Pasadena nostalgia: Mr. van Halen, the Leslie speaker cabinet, Jackie Robinson, JBL, General Patton and … John Mayberry

Editor’s note: Earlier this week we asked Howard to invite John Mayberry to be a guest contributor here. He’s agreed. Unusually for us we didn’t set John a series of topics. Having read some of his material, all of which we found engaging; his writing being somewhat iconoclastic, we decided to let him write on anything even if only vaguely associated with music and stereos. John said “I'd be happy to write when the occasion strikes from the Left Coast of America.” What follows here is the first of what we hope is a frequent but irregular series. I hadn’t edited a word. As you read you’ll understand why. Thank you.

Neil McCauley / OLC editor


Pasadena (California) was a great place to grow up. Notable luminaries from the area include van Halen, Jackie Robinson, and General Patton. One of the local churches even has a stained glass window of Georgie driving a tank.

Julia Child, William Holden, Amelia Earhart, Kevin Costner, Sally Field, Albert Einstein, and a few others were either born or lived here as well.

From the list, one might correctly deduce that Pasadena's a bit eclectic. It's not unusual to have a Nobel laureate living down the street as Caltech/JPL is one of the big local employment magnets. My son liked to play basketball with the son of the guy that invented femto-chemistry and has his picture on an Egyptian stamp.

It really wasn't unusual to see your friend's father reprogram a Mars lander from his bedroom growing up – that's the way was and is around here.

The characters in the Big Bang Theory are the same ones you try to avoid hitting while driving down California Blvd as they return from the cafeteria at lunchtime. The real ones are even stranger than the television personalities. I spoke to a young lady at Caltech the other day. She said, "The odds for girls here are good. But the goods are rather odd".

Oh yeah- remember the Leslie rotating speaker? Pasadena. The building now houses a Salvation Army thrift store.

Dick Heyser invented his TEF Machine here too. JBL started a few miles away as well.

We also rose covered floats down same street that the Little Old Lady used to drive her Super Stock Dodge back in the sixties.

More later,


Leave a Reply