety of creative work, from visual art to poetry, to performing art.


The featured artists for this month are Jorge Del Toro, sculptor and abstract painter; Carolina Del Toro, photographer; Claudia Hernandez, photographer; Don Lamkin, artist.

We were even treated to a special performance from the legendary Phil Alvin from The Blasters.

The art will remain on display in Mari's for the remainder of the month. Going forward, each month "Art on the Vine" will feature new local artists. If you know a local artist who would be interested in participating in one of the exhibits, click here for the Downey Arts Coalition. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Soccer season

Lil Tinkerbells soccerLil Tinkerbells soccer

Soccer season starts soon, and the Lil Tinkerbells at Furman Park are ready. They got their uniforms today, and they can hardly wait!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Never rush perfection


Okay, so it isn't perfection, but Costco gas is so great that you have to wait in lines to get to it. I guess it's worth it though since I do it every time I need it. I just can't go before work or I'll run the risk of being really late.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pick your part


It's hot.

So hot my sneakers are sinking into the asphalt. I start making circular designs in the pavement with my heels.

All around me are Fords with their hoods up ready and waiting to be searched and picked a part. Most however, already have doors long gone, windows smashed in from wrecks, engines lain on their sides with pieces missing. Anything I need, from a tiny bolt to the entire trunk, is up for grabs. I just need to find it in this organized chaos. This is any man's dream.

I however, not being one of those men, have no idea what I'm looking at and therefore, wouldn't know if I needed it or not. I came with someone looking for a specific car, a specific make and a specific year and I've lost him somewhere in the Chevy section.

I turn down the Taurus aisle and find a pile of tires. I feel a strong urge to call all of my brothers to ask if they need anything.

If they do need a head lamp or a side panel though, I won't have any idea what they mean or how to find one.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Avenue Redux


Unfortunately this is not a real come back for the Avenue Theater. However, it is being given a new face that is much more appealing than the plain white wall that has been here for a number of years.

The redux looks just like an old theater, there's even a sign for the box office opening. According to the artists, the facade should be completed by this Sunday.

Originally built in 1922, the theater had several names before it eventually became the Avenue in 1948. I can remember coming here as a young child and continued the practice with my daughter (although by then it had become a second-run theater). It eventually closed in 2003.

The Downey Conservancy has a petition in process to save this historic landmark. If you are interested in signing the petition click here .

Here is a what the theater looked like in the 1960's.
Avenue Theater Downey Ave. between Second and Third St. 1960's
Photo courtesy The Downey Conservancy/George Redfox