Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Friday, January 29, 2016

Turn Back the Hands of Time: Joe Jost's

Still the same...
Last Sunday morning some unknown benefactor left a CD in my apartment complex laundry room, with a little Post-it attached, simply saying "Enjoy." I glanced at the playlist and found myself lost in the '50s. There they were, the tunes from my high school years, sung by Eddie Fisher, Kay Starr, and June Valli. Even Hugo Winterhalter's "Blue Tango," had been included, the melody I had danced to as a sophomore with the Pavlovettes at a Manual Arts High School talent show.

I accepted the donor's kind offer, snatched up the freebie, and and listened to it an hour later on my way to a reunion of folks who belong to the Facebook groups, "Born and Raised in Long Beach," and "Growing Up in Long Beach." The back room of the venerable Long Beach tavern, Joe Jost's, had been especially reserved for us. I hadn't popped in to this Anaheim Street landmark for decades. No worries. It hasn't changed one whit.

Joe Jost's has been serving its special polish sausage sandwiches, pickled eggs, pretzels and schooners of beer since 1924. When I worked in Washington DC at the start of this century, I used to stop in for Happy Hour at pubs twice or three times that old. But here in Southern California we have a way of tearing down anything over 50 years old. I'm glad Joe Jost's has survived. The only modern note I noticed is that the pretzels and eggs now come in an oblong cardboard box, when they used to nestle in big napkins.

Time for disclosure. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, not Long Beach. But I moved here in 1956 at age 18.5, on a transfer from Compton College to Long Beach State College, now CSULB, so I wouldn't be stretching the truth to claim that indeed I grew up here. I bought my wedding gown, for my June 1955 wedding, at May Co. Department Store in Lakewood Center. My husband and I lived in an apartment at 2nd and Obispo, before buying a home in Los Altos. Later I lived on Los Coyotes Diagonal not far from the Traffic Circle. Eventually I owned a condo at 3rd and Temple.

My son was born at Queen Mary hospital. In '56 and '57 I wrote feature articles for the Long Beach State newspaper, the Daily 49er. A gaggle of us used to tote our portable typewriters to Joe Jost's and bang out copy.

Where the wild things are... and the young at heart...

Last Sunday I'd hoped to run into some of my old Jordan students, but that didn't happen. Nonetheless, I reminisced about earlier days in Long Beach with former attendees of Poly and Millikan, who well remembered Atlantic Avenue, back in the day...and night.

On the way home I listened to more of the CD...this time Della Reese, "Don't You Know," followed by Paul Anka, The Browns, Sedaka and other artists I'd not thought about for a while.

Though I agree that it's doubtful that you can go home again, I well know that you can always remember what home used to feel like. And last Sunday, I did, thanks to the organizers of the gathering...and to that anonymous gift giver in my senior living complex. I enjoyed being back in the Fifties, if only for a day.

It's worth taking a few minutes to review the wonderful history of Joe Jost's here:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bowie, Beatles and Queen Victoria...Isle of Wight

Upper Terrace, Osborne House
I've got two deadlines coming up, and I haven't finished the stories yet. Instead I've been lolling about the Internet, indulging island fever. You see, as I plan to return to the Isle of Wight,  for the past couple of weeks I've been distracted with daydreams. To me, the Isle of Wight is nothing less than enchanting.

The Isle of Wight claims it's the site of David Bowie's first ever public performance, as a Scout when he was just seven years old. It also claims to be the site of the last UK performance of "the man who fell to earth."
David Bowie, age 7, Isle of Wight
As I prepare for my early March trek to this island, I'm astonished again at how friends here shake their heads in vague puzzlement at the mention of its name.  "Hmm...the Isle of Wight? I know I've heard of it. Just can't remember where." When I remind them, they grin sheepishly as they recall the Beatles' lyrics from "When I'm 64."

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save...

But where exactly is the IOW? It's not in the North Sea or the English Channel. Instead it's located at the southernmost tip of England, accessible by ferry or hovercraft from either Portsmouth or Southampton.
 The island is famous for its summer musical festival, a UK answer to the USA's Woodstock, and often just as muddy, with June deluges.

Tennyson Monument, Freshwater cliffs
For me, the IOW has even more to offer than rock and role. It's also rich in Victorian history. "It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria of Osborne House, her palatial holiday home. I agree,,,and I'm going to see it again in March. I also hope to see Dimbola Lodge, the home of Victorian portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and the grounds of the home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet laureate. Both are at Freshwater, where the Tennyson Monument is located. And, oh, yes, there's a statue of Jimi Hendrix outside of Dimbola Lodge. I'm eager to learn why. (Just found out from friend Mike Winter, who lives on IOW: "The reason for Jimi is that the original Isle of Wight festival in 1970 was only a mile away at Afton."  

Getting around is easy by bus, and though I've been to seaside Cowes, and have stayed before in Newport, in the center of the island, this time I'm excited to be seeing some of the other corners...I'm hoping, for instance, to get to Ryde to take in the Waltzing Waters.

Since I'll be staying in Newport, I plan to spend evenings at The Castle Inn, Newport's oldest pub, that claims to have been licensed since 1550. Here's the lurid history of this former den of thieves and vagabonds:  It serves up ice cold Old Rosie and pretty good sandwiches. If it's warm and dry enough to chat for  an hour or more on the courtyard patio, all the better.

If you sense my excitement about returning to the Isle of Wight...yes. I have to admit it's one of my top three islands of the world, right up there with Mahe, Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, where I lived for three years in the '90s, and Catalina, off the California coast, which I've been visiting since 1955. I'm an islander at heart.
Courtyard garden, The Castle