Where to begin? How do you sum up what is special about the place you spent your entire childhood? Well, here goes.
I know some people grow up looking forward to the day they can escape their hometown. Though I haven't been an official resident since 1993 (when I got my Utah driver's license), that is not the case with me. Pasadena is a wonderful place, and though it was not my destiny to spend my entire life there, it was a great place to grow up.
|The old homestead.|
|View under 210 fwy, Colorado bridge in background.|
Really, if there is one word to describe Pasadena, it must be lush. Maybe I only think that now that I live in a semi-arid desert. Truly, though, when you think of what Pasadena has represented over the years- roses in winter, for example- it fits.
Pasadena found its place on the map in the early part of the 20th century when big business tycoons and other wealthy east-coasters started building winter homes there (Wrigleys, Gambles, et al). They of course hired famous architects to build their homes (Greene and Greene, Frank Lloyd Wright and their minions). Charming Victorian builds made way for Bungalows and Spanish villa-style homes, and as neighborhoods started to furnish the landscape, smaller versions of the iconic homes popped up. Homes like my parents', built in the late 1920's, are typical of Pasadena. More building took place in subsequent decades, so the now well-established neighborhoods also have lush, established landscapes.
|San Rafael Elementary School|
|Pasadena City Hall|
I'm realizing in relating all this that when thinking about what I loved about Pasadena, the setting is inextricably connected to my memories. It is easy to get all wrapped up in the high-fallootin' charm of the city. Certainly there is more to love about Pasadena, and bearing in mind that my opinions were formed over 20 years ago (and are not necessarily high-fallootin'), here is my list of favorite things:
- I love the damp, humid chill of Pasadena evenings.
- I love the yummy smell of the night-blooming jasmine everywhere.
- I love the thump of bass you hear as you drive by backyard parties.
- I love the jogging scene around the Rose Bowl.
- I love seeing familiar Pasadena sights regularly on the big and small screen.
- I love that when you suggested "taco truck?" everybody knew exactly where you would find said truck.
- I love the Norton Simon Museum and Gamble House.
- I love the great restaurants, from Tops to Shogun.
- I love that my personality was shaped by diverse and interesting friends and teachers, in school environments completely unique to Pasadena.
I didn't always love everything about school as a student, but one thing is for sure, I would be a very different person had I not attended Pasadena public schools. I dare say my perspective on the world would be different. I know the schools have changed a lot over the years, but when I was there, I had lots of amazing teachers who cared about their students and taught well. Because I was in the very diverse environment that was the PUSD, I learned about living and cooperating with people of different races and cultures. I made friends who are dear to me to this day. I know the unique influences from my growing-up years have made me the person I am today, and I'm very grateful for those influences.
|Wes, self portrait at 2010 Rose Parade. Sorry for poor quality.|
Ah, Pasadena. So much more to say, but some things just have to be experienced to be understood. My perception of Pasadena is based on my unique experience. Fortunately, my experience was positive enough to leave me with a fondness for my hometown. I suddenly have a late night hankering for tacos.