rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Screw Reality

I managed to force myself to wake up this afternoon. Waking up is always more difficult when some onerous task (such as having a broken tooth ground to powder with a jackhammer) looms. I was unable to make a dental appointment, though, as the office was closed today. I'm as anxious to get this over with as I am to pretend it doesn't need to be done. I sometimes wish that I'd had all my teeth replaced with nice caps, such as the ones actors get. Then, as they eventually shall, I could someday be an old, wizened man with perfect, gleaming white teeth, and could frighten children merely by grinning at them.

Having dragged myself out of bed, I was moderately cheered by the fact that the day was pearly gray and filled with mist. I was less pleased by the fact that the sun appears to have lost its power to produce heat. At least it seems that way, since it was colder at three o'clock than it had been at six in the morning. I don't mind a brief winter, but I'd rather it arrived in January or February than in March.

I've been distracting myself from the various annoyances (mainly the damned broken tooth, since the weather will take care of itself eventually) by looking at stuff like this (click through for bigger versions):
Alhambra, California, February 1909
Alhambra, California, February 1909

This 1909 view of Alhambra, an eastern suburb of Los Angeles, shows Main Street eastward from Third Street. Within a decade, most of the vacant lots in the picture would be filled with buildings.

The picture was taken from the roof of the high school. The distant, snow-covered peak at center right is Mount San Antonio, AKA Mount Baldy. Then nearer peaks to the left include Mount Lowe and Mount Wilson.

Having spent a great deal of time in Alhambra in later years, when Main Street had become one of the busiest shopping districts in the San Gabriel Valley, I always find it surprising to come across a picture such as this which reminds me how bucolic the place was only a few decades before I was born. I sometimes regret having missed seeing it like that in person. I can, for example, imagine myself living in the boxy late Victorian house at lower left, sitting on the porch in the long summer evenings, watching the infrequent passersby and the even less frequent interurban cars on their way along Main Street, to and from Los Angeles. I'd have had to move out by 1924, though, because that was the year that lot became the site of a four story office and commercial block which was, until the 1970s, the tallest building in Alhambra.

By the time I first remember Alhambra, it was drastically different from the town in this view. The degree of difference between now and the way it was when I frequented the neighborhood is only slightly less. The building in which I lived for a month when I was 19 hadn't yet been built when this photo was taken, but it was only a few years later that it would be built, on the left side of Main Street just past Second Street (which runs across the center of the picture.) That building is among the town's current survivors. About half of the buildings put up in the two decades following 1909 are still there (though often remodeled beyond recognition), but just about everything in this 1909 view is gone-- most of it gone before I ever saw it. I do remember the blocky commercial building just right of center, which was demolished when I was about 15 or so. Both the old and new buildings contained a local hardware store. Then new building is still there, but I think it has a Starbuck's in it now.

Ah, nostalgia. An excellent soporific. Nothing distracts me from current worries better than indulging in nostalgia about things I no longer have and, better still, bemoaning the loss of things I never had to begin with.

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