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  • Jan Thoreen Lewis

The Place I Grew Up

THE PLACE I GREW UP

I want to share with you a little about the unique and creative charms of Pasadena, California.  My family moved there when I was 3 years old from Salem, Oregon, into a large historic Craftsman-style home, typical of the city.  Of course, I had no idea how special this house was until I was an adult, but just loved it for the nooks and crannies I could hide in or the cavernous attic where I played with friends.

The magical qualities we enjoyed as children in our home towns later become stories worth telling through art.


As with most of us, my years in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre (we moved a lot) are covered in my memory by a gauzy pink haze of love and happiness.  When I think back though, I realize that much of this was due to the charms of this corner of California. Things like:

Orange groves we would drive through in the back country to Santa Barbara.

Strawberry stands along Pacific Coast Hwy. between Laguna and San Diego.

The San Gabriel Mission on the El Camino Real, not too far from our stomping grounds.

Classic Craftsman architecture, like the Gamble House in Pasadena by the famous Greene brothers.

Sierra Madre Canyon, an enclave to artists, beatniks, & hippies in the 60’s, full of funky charming.

Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena, lined with giant Diodor trees decorated with lights.

Huntington Library where we could see every type of plant, famous classical art, and precious book in gardens and buildings with European elegance.

The Rose Parade we attended every year as a child, sitting on a plank between two ladders that we carried to Colorado Blvd.; or later, spending the night with the youth group from our church holding places on the curb where we watched the parade in the morning.

Through the rosy lens of time, even the most mundane events of childhood become touched with the by-gone mystery of the ordinary. But sometimes, the mystery was real and is still there.

The arroyo where the Rose Bowl sits and I had my first driving lessons in the parking lot, and where I learned to play tennis with my dad at Brookside Park.

The Old Pasadena Bridge, which graces the arroyo high above.

The Pasadena City Hall, one of the most famous and romantic old Southern California buildings used in movies.

If this list sounds a bit like a travel ad, then you might be right!  I love this city! And if you’re really curious, you can look up some of these places online to see images and read their history.  I’ve enjoyed painting some of these places, as you can see here, but go see them for yourself!



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