I gotta go off topic for a bit here.
I like to think of myself as the kind of preservationist who's not overly burdened by the weight of nostalgia. Well, tonight Eric Lynxwiler's presentation at LACMA proved otherwise.
Warm fuzzies assaulted me as I watched the fabulous slide presentation, and as I now flip through my hot-off-the-presses copy of Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles. Fresh memories of some recent treasured projects (Immanuel Presbyterian and Security-First National Bank) are fondly considered, too. I guess I never stepped back to realize how instrumental Wilshire has been in my life and our experiences as a family living just off of this major street.
So, here we go.
Paddle boating on MacArthur Park Lake. Yes, MacArthur Park.
First "real" haircut performed not by a parent but instead this was Big Time: the salon on the top floor of Saks Fifth Avenue. (It sounds a lot fancier and more glam than it actually was.) We were already 6 or 7 years old, and the cut was done by a lady who wore blue mascara. We have the pics of our new do's.
Experiencing extreme mortification when a stranger politely said "Hi, Jessica!" in the I. Magnin elevators because, as I soon realized, my name was emblazoned on my sweater. (When you're a twin you tend to wear more than average personalized clothing; or maybe that was just the early 80s.)
Ali getting her ears pierced at May Co. when we were in second grade by a very overweight woman wearing a nurse's uniform. I was too scared to follow suit.
Fashion show at the "Ladies Tea Room" at the top of Bullock's Wilshire. I can hardly believe that happened during my lifetime. I got reprimanded for using the word "hell." OK, so I had a little bit of a potty mouth for a small kid.
Shopping at May Co., Orbach's, and at the Broadway (former Coulter's by Stiles Clements, 1938). I remember Mamma took black and white photos of us that day, some by the store. With all those glorious glass blocks, my love of Streamline Moderne must've blossomed that day. Must find photos.
With all the time I spent along Wilshire growing up, it's no fucking wonder I love department stores as much as I do. These were the best of the bunch, no doubt. I can remember almost every item of girlhood clothing I had, and which Wilshire Blvd. department store it came from.
Walking through the Ambassador Hotel. Deciding, sadly, that it smelled too old and musty, and grandparents wouldn't enjoy staying there much despite good location.
Bat Mitzvah. Where else? Wilshire Blvd. Temple. Not my congregation of choice today, but you can't beat that building for some soaring inspiration, man.
Out of town bat mitzvah guests staying at the hotel on Wilshire and Normandie (now a Radisson) where in our pre-adolescent super-metabolism machine days would go for Sunday buffet brunch to stuff our faces silly after Hebrew school. And the plumbing so impressed my great great Aunt Rae Feuerstein from Jackson Heights, Queens, she announced to everyone that the toilets sounded "like Niagara Falls," the water pressure was that good.
Favorite first Indian restaurant:
Punjabi something-or-other Sheree Punjab, located within erstwhile camera store along the Miracle Mile called The Darkroom. Stephanie and Alec turned us onto this place in high school, and despite numerous bug sightings – both in the food and on the walls – we kept going there.
Daddy's Spanish teacher, Seora Mendoza (if I recall that name correctly, I'll be simultaneously amazed and terrified by the randomness of my memory) and her office suite high above Wilshire in the Silverwood's building (likely now to be converted to residential use).
And then he witnessed the most exciting episode probably ever in the history of that building: a guy was ready to leap to his death, and who else but the King of the World just happened to be in the building at that very moment.
Mr. Ali talked dude off the ledge, and saved the day. No fucking joke.
Spotting Muhammed Ali again for real at Carnation ice cream counter on a weeknight with his daughters. Twin girls, just like us. (But definitely not Laila; funny how things cycle).
Staring at Mr. Ali's house through the very formidable and very off-limits Fremont Place gates.
Folding lots and lots of Carnation's kid menus along the perforated guidelines into the olde timey milk truck while eagerly waiting for servings of fried chicken strips to arrive.
Many doctors and medical professionals visited along Wilshire. Not quite as happy memories associated with this topic.
My mom's offices at the corner of our street and Wilshire, followed by a move two blocks to the typical Claud Beelman-designed Harbor building at Crenshaw, with its lovely lobby and views of the Hills.
Grandma's short walk from Park La Brea to her senior activity group at the top floor of the May Co. building.
First dedicated activity and actual interest in regular exercise at the gym in the Courtyard Club, also the location of H's first network writing job.
Ah, and to think there was actually a Ritz Theatre within a mile of our house!
And now that I'm an architecture dork, I think about all the buildings by my man, Stiles Clements, gone.
Whew, nostalgia wipes me out.