Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trick or treat?

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It was a light Halloween for us this year. We still had crowds, but not nearly as many kids as last year. We barely went through three bags of candy. I think last year it was seven bags.

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According to the International Business Times, Samhain, which is an Irish Celtic festival, inspired Halloween. Samhain celebrates the end of the harvest season. The tradition spread to the rest of the world after the Irish fled Ireland because of the potato famine. Of course, the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico developed from ancient traditions from its pre-Columbian cultures. Either way, it has continued to be our custom to give out candy to neighborhood kids (and more often parents too) who dress up and go door-to-door, asking for "trick or treats."

Friday, October 30, 2015


Dog waiting for owner

I've shown you a lot of the historical "now and then" shots from the downtown historical walk a couple of weeks ago. This is my last picture from that walk, and it's not at all historical.

This fluffy dog, who looks like he can hardly see through all that hair in his face, is patiently waiting, outside of the Hall of Fame Market and Deli, for his owner to return.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wooded beauty II


This is a continuation of yesterday's post regarding my stay at Mission Springs Conference Center in Scotts Valley. Surrounding the conference center's grounds are private homes that look onto the central field. I showed that field yesterday.

This home's balcony looks down onto the grassy field and onto the mountain on the other side. It looks like the perfect morning coffee spot or even a sunset dinner. I wonder who "S" and "K" are? I hope they are taking the time to enjoy this gift.

Do you have a special place you consider a gift?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wooded beauty


Recently, I was up north in Scotts Valley at Mission Springs Conference Center for a week-long training class for my pastor's license. It was a great week of encouragement and learning that I thoroughly enjoyed. But the greatest part of the week was getting to live in the woods along the coast above Santa Cruz. Surrounded by redwoods, pines, colorful flowers, and blue sky, I was allowed to see natural beauty on a constant basis. This is a shot of the main open area of the conference area.


The flora all around the conference center is beautiful and abundant. Even the bees are friendly as long as you don't bother them in their pollen gathering.

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."
~ John Muir

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A haunted house.....

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It is that time's almost Halloween and houses all around the neighborhoods are looking more and more"'haunted." I have passed this one a number of times, each time noticing something different.

"If one door closes and another door opens, start worrying 'cuz your house is probably haunted." 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Take me home, country road


Some walks through Downey take you through modern areas filled with new buildings. But on last week's historical walking tour, we passed through some of the back streets of downtown Downey, where many older buildings still survive.

The house behind these trees is probably from the 1930s. Looking at this mishmash of fences along one side, I felt like I was walking down a country road from many years ago.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

When Trader Joe's was little - now and then

Hall of Fame Market and Deli

Would you believe there used to be a Trader Joe's store in Downey? Well, before the Hall of Fame Market, before the Hi-Ho Market, there was Pronto Market.

According to the Trader Joe's website, "It all started in the 50s... Would you believe we started out as a small chain of convenience stores? It’s true. Way back in 1958. We were called Pronto Markets. In ‘67, our founder, the original Trader Joe, changed our name (yes, to Trader Joe’s) and the way we do business."

Legend has it that, way back then, someone in the city government offended Joe, who said, "If we leave Downey now, we're never coming back." And they never have.

Photo courtesy of the Downey Historical Society Archives

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Catch 22

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Don Lamkin's solo art exhibit did not disappoint. Don has such a down to earth approach to his art. It is fun and reflects his casual style.

IMG_6396 as Smart Object-1I'm not sure why his exhibit was called Catch 22. I forgot to ask him. I'm gonna guess it is because he is an non-artist type of artist. So, in this case, Don is the Catch 22.

"Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life."
~ Pablo Picasso

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Doodle-icious style

Don Lamkin Stay Gallery Anniversary

The Stay Gallery is celebrating its third anniversary with a solo show of Don Lamkin's art works. Don has been a great supporter of the gallery, and the arts in Downey in general, for many years now.

Don Lamkin Stay Gallery AnniversaryDon is best known for his Downey Doodle-icious painting. The Doodle-icious style was something he happened upon accidentally. He writes, "It was never intended to be more than a simple doodle. [It] was created while watching TV on a 6"x12" canvas given to me by a friend because 'it was too small to do anything meaningful on.'" When a friend liked the painting, he made another one in the same style, but filled it with the things that were meaningful to her. As you can see in the picture to the right, you can look a long time and still not see it all.

The Downey Doodle-icious painting was created as a raffle item for the annual Downey street fair, to raise money for the Downey Museum of Art. After it was recreated as the mural in downtown Downey, other cities came calling, looking for someone to create a mural to celebrate their own history and landmarks.

Don doesn't consider himself an artist. He says he doesn't have the typical artist personality. "I'm on time. I'm not sensitive." But, he says, "I find it very interesting and fun to research, design, compose, and execute these doodle-icious art pieces."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Humans of Downey - Ramone, Georgianna, and Fluffy


"We met in English class at Downey High School in the 80s. When I saw her I said, 'That’s the girl I’m going to marry.' Our first date was at Frisco’s Drive-in on Woodruff where we had burgers and fries."
~ Ramone

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Humans of Downey - Leroy


"My happiest memories growing up were when I was playing baseball. I loved to play baseball. Back then we lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. I played shortstop mostly, although I could play any position. I was not a power hitter but went for base hits instead. I played until I was around 22, and then I tapered off. Later, I had a friend that coached Pony League and I helped him out.

"Now my exercise is walking. I walk a couple of miles 6 days a week. I start on Columbia Way, go down to Imperial Hwy. I go east to Caring Way where I turn left. Then I complete the circle, going around the baseball fields."
~ Leroy

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

For the sacrifice

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This memorial sun dial sits in front of the Downey Civic Theater, dedicated to the Downey men who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam.  If you look on the inside of the circle, there are the men's names. In doing a little research, it appears that the fountain just to the side of the sun dial is also part of the memorial.

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." 
~ CK Chesterton

Monday, October 19, 2015

Folk Victorian—now and then

Prairie Victorian

This house in downtown Downey was built in 1881. Its style falls into the category of "folk Victorian."

Prairie VictorianUnlike the fancier Victorian and Queen Anne styles, this was a home that the ordinary family could afford. Mass production made decorative architectural trim more affordable, and the expansion of the railroads made it possible to get factory-made parts nearly anywhere.

The undated picture below (courtesy of the Downey Historical Society Archives) shows the house before it became surrounded by commercial buildings.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Downey arch—now and then

Downey arch

I learned quite a bit on Saturday's Downtown Downey Historical Walking Tour, which I'll show you over the next week or so. In the case of this arch, which we first wrote about (see This old arch) back when DDP was very young, we didn't know yet about the Downey Conservancy or the Downey Historical Society, both of which have since been a source of historical pictures for us.

So, I'll repeat what Allison first wrote about this arch, and add this picture of the arch in the original Downey City Hall, circa 1956. (Courtesy of the Downey Historical Society)
This arch served as the main entrance for the Downey Grammar School from 1916-1956 and for the first Downey City Hall from 1957-1984. It was moved from 8524 2nd Street to this Civic Center location on December 6, 1984, and was refurbished and preserved. The arch sits behind the Downey Police Station.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

An ideal community...

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Today we spent the morning on a Downtown Downey Walking Tour led by George Redfox. What a fun morning.

IMG_6360 as Smart Object-1I felt I learned several new things about our town. We wandered down streets I have walked many times before, but saw things I had never noticed. Or, George pointed out the historical significance, which made me look at them differently.

Being able to see the original buildings (or streets) really brought home how much our community has changed over the years. This 1940s sign told visitors to Downey that we were the "ideal community".

Friday, October 16, 2015

My wish list

Fry's Electronics City of Industry

I love shopping at Fry's Electronics. And the huge gears above the entrance of the store in City of Industry always remind me of the front of the It's a Small World ride at Disneyland.

I've heard a lot of suggestions for the stores that will populate the new Downey Promenade—Trader Joe's, our own Costco, or Barnes & Noble. But one of my top choices would be Fry's.

What do you want to see at the Downey Promenade?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Humans of Downey - Joe


"I remember the El Niño of the late 90s. That was bad. I remember it raining for a week straight at one point. The best part about it, though, was I couldn't go to work. I got to take a few days off. I love to work but I can't stay home for too long or I start getting antsy.

"Of course, now we are going through a sustained drought that's affecting everything. I'm trying to do my part in conservation. I figure if people see me do something to conserve they may do something on their own."
~ Joe

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Humans of Downey - Rodolfo


"I can remember when I and my five kids went to Mazatlan, Mexico, to visit their grandmother. My kids were not used to any violent weather. One day while we were there the sky became so black, the rain so heavy, and the lightning so numerous that my kids started crying and I didn't know what to do to help them. I knew we were safe in the house but it was still scary to them.

"Then the lights went out and I had all five kids screaming at me, 'Oh, daddy, I want to go back home. I don't want to stay here.' I said, 'Don't worry, nothing is going to happen to us in here.' But for three or four hours they were shaking and crying, it was very difficult for me to bring them, to calm them down. But it was a good experience because after it was over we were all laughing about how we had responded during the storm. Their grandmother tried to explain that everything would be alright, that they got storms like this one all the time.

"They still recall that storm even 20 years later. My youngest was 3 months old at the time and he says he can remember it because everyone has told the story so many times with such vividness."
~ Rodolfo

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Beware of dog

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It's funny what you will see if you are just paying attention. I must have walked past this one many times before, but this day it caught my attention. I'm assuming that when the new fence was added, no one bothered to remove the warning.

"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down." ~Robert Benchley

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stepping stones


Downey provides so many unique ideas for yard art. This example makes me want to take off my shoes and take a walk.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Enter if you dare!

Halloween decorations

Halloween decorations are starting to pop up all over town.

Halloween decorationsSpiders and their webs make me squirm and jump around like a crazy person. Even when I know they're fake, they still give me the shivers.

"Spider web (noun): a thing you walk into that suddenly turns you into a karate master."

Halloween decorations

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Early morning freeway

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Living in Downey is really convenient. The freeways surround the city, making it easy to hop on and be on the way to work. Even so, I often kind of resent my drive to and from work. It seems like my navigation system is always rerouting me because of traffic, a car accident, or road work up ahead and it always seems to take longer than I anticipated.

One day, this past week, I went into work earlier than normal. I was astounded by the beauty of the sunrise. It made me want to come into work early every day! It was a great way to start my morning and change my perspective.

"Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there's something good about feeling both." 
~ Amy Grant

Friday, October 9, 2015

Autumn and the retail calendar

Thanksgiving decorations

Our current 90 degree days might give the impression that summer will never end.

Day of the Dead balloonsBut with pumpkins, balloons, and all sorts of autumn decor for sale, the retail calendar says that the fall holidays (Día de Muertos, Halloween, and Thanksgiving) are already upon us.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Humans of Downey - Alyssa


"Bookstores! The smell of bookstores always reminds me of my dad because he would take me to a bookstore almost every weekend when I was growing up. I got into French that way. I've taken three years of French in school because of books that I got at these bookstores. The love of foreign languages is one of my passions that was cultivated in the bookstores my dad took me to.

"My dad and I still go to bookstores but sometimes I'll go by myself. It's like a habit I've taken on. I love those memories."
~ Alyssa

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Humans of Downey - Veronica and Marley


"A girlfriend of mine was seeing this guy and my future husband was at this guy's house one time when I came over. We were introduced and started seeing each other after that. Mostly, we saw each other at the friend's house and on double-dates. But then, for our first real date alone, we went to this bookstore in downtown LA. It was this coolest little bookstore. It had floor to ceiling books all over the place. We sat in there, had coffee, and talked through the evening. It was something I hadn't done before."
~ Veronica

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sun shine

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I spotted this plane as the sun was setting and the reflected shine on the plane made the it look like the plane was covered in light and the whole bottom of the plane had a distinct glow to it. Light has a way of reflecting so magically that you are drawn to an object that would otherwise seem ordinary.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Old home week

First house

I grew up in Downey. My parents bought their first (and only) house in Downey in 1950. (See Post-WWII housing boom.) But when they first got married, in 1946, World War II had just ended and it was impossible to find a place to live. So, for the first couple of years of their married life, they lived in this second-story duplex in downtown Los Angeles with my mom's parents.

The G.I. bill paid my dad's tuition and books plus provided some additional money for living expenses. That,  with my mom's job and her parents taking care of my brother, made my dad’s schooling possible.

All this I learned a few weeks ago when the family was together and took a drive through the old streets of Los Angeles. My dad immediately remembered that upper patio room where my grandfather sat and played with my brother. It's fun that it's still there, nearly 70 years later.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Practice makes perfect

Baseball lessons

Practice. Patience. And drills. That's what it takes to teach new skills. These young girls have just finished some infield drills and are wrapping up with some stretching exercises. Fun stuff!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

One year later


Last August we posted the grand opening of the new children's play area—a gift from the Downey Kiwanis Foundation. This morning, the equipment was deserted.

IMG_5997 as Smart Object-1Perhaps it was too early, or all the kids are in school. Normally, I see it covered in little ones climbing and sliding. Probably why I never noticed that the Kiwanis logo shows so perfectly through the side viewing spots!

"Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time."

Friday, October 2, 2015

All you need

Morning at the park

This man has everything he needs for a relaxing morning at the park—something to drink, something to read, and a quiet place to sit in the shade.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Humans of Downey - Gustavo


"I'm going to school right now to get my barber's license. Being my own boss is what drew me to pursue this profession. Working for nobody and the money is good. It will be better than submitting all those applications. I want to prove to myself that I can accomplish this. I have to put in 1500 hours at the school to get my license. I can put in those hours at my discretion but if I don't complete them within my contracted time, I have to pay more. I'm on schedule though. I currently have 530 hours in since March.

"I used to work at Home Depot and I felt the people there were struggling because of the environment. I'd hear the same stories from most of them about how hard it was. Some other events were pushing me to make a change. I started thinking and decided that I wanted something different. That's when I started pursuing barber school."
~ Gustavo