Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

Old Curiosity Shop for Jan 2021

There used to be a TV show called “That Was the Year That Was” (also known as TW3).  For 2020, it should be “That Was the Year That Sucked”.  Normally, the January issue of Bobby Boy’s Old Curiosity Shop looks back over the year that just ended and forward to what might happen in the year ahead.  2020 got off to a rather inauspicious start when for the first time in several years, we did not go out on New Year’s Eve to watch the Rose Parade float convoy travel through San Marino under cover of darkness.  We did go out to the front lawn to watch the USAF B-2 bomber fly by the Sierra Madre Mountains (we’ve dubbed it the BatPlane) and viewed the parade on Ch. 5, a local tradition.   A few days later I took the Metro Gold Line and Red Line trains to Hollywood for the City Girls and Country Music show featuring Heather Lomax, whom I had seen a year earlier at the Elvis Birthday Bash.

Heather Lomax at the last Elvis Birthday Bash in Burbank (Jan 6, 2019) she sang two of my favorite “Early Elvis” songs: “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and the song that was on his first commercial recording, “That’s All Right Mama.”

Later that month, it was my turn to entertain with a slide show for Electric Railway Historical Assn. at the Metro building next to Union Station.  The photos were from my visit to Chicago in Sept. 1971.

These South Shore interurban cars were the nearest thing to riding the Pacific Electric in 1971, and were one of the main reasons for going to Chicago.

Then things went downhill.  Evie Sands had a show scheduled for a club out in the San Fernando Valley, but had to cancel due to illness.  The end of the month was occupied by the purification ritual and going over to a clinic in Pasadena to get my innards looked at.  This meant missing a show in Culver City, but at least I got that process out of the way.  We had a February 29, this year, so I used the extra day to vote in the California Primary election at the local library.  They were using a new voting system, but the County had a well-trained crew on duty, including some very helpful young people, so it was a good experience.  Little did I know that going to a polling place would, for many of us, become a thing of the past.

Now we were starting to hear about mysterious disease called COVID-19, caused by a “novel corona virus.” Around March 18, the word went out: “Unless absolutely necessary, stay home!”  Going to Dodgers Opening Day with daughter Kathy was annulled.  Grocery stores were observing special protocols, which had us getting up at O-dark-30 for the special senior citizen hours at the local Ralph’s Market on March 27, and waiting in line for the store to open.  When we got inside, we found that many products were out of stock.  In the words of the ancient Hebrew prophets, “Oy vey!” We tried “Home Chef” meals in a box delivered to our doorstep, I went to Olive Garden in Arcadia for a meal pickup, and our family Easter gathering was through the magic of Zoom. 

Evie Sands had to postpone the official release of her new album, “Get Out of Your Own Way,” until later in the year because the record production facilities were affected by the shutdown.  I had three possible music events and a railway excursion planned for the latter part of April, and all were cancelled.  To top it off, our DSL service failed, and we had to be off-line for three days until the ATT tech found the bad module and we could rejoin the civilized world.  

We started doing food pickup at the WalMart south of the Edison headquarters in Rosemead.  This involved Pat doing an online order through the WM website and me driving to the designated pickup area.  The crew member loads the order into the back of DNRy 123, and I bring it home.  One part of the pickup is that if I have some beer in the shipment, the WM person has to check ID, even though I’m obviously not a teenager.

One good news item, Heather Lomax’s latest CD showed up in the mail.  Other than that, we stayed in quarters and depended on the internet, the TV and our vast supply of books and records for entertainment.   One of the new books was by a woman who calls herself “The Professional Hobo” and recounted her journey from Portugal to Vietnam by a series of trains (I used this as the basis for one of last year’s Old Curiosity Shops).  Another musical experience from last year that could not be repeated was the Harry Nilsson tribute night at Molly Malone’s. 

Back in 2016, I was so proud that our older daughter could go to her work in the Lo s Angeles Civic Center area on the Gold Line electric railway.   But when the pandemic alert changed everything, she had to forsake the daily train ride and take care of business from home through the internet.  The good news from the Gold Line is that construction is beginning on the next phase of the Foothill Extension from Azusa to Pomona.  First construction site was at Gladstone Street (which some wiseacres call “Happy Rock Avenue”) where Glendora and San Dimas meet.

This was in July 2020.  Since then three more grade crossing projects have started and Gladstone has been reopened.

We haven’t seen him lately, but Dusty came over for dinner several times.

On the good news front: Evie’s new CD (and also the LP format) arrived, much to the delight of the local members of the International Cult of Sands Worshipers.  Sometime next year we should have an official CD release party.

The Inimitable Empress of Soul/Pop shows that she “Ain’t Done Yet.”

Of course the big national and international news of 2020 was the Presidential Election.  Here in Los Angeles County, we were supposed to receive mail-in ballots on Oct. 5, but they showed up on the 3rd.  We found that the nearest drop-off box was in front of San Marino City Hall.  Between the time we received the ballots and made all the choices, there had been an incident in Baldwin Park, where some lowlife had set a ballot collection box on fire.  We were not concerned because the San Marino collection box was next to the firehouse and around the corner from the police station.  Just to be on the safe side, we used the County Registrar’s website to confirm that our ballots had been collected and tabulated.  Then it was the long wait for the first week in November, and the long, drawn out counting process to determine that Mr. Biden will be our next President, and Ms. Harris will be VP.  The way things have been going, many of us won’t relax until Noon EST on Jan. 20.  Some writers have envisioned Mr. Trump being dragged kicking and screaming from the White House, or maybe sneaking out the back door, trying his best to avoid notice.

What else do we have to look forward to in 2021?  Two different COVID 19 vaccines have been approved, and some shots have already been administered to health care workers and residents of old folks’ homes.  Our numbers will probably come up some time in the spring, and by then the pandemic should be abating, and I can start looking at train timetables with more than academic interest.  Although some of our favorite gathering places may have gone the way of the Big Red Cars, live music will again fill the air.

I’ll leave you with a memory of happier times, when we enjoyed music in the great outdoors of Adams Pack Station and Terry Okey’s Second Sundays shindigs:

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