Friday, February 26, 2010

Looking through memory's enchanted window at different times and places, then and now

Looking Through Memory's Magic WindowEscape with me for a moment to another February, to another, warmer, place and another time. I photographed this window (click on photo to enlarge) in the Lummis House in Los Angeles in February of 2002. Already transported to an earlier time by the house itself, I was intrigued by the way the different panes of this window look out on different times and places. Some are clear glass, looking out into the courtyard. Others are filled with transparencies -- uncaptioned and mysterious -- taken in different locations. Some are still black and white, some have faded to sepia in the sun. A magical effect, a blend of memory and the present, intertwined.

Charles Lummis was a fascinating man, and so was the house he built in 1898 along the Arroyo Seco, back when it was a rock-filled stream, not a concrete channel. T found this link to a great piece about him on Yelp by someone who knows a lot about Lummis and knows how to share his enthusiasm. It gives more detail than the Wikipedia write-up, and it begins like this:
Where Ave 43 intersects with the oldest highway in Los Angeles, sits an acre or two of land that still looks like it did back in 1898. It is a bit of a miracle really. But Charles Lummis was all about miracles

Perhaps that's what happens when you drop out of Harvard; walk well over 3000 miles across the desolate country; escape the grips of death by scoundrel, weather, and beast many times over; have an awakening of spirit; find your calling; write a book by gas and campfire light; and then decide to build a house where you finally choose to rest for a while.

Or perhaps when next, you establish the very first museum in Los Angeles; dedicate it to preserving the objects of your passion - Native American textiles, Pueblo Indian culture, and American cowboy history, while simultaneously working as the first Editor of the Los Angeles times, and you've just turned 26, perhaps people want to preserve your home. (Did I mention he also worked as the City Librarian, was an archeologist, and a renowned photographer among many other things?)
Check out the whole piece. It's fascinating and also explains a bit more about the window.

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