A Day Filled With History: Personal Challenge, Day 14 (9.30.12)

With the unseasonably warm weather reaching 100 degrees today, I opted for something indoors.  When you live in a city rich with history, a museum is a great place to visit to beat the heat.  For today, I chose the Pasadena Museum of History.

The Pasadena Museum of History, located at the corner of Orange Grove and Walnut, was founded in 1924.  If you want to know anything about the history of Pasadena and the surrounding areas, this is the place to go.  Admission is $7 for adults and there are annual memberships available starting at $50.  On their website, I found an application for an Educator membership which is free for the first year.  Of course, that is the membership I chose.

When you first arrive at the museum, go to the Museum Store, located to the left of the entrance.  You pay the admission fee there or you can purchase a membership.  The ladies who work there are extremely helpful.  I told them about my personal challenge to go to a different place every day for a year.  Inside the store, there are numerous history and tour books about Pasadena, Mount Lowe, Mount Wilson and the surrounding areas.  I personally found several books to aid me in my quest, including the book “Hometown Pasadena.”

After spending way too much time in the Museum store, I finally headed over to the exhibit hall.  There are currently two exhibits.  When you walk in, there is a docent to provide you with additional information about each exhibit.  To the right, there is an exhibit on the Doo Dah Parade.  I had never heard of the Doo Dah Parade before but the flamboyant costumes on display caught my eye and I decided I would explore this exhibit first.

The Doo Dah Parade is an annual parade in Pasadena that is the opposite of the formal Rose Parade.  While walking through the exhibit and viewing the costumes and pictures, I started to think that this is a parade where the West Hollywood Halloween Parade and Burning Man converge.  The first official Doo Dah Parade occurred on Sunday January 1, 1978.  It is tradition that the Rose Parade always takes place on January 1st but they won’t march on a Sunday.  So a group of friends gathered together for this alternative parade that has spanned similar Doo Dah Parades in Ohio and New Jersey.

The Pasadena Doo Dah parade no longer takes place in January.  It has now moved to the first weekend before May Day.  The next Pasadena Doo Dah parade will take place on April 27, 2013.  I  definitely plan on attending and seeing all this alternative parade has to offer first hand.

On the left side of the Pasadena Museum of History exhibit hall, there is a look back at the old Pacific Electric Railway.  This exhibit consists mostly of historical photographs of the old railway cars seen throughout the Los Angeles area with pictures of what those areas look like today.  As a photographer, I found this exhibit to be absolutely fascinating.  It is hard to imagine a time in Los Angeles where it cost $.60 for a round trip ticket on the rail system and it only took 20 minutes to get anywhere in Los Angeles.  Today, Metro fares start at $1.80 one way.  But the majority of people in Los Angeles drive at a current price of $4.25 per gallon of gas and it could take you only 20 minutes to drive anywhere in Los Angeles, if you were on the freeways at 3am.  During rush hour traffic, all freeways do a great impression of a parking lot and it can take around an hour and a half just to drive 20 miles.

I actually found this exhibit inspiring.  I love the idea of looking at the historical photographs of Los Angeles (and this museum houses thousands of them) and going to those areas today to see how much they have changed or perhaps stayed the same with preservation efforts.  This exhibit had quite an impact on me–I bought the book, Pacific Electric Railways: Then and Now, with the displayed photographs and many others.

There is a historical mansion located on the property of the Pasadena Museum of History, the Feynes Mansion.  Unfortunately, the mansion was closed for restoration efforts and will reopen for tours in December.  There are members only “First Peek” tours in November.  I will have to return to explore the mansion then.

As I was leaving the museum, my stomach started to growl.  I thought this would be the perfect time to check out the Pie N’ Burger restaurant that I have heard numerous people, specifically yesterday at the Archery Range, rave about.

Pie N’ Burger is located on California just east of Lake.  There is no parking lot but plenty of street parking on California and Lake.  When I walked in, I felt like I stepped back in time.  This 60s Diner style restaurant had what had to be its original cash register and Hamilton Beach shake mixer.  Pie N’ Burger first opened in 1963 and it remains at its original location with the original decor and one of the original waitresses.  Just be warned that they are a CASH ONLY establishment.  As one patron told me, “they didn’t have credit cards or debit cards in the 60s.”

Now as for the food, I was impressed.  I ordered the original hamburger with cheese (minus Thousand Island dressing), a side of fries and a slice of Boysenberry pie (recommended by my waitress).  I ordered a diet coke and watched as my waitress hand mixed the syrup with soda water.  I asked and it is even the same menu, with the addition of a few items like a vegetarian burger, and of course an increase in prices.  I wish I would have ordered an ice cream soda instead of a diet coke.  I think it would have been interesting to have an authentic Ice Cream Soda.  Even though this is a little pricey for me (kinda of close in price to the Johnny Rocket’s prices, maybe a little cheaper), it was worth it and I will definitely go back.  (I can guarantee my Mom will want to go here when she comes to visit).

All and all, I would say this was a very successful day.  Actually, a successful weekend to make up for what I thought was a disappointing Friday trip.

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