In the Swim: The Wild Side

We wrote about swim fashions on Southland beaches in In the Swim. We will now take a look at the must-have accessory for your beachwear — an exotic animal!

In the land of Hollywood the exotic becomes almost commonplace. These photos from the archives of the Los Angeles Public Library show the wild side of California beach fashion. But first, we must add the disclaimer that exotic animals do not normally belong on  beaches and those who do should be left alone. Many of the stunts pictured here should carry the warning: Do not try this at home! (or anywhere else)

00009019 bear cub

Venice Beach is the location for many of our photos. Here a young woman feeds a bear cub from a bottle, 1936. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00009019.

 

00064163 alligator

Yes, there really was an alligator farm in Los Angeles  — until 1953. It was located right next door to the Ostrich Farm. Advertising from the Luna Park  Alligator Farm in Lincoln Heights proclaimed, with a bit of hyperbole, “Here are to be seen hundreds of alligators of all sizes, from little babies, hardly the size of a lizard, up to huge monsters, 500 years old or more. We make a specialty of alligator bags ornamented with genuine alligator heads and claws.” (LincolnHeightsLA.comSecurity Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00064163, undated.

 

00064425 woman with penguins

The photo was taken in Long Beach, “ca. 1920.”  We have no explanation for the penguins. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00064425.

 

00065006 boy with lion cub

This young man, protectively holding onto his lion cub, seems none to happy despite his trophy win at the Venice Beach Pet Show in 1936. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00065006.

 

00066776 seal

Strolling Long Beach with a seal, circa 1920. The young woman wears a beach coat with a nautical flair. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00066776.

 

00067860 baby elephant

An undated photo of a woman, probably a model, with a baby elephant. Her wool bathing costume places the photo in the late 1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00067860.

 

00069336 piglet race

 

Piglets race on Hermosa Beach. The young porkers eagerly await the starting gun — well, perhaps not the one in lane two who appears ready for a nap. Although the photo is undated, the classic belted swimsuits place the event in the mid-1930s. Two girls standing at left appear to be twins. Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Collection, Image #00069336.

 

00066743 sea lion

Watch that shoe! Models feed a “sea elephant” (elephant seal) in an enclosure in Venice, probably mid-1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00066743.

 

00071558 elephants at Long Beach pier

More elephants on the beach. The Long Beach Pier and Sun Pavilion form the backdrop for this photo shoot from about 1930. One of the keepers carries what appears to be a cattle prod. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00071558.

 

00117152 fawn

This 1954 photo from the Valley Times Collection is titled “Cute as a Bug,” probably the headline used in the paper. The caption used read: “Unafraid of children, this spotted fawn can be sweet and gentle but later on would not permit this type of petting without slashing out with razor sharp hoofs made for fighting off coyotes and other predators.”  Wise words. Valley Times Collection, Image #00117152.

 

We’ll end with a more appropriate way to celebrate the wild side of beach season — playing an accordion with a stuffed seagull!

00070574 seagulls

Miss California Bathing Beauty Contest, Venice Beach, 1936. This contestant displays her talent while serenading the wild life.  Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070574.

In the Swim: Bathing suit fashions through the years

00070532 1914 woman

This blogger set out to write a post about a century of swimwear on Southland waters using images from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection. But where to start? The collection includes hundreds of photos that would lend themselves to any number of angles: Beauty pageants? Swimsuit models? Movie stars poolside? Or how about beach-goers with exotic animals?

That last we’ll likely revisit in a later post, but for now we’ll offer a selection of images focusing on the evolution of the swimsuit.

Perhaps the earliest swimsuit image in the collection dates from about 1914 and depicts a woman in a bathing ensemble complete with tights and laced shoes. Accessories have always been a vital part of the bathing “look.” Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070532.

00012172 Williams Bros 1916

About the same time, these brothers sport two-piece suits. Until the early 1930s male swimmers typically wore outfits that covered their upper bodies (if they wore anything at all!). Modesty was preserved via an A-line top over shorts. The Williams brothers enjoy Seal Beach, ca. 1916. Shades of L.A Collection: the Greek-American Community, Image # 00012172.

 

00070538 Rita Bell

About 1920 Rita Bell, perhaps a model, sports a wool suit much more revealing than that of the gal from 1914. She also wears sheer stockings with ankle-strapped sandals, rocks a swim hat, and deploys a swim robe. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070538.

Young sisters Mary and Imogene Myers wade at Lake Elsinore in 1928 wearing simple woolen tunic-style suits typical for youngsters of the day. Shades of L.A. Collection: the African-American Community, Image #00001791.

By the 1930s, bathing costumes for both men and women were decidedly more revealing. Stockings were left at home. Arms, cleavage, and legs were bared. Suits were more form-fitting. The belted look became popular. Bathing suits began to be a fashion statement.

00003251 woman at Long Beach

In this photo, a young woman poses for a photograph that will become a postcard at Long Beach, 1932. Shades of L.A.: Korean American Community, Image #00003251.

00070467 mother and daughter

A mother and daughter at an unidentied beach, ca. 1937. The woman wears a conical straw topper sometimes referred to, unfortunately, as a coolie hat. A man in the background wears the belted style of suit popular with both men and women. The Herman J. Schultheis Collection, Image #00070467.

00008999 fashion police 1930s

The Fashion Police at Venice Beach, 1930s. The photo collection contains a series of pictures of both men and women wearing badges and measuring suits on those of the opposite gender. Notes with the images inform us that “pretend tickets were handed out when the swim suit was too skimpy.” Here both a man and a woman wear the popular belted style of suit, while the second man appears to have forgotten his belt. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00008999.

00070564 kayaks

Young women with kayaks, ca. 1930. These women sport a variety of bathing suit styles. This was likely part of a photo shoot ordered up by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070564.

00073428 fur coat

The 1940s brought more styles, new elasticized fabrics, and the two-piece suit. The bikini itself was “invented” in 1946, although it would be unrecognizable as such today. Here Annie Jung dresses up her two-piece with a fur coat and heels, February 18, 1945. Harry Quillen Collection, Image #00073428.

00003832 Miss Filipino

The library files includes dozens of beauty queens in bathing costumes, a tradition that has endured for well over a century. Here Miss Filipino Community of Los Angeles, Janet Bernardino, wears a strapless one-piece, along with the requisite pumps, in 1955. Her publicity photo is signed “To a real fine guy, Roy. Love, Janet.” Shades of L.A.: Filipino American Community Collection, Image #00003832.

00119601 -- Teenagers 1963

The Valley Times published this photo, dated July 18, 1963, with the caption “Valley teens splash it up at Pickwick Pool, illustrating a few of the activities on this summer’s busy agenda.”  Patterned prints and tailored trunks were clearly in vogue. Valley Times Collection, Image #00119601. This community pool in Burbank was abandoned some years later and the land turned into Pickwick Gardens, with its ice rink and bowling alley.

00085350 - diving board girl

Whatever you wear, it’s all about making a splash: Six-year old Brenda Villa takes the plunge at Camp Commerce (still operated by the City of Commerce), Lake Arrowhead, July 27, 1986. Photo by Leo Jarzomb, Herald-Examiner Collection, Image #00085350.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, February 8, 2016, marks the beginning of the Year of the Fire Monkey; in the Chinese calendar the year is 4714. The Chinese New Year bring celebrations that include firecrackers, parades, fish, dragons, lions, and lucky money in red envelopes. The Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection contains images of such holiday celebrations held in Chinatown and other areas of Los Angeles.

Chinese New Year Parade, Monterey Park

Miss Monterey Park waves to the crowd during a Chinese New Year parade in the San Gabriel Valley. (Shades of L.A. collection; photo by Steven Gold, 1992 [Year of the Monkey])

Dragon in Chinese Parade

A golden dragon rings in the Year of the Boar in L.A.’s Chinatown. (Herald-Examiner Collection, January 30, 1971 [Year of the Pig])

Clown in Chinese New Year Parade

Wally the Clown leads children at a New Year festival in Chinatown. (Harry Quillen Collection, February 15, 1958 [Year of the Dog])

Man and niece enjoy Chinese New Year

Eugene Yee and niece Susan celebrate Chinese New Year with balloons and firecrackers. (Herald-Examiner Collection, photo taken by Howard Ballew, February 13, 1964 [Year of the Dragon])

Beauty queens in Chinese New Year parade

Beauty queens in Chinese New Year parade. (Gary Leonard Collection, 1995 [Year of the Pig])

Flute and Fiddle for the New Year

Chung Fook (left) and Luke Chan (right) play music to usher in the Chinese New Year. (Herald-Examiner Collection, January 27, 1941 [Year of the Snake])

Family enjoys Chinese New Year

The Wong family prepares to enjoy a traditional Chinese New Year’s feast. (Herald-Examiner Collection, February 5, 1965 [Year of the Snake])

Lion of Good drives away evil spirits

Tsweje, the Lion of Good, drives away evil spirits during this celebration of the Chinese New Year. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, January, 1925 [Year of the Ox])

A stroll through L.A. gardens . . .

Los Angeles boasts a number of beautiful gardens and with winters being much milder in Southern California than other parts of the country, you can take a garden stroll anytime. That said, there will be times you can’t get to the garden – bad cold, sick kids, a backlog of work. If you’re stuck indoors and dreaming of relaxing amongst lush foliage, fragrant flowers, or spiky cholla, the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library can help you escape. As with everything in the City of Angels, Los Angeles gardens (present and past) boast plenty of variety.

Japanese Gardens

SuihoEn (garden of water and fragrance), situated on the grounds of the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, is an authentic Japanese garden designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana and fashioned after the stroll gardens built during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese feudal lords. It features a karesansui (dry Zen meditation garden), a wet garden featuring waterfalls and ponds, and a chashitsu (tatami mat teahouse).

Japanese Garden in Van Nuys

Japanese Garden at Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, California (Photo taken by Stephen Callis, 1991)

The Botanical Gardens on the grounds of the Huntington Library in San Marino also feature a Japanese garden, complete with koi ponds and an authentic Japanese House considered to be one of the best examples of early twentieth Japanese architecture in the United States.

Huntington Japanese Gardens

Japanese Garden at Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino (Photo taken by Herman Schultheis, ca. 1937)

The Bernheimer Estate, built overlooking the ocean in Pacific Palisades in the early 1920s, featured Japanese gardens with a pagoda housing the vast collection of Oriental art acquired by Adolph Bernheimer. The Bernheimer Gardens were a popular tourist attraction until 1941, when public opinion changed due to Pearl Harbor and World War II. The property suffered erosion and two major landslides and was vacated in the late 1940s; the structures were demolished in the 1950s.

Bernheimer Bronze Elephants

Bronze elephants stroll through the Bernheimer Japanese Gardens. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, 1939)

Cactus Gardens

The weird and resilient beauty of the cactus is on display in the Desert Garden of The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, which showcases more than 2,000 species of desert plants in one of the largest cactus gardens in the world.

Huntington Gardens Cactus Gardens

Visitors from Detroit admire the many varieties of cacti in the Desert Garden  at Huntington Botanical Gardens (Herald Examiner Collection, ca. 1965)

Will Keith Kellogg,(commonly known as W.K. Kellogg), the breakfast cereal magnate, bought acreage in Pomona, California, in 1925 on which he established an Arabian horse ranch. The land has passed through many owners (including the University of California system and the U.S. War Department) and is now the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The grounds have changed over time, but a stroll down memory lane will show its beautiful gardens, including a huge cactus garden.

Kellogg Cactus Garden

Cactus garden at Kellogg Arabian Horse Farm (WPA collection, ca. 1930)

The Kellogg estate gardens also featured a pond complete with water flowers and water fowl.

Kellogg Garden Duck Pond

Garden and pond at Kellogg Arabian Horse Ranch in Pomona (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, date unknown)

Rose Gardens

If you are aching to smell the roses, Exposition Park Rose Garden (located just south of the campus of University of Southern California) is open to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. Unfortunately, you will have to wait for spring as the Rose Garden is closed from January 1st through March 15th every year for maintenance (time to prune the roses!)

Exposition Park Gardens

Roses in Exposition Park in Los Angeles (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, ca. 1937)

Expo Rose Garden seen from Museum steps

Rose Garden as seen from the steps of the Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park (Herman J. Schultheis Collection, ca. 1937)

French-born artist Paul de Longpre?, who painted flowers and floral scenes in watercolor, came to Hollywood in 1899 and had a home built on three acres close to what is now the intersection of Cahuenga Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. (A nearby street, De Longpre Avenue, was named after him.) He maintained a garden on this property that at one time boasted 4,000 roses. The residence, which included art galleries in addition to gardens, became a popular destination for tourists and local visitors before being demolished in 1927.

de Longpre Rose Garden

Rose Garden at estate of artist Paul de Longpre (Security Pacific National Bank Collection, date unknown)

 

The Festive Feasts of Los Angeles

Ready for the holidays? Hungry?

Wherever there are festivities, there will be food. In all cultures, eating and feasting is part of a proper celebration for any occasion. With the December holidays in full swing, Angelenos are commemorating and celebrating the holidays with traditional dinners, old family recipes, and once-a-year treats, as these pictures from the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection show:

Hanukkah donuts

Sorrina and Marcel Yitzak prepare for a Hanukkah party at which they will be serving sufganiyot, the traditional deep-fried jelly doughnuts. (circa 1985, Shades of L.A. Collection)

Hanukkah Party in Woodland Hills

The pastries, filled with jelly or custard and topped with powdered sugar, commemorate the miracle of the temple oil and are often served at Hanukkah gatherings, such as this one in Woodland Hills, California. (circa 1984, Shades of L.A. Collection)

Christmas Tamales

Tamales are a traditional item for Christmas meals in Mexico and the Southwest. In this photo, Linda Figueroa prepares tamales for a Christmas dinner. (circa 1960, Shades of L.A. Collection)

Xmas Tamalada

Tamales for holiday gatherings are often prepared in huge batches during a tamalada – a tamale-making party that is equal (somewhat) parts cooking session, family reunion, and holiday party. Here, members of the Vasquez family hold such an affair. (circa 1959, Shades of L.A. Collection)

Orthodox Christmas Eve Dinner

An Orthodox Christmas Eve dinner begins with the lighting of a single tall white candle upon the appearance of the first star in the sky. The meal is traditionally meatless and dairy-free and includes twelve courses. (December 20, 1963, Valley Times Collection)

Kiwanis Fruitcake

What’s Christmas without fruitcake? In this photo, the Kiwanis Club uses fruitcake to help employers spread good cheer to their employees while helping children’s charities throughout the San Fernando Valley. (October 31, 1961, Valley Times Collection)

If you need more inspiration for getting into the spirit of the season, you might take a gander at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles online holiday photo exhibit from last year. You can also peruse the Library’s photo collection for images of festivals, parades, decorations, and more food. Whatever holiday you may be celebrating, bon appetit!

Thanksgiving in Los Angeles

Thanksgiving celebrations in Los Angeles are as diverse as the city itself. Los Angelenos give thanks and share meals in ways that showcase the city’s unique and multi-faceted persona, as these photos from the Los Angeles Public Library’s Photo Collection demonstrate.

TRADITIONAL

Flatt Family Thanksgiving

The Flatt family hosts Thanksgiving dinner at their home in West Los Angeles. (circa 1964, Shades of L.A. Collection)

CHARITABLE

Skid Row Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving dinner for Skid Row residents hosted by Union Mission was served by members living in Los Angeles as well as others coming into the city by bus from other states. (November 27, 1970, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection)

HOSPITABLE

1943 Canteen Thanksgiving

Servicemen prepare for a Thanksgiving feast at the Hollywood Canteen. (November 26, 1943, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection)

GLAMOROUS

Biltmore Thanksgiving 1955

Chef William Lacheman (far left) of the Biltmore Hotel helps his cooking staff prepare 120 turkeys to be served to hotel guests. (November 23, 1955, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection)

UNCONVENTIONAL

Thanksgiving for Livestock at Alexandria Hotel

A steer from the Great Western Live Stock Show peruses the Thanksgiving Day menu at the Hotel Alexandria. (Security Pacific National Bank Collection)