That great Geoff Mack song from 1962 has been mighty good to me onstage. While I’ve been in 49 of the 50 states [Florida still to be sampled], criss-crossed Europe and performed in Japan, it might be appropriate in this first installment of the “I’ve Been Everywhere Series” to start with my birthplace of Pasadena, California.
Originally populated by Native Americans of the Hahamonga Tribe, it was settled by Spanish landowners near the San Gabriel Mission. And the large holdings were divided time and again as more people came to settle east of the Arroyo Seco, or dry canyon. If you ever hike in the wilder areas of the Arroyo, be careful not to disturb our rattling friends as you traipse the rocky terrain.
In the 1920s and 1930s, many African-Americans came to Los Angeles County. While some towns forbade their buying or renting domiciles, Pasadena allowed this influx. Some of this was due to the need of servants for many of Southern California’s wealthiest families. So, in its own way, Pasadena became integrated.
My Uncle Bill Macy had a playmate c. 1930 by the name of Jackie Robinson. This was the childhood days of 42 that featured bikes, rock throwing—all the boy stuff.
You’ve seen the Rose Parade and Bowl game in Pasadena, with the San Gabriel Mountains framing the day’s festivities. Those mountains are now more vividly observed than any time since pre-WW2 Los Angeles. The Second World War brought tremendous energy, industry, airplane factories and a massive influx of population to the Basin. And smog.
But today, we enjoy the SoCal that resulted after the catalytic converter. Pasadena, along with her sister city Altadena, traditionally Fahrenheit hot, has become a hot destination for travelers who enjoy taking in the museums, stages, mansions, history and shops.
They can also take in the air these days.