It’s time for our by-now-traditional “Looking Back, Looking
Forward” issue of the Old Curiosity Shop. As we move even
further into the 21st Century, noting that we are
well past the one-sixth mark, and the days when a sci-fi radio
drama series was titled “2000 Plus” are in the far-distant past.
2017 saw the closing of two businesses that were part of my
life-- one from my teenage days, one during the last 30+ years.
Back in 1957-58, I was a teenage part-time sales clerk at
Johnson Music Co. in Monrovia. The Johnson family sold the
business to another Monrovia, Don Collins, who kept the store
going as Family Affair Music until this year. He wasn’t getting
any younger, and I think the lease on the store was due for a
rent increase. He still had a good stock of LPs and even some
45s. He had a good variety of musical instruments and supplies
for those who wanted to “Make Their Own Kind of Music”
(paraphrasing Mama Cass).
Solid sounds at Family Affair Music in Monrovia.
The other store that shut down in 2017 was Alhambra Camera Shop,
which I had started patronizing sometime after I went to work at
the Southern California Edison Alhambra facility. If there was
digital photography back in the 1980s, it was still in the
laboratory experiment stage, Kodak, along with Fuji and Ilford
were cranking out film by the mile. Photomat kiosks and Fromex
rapid development shops were the big thing for the casual
snap-shooters. Kodachrome was the gold standard for the color
slide format used by railfans and other serious amateur
photographers. Now we can get hundreds of photos onto an SD
card that plugs into a computer, and have several slide shows on
a flash drive that can be connected to a computer or video
Not much film left at Alhambra Camera.
We look forward to another season of Second Sunday shows at the
Adams Pack Station in the hills above Arcadia at Chantry
Flats. The mules and burros are probably wondering, “Where’s
that guy with the carrots?” If all goes well, I should be back
with treats for the critters on May 13.
After their set, two of the performers visited with the pack
animals, who were probably looking for more carrots.
No railway line openings are scheduled for 2018, but we just had
the groundbreaking for the Glendora to Claremont Phase 2B of the
Foothill Gold Line extension, and there should be a lot of
behind-the-scenes work to “ramp up” for construction to start in
2019. Meanwhile, in downtown L.A. the Connector tunnel to
provide a route between the Gold Line and the rest of the L.A.
Metro light rail system is moving right along, while the
Crenshaw Line to the Los Angeles International Airport has some
of the rails in place, and the Purple Line subway extension is
burrowing below Wilshire Boulevard.
Following the advice of Bob and Doug MacKenzie, in September, we
decided to “Take Off to the Great White North,” arriving in time
for the dedication of an historic electric railway car in
Cloverdale, British Columbia. Last year, the Fraser Valley
Heritage Railway group had the car that came from Orange Empire
restored and running, this year another classic interurban car,
BC Electric 1304 was dedicated after restoration. The ceremony
was also part of the 150th Anniversary of the
formation of Canada, so it was a big deal.
After a couple of days in the Vancouver area, Pat and I finally
made it to Alaska, and I got to ride the White Pass & Yukon RR
out of Skagway, with some rare Alco diesels on the point. The
train goes up the river valley, and even crosses a few hundred
feet into Canada. Our home for much of this excursion was the
of the Holland America Line. The seagoing part of the cruise
ended at Seward, named after the US Secretary of State who
arranged the purchase of Alaska from the Russian government in
The White Pass and Yukon narrow gauge train is about to leave,
and our floating resort is in the background.
We didn’t see as much wildlife as we had hoped—this was the only
bull moose that we could get a photo of.
What will we see in 2018? I’m waiting for word on whether Art
Fein has found a new home for the Elvis Birthday Bash, which (we
hope) will happen on January 8 plus
or minus a day or two. Later that month, Pat and I have tickets
for a screening of that silent film classic, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,
with music provided by an organist playing the Mighty Wurlitzer
theater pipe organ. Travel plans are rather nebulous-- we have
considered a cruise that will visit the Panama Canal, but
haven’t booked anything yet. It’s been a long time since I’ve
visited San Francisco-- we have enough electric railway action
in Southern California to keep me (and my camera) busy. I’m
going to try to make it to the SF Muni Heritage Weekend in
September, but there are several other events then. Like we
used to say back in the days of chemically based photography,
we’ll just have to “see what develops.”