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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Treasures on Your Block

In Pasadena, if you have an organized block with a Neighborhood Watch, you can arrange with the police department to block off your street for your block party. (Check with the Pasadena PD for details.) Children do not tire of riding their bikes in the road. No bouncy house necessary.

That's what we did yesterday on my block. When the kids could take a moment off from speeding up and down the street on their wiggle cars, a friendly representative from the Pasadena PD was there to fingerprint them. (Perhaps it's a safety thing, but you never know if one of those cherubs will turn out to be a criminal brat.)

The adults enjoyed the party even more than the children did, if that's possible. Some neighbors see each other often but more don't. It's nice to check in with folks whose schedules don't collide with yours. It builds community to welcome new people to the block, find out who got taller over the school year, and adore each others' little ones as they whiz by.

The title of this post refers to a gift John and I received when we bought our home. "The Treasures on Your Block" is a series of booklets, written by Ann Scheid in the 1980's, about the architecture in various Pasadena neighborhoods. Scheid (speaking of treasures) is a Pasadena historian, writer and community activist, among other things. The woman we bought our house from gave us her copy because our house was featured in it along with others in the neighborhood. The booklet is hard to find these days--a rare treasure.

We love our home, not because it's in a booklet but because it's so familiarly ours. It's our refuge, our place, a JohnandPetrea hermetically sealed envelope set aside from the world where we keep all our stuff, real and imaginary, in one place. We love it also because it's in this neighborhood, surrounded by these neighbors. If these people were to be gone tomorrow, the treasure would lose its value.

(Yes. It's a record player. On the front lawn. Some brought a dish to pass. Some brought paper plates and napkins. One brought music.)

22 comments:

dive said...

Yay vinyl! I love this photo so much, Petrea. For some reason it reminds me of Steve Buscemi in Ghost World.
Your block party does indeed sound like something to treasure. Hoorah for good neighbours.

Laurie said...

Oh, I love this post. Love the photo, love the sentiment.

Bellis said...

What music was playing?

I'd love to have had a block party on my Pasadena road yesterday - the day of the US-Mexico soccer match at the Rose Bowl. But as ours is one of the Bowl's main arteries (for 90,000 people), I don't think the police would have been thrilled about it. I like the sound of your neighborhood - any houses for sale up there?

John Sandel said...

Paradise never gets old.

Shell Sherree said...

I love my hermetically sealed envelope too, Petrea. The party looks and sounds idyllic. And fingerprinting is much more fun than having DNA samples taken.

jb said...

You're on a roll, Petra

ben wideman said...

That might be one of your finest photos ever. Brilliant stuff, as usual Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks for the nice words this morning, people. There's such a difference when I carry the SLR. I get lazy and carry the point-and-shoot digital because it fits in my pocket or purse. But the SLR takes such lovely pictures.

I hadn't seen that one, Dive. Now I see that I must.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq6AOc0ATnU

Bellis, we heard from Sinatra to show tunes. When the music stopped we could hear the Rose Bowl. For you non-Pasadenans, those 90,000 people Bellis mentioned were at the Rose Bowl for soccer: Mexico vs. the USA in the Gold Cup 2011 match--a big deal, as I understand. Mexico won.

dive said...

Petrea, you really should see it. The trailer makes it out to be a screwball comedy but it's really a bittersweet and beautiful little movie. And of course it has Steve Buscemi in it. And lots of vinyl records.

Vanda said...

That's lovely! I so wanna move to Pasadena.

Katie said...

What a fabulous way to spend a Saturday! Sounds like you had a delightful time connecting with neighbors. That booklet sounds cool too. I'm with Ben - brilliant photo (it's my new favorite!). This would make a perfect cover photo for your great American novel.

Clifford Beshers said...

This photo is so good I didn't even notice at first.

Ms M said...

Love your photo! What kind of music did you play?

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm creating my Netflix list, Dive.

The prices are right, Vanda. Come on over.

If only I could write a great American novel, Katie! I seem to be inspired by exotic locations. Sounds like someone I know.

Thanks, Cliff. It's growing on me, too.

Old standards, Ms. M. Sweet, silly, croony stuff.

pasadenapio said...

The Pasadena Police Department is also happy to send an officer(s) to neighborhood meetings about crime prevention, etc. The offer is open to businesses, too.

The number in the Community Services Section of PPD is (626) 744-4550.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Ann. We've met some really great officers this way--they've come to neighborhood meetings and answered our questions and concerns.

Speedway said...

We have Neighborhood Watch programs here, but I don't know about the block party provision, whether it's available here. Will have to ask as it seems like a great way for people to stay in touch, or to make initial contact.

WV: misterti. After too many exotic party drinks, Mister T became the impossible "Misterti."

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm sure you could have a block party in someone's yard, without blocking off the street. That's the way we used to do it. Print up a flyer with the date and time, tell everyone to bring a dish to pass, put a flyer in every mailbox and enjoy getting to know your neighbors!

Susan Campisi said...

Your neighborhood sounds pretty special. I haven't been to a block party since I was a kid, and I can't imagine one in my new neighborhood.

Petrea Burchard said...

What if you were the instigator, Susan? Have you met anyone there who might like it? Not everyone here comes to ours, but each year it seems a few more people join in.

Susan Campisi said...

I think a few people would be interested. Perhaps I'll instigate it next summer when I'm more settled in.

TheChieftess said...

"a JohnandPetrea hermetically sealed envelope" absolutely classic!!!

When I was single I lived on the best street in Long Beach...we had the best block parties...started out as a party after the big street garage sale...then it grew!!! the last one we had we blocked off the street and even had a live band!!! We had block parties to celebrate the time change...barbequing on the sidewalk...we even had movie night one summer night where we did our own version of the Rocky Horror Show but to the Anthony Hopkins movie "The Edge" That was a great street to live on!!! Several of us moved since then and I know it's not the same...