Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Arcadia in my mind

kw: travel, reminiscences

When I plan a trip, I "visit" prospective motels via Google Street View. "Driving" down a street and "looking" every which way in Street View gives me an idea what a neighborhood is like. The property may look fine, but the neighborhood makes the difference.

This is a Travelodge in Pasadena at which I've stayed before; I like it pretty well. It is one of three in eastern Pasadena that I've used. Since they are all of similar quality, each time I go I choose by price.

I am gradually losing all my reasons to visit Pasadena. Once, all my family lived in the Pasadena-Arcadia area. Dad was the last to move, to Portland last summer. My niece will soon graduate from Occidental College, a half hour or less to the southwest, so if I don't stay in South Pasadena, I'll probably resort to this Travelodge again…for one last time.

Looking east toward Arcadia after clipping that image, I realized I was looking at an area near a place I used to live. When my parents first moved back from Ohio to California in 1967, we lived at this house in Arcadia. I lived with them there two years; they were there several years longer.

I can only recognize the house by its location. A later resident has walled in part of the front yard, hiding the front of the house. The driveway doesn't seem as steep as it did forty years ago, when I used to back my VW Bug down it, nearly always banging the bumper on the street.

That driveway used to go beside the house, to a garage behind, where Dad and I rebuilt the VW's engine, and my brother took two junked Subarus and produced one running car. None of the houses has a driveway that goes 'round back now. Everyone has added either a side garage or a bedroom. One neighbor even dug out the driveway to street level.

This was the house in which I learned to sleep through cacophony. A family hobby is antique clocks, many gathered while we lived in the Midwest. About twenty or more mantel clocks were kept running in a special set of shelves. By midnight every night, their chiming, along with the cuckooing of at least two cuckoo clocks, fairly rattled the walls. Several were Westminster chimes, with their sixteen-beat tune preceding the twelve sonorous Bongs. One was a Wellington, which has twice the melody!

I retain half a dozen antique clocks, but I keep only one of them in "bonging" trim. My family is less tolerant of midnight music than I.

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