**All of the folks I talk about here are, as they say, real people but as I don’t know their whereabouts to ask permission to include them in my little story I’ve changed their names.**
My first wife and I wound up living in the old Pasadena Music Conservatory. This old clapboard house, just one block over from N. Los Robles Avenue on the north side of the Foothill’s Highway, had been turned into a ‘four-plex’ a long time ago. The house itself was large and quite pretty. It had a huge covered veranda that ran all along the front of the house. The apartment next to ours had double French doors that the occupant used as a front door.
Our apartment was a two room affair. It boasted a huge kitchen (it had actually been the kitchen of the original house) a bathroom and the front room, which was huge, had a sofa-bed. Behind the house was a separate little house on the plot. The area between our house and the little one was our communal back yard. It was bare of any grass, mostly dirt with a few weeds here and there to give it a bit of character.
It was a perfect place to start us off. We met all our neighbours within the first few days of living there. The first neighbour we met was Nathan. It was the Fourth of July and we were sitting on the front porch watching the sporadic ‘illegal’ fireworks that dotted the sky. Nathan came wandering down and introducing himself, gave us both a Coors and said, “I’ve got some rockets up stairs, I’ll get em and we’ll celebrate your first Southern California Fourth of July.”
We sat sipping our beer and waited for Nathan to return. While we were waiting we met Martin, the guy who had the cool French Doors as his entrance, he was only passing by, but he wished us a happy fourth and said that if you went around the back of the block you could see the Rose Bowl fireworks for free. Nathan came back looking a bit dejected. His rockets weren’t there and he decided he’d have to go buy some. With promises of a speedy return he drove off.
We decided to go around the block and see if you really could see the Rose Bowl fireworks. We locked our front door and walked around the corner. The house sat on the front corner of a city block that was divided into two different territories. The ‘top’ of the block was ‘ruled’ by the Diablos and our section by the Bloods. We weren’t aware of this quaint little gang custom until later. But appearances to the contrary, this was one rough neighbourhood.
There were a few other people out and about when we walked to find a good Rose Bowl viewpoint. They all spoke and we sort of meandered up the sidewalk. We kept stopping and looking at the occasional sky rocket and talking excitedly about our first ‘Fourth’ away from home. We kept an eye out for a new apartment complex on the corner. That building was our cue to turn right and start looking for the free fireworks.
We stopped just before we reached the corner. We could see what we thought might be the Rose Bowl display and we talked about how cool it was that we could see it for free. While we were talking, two little old ladies chattering like magpies passed us and went around the corner we were about to turn down. Seconds after they turned up the road and out of sight, we heard screams.
My wife and I stood frozen for what seemed like ages. We then bolted around the corner. One of the ‘little old ladies’ was lying on the sidewalk blood streaming from her forehead. Her friend was anxiously darting around her as one or two people came running our of their houses. As I ran up to the little group, one of the men looked at me suspiciously. “Did you see anything?” This was asked as he advanced menacingly towards us.
“No, no. They were around the corner. They didn’t do anything.” This was from the friend of the unconscious lady. After giving me a look of disdain the man went back to the ladies and said he was going to call the police. We stood there feeling helpless. This was outside of our limited experience. We did find out that as the two old dears turned the corner a man jumped out of the dark and smacked one of the ladies in the forehead with a brick. He then grabbed both their purses and ran.
While we stood waiting for Pasadena‘s finest to arrive, we realised that if we had not stopped when we did, we would have gone around the corner before the little old ladies. We both went a little shaky at that thought. It should have been one of us lying on the ground and bleeding. After talking to the police just long enough for them to realise that we would be no help. We walked back home.
The lovely glow of the place we’d just walked up had changed. We walked slowly and looked carefully at the shadowy areas by the path. When we got back to our little apartment, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. It would be another two weeks before my brush with the gentleman with the black robes and scythe. He was very interested in me on that night, offering me two chances to take a trip with him.
- Bear Reportedly Seen In Pasadena Foothills; 3rd Sighting In 3 Days (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- Fireworks & 4th Of July Celebrations Around Los Angeles (947thewave.cbslocal.com)
- The lowdown on Pasadena (tomgething.wordpress.com)
- Where to watch 4th of July fireworks in South Pasadena | St. Pete Beach, FL (harboursidecondo.wordpress.com)
- A Guide to 4th of July Fireworks Shows in Los Angeles (laist.com)