City Of Promise
City of Promise - Review by Don Parson
City of Promise is a collection of seven essays that examines the history and development of Los Angeles…from the perspective of the city’s racial minorities.... The depth and the quality of research of the well-written essays in City of Promise is impressive.”

Don Parson
H-Net Reviews


City of Promise - Review by Derek C. Catsam
“Enter City of Promise in which Martin Schiesl and Mark Dodge have pulled together a useful series of what amount to survey essays on the experiences of various ethnic and racial groups in Los Angeles…. These essays provide a rich exploration of Los Angeles’ racialized past, and in so doing provide a useful addition, and perhaps challenge, to larger American conceptions of race and ethnicity.”

Derek C. Catsam
Journal of the West

City of Promise - Review by Luis Alvarez
“The book’s most important contribution is its insistence that the history of Los Angeles should be told from a multiplicity of racial perspectives…. City of Promise is a useful addition to the growing literature on Los Angeles, urban studies, and the U.S. West, especially as an introduction for students interested in L.A.’s complex racial past…”

Luis Alvarez
New Mexico Historical Review

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Southern Sierras
The Southern Sierras of California - Review by Larry Wilson
Pasadena Star News -- July 13, 2014 A tramp of 100 miles in mountains ringing Los Angeles. When a book called “The Southern Sierras of California” arrived on the desk, billed as “A complete new edition of the 1923 classic,” I opened it with mild interest, figuring it to be filled with Kennedy Meadows stories.

But botanist/raconteur/gentleman hiker Charles Francis Saunders wasn’t writing about the Sierra Nevada range. A century ago, the mountains circling Los Angeles were known as the Sierra Madres rather than the San Gabriels. And Saunders, a Pennsylvania Quaker transplanted to Pasadena, was an Eastern convert. On his first trip West, from the Hotel Coronado, he wrote: “Southern California has completely bowled me over – such a delicious difference from the rest of the U.S. do I find it!”

He was hooked, as so many of them were, and contrived for years to return often, writing books such as “In a Poppy Garden,” illustrated by his wife, Elizabeth, and they soon moved for good, continuing to travel and produce books about the West.

But he hadn’t traveled much in the local mountains. “For ten years I had been looking from my back door at the long, dark line of the Sierra Madre, when one summer a dominating desire to learn something of what lay within led me a tramp of a hundred miles or so over some of the less frequented trails,” Saunders writes. The great Southern California wildlands writer of our own time, John Robinson, notes in his introduction to this finely produced reprint by Many Moons Press that Saunders was likely looking to fill a vacuum. There was plenty of writing about lush Northern California and the High Sierra, but precious little about the range that Saunders interprets as one long stretch of mountains from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino. I remember being stunned in my junior high school library when reading John Muir’s “The Mountains of California” in which the greatest hiker of them all recalls scrambling straight up the face of Eaton Canyon to the top of Mount Wilson. That’s a mile straight up. Robinson reminds us that was one chapter in a long book. Saunders set out to be the Southern California Muir.

There are so many good reasons for local readers interested in those who came before us to read this book. Contemporary hikers will be fascinated by the infrastructure that was there to sustain the walker 90 years ago before the highways opened them to the lazier millions. On his first hike, with a knapsack filled with a blanket and tea and hardtack, Saunders takes the Red Line to Altadena and heads straight up the Arroyo Seco to Switzer’s Camp, which he finds altogether too fancy, with its dining room, vacationing mothers and daughters and “a languid young man or two in tennis shoes.” Fans of our language and how quickly literary fashions change will laugh at the purple prose that in our grandparents’ time was the middle-brow norm. Here’s Saunders on the coming of the Angeles Crest Highway: “startled Echo will add to her repertoire the strident honk of the automobile horn where now she knows only yelp of coyote and bark of fox.” And lovers of true adventure will be reminded how wild are these mountains that ring us, and how they still offer both recreation and danger.

Saunders tells here the crazy tale of fellow botanist George Grant, “his cousin, Walter Wheeler, of Covina, and a young mountain man named Dobbs,” who went “for a week’s leisurely outing” on San Gorgonio in 1904. They were pinned down on the 11,500-foot peak by a July thunderstorm. Dobbs was hit by lightning and went insane, “calling for his mother.” Wheeler was killed instantly by lightning a minute later. “And there I was with a dead man and a lunatic on my hands, and no help so far as I knew within a dozen miles, and the mountain wild with storm.”

Larry Wilson is a member of the Los Angeles News Group editorial board. larry.wilson@langnews.com

Larry Wilson, Editor
Pasadena Star-News


The Southern Sierras of California - Review by John W. Robinson, mountain historian
The Southern Sierras of California is a superb piece of descriptive writing, a faithful and deeply felt interpretation of the landscape. It remains today the best book about the Southern California mountain country and a worthy complement to John Muir’s books on the Sierra Nevada.  If your library is to contain just a single volume on the local mountains, this should be the one.”

John W. Robinson
The Southern Sierran

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Calabasas Girls
Calabasas Girls - Review by Gayle Wattawa
“An intimate history indeed – wonderfully emotional and rich, both creating and remembering a vanished and wholly California way of life... this is a marvelous gem of a book.”

Gayle Wattawa
Heyday Books

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Calabasas Lives
Calabasas Lives - Review by Randy Heyman
Calabasas Lives is truly a wonderful work... Catherine Mulholland gives us a poignant, engaging,
and wonderfully-told story set during an important transitional time in California history and the American West.”

Randy Heyman
University of California Press

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Sage Bloom
Sage Bloom and Water Rights - Review by Larry Wilson
"Elizabeth Pomeroy's Many Moons Press, whose back catalogue is a must for area history buffs, has just reissued Graham's Sage Bloom and Water Rights: Stories of Early Southern California, out of print for 100 years. It's a gorgeous book from the press' California Voices series, which includes one that would be perfect for any xeriscaping gardener of your acquaintance: Theodore Payne in his Own Words: A Voice for California Native Plants.

Graham died in 1910, aged 60, after a brilliant career of both writing regional fiction in early Western magazines and making real-estate deals with her husband, including founding the communities of Elsinore and Wildomar during the 1880s land boom. The deals led the Grahams to be able to build Wynyate, the three-story South Pasadena hilltop mansion that became a key local salon in the city's early years.

Sage Bloom is filled with local color from a Southern California that is otherwise lost. . . Here, say, is a sentence I'd never seen in a short story before: 'The moon had floated high above Cucamonga. . .' "

Larry Wilson is a member of the Los Angeles News Group editorial board. larry.wilson@langnews.com

Larry Wilson, Editor
Pasadena Star-News

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Theodore Payne
Theodore Payne - Review by Ann Scheid
Theodore Payne (1872-1963) arrived in Southern California in 1893, where he found work as a landscape gardener on Madame Helena Modjeska's ranch in Santiago Canyon near Orange. His writings from this period (1893-1896) read as a series of adventures taken from daily life on the ranch: encounters with a mountain lion and rough characters among the ranch hands, interspersed with comments about plants that he noticed in his travels.

The second section, "Adventures Among the Southern California Plants," records his years in the nursery and seed business. On his excursions to collect plants and seeds, he travels to Santa Barbara, Laurel Canyon, Idylwild, and Santa Cruz Island, up the California coast and to the desert, as well as to Europe. In both sections, Payne comments on the many people he meets, both well known and obscure. A fine index at the back of the book makes people searching easy.

The third section is a brief personal autobiography; a chronology of Payne’s life completes this section. Thirty pages of historic photographs illustrate the book. Payne’s folksy style, his dry wit, and subtle sense of humor pervade these occasional pieces, making for enjoyable reading. Nestled in the stories are many nuggets of information about plants and their habitats.

Overall, Payne’s writings portray a time when the Southern California landscape was wild and rugged, when travel into remote areas was generally on horseback, burro, buggy or at its speediest, by rail, and when hard physical labor was the norm. This book serves as a fine tribute to the man whose knowledge and advocacy for the preservation of California native plants inspired conservation and use of native plants in both public and private gardens and protection measures for plants in the wild.

Ann Scheid
Eden: Journal of the California Garden and
Landscape History Society



Theodore Payne - Review by Lili Singer
Few men have done more for the California landscape than a Brit named Theodore Payne. He arrived here as a young man in 1893, fell hard for his new homeland and devoted his life to the preservation and distribution of its plants and flowers.

In the early 1960s, he penned his memories, which are gathered in this charming collection, printed for the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley. “Life on the Modjeska Ranch in the Gay Nineties,” recounts his first U.S. job, as a gardener in the wilds of Orange County, complete with Mexican outlaws, a mountain lion and his first Matilija poppy.

Next comes “Adventures Among the Southern California Plants,” a series of little essays such as “A Walk Up the Coast in 1904” and “Baby Quail Crossing a Stream.” The treasure includes the autobiographical “Brief History of a Life in Horticulture” and photos of early Southern California and his downtown L.A. and Los Feliz nurseries.

Lili Singer
Los Angeles Times


Theodore Payne - Review by Elizabeth Schwartz
Kudos to Many Moons Press and Elizabeth Pomeroy for making available some of the writings of seedsman/nurseryman/conservationist Theodore Payne (1872-1963). Included in this volume are thirty-three short memoirs of Payne's adventures in Southern California from about 1896 to 1930 (dates are not always ascertainable), and a fourteen-page autobiography (written when Payne was 88). The book also contains a reprint of Payne's memoirs, originally published in 1962, about his first years in California, 1893-1895, when, newly-arrived from England, he was a gardener for Polish actress Madame Helena Modjeska at her Santiago Canyon estate (now a National Historic Landmark).

Forty photos of Payne, Modjeska, other personages, and Payne's nurseries add to the reader's pleasure and the book's historical value. Original manuscripts and most photos are from the Payne Foundation's archives (now housed at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden).

Horticultural historians will delight in the many stories involving palms, roses, citrus and eucalyptus (about which Payne was an expert), and the mention of nurseries, gardens and garden owners. Conservationists will enjoy the descriptions of early landscapes.

Elizabeth Schwartz
Pacific Horticulture

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El Molino
El Molino Viejo - Review by Selena Spurgeon
For nearly 200 years El Molino Viejo, known today as The Old Mill, has stood where there was formerly a confluence of two canyons of rushing water. It is now in the City of San Marino. The adobe building with tile roof was constructed by Indians under the direction of the Franciscan Fathers from the San Gabriel Mission.

In 1912, Henry E. Huntington purchased an unfinished hotel in Pasadena above his San Marino Ranch. The Old Mill was converted into a clubhouse for the golf course adjacent to the hotel (now called the Ritz Carlton-Huntington Hotel.) The property was sold by Huntington in 1917 and divided into residential plots, but the picturesque and decayed Mill was given to his wife Arabella for possible restoration.

A later occupant of the Mill was the family of Harriet Doerr, grand-daughter of Henry Huntington and an award winning author. At this point Robert Glass Cleland was asked to write a history of El Molino Viejo.

Cleland was an ideal choice. He had grown up in a primitive adobe house in Azusa and spent his boyhood hunting and fishing throughout the Southwest, Utah, and Mexico. A graduate of Occidental College, Cleland received his Ph.D. degree from Princeton and returned as a member of the history department at Occidental. He later became dean and vice-president of the College, then a Research Fellow at the Huntington Library.

Cleland’s small volume on the Old Mill tells a story close to his own heart. The original edition of his book, El Molino Viejo, was published in 1950 with a second edition in 1971. In 2003, Many Moons Press published a third and new edition, with an epilogue, “The Continuing Story,” written by Elizabeth Pomeroy.

Today the Mill stands as a peaceful landmark in San Marino, protected by the Old Mill Foundation and welcoming visitors to concerts, art exhibits, and an annual dinner on September ninth, California’s Admission Day.

Selena Spurgeon
The Huntington Tattler

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Lost And Found
Lost and Found - Review by Marilee Reyes
Not that we’re tooting our own horn, but. . .well, we’re tooting our own horn. Elizabeth Pomeroy, our very own Cheers! Lost and Found columnist, has compiled her columns and short essays on historical spots in the [San Gabriel] Valley into this nifty little collection. The book can be read just for its interesting information, but also as a guide to visiting spots in the Valley.

Lost and Found explores both the well-and lesser-known historical spots in our area, more than 100 in 40 cities. Each entry includes photographs, directions, information phone numbers, past and present day features. Pomeroy holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA and teaches English at Pasadena City College. She has written books on Queen Elizabeth I and John Muir.

Marilee Reyes
San Gabriel Valley Tribune and
Pasadena Star-News

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Lost And Found II
Lost and Found II - Review by R.A. Lovka
Did you know that Altadena’s Mountain View Cemetery is the final resting place of Charles Richter, developer of the Richter Scale for measuring earthquakes? Or that a 1999 census counted a flock of 1150 parrots inhabiting Temple City’s Live Oak Park (along with 200 parakeets)?

Pasadena-based author and “History Hunter” Elizabeth Pomeroy does know, and launched her new book on interesting local history and San Gabriel Valley landmarks during a reception and book signing at the historic Zane Grey House in Altadena. Lost and Found II, Pomeroy’s new book, is a collection of notable stories and a guide to historic places right in your neighborhood. The book covers the San Gabriel Valley and nearby areas, extending to Claremont and Whittier.

The avid chronicler of local lore wrote a series of newspaper columns over seven years for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, and the Whittier Daily News. Those columns were also the basis for the first volume of Lost and Found.

The new book is richly designed with photographs and artwork of the sites chronicled. Pasadena artist Joseph Stoddard provided lovely watercolors of Eaton Canyon and the Arroyo Seco for the book’s covers, along with pen and ink sketches of many of the historical buildings. Design and art direction are by artist Hortensia Chu. “This volume emphasizes outdoor places where history and landscape meet,” Pomeroy explained.

Colorful stories provide a glimpse into the “who” and “what" of our vintage parks, historical areas, and natural landscapes. The Palomares Adobe, the Chinese Historical Society, Tournament Park, and of course, those wild parrots are included. The book also functions as a useful guidebook to visiting the sites. It’s a pro-active book: “history to read and explore,” Pomeroy says.

R.A. Lovka
Altadena Mountain Views

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John Muir
John Muir - Review by John W. Robinsonn
John Muir is most closely associated with Yosemite during his long lifetime, but the great naturalist spent much of his time in Southern California. His first visit was in 1877, when he made “a fine, shaggy little five days excursion” into the San Gabriel Mountains, exploring, among other places, the ridge crest west of Eaton Canyon now known as Muir Peak. Muir came at the behest of three friends from his University of Wisconsin days: O.H. Conger, who had recently built a home in what was to become Pasadena, and Ezra and Jeanne Carr, who had bought property close to Conger.

Some years later, new friendships brought Muir to the area time and again. He met Pasadena resident Theodore Lukens on a Yosemite excursion in 1895, finding in him a “kindred spirit.” Both men were interested in forest preservation, Lukens to the extent of developing a reforestation nursery at Henninger Flat above Altadena. Muir also developed friendships with Charles Lummis, founder of the Southwest Museum; Pasadena bookseller and photographer A.C. Vroman; and naturalist John Burroughs, who spent many winters in Pasadena.

Angeles Chapter [Sierra Club] member Elizabeth Pomeroy is a gifted writer. She relates in smooth, eloquent prose the story of Muir’s many sojourns in Southern California. More than this, she has enhanced the book with excerpts of Muir’s correspondence and memorials from local newspaper. To top all this off, Pomeroy adds a list of local places to visit that were associated with Muir.

Pomeroy’s splendid little volume belongs on the bookshelf of all aficionados of John Muir.

John W. Robinson
The Southern Sierran


John Muir - Review by Larry Wilson
Talking of books: I am reminded that today is Earth Day, and tomorrow is John Muir’s birthday, and that a most excellent new volume by Elizabeth Pomeroy, the PCC prof and local historian who used to write our "Lost and Found" column about neat places in the San Gabriel Valley, would be great celebratory reading about both those landmark days this weekend.

John Muir: A Naturalist in Southern California (Many Moons Press) is a wonderful introduction to a part of the life of the great naturalist and Sierra Club founder that is mostly forgotten. For it wasn’t just Northern California that the transplanted Scotsman loved; Muir spent much time in Pasadena, lobbying its rich citizens to save Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite, being feted with such other ruddy outdoors types as Teddy Roosevelt, staying at Carmelita, the garden home of his friends the Carrs on the current Norton Simon Museum property.

I’ll always remember discovering in my Eliot Junior High library a book by Muir in which he writes of hiking straight up Eaton Canyon and the face of Mt. Wilson well before the wide toll road. It was inspiring stuff to a young hiker. This must have been “The Mountains of California,” in which Pomeroy quotes Muir heading past Eaton Falls – “this charming little poem of wildness” – and through the most “uncompromising chaparral I have ever enjoyed since first my mountaineering began.” Once up the hill, our valley spread out before him as “one vast bee-pasture, a rolling wilderness of honey bloom.”

Larry Wilson is a member of the Los Angeles News Group editorial board. larry.wilson@langnews.com

Larry Wilson, Editor
Pasadena Star-News

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