Palm Springs Village Green Museums

Patrick and I just returned home from a week in Palm Springs, like we do every March, as Patrick has an annual work conference there. During this year’s visit I spent a lot time at museums, and finally visited several small museums that are all clustered together.

Located in the heart of Palm Springs is the Village Green, a small park that is home to not one, not two, not even three, but four small museums; the Cornelia White House, the McCallum Adobe, Ruddy’s General Store, and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

I’ll start with my favorite, the Cornelia White House. The building itself was originally built by Dr. and Mrs. Welwood Murray in 1893, and was built using railroad ties from a failed narrow-gauge line connecting the Southern Pacific depot with Palmdale. And was part of the couple’s Palm Springs Hotel. It was later purchased by Cornelia Butler White, and this woman was quite the character!

Cornelia White was born in 1874 in upstate New York, and one of eleven children. She loved to travel, and even traveled the Nile River in Egypt. She was also a professor, and from 1905 to 1912 taught domestic science at the University of North Dakota. Following her teaching stint, she moved to Mexico. One of Cornelia’s sisters, Florilla White, a doctor by trade, joined her, along with Carl Lykken, a mining engineer. However as revolutionary war broke out in Mexico, the trio had to flee. They escaped by operating a railroad handcar and traveled over 80 miles to the coast. Before joining her sister in Mexico, Florilla had spent time in Palm Springs at the hotel operated by Dr. Murray, and after escaping Mexico, Florilla suggested a move to Palm Springs. After arriving in Palm Springs in 1913, they bought the hotel Murray owned, and by 1915, another White sister, Isabel White, joined them. Isabel eventually married an author by the name of J. Smeaton Chase, while neither of the sisters, nor their friend Lykken, ever married.

Cornelia enjoyed riding, hiking, and even participating in cattle driving! And she always wore a leather jacket, riding breeches and boots. She is quoted as saying “But I do have dresses and petticoats, I want you to know. I keep them to wear to funerals. I’m afraid it just wouldn’t do to go in riding breeches and my fringed leather jacket – would it?”

By 1944, after Florilla’s death, Cornelia’s home was at risk of being demolished. It was saved though, and moved to another location. Cornelia lived there until 1959, and passed away in 1961. In 1979 the house was moved by flatbed truck to its current location at the Village Green. It is the second oldest standing building Palm Springs, and resides, fittingly, next to the McCallum Adobe, which is the oldest standing building in Palm Springs.

Needless to say it sounds like Cornelia is a woman after my own heart! Her home is a very unique treasure within Palm Springs. Some of the items inside the home belonged to Cornelia, while other pieces of the period were donated.

The Cornelia White House is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sundays noon to 3:00 pm. It is free to the public, but a $1.00 donation is suggested.

Next to the Cornelia White House is the McCallum Adobe, which as I mentioned above, is the oldest standing building in Palm Springs, and was built in 1885 by John and Emily McCallum, the area’s first white settlers, with the help of local Native Americans. It was originally built on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Way, where it was later part of the Oasis Hotel. It was moved to its current site in 1950.

Today the McCallum Adobe is a museum dedicated to the history of Palm Springs, from Native Americans to it becoming the sun-soaked playground of the stars. The McCallum Adobe Museum does not allow for photography, so sadly I cannot share any of its amazing artifacts with you. The McCallum Adobe keeps the same hours as the Cornelia White House. It is also free to visit, but a $1.00 donation is also suggested.

To the right of the McCallum Adobe is Ruddy’s General Store, which is really something, in that it is a complete fictional general store. It is made up entirely of one man’s collection of new-old stock merchandise from shops, and has items from the turn-of-the-century through the 1960s, but with its main focus on the 1930s and 40s.

Ruddy’s General Store costs 95 cents to take a turn about. It’s open during the months of September through May, Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

To the right of Ruddy’s General Store is the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Like the McCullum Adobe, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum does not allow for photography. The museum offers insight into the Native Americans who first called the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area home, and during my visit housed an incredible display on basketry.

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is free to visit, although you can make a donation if you wish. They also have a wonderful selection books about Native Americans, as well turquoise jewelry for purchase.

That wraps up the first of three Palm Springs posts! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

A Stroll Down Mane Street

No, that’s not a typo, I really did mean “mane” like a horse’s mane, because today I’m sharing some images from one of my favorite high desert locations, Pioneertown, and it really is Mane Street there.

Just after my family left from visiting for my grandmother’s services, Patrick’s mother came to visit for a week, and when she departed, he and I headed out for the high desert of Joshua Tree for a few nights for some much needed R&R. After checking in at my favorite place to relax, the Joshua Tree Inn, we headed up to Pioneertown for dinner at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

Pioneertown was founded in 1946 a group of Hollywood personalities, but lead by cowboy actors Dick Curtis and Russell Hayden, who decided it was time for a permanent 1880s style town for filming the popular westerns of the day. It was the legend himself, Roy Rogers who broke ground for the first building on September 1, 1946. The town takes its name from western singing group, Sons of the Pioneers, which Rogers was a part of.

 

Outfit
Fringe Leather Jacket & Belt: I don’t remember!
Blouse & Boots: Buffalo Exchange
Skirt: Switchblade Stiletto
Rings: Here and there…

Ghost Towns along Highway 49

I am sorry to report I don’t have any images from our time spent in Portland. I was incredibly busy constantly visiting with friends and family, and shopping of course! What I do have to show for our trip though are some shots I took of some ghost towns. we visited during our journey back home.

Honestly, I can’t recall when I first fell in love with the old mining towns along California Highway 49. What I do remember though is being very young and marveling at the old buildings the small town of Mariposa, where my great aunt and uncle used to lived (they have since moved to Seal Beach). We visited them every so often during our trips to California, and I always loved returning to that town. California’s gold rush is a unique moment in time, and a driving force in California’s rich (no pun intended) history, much like the Spanish missions and Hollywood. The towns that sprung up from it continue to draw me in whenever I get the chance to drive through them.

After crossing the border between Oregon and California, we peeled off I-5 just before Sacramento and made our way down Highway 49 visiting Amador City, Sutter Creek, Mokelume Hill, Murphys, Angels Camp, and Columbia. Sadly, we didn’t make it into Mariposa (it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I was there) but there are still many more gold rush towns I wish to visit, and I know we will make it there one day. But today I just want to share with you some of the images I took during our visit to these quiet and peaceful towns.

A couple of years ago we visited Coloma, where gold was first discovered in California, and you can take a peek at here.

Patrick and I didn’t have much down time after getting home. In fact we are off to Joshua Tree for the weekend! So I better go repack my suitcase! I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

A Return to the Autry

A few years ago during a visit to California we took time to visit the Autry Museum of the American West. I was slightly crushed over the fact I didn’t blog about it, which was for a combination of reasons. First, it was very overwhelming! There is so much stuff at the Autry, and my eyes couldn’t stop darting around at all of the wonderful stuff there was to see! Additionally, museums are notoriously difficult to photograph. And the few photos I did take in the first room turned out so horrible I didn’t bother to continue. But we returned recently and I took loads of photos! Some are still not as great as I would like them to be, but I still want to share some of the Autry’s treasures with you! But before we get to that, let’s take a peek at what I wore, because it was pretty darn awesome.

This suit is one of the most prized pieces in my western wear collection, and one I didn’t even find. In fact my dad found it at the Portland Antique Expo, and sent an image of it to me and only eyeballed the measurements, and when it arrived I was overjoyed that it fit perfectly! It’s by Rodeo Ben, who is one of the pioneers in western wear in the 20th century, along side Nathan Turk and Nudie Cohn. Many credit Rodeo Ben with developing the snap closures, and photographs show his work using snaps as early as 1933. It should be noted however that Rockmount was the first manufacturer to use snaps, beginning 1946. Like Turk and Nudie, Rodeo Ben did work for the likes of such western legends as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. And the Autry even has pieces by Rodeo Ben in its collection.

I paired my suit with another prized piece, a vintage sterling silver and 14 karat gold ranger belt made by Edward Bohlin. Bohlin is hailed as a true artist with it comes to cowboy belt buckles and saddles. His gorgeous “Big Saddle” (there is an image of it after the cut) is on display at the Autry, with a plaque reading it “reportedly took fourteen years to complete and weighs approximately seventy pounds.” The belt is not just an amazing artifact by a well-known maker, but it means a lot personally. It originally belonged to my grandfather, my dad’s dad, who was a bit of a cowboy himself. While born in Oklahoma, he grew up on a ranch in Texas. And in the photos I’ve found while working on our family’s genealogy I’ve uncovered more than one image of the man riding, along with images of my grandmother and dad riding as well. I even found some of him with a lariat.

For those interested in what The Autry has to offer, keep reading!

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Calico

This weekend’s trip to Vegas was my first visit since the late 90s, and my first time driving there. Not to mention it was Patrick’s first ever visit to America’s playground. On our way we made some stops, including the ghost town of Calico.

Founded in 1881, Calico’s mines produced millions in silver, before silver dropped in price, and it became a ghost town for decades until Walter Knott, of Knott’s Berry Farm fame, purchased the property in 1951, restoring it and offering it as an attraction of sorts.

Today Calico is operated by San Bernardino County Regional Parks system, and the site offers buildings that have stood the test of time, some with artifacts, others turned into gift shops and restaurants, there is a “Mystery Shack” and even a train ride. Patrick and I had fun exploring, and we dined on buffalo burgers while sipping sarsaparilla at the Calico House Restaurant.

For those wishing to visit Calico, it is located off of Interstate 15, about 120 miles out of Los Angeles. It’s a swell place to stop on your way to Vegas or LA if you’re coming from the east, or if you are cruising Route 66 and find yourself in Barstow, it’s only a few minutes away! It costs $8.00 per person to enter Calico, and other amusements, such as the train, panning for gold, and the Mystery Shack are an additional cost.

Have you ever been to Calico or another ghost town?

Stay tuned for more on our trip!

Outfit
White Fringe Leather Jacket: Simply Vintage Boutique, Portland, Oregon
Brian Setzer Tee: Brian Setzer concert a few years back
Jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
Mocs: Minnetonka
Purse: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon

 

Pioneertown

During our stay at Hicksville we visited a place that could only exist in California, Pioneertown.

I had visited in Pioneertown back in March (though did not blog about it) with my dad, who grew up with heavy doses of the western TV shows in the 50s, which is all how Pioneertown began. Looking to have a permanent 1880s era western town to not only use for sets while filming a variety of western TV shows and movies, but was also a place for those working to stay, as the place had real buildings, instead of just facades (although some are facades), including homes.

Today, Pioneertown is still indeed a real town, with residents, including Bill and JoAnne, who breed and own Pygora goats (often mistaken for sheep – seriously, so many people were saying “Look! Sheep!” when we there there), and use their goats for their fiber and milk. JoAnn sat on the porch of a small shop along Mane Street (get it?) spinning, her and her husband’s goats outside in a small pen. Inside the shop there was a variety of items made from the goats, including hand spun and woven socks, scarves, as well as soap made from the goats’ milk.

The most popular aspect of Pioneertown has to be Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, a true honky-tonk if there ever was one, complete with real cowboys and bikers as patrons, and a small stage for performers. It’s also one of the best places to get some grub in the Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley area. In addition to the strange old sets, small shops and Pappy and Harriet’s there is a motel on site, and I am tempted to stay there in the future, as I’m all about unique destinations.

If you love bizarre, off-beat tourist destinations, or the west, and find yourself even as close as Palm Springs (roughly a 40 minute drive), I suggest a visiting Pioneertown.

Outfit
Tee: The Jackalope, Austin, Tex.
Jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
Mocs: Minnetonka
Fringe Leather Jacket: I don’t remember!

Victorian Secrets

A few weeks ago an article had been floating about the interwebs.  It was an article about a woman who wears Victorian garb as many of us vintage gals rock the 40s and 50s.  I was so intrigued, having an interest in the Victorian era in addition to the mid-20th century.  The woman, Sarah Chrisman, mentioned how wearing her corset every day for a year reduced her by waist ten inches, improved her posture and reduced her migraines.  As a migraine suffer myself I was enthralled by the notion of a corset curing migraines, yes, more so than the trimming of the waist! I was even more excited when I read that she had recently written a book about her transformation as a daily corset wearer, and promptly purchased it!

Chrisman’s book, Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself, is an insightful look into how today’s society looks upon the corset, and those who dress differently.  Always interested in the Victorian era, Chrisman had collected clothing of the period, and when her 29th birthday arrived, her husband, Gabriel, gave her a corset.  Initially she wasn’t happy with the gift, but as she looked at her corseted figure in the mirror, she was enthralled, quickly wanting to wear her corset as much as possible.  Wearing the garment lead Chrisman to do research about corsets, and quickly learned that much of what she had heard about the corset were pure myth, and as she began to get a smaller waist, her wardrobe slowly transformed to become more in line with what women of the Victorian era wore.

As Chrisman’s waist shrank, she began to receive a wide range of comments, from gushingly positive to horrifically negative and some that she just didn’t know how to take! Many people were intrigued by her deep interest in the period that would take her to the lengths to wearing a corset 24/7, but others, mostly women she noted, were appalled, calling the corset a symbol of oppression.  As Chrisman and her husband got deeper into their manner of dress, they began to be invited to events as participants, and were then able to educate, and dispel stereotypes of the Victorian era as depicted in films and crush flat out lies, such as broken bones (which refer not to human bones, but the bones of a corset, originally referring to the fact that the stays were originally made of whale bone).

I enjoyed Chrisman’s comparison of dressing in period clothing to that of being from a different country. She quotes a book which states that “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” How true that is! But unlike foreign countries, which have ambassadors and such, Chrisman notes that “[h]istory has no emissaries.” And I would like to think that historians, and those who choose to dress in a manner from the past can be those emissaries, to become a “[h]istorial ambassador”, and Chrisman and her husband do just that.

Dressing out the norm on a regular basis has its own daily struggles, but sometimes there are special circumstances that can make it even more difficult, and in that case some, like myself, make concessions.  One example is air travel (for more on traveling for the vintage loving gal, read this post).  When the holidays approached, Chrisman had been corseting herself every day since her birthday, and had altered her clothing so much that there were “few clothes left that would fit me without my corset”, and chose to go through with their holiday flights to the east coast in her corset.  The flight to the east coast was met without too much issue, and the TSA apologized for the inconvenience, but between their arrival and their departure, Newark, the same airport they were to fly out of, had a bomb scare (Chrisman’s book, while contemporary, much, including this visit takes place in 2009, post-9/11, but pre-common use of body scanners).  When flying back to their home state of Washington, Chrisman’s corset set off the metal detector and was subjected to a strip search, and feared a body cavity search, but was spared that.  After this case, Chrisman makes no mention of deciding upon different arrangements for future travel, or to select a specific travel wardrobe that does not require her corset.

While Chrisman enjoys the Victorian era, and I myself the mid-20th century, I still found her book extremely easy to relate to.  Dressing out of the past’s closet, regardless of era, is often met with odd comments, many of which I face on a daily basis.  People wonder what you’re doing “all dressed up” or if you’re “in a play”.  Chrisman’s corset and the comments surrounding it were similar to how some react when the topic of girdles is brought up.  Some are quick to bad mouth them while I stand there in one! Then those who lived through the days of seamed stockings inquire why on earth I wear them.  Tired of checking for straight seems, and attaching the garters, they rejoiced when seamless stockings, followed by pantyhose became the norm.  Chrisman also recounts moments of “a special kind of self-torture” when looking at garments on-line that are out of budget, something I’m certainly guilty of!

Victorian Secrets isn’t without issues though.  Chrisman isn’t afraid to describe people physically that she comes in contact with in an negative light, describing a man with “triple chins”, a woman as “dumpy” and as a “crone”.  She also assumes someone’s education based upon their manner of speech, and declared that the person should be “weeded from the gene pool”.  There were other moments I had issue with as well, such as a moment when a hostess’ hair whips through a cake’s frosting, and instead of informing her hostess of the issue, Chrisman instead makes a “mental note” not to eat any of that cake.  While such descriptions of people may add to a fictional story, it comes across as unnecessary and cruel in a memoir which is to focus upon wearing a corset on a daily basis.

Overall, I found Victorian Secrets book a very quick and easy ready, finishing it in just five days (possibly a new record for me!), and could be easily completed in one sitting.  Her style of writing is similar to that of a blog in many respects, but I will admit I did bump into two words I was utterly unfamiliar with and had to look up!  The book is accompanied with images from various catalogs of the turn-of-the-century, Gibson drawings, and photographs of the author herself.  Ultimately I found Chrisman’s mini-memoir to be inspiring, and encouraging.  She has armed herself with numerous sources as she steps outside her front door to quickly thwart those who know only the stereotypes of the period, and has become a Historical Ambassador! I find myself now more eager to speak up for myself when one talks about the annoyances of girdles and/or stockings and other matters of “oppression” with regards to dress.

You can purchase Victorian Secrets on Amazon.

Speaking of corsets and girdles, now is a good time to mention tomorrow is the last day to enter the What Katie Did book giveaway if you haven’t already! It closes tomorrow night and the winner will be announced on Thursday!