Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Left Coast

Back from Southern California and a week's research for my 1928 Novel in Process, Such Stuff As Dreams.   Found the IPAD a little hard to blog with, and noticed about a gazillions spelling errors in the one post I did submit.  It's been a long time since I spent any time in the L.A. area.  We avoided downtown and the Hollywood scene, and concentrated on Pomona and Pasadena, as that's where the book is set.  Spent the last day in Santa Ana and Newport Beach.
Santa Ana has a gem of an art museum, The Bowers Museum. I went there to see the En Plein Air painters from the 20's, and also found some gems of old California, a fab exhibit of Faberge, and a wonderful scrimshaw exhibit.  We drove into Newport Beach and had upscale Mexican food on the water at Sol.  Muy delicioso
A peek at a lifestyle very un-New-Englandly:  two large tables of ladies who lunch.  Obviously not working moms.  When we walked in, I thought, "Lordy, lordy, we're bringing the age bracket up 30 years with all these young women lolling about.  Another hard look--not that young,, maybe thirties.  Still another look:  naw, forties.  An even closer look:  whoops!  Fifties.  Not young women, but well-dieted, botoxed (maybe) California beautifies.  The weirdest thing, for a New Englander: when the food arrived at one table, the "girls" all joined hands and prayed.  Somehow, I never expect this in a restaurant, and not with empty Margarita glasses about the table.  Well, a different life style to be sure, in Orange County. To each his own.  The clothing, shoes and jewelery, handbags, etc., were all attractive as were the women. And the Margaritas were very fine.

Totally intrigued by the crowd at the Turf Club at Santa Anita.  Plenty of older single men who had come to play the ponies.  Lots of parties of young California types.  Now one of the things the Turf Club emphasizes, is
View from Santa Anita Turf Club
The Dress Code.  We were togged out in our vacation finest.   Many New Englanders don't even travel with a dress or a jacket, but we do.  The dress code stated no polo shirts, and don't even think about a t-shirt, only sport coats or suits for men, no jeans, ever, and no mini-skirts on the women, but rather a dress or a suit.  I have to tell you there were a few butt-skimming miniskirts and dresses that passed by the eagle eye at the entrance, likewise a few jeans with sport coats for ladies and men.  Maybe they were dress jeans, in fact they were.  Nothing you would wear ti clean out the stables. Many of the young men had snappy hats.  It was almost like a costume party.  Lots of fun actually, and I didn't make the mistake of trotting up to the $100 minimum window. Back in the day when we went to the races at Tijuana or Del Mar, we counted it a good day if we won enough to cover admission, lunch and betting.

Last week we thought we were doing good to win enough to keep betting a few horses in every race.  Came out O.K.  Sunday morning we took a tour of the track in a little trolley that went behind the scene to the barns, the vet areas, the jockey rooms, the places one doesn't ordinarily see.  It was very cool and everything  very clean, orderly and well run.  Over 1600 horses if you can imagine that.  Our guide had a few insights into the horses that a frequent bettor would know, but we didn't.  Some of them like to run but not to race, for starters.

I will definitely do a race track short story when I get some inspiration.  Such a good setting.  The Santa Anita track is beautiful with  wonderful gardens and trees and an art deco exterior.  We ate breakfast at the Clockers Corner, a nice enough buffet and overlooking where the horses took their practicc runs on Sunday.  Felt very in.

San Gabriel Mountains North  of L.A.

We also ventured into the San Gabriel Mountains and had lunch at Mount Baldy village, went to Arts Night in Pasadena, and enjoyed the Southern California mystique.  So different from New England.  Sort of out-freaking to drive so often on Six Lanes of Freeway.  Three or Four is the norm in these parts.

Don't want to use all my memories in one blog.


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