RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Battle of the Little Big Horn… or Custer’s Last Stand

Until I graduated from high school and my parents finally settled in Los Angeles (buying a house), I lived the life of a nomad moving here, there and everywhere… and back again! My schooling was spotty to say the least so I never had a continuous grasp of American history. And what I did know was from the perspective of the White European Settler. My knowledge of the Battle of Little Big Horn had to do with the bravery of the white “American” soldiers.

As I am admittedly not very big on American history, my interest in visiting the Little Big Horn Battlefield was limited. But after seeing the area and learning about what really took place here, I have to say I am grateful for the opportunity to see it first hand. This is certainly one of the values of traveling. You can watch documentaries on TV or read books forever but it doesn’t have the same impact as actually being there!

Memorial to Custer and his soldiers who died during the battle

“The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass[10] and also commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which resulted in the defeat of U.S. forces, was the most significant action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It took place on June 25–26, 1876, along the Little Bighorn River in the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana Territory….” Wikipedia.

As with all battles and wars, the tombstones are the reminders of the costs.

“The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, who were led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, and had been inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. 7th Cavalry, a force of 700 men, suffered a major defeat while under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer (formerly a brevetted major general during the American Civil War). Five of the 7th Cavalry’s twelve companies were annihilated and Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count included 268 dead and 55 severely wounded (six died later from their wounds),[12] including four Crow Indian scouts and at least two Arikara Indian scouts…” Wikipedia.

During this trip there was a lot of emphasis on the Native American. I wonder if in years past (say ten years ago) there was the same awareness

 

Indian Memorial by Colleen Cutschall

Public response to the Great Sioux War varied in the immediate aftermath of the battle. Libbie Custer, Custer’s widow, soon worked to burnish her husband’s memory, and during the following decades Custer and his troops came to be considered iconic, even heroic, figures in American history. The battle, and Custer’s actions in particular, have been studied extensively by historians.[13] Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument honors those who fought on both sides… Wikipedia.


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Gardens of privilege – Virginia Robinson Estate

virginia robinson gardens

View of the main house

The informative text in italics is taken directly from the Virgina Robinson Gardens website.

As long as I have lived in Los Angeles (all my adult life) I am still learning about and discovering new places. This is one such place.

virginia robinson gardens

Lawns are no longer bright green in LA due to the severe drought.

It was a hot day so I decided against taking the bus and struggling up the hill behind Sunset Boulevard… and Cinnamon Girl needed an outing. So I drove my car with the lovely air conditioning.

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Pool house is undergoing renovation and pool is drained.

Built in 1911, the Robinson mansion was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills. Known for hosting the areas most legendary parties—it was not uncommon to catch famed individuals entering and leaving the estate.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, the garden is recognized as not only a historical landmark, but also as an exotic paradise that all sightseers are invited to enjoy.

virginia robinson gardens

When Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, she was arguably one of the last grand dames of the Hollywood era. Nevertheless, she left her legendary home and gardens in serious disrepair. A leaky roof and a dangerous electrical system threatened the very survival of this cultural landmark.

virginia robinson gardens

“The Friends of Robinson Gardens” was founded in 1982 with a Board of Directors and a general membership of over 75 committed women.

virginia robinson gardens

A great deal was accomplished in a short period of time. The Friends of Robinson Gardens raised enough money to begin crucial repairs, establish docent programs, and begin educational seminars. Coincidentally, Robinsons Department Store, originally known as the Boston Dry Goods Store in downtown Los Angeles and owned by Harry Robinson’s family, was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

virginia robinson gardens

A letter from President Reagan that year called the Friends of Robinson Gardens “a fine example of what can be accomplished through cooperation between the private and public sector,” and congratulated the group on its significant accomplishments. Since its inception in 1982, the Friends have restored all of the historic buildings on the property according to the strict standards set by the Department of Interior and the Friends are contributing one quarter of the Gardens annual operating budget.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open by appointment to the public. Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion.

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virginia robinson gardens

The Robinson Gardens was once the site of lavish Hollywood parties. Mrs. Robinson was known as the first lady of Beverly Hills and her triumphs as a hostess are legendary: her diverse guests included royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire; her neighbors were Glenn Ford, Lillian Disney and Elvis Presley. She sipped champagne cocktails with Sophia Loren and challenged Charlie Chaplin to a spirited game of tennis – all with her signature elegance and class.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

She was equally renowned for her philanthropy. Among the many benefits she hosted, the Hollywood Bowl Patronesses Benefit was a favorite. Each year, after the opening of the Hollywood Bowl season, the orchestra would repeat their performance on the estate’s Great Lawn, to the delight of her guests.

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virginia robinson gardens

Shortly before her death in 1977, Mrs. Robinson bequeathed her estate to Los Angeles County. The County, along with the not-for-profit organization Friends of Robinson Gardens, preserves the estate for future generations to enjoy.

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virginia robinson gardens

As the first luxury estate built in the world’s most famous residential neighborhood [Beverly Hills], the multi-faceted historic property provides an opportunity to experience the world of privilege in early Los Angeles.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

This cat was not at all disturbed by the visitors intruding on his shady nap. I believe his name is Henry or Harry, just can’t remember which!

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A couple of very fancy bird houses… well, they are Beverly Hills birds!

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virginia robinson gardens

The potting shed

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virginia robinson gardens

It’s Southern California so you gotta have a palm tree forest in your garden!

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virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

The perfect location for a mid afternoon cup of tea!

virginia robinson gardens

And of course, a pink tennis court. Why not?

We were able to tour the interior of the house but not allowed to take photos.

Traffic was pretty bad driving through Beverly Hills back to Culver City on a Saturday afternoon but my chauffeur had the day off, so what could I do?

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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The giant Cheetos Puff sighting on our way to the pier

shuttle fuel tank

My friend K wanted to ride the new Expo Line extension to Santa Monica on Sunday. After my experience on Friday (see post here) I warned her the train would be stuffed to the gills but she didn’t believe me. And she wanted to go anyway.

At the Culver City station I mentioned we really would be better off riding to downtown LA first so we would have a better chance at a seat on the train. The train to downtown arrived so we jumped on it.

Friday was a day of milestones in Los Angeles. Not only the first day of the passenger train all the way to Santa Monica, but also the day the external fuel tank for the space shuttle arrived at Marina del Rey after its journey from New Orleans through the Panama Canal.

As we neared the California Science Center I scoured Exposition Park just in case there was a sighting of the fuel tank. Sure enough, peeking through the trees I saw the giant orange Cheetos Puff.  We had a split second to make a decision to jump off the train before the doors closed, which we did.external fuel tank

Apparently it was being readied to be housed in a temporary enclosure so we were lucky to see it outside. A new museum is being built for the Endeavour shuttle where the shuttle will be displayed upright with the fuel tank attached. This is the only fuel tank in existence so Los Angeles was fortunate to receive it from NASA. It weighs 66,000 lbs. (about 29,937 kilograms) and is as tall as a 15-story building.

We decided to eat lunch at the Science Center as I could imagine finding a place to eat in Santa Monica would be next to impossible with the hoards of people arriving on the Expo Line. Since Trimana took over the restaurant at the Science Center (and Natural History Museum) they have a pretty decent menu.

And absolutely the best mushroom veggie burger in the universe. I was sure I had taken a photo of it on a previous visit but I can’t find it anywhere on my computer. So now I guess I have to go back soon to order another one so I can take a photo. Rats, a blogger’s work is never done!

We finally made it to Santa Monica. As I predicted, the train was standing room only. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and who could resist a train trip to the beach?expo line

We could see that throngs of people were lining the pier so we didn’t even attempt it. As our tummies were already full we were happy to turn around after a short walk and ride the rails back to Culver City. As it was only early afternoon most people were still enjoying Santa Monica so we had no problem boarding the train.

expo line

As it had been a pretty hectic three days for me: Expo Line to Santa Monica opening day on Friday, a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo on Saturday (blog post coming up) and Sunday’s adventure, I was happy to get back to good old Culver City and my sofa!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 


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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel and The Pho Shop

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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel is a new art gallery that recently opened in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, close to Little Tokyo. Two friends and I rode the Expo Line from Culver City to the Red Line, then walked a mile from the Grand Park/Civic Center station. We met up with another friend who drove.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

The building was a former flour mill. The architects left some of the old building showing off its industrial roots. I am always excited to see an older building repurposed rather than torn down.

The current exhibit is Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the galleries. This is always disappointing to me. But if you click on this link you will see some of the artwork in the main gallery.

The pieces on the right hand wall (if you clicked on the aforementioned link) are by Lee Bontecou, an artist I very much admire. In 2003 I visited her exhibit at the Hammer Museum in Westwood with my friend TL. Neither of us had heard of her before but we were both in awe of the work we saw. I bought the catalog of the exhibit and still look at it from time to time.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

When I saw Bontecou’s artwork at this gallery it brought back poignant memories. My friend TL passed away last year. I felt her presence very strongly walking with me through the exhibit. I wanted to turn to her and ask her for her perspective on this display. We always enjoyed going to art shows together. She had very definite opinions which I appreciated!

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

The photo above is the freight elevator and the previous photo is of a stairway.

The exhibit itself, in several galleries throughout the complex, was very enjoyable. Darn it, I wish I could have taken photos… very annoying!

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

But the building is an artwork in itself. Just love this sliding door… well, I imagine it was a sliding door. Look at all the textures and patterns.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

And who knows what was going on here…

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

This is the courtyard. There are tables on both sides with succulents in planters.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

In the summer a restaurant is supposed to be opening.

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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

In another area next to the courtyard are some murals. The first one incorporates the iconic rose. You will find roses depicted throughout Los Angeles in hispanic art. I’ve never been able to discover a definitive meaning but I believe it symbolizes or has something to do with the Virgin Mary (Queen of the Angels, or la Reina de Los Angeles). Somebody enlighten me if I am wrong!

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Frontage of the building, a nice drought tolerant cactus garden.

It was way past lunch time and on the walk in we had passed a newish shopping center in Little Tokyo so we went to investigate.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

We walked past most of the Japanese shops but I will have to go back on my own to investigate.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

The well-stocked Japanese supermarket.

Little Tokyo

Got rice???????

The Pho Shop

We decided to eat lunch at The Pho Shop, a Vietnamese restaurant. I ordered the shrimp salad with sliced and grated vegetables and rice noodles. The jug at the top held a rice vinegar dressing. I ate every scrap on the plate. I want to go back and order this same lunch again.

On the way back to the train station we decided to walk through Grand Park. They were setting up for a concert or festival that night. Downtown LA is a happening place!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


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All hands on deck for RMS Queen Mary

queen mary

It must have been 1962 or 1963 when my parents decided to return to England after a few years living in the US (Florida, Texas, back to Florida, then to California). We had initially traveled to the US on the RMS Queen Elizabeth. The return trip was on the Queen Mary.

queen mary

queen mary

To be honest, my memories of crossing the Atlantic are mostly of the Queen Elizabeth, not Mary. By then my brain was shutting down from the trauma of moving around so much and a lot of my teenage years are a total blank.

queen mary

So as much as I love visiting the ship and am really happy that she is living a second life docked in Long Beach, it is certainly a two-edged sword for me.

queen mary

Last weekend several friends and I made the pilgrimage to visit the The Queen. Coming from various parts of LA as we do, some of us met downtown at the 7th Metro station and continued on the Blue Line to downtown Long Beach. From there we took the free Passport Shuttle that stops at all of the tourist locations in that city. A good way to get around if you are visiting Long Beach or are on one of the cruise ships docking at the port.

queen mary

In order to qualify for the AAA (American Automobile Association) discount you need to buy the ticket in person at the ticket booth, not online. And it turns out if one person in your party is a AAA member, everybody gets the discount. Way to go!

(And in my previous post about the Queen, when I drove my car there, my AAA card was invaluable.) 

queen mary

There are several tours available. We chose the Glory Days Historical Tour which is the basic tour of the ship. I’ve done this tour more than once but it is still enjoyable.

queen mary

We ate lunch in the Chelsea Chowder House as the Promenade Cafe was closed for construction. Several of us ordered the fish tacos which turned out to be pretty decent. Not exactly the traditional fish ‘n chips, but hey, this is Southern California!

After that we wandered around the ship with me snapping photos here and there.

queen mary

The photo above is an array of the many kinds of wood used on the ship, about thirty eight in all, with such exotic names as Sapeli Mahogany, Birds Eye Maple, Silky Oak, Pacific Myrtle, et al.

queen mary

Photos of illustrious travelers such as Fred Astaire (above) and Liberace (top of page) are displayed on the Promenade Deck. Didn’t see my photo, though. Oh well, I’m not famous enough yet.

queen mary

You need a long extension cord to vacuum this corridor… you can barely see the end of it! The handrails were installed after the maiden voyage when they discovered the ship wasn’t as stable as advertised.

queen mary

Just seeing this lookout post extending off the bridge was making me seasick. The view, of course, is of the Long Beach mainland.

queen mary

The geodesic dome in this photo was originally built as the home of the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes’ infamous wooden airplane (built on the outskirts of Culver City, now Playa Vista) that flew a few yards before diving into the Pacific Ocean. I was fortunate enough to visit it and sit in the cockpit before it was moved to Oregon. I only wish it was still here. The dome now serves as the cruise center for ships arriving at the Port of Long Beach.

queen mary

Replica of the children’s play room. I think the artwork is from The Arabian Nights and Rudyard Kipling. Today it would be Disney and Star Wars… or all replaced with video games. Yes, I feel old!

queen mary

I believe this cabinet contains the different flags flown for various situations but I didn’t see a sign. At first I thought it was beach towels…

queen mary

During World War II the Queen became a troop carrier. This is one of the guns she had to be outfitted with.

queen mary

This was so cool… the Queen Mary made out of Legos.

queen mary

There was supposed to be a Lego cat on board. I thought for sure if anybody could find it, it would be me… but no luck.

queen mary

However, I did find Winston Churchill looking very Lego-ish.

We had decided to depart at 3:00pm as we all had a long trip home with combinations of train, bus, car and foot travel. And some of our group had to go to work Monday morning. Yes, I remember those days! On my walk from the Culver City station I made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s which is conveniently on my route home. I was opening my front door at 6:00pm.

Another good day in LA… and now I am craving another cruise!

Click an image to start the slide show:

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 


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Spending eternity at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This past Sunday some of my fellow tour guides and I met at the Pig ‘n Whistle on Hollywood Boulevard for lunch (see blog post here). We then carpooled over to Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The photo above is looking north to the entrance on Santa Monica Boulevard. If you squint, just to the right of the left hand palm tree you can see the Hollywood Sign stretched across the mountain in the distance.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

A closeup view of the Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Our group beginning the tour. It was a warm, muggy day. The weird weather continues. There has been rain in parts of our vast city but not in my neighborhood. The skies have been overcast which has cooled the temperatures a little but locks in the humidity.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

From the website: Hollywood Forever is a cemetery unlike any other in the world. One of the world’s most fascinating landmarks, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place to more of Hollywood’s founders and stars than anywhere else on earth. Founded in 1899, the cemetery was an integral part of the growth of early Hollywood. Paramount Studios was built on the back half of the original Hollywood Cemetery, where the studio is still in operation today. The cemetery of choice for most of the founders of Hollywood’s great studios, as well as writers, directors, and, performers, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is now listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Visitors come from all over the world to pay respects to Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and hundreds more of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I love walking around cemeteries and I’ve wanted to visit this one for years. What sets Hollywood Forever apart from many others is that any kind of tombstone seems to go. Other cemeteries around Los Angeles are much more strict with the kind of grave marker you can have. So this is a creative mishmash. Of course that makes mowing the lawn a lot harder which may account for the unruliness of the grass.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Karie Bible was our cemetery tour guide. The tour website mentions that she gives the tour in vintage gowns from her collection that spans the 1920s through the 1950s.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Yes, I know you are wondering when you will see the headstones of those movie stars. The cemetery is not only for celebrities. In fact I was surprised that some of the more elaborate grave sites belonged to “ordinary” folk and some of the more modest graves were the final resting place for Hollywood “royalty.”

The Grecian tomb seeming to float in the lake belongs to William C. Clark, founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Karie told us it was not open to the public because the interior is filled with exquisite mosaics. If you know me, you know how much I love mosaics so I was salivating at the thought. I’ll have to do some more research on this subject.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

We entered the Mausoleum. I was immediately attracted to these beautiful light fixtures. I am so predictable!

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

A friend told me recently that she and her husband had purchased niches in the mausoleum for the final resting place of their ashes. I couldn’t quite grasp what she was telling me but now I’ve seen the niches myself I understand.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

You can have your urn and other personal belongings placed in these niches behind glass doors. I like that idea. But I’ve decided to have my ashes strewn around one of my favorite areas for walking. I don’t want to be cooped up indoors for eternity… or under the ground for that matter.

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Okay, now for the serious stuff. As you can see, people (women) still come to Rudolf Valentino’s grave in the Mausoleum to leave a kiss. I expected to see a much more elaborate grave than this. Valentino left his native Italy to seek his fortune in the US. Unfortunately, fortune didn’t smile for long and he died at the age of 31 of peritonitis. His birthname was Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla… a little too much for the grave marker.

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Born Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch in London, he won an Academy Award posthumously for best actor in the film “Network.”

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Peter Lorre was born László Loewenstein in Austria-Hungary. Our guide mentioned that he was about to divorce his third wife but it didn’t happen in time to preclude her from being buried next to him. I can only hope they have since reconciled!

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Mickey Rooney was 93 when he died in 2014. He rose to great heights in Hollywood but in stature only made it to 5 ft 2 inches (157 cm).

Hollywood Forever CemeteryThis is the view he gazes at for eternity… can you make out the Hollwood sign in the middle of the photo trying to peek through the branches? As his gravestone says, Hollywood will always be his home.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This is a memorial to Toto (Terry) from “The Wizard of Oz.” She is actually buried north of this location in Studio City. If you can read the inscription it tells the sad story that her resting place was destroyed by the construction of the Ventura Freeway in 1958. Terry had 16 total film appearances in her eleven years of life.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Douglas Fairbanks, otherwise known as the husband of Mary Pickford (although he had other wives before and after), has pretty nice accomodations for his final resting place. Passing in 1939 he was only 56. He was one of the founders of United Artists.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Another memorial is for Hattie McDaniel, famous for “Gone With the Wind” and the first African American to win an Academy Award. A very accomplished lady, she was also a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer and television star. She passed in 1952.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

In the middle of the photo at the top of the mountain is the Griffith Observatory.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I think this may be my favorite grave in the cemetery. I can’t say I was particularly a fan of the Ramones but I love the way Johnny Ramone is shown as he was in life. He will be forever playing his guitar. It doesn’t get much better than that! He died from prostate cancer at the age of 55.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The koi were enjoying themselves.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

According to our tour guide, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, modeled herself after Vampira but never paid tribute to her. Vampira died pretty much penniless and I read that at one time she even sold linoleum.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Mr. Blackwell, probably still criticizing, er, critiquing the fashions of the angels.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Darren McGavin, one of my favorite actors because of his TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker. One of my fellow tour guides noted that he had grown up with this show, acting out like he was the star, and it had a great influence on him. Not many people have even heard of that show, so it was great to meet a fellow fan.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Cecil B. DeMille is credited with being one of the founding fathers of the Hollywood movie industry. Much of his family is also buried around him.

Hollywood Forever CemeteryI was surprised to discover that Jayne Mansfield was only 34 when she died in a car crash. Don’t get your calculators in a twist, she was actually born in 1933…. Hollywood magic at work. I think most people know her daughter is Mariska Hargitay known for the Law and Order franchise.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Don Adams. This is so cool that he is depicted as his best known role of Maxwell Smart talking on his shoe phone. This made me chuckle. Hard to believe he passed away ten years ago.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Marion Davies, actress and mistress of William Randolph Hearst, is buried within the Douras Mausoleum.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Tyrone Power has a nice lakeside spot. He died at the age of 44 of a massive heart attack while involved in a dueling scene for a movie he was making in Spain. His son, Tyrone Power IV, was born two months after his death.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This obelisk commemorates Griffith J. Griffith. In 1896 he donated over 3,000 acres to the City of Los Angeles which subsequently became Griffith Park. The Griffith Observatory (within Griffith Park) can be seen just to the right of his monument. Mr. Griffith has an interesting story that you can read here.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

At Forever Hollywood you can practice whatever religion you choose in the afterlife, unlike some other cemeteries that are religion-specific (only Jewish or only Catholic, etc). “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” some of Mel Blanc’s work was done in a full body cast while recovering from an auto accident.

"The Man of a Thousand Voices"

Estelle Getty, who played Bea Arthur’s mother in “The Golden Girls,” was really only a couple of years older than her. She won both an Emmy and Golden Globe award for that role. She passed away from Dementia with Lewy Bodies in 2008.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

So I was very happy to finally get to visit Forever Hollywood. Most of the information for this post is a combination of what I remember from the tour and Wikipedia so don’t blame our lovely tour guide, Karie Bible, for anything I got wrong. But as always, I enjoyed doing the research for this post. However, I highly recommend going on one of Ms. Bible’s tours as I learned a lot and her personality made the two-hour tour seem too short.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Saturday adventure part one – Memories of Watts Towers

watts towers

I don’t remember when was the last time I was at the Watts Towers but it is possibly 15 to 20 years ago… or more, or less. As I am sure I have mentioned before, as you get older time warps into a continuum. Yesterday is as pale as 30 years ago and 30 years ago is as fresh as yesterday.

watts towers

I signed up for a photography class through Santa Monica College consisting of riding the rails to visit various locations around LA. I’ve been to all the places on the itinerary and photographed them. But as much as I love exploring on my own or being accompanied by friends without cameras (who are rightly impatient while I get the perfect shot), once in a while I enjoy sharing a day with other photographers.

watts towers

One minor problem, I had discovered on the journey to downtown LA on the Expo Line that the 7th & Metro station was closed for upgrading all weekend. Passengers had to disembark at the 23rd Street Station (recently renamed as LATTC/Ortho Institute Station just to complicate matters) and take a shuttle bus to the end of the line. Then I resumed my trip on the Red Line to Union Station.

So in order to get to Watts Towers on the Blue Line, we had to go through the Red Line/shuttle bus/Blue Line conundrum there and back again. But we survived.

watts towers

Watts was our first photo stop. We alighted the train at 103rd Street and walked the few blocks to the Towers.

A million years ago when I was a docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy I had the honor of leading several tours through the Towers.

watts towers

To quote Wikipedia: The Watts Towers, Towers of Simon Rodia, or Nuestro Pueblo (“our town”) are a collection of 17 interconnected sculptural structures within the Simon Rodia State Historic Park in the Watts community of Los Angeles. The tallest of the towers reaches a height of over 99 feet (30 m). The towers and walls were designed and built by Sabato (“Simon”) Rodia (1879-1965), an Italian immigrant construction worker and tile mason, over a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954.

watts towers

The Towers are amazing enough but when you consider they were built by one man who spent every spare minute of his life thinking about the design, collecting materials and working on the construction, it is nothing less than a miracle. Rodia would not let anybody else help him. After all, it was all in his mind and how could he get across to anybody else what he wanted to do?

watts towers

At the same time he was working on this project he had a fulltime job in construction. Of course, it was these skills that enabled him to build his masterpiece.

watts towers

Kids would bring him items they “found” around the neighborhood or their homes in exchange for candy. Who knows how many teacups or vases went missing and ended up as part of the mosaics?

watts towers

The day came when Rodia decided he was done. All the work had taken its toll and in 1955 at the age of 76 he turned the keys to his property over to the neighbors and left Los Angeles to live with his sister. He never returned and died ten years later.watts towers

At one point the city was about to demolish the entire site. But there was an outcry from around the world. A structural test was performed which the Towers passed with flying colors. So the Towers were saved. In 1990 they were designated both a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark. The site is currently operated by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.

watts towers

In order to get inside past the fence to take photos you have to take the tour. But at $3 for the senior entrance fee I was not complaining. And despite the best efforts of the docent who was herding us along like 3rd graders, I did manage to take a few photos. The blazing sun didn’t help either!

watts towers

Of course I always want more time but I think the pictures I was able to get give you a pretty good idea of what the Watts Towers are all about!

watts towers

Our next stop was back to downtown LA and the Grand Central Market for lunch. I’ll continue the tour in a future post.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Veterans for Peace: Arlington West Santa Monica

santa monica beach veterans for peace

Each Sunday from sunrise to sunset, a temporary memorial is set up by Veterans for Peace next to the Santa Monica Pier, memorializing the military personnel killed in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.

santa monica beach veterans for peace

Each white cross equals one dead. The red crosses equal ten military personnel killed. The crosses don’t necessarily signify religious affiliation.

santa monica beach veterans for peace

The coffins represent military killed during the past week.

santa monica beach veterans for peace

As the sign says, if we were to acknowledge the number of Iraqi deaths, the memorial would fill the entire beach.

From the website: “Veterans For Peace is a global organization of military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using our experiences and lifting our voices. We inform the public of the true causes of war and the enormous costs of wars, with an obligation to heal the wounds of wars. Our network is comprised of over 140 chapters worldwide whose work includes: educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars.”

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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All the way to Iowa by public transportation

uss iowa san pedro

Launched on August 27, 1942, USS Iowa (BB-61) was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of the 29th state. The battleship was towed to her permanent (and hopefully final) home in Los Angeles on June 9, 2012.

On Sunday some friends and I decided to visit the Iowa which now is a museum, telling the stories of World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War.

uss iowa san pedro

Our mission, should we decide to accept it, was to travel by public transportation. I left Culver City on the Expo Line train and met up with the six other members of our group in downtown LA. We boarded the Silver Line to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center in Carson to transfer to the San Pedro 450 Metro bus. The trip, including the 20 minute walk from my house to the train station, took me about 2 1/2 hours. For other people it was 3 hours. This is why public transportation in LA is so difficult: the distances are so vast.

uss iowa san pedro

In May 2014, the ship was named Number 13 on the list of “Most Popular Things To Do in LA” by TripAdvisor, beating out Universal Studios and the Hollywood Bowl. That’s impressive.

uss iowa san pedroThe Iowa is the West Coast’s only battleship museum.

uss iowa san pedroShe is the only battleship to be fitted out with a bathtub and an elevator. This was to accommodate President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair during his voyage to the Tehran Conference with Churchill and Stalin in 1943.

USS Iowa has been decommissioned and recommissioned several times. The last decommission was in 1990. However, she is on standby to be recommissioned at any time so has to be kept in working order.

uss iowa san pedro

The Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, where the ship is docked, is the largest container port in the US. These are some of the cranes on their day off.

An iddy biddy bullet, otherwise known as a shell. Some could weigh as much as 2,700 lbs (1225 kgs).

uss iowa san pedro

Loading bay. I would not want to be one of the crew shoving the shells into place.

uss iowa san pedro

The Iowa class of battleships remain the most heavily armed gunships the United States has ever had on the seas.

uss iowa san pedro

Don’t know how well you can see in this photo but if you look closely you can see how incredibly long this corridor is.

When you are on the self-guided tour of the ship, docents are posted along the way to tell stories and explain the different areas. These are mostly ex-service men who actually served on the battleships.

One of the gentlemen was a spritely 89 year old. That’s one way to stay young by doing something useful that you can be enthusiastic about.

Two cruise ships were docked in the harbor. Above is the Costa Atlantica. In the right hand photo the ship’s guns are aimed squarely at her hull.

uss iowa san pedro

The hardest part of the tour for me was clambering up and down these ladders between decks. The ship seemed to be about a mile high. Every time we reached a new level I thought we had to have reached the top. But no, there was another level, another ladder and it just kept going. This indoor ladder wasn’t too bad but on the exterior ones I was sucking in my fear of heights (and ladders) big time the higher we climbed.

After the tour we walked down to the Ports o’ Call Village and ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant. Boats going by in the channel, the Southern California sun beating down, a plate of calamari and a Samuel Adams beer. And the good company of friends. Life doesn’t get better than that!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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John Muir and the final post from my Yosemite trip

yosemite national park

The final post from my trip to Yosemite! Click below for the full post.

https://onegoodlifetravels.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/yosemite-in-the-un-snow-day-three-and-a-half/

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!