An extraordinary collection of photographs
Fishing Baja 2000
Fishing the Sea of Cortez off Cerralvo Island
The Year of 1958 (I was 31 years old)
What was happening in the world:
- Mao in China and Castro in Cuba have now emerged as Communist Dictators.
- The Pope dies and Pope John is named new Pope.
- The French are losing their fight to keep Algeria as a colony in North Africa.
What was happening in the USA:
- The USA launches its first space satellite in answer to Russia's Sputnik.
- Intercontinental missiles with Atomic warheads are now the primary weapons of both the USA and Russia.
- The Mackinac Bridge in Michigan is opened as the world's highest suspension bridge. In 1985 (27 years later) I crossed it on one of my trips to see the USA.
What was happening In California:
- The Dodgers shock New York by moving to Los Angeles.
- Lana Turner's 14-yr-old daughter stabs to death her mother's boyfriend.
- Tyrone Power dies at age 44.
What was happening in sports:
- In the Rose Bowl it was Ohio State 10 - Oregon 7.
- In the World Series, it was the Yankees over Milwaukee 4 games to 3.
- In the NFL championship game, it was Baltimore 23 - NY Giants 17.
- NFL Player of the Year was Jim Brown of Cleveland.
The Heisman Trophy went to Pete Dawkins of Army.
- The national champions of college football was L.U.
- The national champions of College Basketball was Kentucky.
- The NBA champion was St. Louis.
What was happening at the movies:
- Best movie was GiGi.
- Best actor was David Niven in Separate Tables.
- Best actress was Simone Signoret in Room at the Top.
- Other great movies were:
- South Pacific (Mitzi Gaynor),
- Touch of Evil (Orson Wells), and
- Spirit of St. Louis (James Stewart).
Memorable songs were:
- I heard you crying in the chapel (Elvis Presley)
- Hang down your head (Tom Dooley)
- When you were sweet sixteen (Perry Como)
What was happening in my life:
- In January, I made a major change in my life. I quit my job in Sacramento, sold the old 1948 gray Dodge, bought a "new" 1951 red Plymouth, packed everything I owned into the 7-year-old car with 80,000 miles on the speedo and headed south to enroll as a full-time art student at the expensive Art Center School in West L.A. It was a MAJOR MOVE, considering I didn't really have the funds to put myself through such an expensive school.
- Packed to the ceiling, the red Plymouth made it over the Grapevine in the middle of Winter OK. There was light snow on the summit, and I checked into a motel for one night while I hunted around West L.A. for an inexpensive bachelor's apartment. I found one in a redbrick three-story apartment on South Mariposa Street - it was a short 20-minute drive to the Art Center School.
- I bought the red Plymouth at a gas station on Capitol Avenue. It was sitting over in a corner with a FOR SALE sign on it. I drove it for approximately 4 years and got good service out of it. I had driven my previous car, the 1948 Dodge, for about 4 years.
- The apartment on South Mariposa was my home for the next 1 ½ years. I had a 2nd-floor apartment overlooking a front yard next door. The gal that lived there had a Nightingale, and on hot summer nights when I left my windows open, the damn bird would sing so loud it would wake me up. It was LOUD and lasted most of the night.
- Half a block away was St. Thomas's Catholic Church where I went every Sunday morning. I remember an old guy who was always outside after mass trying to sell copies of the Catholic Monitor to parishioners. His sales pitch was: "you won't know the saints from the sinners without the Monitor".
- I remember spending many hours in that apartment working on my art homework. KGO was "long ago and far away" now, and in place of it I listened to L.A.'s radio talk station KFI. From where I lived in West L.A., you could see the Hollywood hills and the famous white-letter sign that spelled out HOLLYWOOD. However, it had to be a clear day, and the smog was so bad most of the time you wouldn't even know the hills were there.
- At the Art Center, I signed up for a full schedule of classes.
- Four of them were in the daytime:
- Analysis of Form (Feitelson)
- Life Drawing (Rocque)
- Perspective (Youngkin)
- Design (Prolifka)
- And one was a night class:
- It was immediately obvious that compared with the talent at Sacramento City College, the art talent here was much, much superior and the competition for grades was much more intense. It became clear to me for the first time that a person could have a tremendous amount of artistic ability and talent, and still have a heck of a time making a living in the very competitive field of commercial art.
- I met Bill Offenbach (an old friend from Sacramento who first told me about the Art Center) a couple of times at the Art Center, but we weren't close friends anymore. During the Easter vacation, Bill's buddy from Sacramento (John Wells) came down for a visit, and we all went for an all-day visit to Disneyland. It was the 1st—time visit for all of us, and we drove there and back in my Red Plymouth. I remember it rained off-and-on most of the day. It was the last time I saw either Bill or John.
- Some of the other things I remember about my Spring Semester at the Art Center were:
- Walking around the plush area around the school at 5353 West 3rd street. It was a very nice residential part of West L.A. then. Like Arts and Crafts in Oakland, the Art Center School was housed in what had been at one time a very large private mansion.
- Attending two famous art displays at the L.A. County Museum in Exposition Park. One was a display of some of the best original works of Vincent Van Gogh. The other was a similar display of famous original paintings of Edgar Degas.
- One of my first loves was still portrait painting, and I remember spending a lot of time carefully carving out a miniature human skull showing all the prominent bones then carefully making a casting and mold of it, so I could make a plaster duplicate of the skull and then meticulously mold the major muscles onto the casting to show how the muscles supported the bones of the skull. It should greatly increase my understanding of the basic anatomy of the human head in doing future portrait work.
- In doing my artwork homework, I remember spending much time in the art section of the Los Angeles Central Library. It had some great art books. Although dwarfed by new high-rise structures going up all around it, the library in the heart of L.A. was still a unique landmark. It was designed after an Egyptian Temple, and the entry lobby was filled with interesting historic murals of the early days of Los Angeles.
- In the early summer of 1958, I remember the riots in Watts in which dozens of people were killed. The Watts area was no more than 5 miles from my apartment and I could hear frequent blasts of automatic rifle fire from the guns of the National Guard. Sam Yorty was mayor then, and he lost no time in calling in all available help to put down the riot.
- By the end of my Spring semester at the Art Center, I had just about run out of money. I was also convinced that making it in the very competitive field of Commercial Art and making a decent wage would be a very difficult effort. So, I started looking through the want Ads of the L.A. Times hoping to find a job. I found an ad indicating that Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank was looking for people with experience in drafting and technical illustration. I applied for a job there, and I was hired in early June, right after my spring semester at the Art Center ended.
- I did well at Lockheed and they liked my work. I remember driving my red Plymouth north on Western Avenue to the Hollywood Freeway, and then north again on the Freeway to Burbank Blvd, then left on Vineland to Lockheed. In the morning commuter traffic, it was about a 45-minute drive from South Mariposa.
- Just after I went to work at Lockheed, Ma, Dad, and Betty visited me in L.A. They were on their way to visit Dad's long-lost sister Maude who lived in a small community called Paramount, just south of L.A. Having just started a new job, there was no way I could take time off to go with them, so I met them at their Motel in West L.A near the famous Farmer's Market. We spent the evening driving around seeing the sights of Hollywood. Ma wanted to see Hollywood-and-Vine where her old favorite Tom Brennanan once held his famous "Breakfast-Club-Show”.
- I liked the technical illustrating work at Lockheed, but I knew that if I stayed there, I would never get out of smoggy L.A. The primary reason I had left Sacramento to come to L.A. was to see what it was like at the Art Center School. Now that I had seen and decided it was not for me, I was thinking about ways to get back to Sacramento, where I thought I would be happier. So, I began looking around for a job that I could use to get back to Sacramento. An obvious choice was getting a job as a state employee. I took the examination for Delineator (a job that required both art and drafting skills) and I passed it with a high rating on the eligibility exam. I stayed with Lockheed for 3 months (June, July, and August) then got an offer to go to work as a Delineator with the Division of Highways in downtown L.A. The pay, future advancement, and security were all much better with the State than with Lockheed (and I had a much better chance of getting back to Sacramento, so I quit Lockheed and went to work for the Division of Highways on September 1st.
- The Office of the Division of Highways was in a very old building right down in the center of downtown L.A. on South Spring Street. The drive to work took about ½ an hour I would drive in on Olympic Blvd and turn left on South Main. I'd park in a lot on South Main just a couple of blocks from the office. I remember that St. Vibiana's Catholic Cathedral was just one block from where I parked the red Plymouth.
- Just one block from South Spring Street was Broadway, the main drag of downtown L.A. I used to hike to its interesting Grand Central Market at lunchtime. Even in those days (35 years ago) downtown L.A. was very Mexican - and much, much, much, more so today.
- The work at Division of Highways was more drafting and less illustration compared to Lockheed. It mostly involved making maps for highway alignments. I didn't like it much because it didn't offer any opportunities for individuality. The only three people I can really remember now at the office were:
- My Supervisor named Bob who had an identical twin working in the office next door. I couldn't tell them apart.
- An arrogant black guy named Gaylord Brown.
- A young guy named Ramsey who thought he was very "pretty".
- I remember going to a dentist on South Broadway to have a bad tooth pulled, and the dentist broke off the root. Then, I had to have dental surgery under an anesthetic to have the root cut out.
- I remember spending the Christmas of 1958 in L.A. It was the first time since my Christmas of 1945 in the Philippine Islands that I had not gone home for Xmas. The long 425-mile drive to Oakland in a 7-year-old car was just too far to go. I remember taking a solo hike around downtown L.A. just before X-mas and seeing the large White Cross on the side of the city hall (formed by leaving selected room lights on overnight) as a Christmas decoration.
- 1958 in Los Angeles ended with me wishing I was back in Sacramento.
< ----- What was happening in 1957
What was happening in 1959 ---- >
The Grapevine in California on a cold January day
I was on my way to Los Angeles to try studying at the Art Center school.
My new home on South Mariposa
It was an apartment in West L.A. facing the Hollywood hills.
My new Cathedral in L.A.
It was just a 1/2 block away on Pico Blvd.
My view of the Hollywood hills
90% of the time, it was so smoggy that I could not see them.
The Art Center School at 5353 West 3rd Street
Back in 1958, it was in a very plush residential area of West L.A.
Carved skull (right) and a casting I made from it
Using plaster, I created the casting on the left showing the facial muscles. These two "references" helped me to improve my portrait drawing.
Central library in downtown L.A.
It was designed as an Egyptian temple and it was a landmark of the city.
L.A. Public Library
It had an excellent collection of art books and I spent much time there while attending the Art Center school.
Downtown L.A. showing Pershing Square
Even in 1958, the library was dwarfed by the tall buildings around it.
The library's main lobby
It had impressive murals that portrayed major events in Los Angeles history.
Analysis of form
One of my drawings from the Art Center.
A pear collage
From my Art Center design class.
Division of Highways office on South Spring Street
I worked there for approximately one year starting in 1958. Note St. Vibiana's Cathedral between South Spring and South Main. I parked my old red Plymouth in a lot on South Main, just one block away.
The Los Angeles City Hall
I spent the Christmas of 1958 in L.A. It was one of the only times that I did not go home to Oakland for X-mas.
Broadway (the main drag of L.A.) in 1958
It was already very Mexican. I often visited the Grand Central Public Market at lunchtime. It was much like the old 6th Street Market back in Oakland.
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