Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Squidoo Southern California Meetup in Pasadena

Squidoo Meetup Pasadena 2010
Photographed by Kathy McGraw

Giant Squids Meet in Pasadena
Brookside Park: Home of the Rose Bowl Stadium

Brookside Park in Pasadena was the site of the southern California Squidoo Meetup. Our event organizer, Heather, had originally chosen another Pasadena location, but Carmelita Gardens eluded us.

According to several Pasadena maps, the Carmelita Gardens are located near the Arroyo Seco, just under the Colorado Street Bridge. I live just a couple of miles from the bridge and decided to do a little research before our Meetup. I couldn't find any signage, but did learn that the Carmelita Gardens were created more than a century ago by Jeanne Carr, wife of Dr. Ezra S. Carr.

In the late 1800s, Dr. and Mrs. Carr lived on a 42-acre property in a 22-room home they called "Carmelita." Mrs. Carr was an expert horticulturist and set a standard for the landscaping styles still evident in Pasadena today—large exotic trees, tall hedge fences, and flowering shrubs.

While Jeanne Carr was alive, Carmelita had the most extensive gardens in the area, featuring plants from all over the world. She even established a horticultural school on the property.

The American author and naturalist John Muir had once studied botany under Dr. Carr at the University of Wisconsin, and planted portions of Carmelita Gardens while he was staying in Pasadena. Over the next century, the gardens faded away, though many of the trees remain on what is now the Norton Simon Museum property.

John Muir & Jeanne C. Carr
by Bonnie J. Gisel

Carmelita Gardens in Pasadena, California
(1898) Detroit Photographic Co.
Carmelita Gardens Pasadena 1898
Gold of Ophir Roses at Carmelita Gardens in Pasadena, California (1898)

Carmelita Gardens
When I dropped by to inquire about the Carr estate, the guard at the Norton Simon Museum didn’t know what I was talking about. Neither did the gift shop attendant at the Pasadena Museum of History, right around the corner. Yet, both of these locations reside on the original Carmelita Gardens site.

We thought about moving our Meetup to the Norton Simon Museum, but Heather settled on nearby Brookside Park, home to the famous Pasadena Rose Bowl Stadium. This was an excellent choice, as the park is right off the freeway, with plenty of amenities and free parking.

There was much chatter about the elusive Carmelita Gardens on our Meetup site, which was fortunate because a member of our group, Joan, had computer problems and was unable to access information about our meeting location.

She remembered Carmelita Gardens and the Norton Simon Museum, and set out to find us … basically retracing the steps I’d taken a week earlier. I’m sure there are many Pasadena historians wondering and chatting back and forth about the sudden interest in Carmelita Gardens and early Pasadena history.

I’m happy to report that Joan and her two very patient sons found us, albeit several hours later. We were so happy to finally see her, and everyone was doubly impressed with her determination to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. We were, after all, 4 squids at a picnic table in a 61-acre park!

Norton Simon Museum Gardens
Watercolor by Los Angeles Artist Daniel E. Clarke
Norton Simon Museum Gardens Daniel Clarke
Norton Simon Museum Gardens by Daniel E. Clarke

Southern California Squids Unite
Sherry, Kim, Warren and Heather
Squidoo Southern California Meetup Attendees:
Heather (Organizer)

My husband Warren stopped by briefly to say hello. He loves to ride his bike around the Rose Bowl.

Our Meetup was a huge success. I enjoyed spending time with some of my favorite lensmasters, sharing stories, and making connections on a personal level. The food was delicious too—those RocketMoms really know how to party!

My Fellow Squidoo Meetup Pasadena Attendees
Kathy, Sherry, Heather, and Joan