Dan Soderberg Photography

Joshua Tree

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Two ravens sitting in a Joshua Tree.
The Joshua Tree plant is a true icon of the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park. But in fact, it’s not a tree! It’s part of the yucca family. The “tree” grows to over 40 feet and produces blooms from February through April. Summer is severe with relentless sunshine, little water, and temperatures over 100 degrees. Yet it is the home to numerous desert birds and critters including the common raven.
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As resilient as the Joshua Tree plants and animals are, their world is fragile. It was Minerva Hoyt who understood the threats from humans to Joshua Tree and spearheaded efforts to persuade President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to proclaim Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936. In 1994 it became Joshua Tree National Park.

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Matth at rest during his climb to the top of this pile of huge boulders.

There are vast tracks of giant boulder piles in Joshua Tree. The rock piles began underground eons ago as a result of volcanic activity. Granite magma rose deep within the earth. As the granite cooled and crystalized underground, the cracks and joints seen here were formed. The granite continued to push up. Contact with groundwater widened the cracks and rounded the boulders. As surface soil eroded, these tall large piles were fully exposed as we see them today.

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These are the top two boulders from the boulder pile in the previous photo.

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The decsent.

Click here: Video footage of the climb http://youtu.be/4xzdmvs5Q-o

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Campsites within Joshua Tree were full so we found a place nearby called Joshua Tree Lake Campground.


Matth setting up his new tent.



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With the camp set, compass in hand, there was time to hike to the top of the nearby peak overlooking the campground.

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On the move to the top.

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Bottle House

An interesting site we saw from the top of the peak was this house in the middle of the desert.

Bottle House Close

It had piles of bottles and glass all about, sorted by color.


Bottles, bottles – piles everywhere. Also metal pans and machinery parts. There’s a robot-like creation.

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And a wall made bottles.

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Sunset, November 8, 2013. Joshua Tree Lake Campground. My VW and Matth’s tent.


Maple, Sausage, and Egg biscuit “Breakfast In Bed.”

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Stabbed by the spear of a Joshua Tree leaf.


More boulder climbing.

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The hike to Wall Street Stamp Mill, a gold crushing mil closed since the 1940’s.

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This may have been the boulder passage where my boots got tangled together causing me to fall and break my wrist.

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Old abandoned truck near “Wall Street Stamp Mill.”

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The Wall Street Stamp Mill. The site was named “Wall Street” by miners Oran Booth and Earl McInnes who laid claim here in 1928. William F. Keys took over the claim in 1930 and built this stamp mill to process gold ore from his mine here and other mines in the desert. It is a complete gold ore crushing mill featuring late 19th Century two-stamp mill machinery. It is on the National Register of Historic Sites.

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Yet another abandoned vehicle near the mill.

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Keys View



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Water tank for Ryan Ranch


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At the western base of Ryan Mountain lie adobe ruins representing early turn of the century life in Joshua Tree National Park. What remains there today is the footprint left behind by the Ryan family, who came to Joshua Tree in the 1890s to manage and eventually acquire the Lost Horse Mine, the most successful mine in the area.


Ryan Ranch originally consisted of three adobe structures: a small one room structure of unknown purpose, a two room bunkhouse, and the main house. Wood and metal structures were eventually added to the site. While the main house is thought to have been built around 1896, the construction dates of the neighboring structures are unknown but thought to post date the main house.


In 1975, Ryan Ranch along with the Lost Horse Well, was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The site was nominated as a historic district based on its profitable history and depiction of early mining life and, therefore, its local significance to Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding communities.



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Sunrise last day.


Skull rock.


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Ryan Mountain

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Diary of Helen Hussey

Heat Wave

Friday September 15, 1939. “Very hot today. To town in a.m. + bought gold belt. Nite: to Marc’s birthday party dinner at House That Jack Built. Had Manhattans + a swell dinner.”
2014 Grant Ave

“San Francisco in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the City by the Bay” lists the House That Jack Built as a Costa Rican restaurant located at 2014 Grant Avenue. No indication of that historic time and place  today here at the end of Grant Avenue.

King's Koffee KupKing's Koffee Kup Napkin

“Then to the Press Club – African Dancer. Stopt at Will King’s Koffee Kup. Home about 12.”
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They made the space look a lot more spacious and dramatic than the boring treatment of the same view today.


Former Koffee Kup, now two store fronts. One selling comics. The other an ice cream parlor.

Towers Of The East And Temple Compound From Lakes of the Nations

Image courtesy of Bjorn Palenius

Saturday September 16, 1939. “Beastly hot! To the Fair with Tony – Saw Harry Owens Show…”

Harry Owens Voice Of The Trade Winds

Selection from Harry Owens and his Royal Canadians  Voice of The Trade Winds.

Owens was the band leader who organized The Royal Hawaiians orchestra at the hotel of the same name in Waikiki in 1933.

But he was most renown as the composer of “Sweet Leilani,” a song he wrote for his daughter 0n the day she was born in 1934. It won an Academy Award for Owens when sung by Bing Crosby in the picture “Waikiki Wedding” in 1937. More than 20 million recordings of the song have been sold, with Crosby’s alone accounting for 5 million copies.


“Went to Brazil. Saw Mayor Bowron of Los Angeles…”

Los Angeles Mayor Bowron

From the Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1938.

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“Nite: To Sally Rand’s new show – home about 9:30.”

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Lake Merced 1939

Sunday September 17, 1939. “Sam to Union meeting. Tony, Jeanne and I to the beach for several hours. Another hot day. In the evening took sandwiches etc. + ate by Lake Merced. ”

Old Maid

Monday September 18, 1939. “Hotter today – Went downtown – got iron with coupons – book left at Penney’s. Bought ticket for the Fair. Met + talked to Vic, Carlos + Ted on Market Street. Nite: went to see Old Maid while Sam worked. Home about 11.”

Tuesday September 19, 1939. “Hot morning – cooler in the afternoon with showers but hot again later. Evening to Tony’s + got a grape jacket.”


Wednesday September 20, 1939 “Hotter than ever. Bought a lite dress. Went to the Fair about 1.  Grand Hotel Day. Saw the Cavalcade and Jade Exhibit. Nite with Tony + San Diego man to Sally’s Nude Ranch. Still hot all nite.”

Thursday September 21, 1939 “Up early and to the park. Took Sam downtown. Went to Fort Winfield Scott – cool there. Scorching day. Hottest yet. School let out at 12:30…”

754 Clement Street See's

Today it is See’s at 754 Clement Street. In 1939 it was Ladenheim’s Women’s clothing, as many of the shops on Clement street were clothing stores for men and women.
“Jeanne and I to Clement Street and bought dresses. Nite, Tony over and rode to the beach. Walked along the shore-cool-but…”
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Front Room at 4320 Fulton

“at 10:10 still 81 degrees in the front room.”




The Alcazar


It was built in 1917 as a Shriners meeting hall known as the Islam Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of Mystic Shrine. Today it is called Alcazar Theatre, San Francisco Historic Landmark #195.

Islam Temple Screenshot

Source: Internet Archive

The historic designation research paper shows that it was designed by Thomas Paterson Ross, and that it is one of the most unusual buildings of downtown San Francisco. Most of the original interior is gone. However today remaining historic interior elements blend with modern spaces featuring not only the 511 seat auditorium, but well designed art galleries and meeting areas.

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The facade of this concrete and steel structure with its Byzantine arches and filigree is primarily of ornate polychrome terra cotta with a granite water table.

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Image source Carol Byrne/www.spain-holiday.com
This was the inspiration, the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
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The old Alcazar Theatre that was located at 260 O’Farrell Street. After it was torn down in 1963, the Alcazar then reopened at the Shriner meeting hall site, 650 Geary Street.

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In addition to originally serving as a Shriner meeting hall, the building featured exotic smoking rooms and parlors which had become popular by 1917.

Dan Soderberg Photography

Cowles Mountain

From The Current Series “A Belgian Student In America.”
Converted as Smart Object-1

Cowles Mountain. Not a true mountain. It almost never catches any snow. You won’t find skiers or snowboarders cascading down its slopes. But it is the highest peak within San Diego City limits, 1592 feet. The name is constantly mispronounced. You often hear Cowles pronounced (as in moo), a cow. Wrong! It is Cowles as in coals. Or same as the name Kohls. Folks, there’s no moo when it comes to Cowles.
CwlsGeorgeW as Smart Object-1That’s because it was named after George A. Cowles, and he pronounced his name “Kohls” or “coals.” He was a San Diego County ranching pioneer and achieved fame as the “Raisen King of the United States” resulting from his great production of grapes and raisins. But his farming success in the region was comprehensive. A wide variety of fruits, grapevines, olives, grains, and potatoes. He had about a hundred head of thoroughbred horses and 30 head of cattle. All that in a span of only ten years. He came here from Connecticut in 1877 , then died here in 1887. The town of Santee was originally named Cowles Town.

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“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” –Yogi Berra.

There are four trails to choose from. The longest and most challenging hike begins from here at Big Rock Park near the corner of Mesa Road and Prospect Avenue. From here you can take either path as seen in this photo.

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Destination,Cowles Mountain, center.

Hiking to the top of Cowles Mountain is popular. Often two of the less challenging trails can make Cowles Mountain appear like an ant hill of people. The advantage of taking this longer and more challenging trail is that it is not so crowded.

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The hike is nearly 5 miles long and takes about 3 hours, minus time spent atop the peak.


The trail cuts through a thick growth of native bushes and small trees known as chaparral.


Matthieu is surrounded by Toyan also known as California Holly. The name Hollywood comes from this, a native plant found in the area of what became Hollywood. But it’s found all over Southern California where chaparral grows.
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Chaparral broom, Baccharus sarothroides

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Matthieu surrounded by California Holly, the holly of Hollywood.

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Laurel Sumac. The aromatic leaves of this plant are part of the chaparral fragrance hikers smell along the trail.

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The narrow hiking trail intersects with a wide graded maintenance road leading to the summit.

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He doesn’t tire. He was only waiting for Yours Truly huffing and puffing up the trail.

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Looking from one of the numerous switch-backs of the trail leading to the summit, a look back to where we started.  Center on the horizon is Cuyamaca peak. A future destination to hike.


And then the summit. On the horizon, to the left, peaks in Mexico. Center, right Coronado Islands. Right and far right, Coronado, downtown San Diego, Point Loma. Foreground, center is Lake Murray.  But there’s much more to see than this. The view of San Diego County is 360Ëš from atop Cowles.

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The closest peak on the left is Mount Helix. Center is San Miguel Mountain. Then behind it is Otay Mountain.

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El Cajon Mountain or “El Capitan,” as it is commonly called.  To the far right is Cuyamaca Peak.



Tecate Peak is to the right. Lyons Peak is left. Lyons Peak had been a favorite hiking destination in San Diego until a crazy man with a rifle bought property with the right of way to the peak. When people ignore his “No Trespassing” signs, he fires bullets at them. So far no one has been shot, but hikers stay away-not wanting to be the first victim.

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Date of this hike was Saturday November 2, 2013.


Dan Soderberg Photography

In Search Of Goat Canyon – Corrizo Trestle


From The Current Series “A Belgian Student In America.”Box Canyon_Anza Borrego State Park

Saturday October 26 was our first adventure away from the urban area of San Diego. This trip took us to Anza Borrego desert in search of the Goat Canyon – Corrizo Trestle

Google Map SD to Dos Cabezos Rd

The drive time listed is 1 hour and 30 minutes. In the Volkswagen, it’s more like 2 hours.

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On the road. Rocking to Jailhouse Rock, Teddy Bear, Runaway Sue, The Wanderer, Twist and Shout, Ça plane pour moi, and many others….

This was the intended destination:


But had some challenges finding it.

On The Road Again as Smart Object-1

The not so early start of the trip meant less time on the hiking trail.

Ion Air Pro Anza Borrego

Then there was the slow trek on six miles of unpaved road.

Dos Cabezos Road

The red indicates the nearly six mile course we took which left us at the train tracks. Based on published info we had expected a paved crossing at the tracks. But no! The tracks were elevated too high for the VW to cross over. The plan was to continue on the unpaved road for a couple more miles beyond the tracks to the Goat Canyon trail head. But instead we decided to park the VW at the tracks and hike to the trail head from there. What we did not know – and what the yellow line indicates – we had missed the turn for the paved crossing.


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Yellow marks the road that we should have found. But the green shows where we connected to a wash which looked very similar to a road. The trails and roads seemed to vanish and reappear before our feet – not as clear as it looks from a satellite.
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It had tread marks of a road. But only ended up being a wash.

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Continuing from the previous map, this is the trail head we were looking for, just to begin the hike.


Then there were tempting peaks to climb to along the way.


I'm On Top Of the World

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A view from the top.




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Then the sun got lower in the sky. We decided not to risk having to hike back in the dark. Later a friend told me how easy it is to get lost trying to find the Goat Canyon trail. He ended up on wrong trails and had to scramble over boulders in the dark to return to his vehicle. We made the right decision, being mindful of how late it was.


It provided opportunity to see other outstanding desert scenery while returning home.


We stopped in the town of Borrego to refuel, to have dinner, and enjoy a magnificent sunset. Even though we failed to reach the Goat Canyon – Carrizo Trestle, it was a super fun day – and will be remembered.

10/26/2014 Update, one year later. More photo to share – more great memories to enjoy.

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Dan Soderberg Photography

A Belgian’s First Swim In The Pacific At La…


October 18, 2013 Beach Trip. First stop, Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla. Getting board shorts.

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Checking out Windansea Beach at La Jolla.



The Windansea Surf Shack is a Polynesian style hut created by Windansea surfers in 1946 for Polynesian luau beach parties. A surf gang emerged at Windansea in the early 1960’s, and went by the name Mac Media Destruction Company. I’m not sure if the gang or their culture would be  remembered so much today except for the book “Pump House Gang” by the famous American writer Tom Wolfe. It is because of that and the significance of San Diego’s beach culture at Windansea Beach that the Surf Shack was designated as a Historical Landmark in 1998. Windansea remains one of California’s prime surfing destinations.

Pump House Gang

The Pump House Gang brought enduring fame to a group of surfers known as the Mac Media Destruction Company in 1968

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A surfer carving the wave at Windansea.



Then down the coast to Bird Rock of La Jolla

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The Bird Rock of La Jolla


Having a look at Bird Rock

Diary of Helen Hussey

Hope And Colonna On Stage


Bjorn Palenius

Friday September 8, 1939. “Walked in the park with Bijou. Received check and went shopping. Lyle called – party at his place. Tony over – Sam worked.”

Saturday September 9, 1939. “Sam didn’t get home until 6 a.m. Tony and I to the Fair – Swell day. Nite went to party after all. An orgy. I’m getting sick of these affairs. Home about 4 a.m.”

Sunday September 10, 1939. “Felt rotten – Tony over in the afternoon. Got up and took a ride. Bed about 10-”

Monday September 11, 1939 “Didn’t feel so good – a cold. Shopped and paid some bills. Jeanne also feeling bad – a cold. Wrote to Carola + card to Ruth.”

Tuesday September 12, 1939 “Felt slightly better today. Walked in the park. Went to the library and picked up Jeanne. Nice day. Went to Tony’s – gave 10 – on account.

Wednesday September 13, 1939 “Stormy morning – Thunder, lightning, heavy rain but lovely afternoon. Picked up Jeanne and cleaned the flat. Sam not home for regular dinner.”

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Bob Hope with long time side kick Jerry Colonna in 1940. As noticed in The Capitol Times “Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna have signed for a personal appearance at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theater, come September 13.”

Thursday September 14, 1939 “Beautiful day. Went to the Golden Gate Theater – saw Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna. Good! Bought Jeanne an umbrella and charm bracelet. Package from Carola – nice black dress – white suit – sweater. Bathed Bijiou. Sam and I walked in the park.”

Jerry Colonna





Diary of Helen Hussey


Schleswig-Holstein bombing Westerplatte.

Thursday August 31, 1939. “Quiet lazy day. Nite: read + listened to the radio – war is more imminent every minute. Up late listening to the news, fighting between Nazis + Poles begun.”

In August of 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty. One week later, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. The first attack of the war took place on September 1, 1939, as German aircraft bombarded the Polish town of Wielun, killing nearly 1,200. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein (above photo) opened fire on a transit depot at Westerplatte in the Free City of Danzig.

bombing Poland

Friday September 1, 1939. “War on between Poland and Germany. Home and listening to the newscasts most of the day. Nite: Harry H. from Beverly + Amy phoned – I called Tony. Letter from B.K.”

Aerial view of bombs exploding during a German bombing run over Poland in September of 1939


Saturday September 2,1939 “To the Fair with Tony. Saw Jack Benny Show. ToBrazil + talked with the boys. Nite: Went to party at Ross’s. Stayed all night. Marc, Palmer and Sam in Uniform. Britain + France declare war on Germany.

Following the huge success of Benny Goodman performing at the Fair, a line up of more big name entertainers followed.  Fair goers then saw Jack Benny and his wife Mary Livingstone with the Phil Harris’s Orchestra on stage.


Sunday September 3,1939 “Breakfast at Louis. Sam and R. stopped the cable cars. Went to Doc’s Ranch in a caravan car. Back by train. Ross brought us home.”

world's fair 1939 post card

Monday September 4th, 1939. “Labor Day. Home all day reading and listening to the radio. Jeanne went to the Fair.”

Telenews Theatre

Tuesday September 5, 1939. “Went downtown – paid Sherer. Went to the new Telenews Theatre. Saw the war pictures – horrible. Bought a slip and necklace. Nite: walk in the park. Letter from Carola. Wrote to Carola, Irene, and B.”

Mikado the movie

The Mikado is a 1939 British musical film based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta. Directed by Victor Schertzinger. With Kenny Baker, John Barclay, Martyn Green, Sydney Granville.

Wednesday September 6, 1939. “Up at 9:20. To picture matinee of Mikado. Nite to library after walk in the park. Bought sugar which is going up on account of war.

Thursday September 7, 1939. “Shopped on Clement Street. Walked in the park with Bijou. Nite to Tony’s, got a Jacket and skirt. 9 pm Marc, Palmer, and Frank G came over and we drove to Sausalito. Interesting saloon – Marc + Palmer stayed all nite.”

Diary of Helen Hussey

Swing Makado

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Wednesday August 23rd, 1939. “Jeanne and I to matinee of Swing Mikado. Grand show!! Nite: to the library with Sam. To bed early.”

More about Swing Mikado

Thursday August 24, 1939 “Jeanne and I to the matinee at the Coliseum…”

Coliseum Theater

JUAREZ+-+William+Dieterle+argentina as Smart Object-1

“Saw Juarez. Rotten! Nite: To Bessie’s birthday party at Izzie’s. Rather boring. Same gang there + Jack Allen of “Life” more pictures.”

Friday August 25, 1939 “Jeanne and I to matinee at the Golden Gate Theatre. Window shopped a bit, then home. Nite: short walk in the park.”

Saturday August 26, 1939. “Jeanne and I with Tony to the Fair. Saw the Eddy Duchins show – Rufe Davis – Larry Adler…”

eddy duchin

Eddy Duchin was exceptionally popular as a pianist and showman bandleader in the 1930’s and 1940’s. His style was rooted in classical music – some saw him as a forerunner of Libarace. He was one of the earliest pianists to lead a commercially successful large band. Here is a 1935 clip with the Eddy Duchin Orchestra playing How Do I Rate With You. It features the dancing of Johnny Downs and Betty Burgess.

Gauchos+of+El+Dorado_LC as Smart Object-1

Rufe Davis is the lavender clad cowboy on the left. He sang, played guitar, was a voice contortionist and impressionist. He was  in over 30 movies and eventually played on television as conductor Floyd Smoot (Petticoat Junction). Gauchos Of El Dorado with The Three Mesquiteers perhaps inspired the 1986 John Landis film with Steve Martin, Martin Short & Chevy Chase called Three Amigos. Here is a clip showcasing the talents of Rufe Davis.

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The extraordinary Larry Adler

“…Went to the Yerba Buena Club…”

yeba buena club

“…To the Press and Island Clubs – Saw Guy Streets, an old paperboy from Santa Monica. Home about 9:10”

press building

From the fair guidebook it appears the Press Club was open only for members of the Press and related printing, publishing, and newspaper trades. Perhaps Helen, Jeanne, and Sam Hussey gained access through Hussey’s Printer’s Union card. Or as a writer Hussey may have had a Press Pass. The fair guide says the facility was not a public exhibit space.

August 23,1939 Stalin+German pact

Sunday August 27, 1939. “Very quiet day Sam and I took Bijou for a nice long walk in the park. Rest of the day read and listened to the radio – European news. Nite: Marc, Bessie, and Ross in for a minute.”

The European News on this date would have been all about Poland, which was increasingly at risk. The beleaguered country had mobilized the best it could. In the photo Soviet premier Josef Stalin (second from right), smiles while Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (seated), signs the non-aggression pact with German Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (third from right), in Moscow, on August 23, 1939. The man at left is Soviet Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov. The nonaggression pact included a secret protocol dividing eastern Europe into spheres of influence in the event of a conflict. The pact now guaranteed that Hitler’s troops would face no resistance from the Soviets if they invaded Poland, bringing the war one step closer to reality. (AP Photo/File)

Alvin Steinkopfbroadcasting from Danzig

Monday August 28,1939. “Hot day. Walked in the park with Bijou. Jeanne and I to Clement Street and shopped. Napped. Nite: Lots of news from Europe – no war yet. Letter from Irene.”

Above Photo: Alvin Steinkopf broadcasting from Danzig. (AP Photo).

Jeanne Polytech 1939

The 1939 Polytechnic L-10  class photo. “Class of June 1942.” Sounds like tenth grade.

Tuesday August 29, 1939. “Cleaned today – walked in the park. Jeanne started school today. Home at noon – read, listened to the news reports. To bed early.

Wednesday August 30, 1939. “Grand fall day. Walked to the beach. Nite: Jeanne and I to the show. Home a few minutes after 9:00. Sam at a Union Meeting – not home until after 12:00. Tony left two black blouses.”