Creating advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles.
by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Our feet ache at the end of the weekend, but it sure is satisfying knowing that another fantastic Ticket to the Twenties festival has come and gone. As great as yesterday was, today was likely even better.
For one thing, the weather was fantastic. It was cooler and breezier today and, however perfect weather may be defined, this one was at least near-perfect. Secondly, we were packed. The event started at 3 p.m. and within the hour our parking lots, including the generous use of that of our neighbor, El Encanto Healthcare and Habilitation Center (which, actually, occupied the Homestead site from 1940 to the late 1960s), as well as some dirt areas adjacent to the museum were full. It was only as some people left later in the afternoon that some spaces were available for guests.
Today also brought some different features to the event than what we had yesterday. Musical performers included Ian Whitcomb and His Bungalow Boys, playing on the West Lawn stage next to La Casa Nueva. As Ian pointed out during one of his sets, he has been performing at the museum for nearly thirty years, dating back to 1988. Down by the pond and heart-shaped planter, Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys kept visitors highly entertained and the dance floor filled.
Among other program elements, the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles put on a fashion show that was heavily attended. Out at the West Lawn, after Ian and his group finished their last set, the amazing Johnny Ace Palmer performed two sets of some of the finest magic you’ll ever see. It’s hard to describe the sheer joy and glee in the dozens of kids (and some adults) voices as the yelled and screamed their surprise and appreciation for his sleight of hand.
For a second day, pianist Michael Mortilla used his remarkable skills to perform music to accompany silent films by Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton. To hear the roar of laughter, showing the timeless appeal of those classic comedians, and then the sustained applause for Michael’s artistry was great.
The ping-pong tables were active, craft tables were humming, mah-jongg was being played, folks strummed ukuleles in sing-alongs and students from our local Workman High school performed dance routines–so there was plenty to see and do from our many contributors.
Most of my day was spent helping visitors get into La Casa Nueva for self-guided tours and it’s always really interesting to get in the houses and see how people interact with the displays, the architecture and design, and their conversations with our volunteer docents and their groups.
There is such a “wow factor” when visitors get into this stunning Spanish Colonial Revival home, because of its striking appearance that it is intriguing to hear their reactions when we talk about the fact that the Temple family spent five years building the home, but only 2 1/2 years in residence.
Or, that there is the notion of the house, or the building, and of home, or how it is used. With Laura Temple’s death in the first year of construction and that the four surviving children were away at school for most of the year, it is hard to argue that the sense of home was largely lacking.
Still, as an architectural statement about a family’s sense of history, personal and social, their romantic views about that history, and their perception of themselves, La Casa Nueva is really a unique structure in our region–there’s nothing like it.
And, there’s nothing like Ticket to the Twenties. With its multi-varied program of music, film, fashion, exhibits, vendors, and other elements, it is truly a special program held at a truly special place.
Thanks to my colleagues on the Homestead’ s paid staff for all of their hard work, energy, and sense of purpose. Thanks to our dedicated volunteer staff for all they do in the “front lines” interacting with and assisting our visitors to enjoy all the event has to offer. Thanks to our security officers for helping with traffic control and patrols around the site. Thanks to Leonard and Steve for staffing our first aid station. Thanks to the performers, vendors and others who offer their talents, skills, wares, and so on, giving our guests plenty of choices when they visit.
Lastly, thanks to the few thousand visitors who came out, had a great time, and showed their support for local history. We hope to see many of you next spring for our Victorian Fair and at other programs between now and then.