Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

Bobby Boy’s Old Curiosity Shop—10th Anniversary Edition

What a long strange trip it’s been…

I just realized that it’s been ten years since I first opened the virtual doors of the imaginary Old Curiosity Shop.  We’ve covered local events and ventured to the other side of the world.  Here are some of the highlights of the last ten years.

This event just got a brief mention in the OCS report for June 2010, but it marked a major step in improving transport in the San Gabriel Valley.  Our Editor, Michelle (also known as Nocturra when she dances with swords) joined me for the groundbreaking of the LA Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, which brought electric railway service back to my old home town of Monrovia in 2016.  The signs are relics from the days when Arcadia, Monrovia and Glendora were served by the Pacific Electric Railway, an operation which ended in 1951.

I was going over an index of the OCS subjects over the years, and observed how wide-ranging the column has been.  For some of the entries, I’ve chosen appropriate songs:


Playlists: Back in the old days, I made what some folks call “mix-tapes”, recording music from different sources to gather favorite tunes into one convenient package.  In 2001, I bought a CD recorder, so now I can make compilation CDs from other CDs, cassette tapes and vinyl records.  Several OCS columns have been devoted to compilation playlists, such as Camino Real Corral (country & western), Careless Love (female vocalists through nine decades),  22 for the Road (favorites for traveling), Blues Express (1, 2, and 3) (my interest in Blues goes back to the 1950s), Rock & Roll Special (1 and 2).  One OCS issue was not about a real compilation, but an assortment of songs with common themes, like dogs, prisoners, frogs, and wine.

Show reports:  These are sometimes in a “sidebar” called “Guts and Glory” to which I’ve made a couple of contributions.  I’ve devoted OCS entries to Evie Sands (no surprise there), Adam Marsland Chaos Band gigs, Terry Okey Second Sunday shows at Adams Pack Station (where the burros occasionally chime in), and Elvis Birthday Bashes.

Evie Sands and Teresa Cowles, with their color-coordinated axes at an Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band show at the Cinema Bar in Culver City.

Travel stories

Road trips (On the Road Again) (East Bound and Down, loaded up and truckin’).  Our one cross-country trip since the start of OCS was taking our Lazy Daze motor-home all the way to Maine and back again.  We followed some of the routes of the 2007 trip, and finally visited Niagara Falls, and I spent two days at the Henry Ford complex in Dearborn, Mich., which I visited again in 2013 (and I could still go back for another look around).

Cruises (Sea Cruise) (Proud Mary—rollin’ on the river)  I had never considered an ocean voyage until Pat started looking up “repo” cruises, where ships that have been doing the Alaska routes head south for the winter.  These have the advantage of stopping at San Pedro, thus avoiding a flight home.  We’ve done two of those, plus an Alaska cruise that let me check two more railroads off my life list.  We also did two European river cruises, one on the Danube and the Rhine and another on the “Rivers of the Czars” in Russia.

Train rides (Silver Train) Anyone who has followed the OCS for very long knows that railways of all kinds fascinate me.  One of the earlier OCS issues dealt with railway track gauge and how it is NOT related to Roman chariots and horses’ hindquarters.  The Pacific Electric Railway and the LA Metro Gold Line are closest to home, but I’ve also covered train rides to San Francisco, Chicago and Boston, and shorter trips in many places.

A Santa Fe passenger train (by then part of Amtrak).  One of the finest travel experiences in America.

Dog Tired Tour (Magic Bus).  Back in July 2012, I posted the first of three sections about my cross-country journey from El Monte (about ten miles east of LA) to Boston.  This covered the adventure from California to Buffalo NY, with stops in Salt Lake City, Chicago and Cleveland.  Then, as W. C. Fields said in one of his movies, “Things happened”, and it wasn’t until 2017 (40 years after the tour) that I wrapped the story up with two more reports.  I guess it’s a good sign that enough was going on in my life (or surfacing in my memory) to delay the conclusion for that long.

Career choices (Get a Job)  One issue of OCS covers my early days at Southern Calif. Edison, and I’ve also mentioned my days working for the Santa Fe Railway in LA and San Bernardino, and my only paying job in the music industry -- as a teenage part-time sales clerk at the local music store.

Henry Ford (Lord Mr. Ford).  I’ve never worked in any aspect of the automobile industry, but back in the 1930s, my dad working in a wrecking yard in East Pasadena, at a location that’s gone through at least three changes of use.  Some editions of OCS have been devoted to “life on wheels. "

Sci Fi  (Flying Saucer) OCS has now outlived the original Star Trek series by a factor of three, and we still have ideas for more entries.  By the time you read this, we will have passed the 40th anniversary of the night my dad, who became a Trekker in the 1970s, “beamed up. "

Movies (You Oughta Be in Pictures)  I don’t consider myself to be a full-on “cineaste,” but I do have some favorite movies, and devoted an OCS column to them, adding the story about how I was handed an Oscar™ many years ago.

Jury duty (I Fought the Law and the Law Won)  Back in 2014, I did a two part OCS on jury duty.  One of my comments was that “voir dire” or jury selection was often a long, drawn-out process that was usually left out of courtroom dramas on TV.  Trial scenes would already have an assortment of citizens in the jury box.  But a few years ago, “Bull” a new TV show starring Michael Weatherly as a psychologist who runs a jury-consulting firm, made voir dire the center of interest.

Blood donation (Dinner with Drac)  Although I haven’t done it lately, for years I was a regular donor at blood donor centers here in the San Gabriel Valley.  One of my OCS columns was written to assure readers who had never donated that it’s a good program to get into, and you get free munchies after giving a pint.  Where else can you lie down and relax, while doing something good for your fellow humans?

Reminiscences of the olden days (at least going back to the 1940s).  No, my birth certificate was not written on papyrus, but I do remember a lot of “Things That Aren’t There Anymore” and can point to some locations here in the San Gabriel Valley that have gone through a number of “land uses.”

On the other side of the fence from the house where I grew up in Monrovia (photo by Alan Weeks in Sept. 1951)

What’s coming up next?  More music play lists?  More railway adventures?  “And now for something completely different” (stolen from Monty Python)?  To quote the immortal Fats Waller, “One never knows, do one?” 

Until next month, Live Long and Prosper.

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