Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lost Garden: In Memory

In comments on my first post about Earthside Nature Center, Karin the Altadena Hiker said some put their heart and soul in to the place. It's true. If you keep your eyes open you can see the evidence in small monuments on the property. This one says, "In memory of 'Pop Pop,' Shirley W. Owen, Pasadena, 1895-1983." At least I think it says 1983, it's kind of hard to tell.


The small plaque on this stone says "in memory of Marilyn Close Davis, 1989."


The kiosk (scroll down here for a look at it) is still in decent shape. A plaque lists names, presumably of donors. Marilyn Close Davis, 1989, appears here as well. There's also a Hazel M. Close, 1988. And look, Elna S. Bakker, the founder, 1995. And Virginia M. Connelly, 1995. I wonder if she was (is?) related to Kevin Connelly, the native plant advocate (see yesterday's post) who helped run Earthside. And lo and behold, there's Grace Gertmenian, 1985. I recognize her name. The Gertmenian family is one of the featured families in the fantastic Pasadena Museum of History Family Stories Exhibit that's running until January of 2010.

I'm a little amazed to find this connection. I shouldn't be. The Gertmenian family began arriving in Pasadena from Armenia in the 1920s. They're familiar to me because I'm curious about Pasadena history and they're part of the fabric of that history. The more I learn the more connected it all becomes for me.

I like my history like that--not that I don't like reading it in a book, but living with it is so much more rewarding. This is why preservation is so powerful. A book is history removed. Living with history is letting it touch you and affect you. Seeing Grace's name on the plaque is like finding a message she wrote in the past and left for me to read in the future.

16 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

I find it amazing that the plaque is still in the kiosk ~ whenever I see photos of this place, it reminds me of a ghost ship, where suddenly everyone just ups and leaves, coffee mugs still on the tables.

Italo said...

Petrea, you're right. It's amazing to live history, to touch history to smell it.

J. said...

History, wake up & smell the coffee!

Brenda's Arizona said...

I am enjoying your photos and history of ENC. I agree with your comment on living/seeing the history instead of just reading it. Tho I admit sometimes it creeps me out to realize I might be standing where that same person stood 100 years ago...

Petrea said...

It does have that Roanoke Island feeling, Shell. That's part of why it's compelling.

I'm wondering if these memorials will be kept if this place becomes a police training ground or something. Knowing Pasadena it's possible and even probable, but not guaranteed.

Italo, my short visits to Europe (alas, not Italy!) have given me a taste of that richness. You're fortunate not to take it for granted!

J., that would be weird.

Brenda, just when your comment popped up I was thinking about how the French and especially the English live among their dead so comfortably. The dead are buried in the floors and walls of churches. Their glorious monuments are on every street corner. Great works of art are dedicated to them and these works decorate every crevice and wall. We pine away for Paris and London and Rome because, rather than tearing down old things and replacing them with mini-malls, they keep and live with their ruins. I think this difference between them and us is partly because they're comfortable with their dead, and we feel somehow afraid of ours.

Cafe Observer said...

Great historical info, PDP. Did de PIO contribute to this posting?
btw, in the top pic why is KB leaving??

Linda Dove said...

It's interesting, Petrea, the contrast you mention btw Americans and Europeans--we have ruins where the dead are buried in the walls (ruins all over Arizona, New Mexico, Utah--and the mounds of Ohio and Missouri) but when we visit them, we treat them as *natural* places, rather than cultural. Hmmmmmm.

altadenahiker said...

You know what -- if those really are wild grapes (and Michael said he saw a sign to that effect), think I'll swing by, take a cutting from the vine and root it.

Dina said...

Couldn't agree with you more about the history.

Michael Coppess said...

Wow. There is some living history here. I am struck by the permanence of the monuments and the effort that went into tending this garden, and the hillside trail that you pictured yesterday. Someone, or a lot of someones, believed this garden would last.

What will happen to the Earthside site is, right now, anyone's guess. The city has old plans to make it a training ground. But, they've taken no action to actually do it. On the other hand, the city hasn't changed the zoning to open space either. Back in the 60's, before Earthside, there was a plan to make this area a campground. I'd sure like to see this area kept as open space and I think many others would too. Stay tuned.

Michael Coppess said...

Hiker: Good luck on the grape cuttings. Think we'll try it again too.

I did see a sign by the grapes that said "wild grape" and had the botanical name underneath. I'll try to get back into Earthside to find it again. But, we know this was a garden of natives and that one of the founders was associated with the Theodore Payne Foundation. I checked the Theodore Payne website (http://www.theodorepayne.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=California_Native_Plant_Library)

and they show two "wild" grapes: a California Wild Grape and a Desert Wild Grape. Don't know which of those or if some other wild grape is our grape.

Ms M said...

It's moving to see the memorials to those who loved this garden. A very interesting bit of history.

MrsL said...

Petrea,
I'm new to your blog, but after just returning from a long walk to Fryman Canyon it seeming appropriate that your blog found its way to my Networked page. I loved the visiual of living history rather than read it. But as a writer I like to believe there are a few books worth reading, and Pasadena history is one of my favorite subjects. The Pasadena by David Ebershoff gives some amazing insight as to the families that settled this once quite valley.

Petrea said...

Sorry not to have responded to some of these comments earlier. My DSL's been out. Still is.

Cafe, Hiker's heading deeper into the property. The PIO didn't help with this post. I'd love to consult her on every post I do but she's a busy woman!

You make an interesting point, Linda. I haven't visited these places and would love to.

How do you root a cutting of grapes? I have a healthy grape vine in my back yard; I'd love another.

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm rushing because this internet cafe is crowded and I'm sitting outside and it's cold. Mrs. L, thanks for the book suggestion! A good book is always welcome. To read history then walk in the places it tells of is one of life's joys.

Trish said...

I know a number of the names on that list...not the least of which is Gertmenian---the family rug business was still going along last I heard---and one of the daughters-in-law (or grand-daughters---have lost track of their genealogy) was a professor of English of mine. None of it surprises me---they and many of those on the list, were wonderful folks.

Petrea said...

I'll bet they were, Trish. Supporting a native garden (before it was hip) tells me a lot about them.