Monday, February 28, 2022

Hamburger America, Pt. 1

In sifting through my book collection, I stumbled upon one from 2008 that I had yet to really read, titled Hamburger America: A State-By_state Guide to 100 Great Burger Joints. As I thumbed through it, I realized I had actually been to a few, including the Northgate Soda Shop in Greenville, South Carolina.

During my one-and-only trip to Greenville in 2017, I dined at this spot located on Main Street.

I had to get their classic Pimiento Cheeseburger. According to the Hamburger America book, “You’ll either love it or hate it,” one of the waitresses was quoted as saying. Made fresh every day, the Pimiento spread is a combo of mayonnaise, cheddar, and diced pimientos.

The place was a veritable museum of antiques that I could have spent days looking at.

This vintage photo shows how the Soda Shop looked “back in the day.”

…and how it looks now (or at least when I visited in 2017):

In reading the book, I realized that many of these old joints have bit the dust, including one in San Diego (Western Steakburger) that I’d never sampled. I also learned that while I was in Memphis in 2009, I shot the neon sign for another legendary burger joint:

…without even knowing the history of what was going on inside. The burgers have been cooked in the same grease for the last 90 years (or at least until the time of the book being published). Talk about tasting history! When the restaurant was moved from its original location to Beale Street, police escorts accompanied the van that carried the historic buckets of grease to make sure they got to their destination safely!

Folks, don’t ever take history for granted. Now you see it, (chances are) now you don’t. With that in mind, I plan on hitting the Apple Pan next time I'm in LA!

See more Greenville photos at my main website.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs

The historic Plaza Theatre in downtown Palm Springs was designed by architect Harry Williams in 1936. The Spanish Colonial style building opened on December 12, 1936 with the premiere of “Camille,” with Greta Garbo (who supposedly slipped into the theatre after the lights went down) and Robert Taylor, who came with Barbara Stanwyck (they married a few years later). This venue featured “live” performances by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, and Bob Hope. The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy radio program was broadcast from the Plaza. Today, it is in a state of sad disrepair, but with the promise of restoration on the horizon.

Just a few days ago, the theatre received the welcome news of a $5 million contribution. “When I heard about that donation I almost hit the floor,” said J.R. Roberts, former Palm Springs city council member. “I couldn’t believe it, but I’m a softie for charity, so I had no trouble accepting it.” Roberts is the head of “Help Save The Plaza Theatre,” the group that’s working to return the venue to its former glory. Shortly after leaving the council in 2019, Roberts set up the non-profit Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation, which would raise the money to pay for the restoration.

Plaza Theatre is owned by the city, and city officials agreed to let city staff help with the project. The city has worked with Gensler, an international architectural firm based in Los Angeles, and Chattel Inc. an historic preservation consulting firm in Sherman Oaks. Both firms developed a tentative restoration plan, one meant to be a jumping-off point for the project, not a final blueprint. “The city council wanted to know what it was dealing with when we got started,” said Roberts, who said Gensler and Chattel are no longer involved in the project. “It’s a common practice with something like this.” 670 new seats will be installed, along with major infrastructure repairs, installation of new theatrical equipment and improvements to the building’s structural design. The latter will ensure the building (shuttered since 2014) meets fire prevention and American Disabilities Act requirements. Previously it had 800 seats. One Debbie-Downer commented:

I still want an answer...WHERE will everyone park.six hundred plus seats...based on 2 people per car...a minimum of 300 parking spots must be available...that is CREATED since they do not currently exist.

All kidding aside, it’s a fair question to ask, as the downtown area is not the easiest to navigate for visitors.

As you can see, all those photos I recently took are of the outside. I have yet to step inside the currently shuttered facility.

Naturally, I would love to photograph it, even (or should I say especially) in its current state of decay.

Anyone have connections?

If all goes as planned, fundraising for the restoration will be finished by the end of this year, and the work will be completed in late 2023 or early 2024, according to Roberts.

See more Palm Springs photos at my main website.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Temple Tuesday: Shirley and the President

A day late, this Temple Tuesday is in honor of yesterday’s Presidents’ Day. In late 1935, President Roosevelt sent Shirley Temple an autographed photo of himself. According to the press release:

Shirley Temple’s big dimpled smile is caused by a letter she received yesterday from President Roosevelt, appointing her his special messenger to deliver his autographed photograph to Bill Robinson, colored dancer, who appeared with the child star in “The Littlest Rebel” at Twentieth Century-Fox. The President also included a personally signed photo for Shirley, who is currently playing in “Captain January.”

Zooming in for a close-up of FDR’s photo:

The autographed photo has survived all these years and was auctioned off in 2015 at the Love, Shirley Temple Theriault’s auction. From the catalog description:

A sepia vintage photograph of FDR is ink-autographed "To Shirley Temple from Franklin D. Roosevelt". Along with another photograph of Shirley proudly holding this photograph, and with a letter from M.H. McIntyre, Assistant Secretary to the President, talking of the photo and "the trade you and I made", then noting "Thank you for being so lovely to us when we made our little visit to the studio. I loved your house, your dollhouse, and everything you showed me". The letter is dated October 29, 1935, and included is the postmarked envelope from The White House.

Realized Price: $3,600 • Presale Estimate: $800+

During the filming of the courtroom scene for “Little Miss Broadway,” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt paid a visit to Shirley. From the vintage press blurb:

‘First Ladies’ Meet’
Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Lady of the Nation in Southern California on a lecture tour, and Shirley Temple, First Lady of the Screen Box Office, are shown as they chatted together when Mrs. Roosevelt visited Shirley on the set of her newest picture, “Little Miss Broadway,” on a tour of some of the Hollywood Movie Studios. Geography and Grandchildren formed the chief topics of conversation.

I can’t help but notice that in both photos, Shirley has a somewhat distracted unfocused gaze as dear Eleanor babbles on. Most likely, Shirley was thinking about work, because as she learned at the early age of four, “Time is money!”

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Monday Main Street Memories

Welcome to Main Street, U.S.A., circa 1956. You have entered the Magic Kingdom and arrived at Town Square, where you can choose between a newfangled Horseless Carriage or the Horse-Drawn Streetcar.

I dig those signage closeups! Just think; only 10¢ to get to the Castle!

Note the horse with not only a very special hat, but the “D” monograms on its blinkers.

Over at the Fire Department, one could surmise that Walt and family are sleeping in, judging by the closed blinds.

Another 10¢ option to take you to Central Plaza/The Castle:

Meanwhile on Main Street, Rudolph Valentino is entertaining the guests at the Main Street Cinema:

Note the Keystone Kop’s hat behind the placard:

And you all expected me to post a shot from Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I sure fooled you!

See more Disneyland Main Street photos at my main website.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Margaritaville Makeover

Typically when I pull into Palm Springs, I enjoy seeing the Riviera Resort and Spa which dates back to 1958. The entrance had a 1960’s Rat Pack vibe that made you feel like you were stepping back in time and experiencing a bygone era of music, style, and attitude. Imagine my shock during my most recent visit when I drove by and saw this sign:

Margaritaville? In Palm Springs? Did I hit the gas pedal too hard and accidentally end up in Key West, circa 1990?!? Sadly, I was still in 2022 and the (now) cheap-looking structure I had driven by that was once the glorious Riviera Hotel had been revamped as the Margaritaville Resort. I parked the car and decided to poke around.

The Lobby area before:

After, a somewhat subtle change:

…other than the parrots. Just in case you forgot you were in Margaritaville.

Before #1, when the place had more of a Vegas/Rat Pack vibe:

Before #2 (a later remodel):


The restaurant has also been re-themed to fit the Jimmy Buffet motif:

Fun little sayings have been sprinkled throughout the hallways:

Changes in more than just latitude:

I would hesitate to call this a resort without adding in the term “family.” The hotel was much more noisy, had more kids screaming, and definitely had more of a budget feel. I guess the positive is that the hotel, which has struggled financially through the years, is still around.

See more Riviera and Margaritaville Resort photos at my main website.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Union Station 1950: PST

This shot of Union Station in Los Angeles hails from May 19, 1950. I am assuming the couple waving goodbye knew the photographer that took this image that just happens to have one of the coolest vintage autos parked next to them!

As a courtesy to those travelers from other time zones, the clock tower made it clear that they should set their watches to Pacific Standard Time:

Today, with cell phones and everything being done for us automatically, that notification is now gone.

“You mean you had to actually set the time on your clock/watch, Grandpa?!? Wow, things were tough back in the day!”

Oh to have brains again…

See more Los Angeles Union Station photos at my main website.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Temple Tuesday: Cinderella in Santa Monica

In the 1930’s, Shirley Temple merchandise was the rage, including dresses for little girls that were inspired by the costumes that the child star wore in her movies. Brothers Gustave, Fred, and Sidney Rosenau of Rosenau Brothers, Inc. in Philadelphia were responsible for these Shirley Temple “Cinderella Frocks” that sold approximately 15 million garments from the initial seven-year period of 1934-1941. They approached the Temple family about using Shirley to help promote a line of dresses when she was making her “Frolics of Youth” series in 1934. Mrs. Temple had approval of all the designs and images of Shirley wearing each design were photographed to inspire mothers to purchase them for their own budding starlet. This publicity shot of Shirley sporting a Cinderella Frock was especially interesting to me because it was shot at her (second) Santa Monica home on the patio. The back of the photo lists it as Style No. 4257 for sizes 3-6.5 and 4557 for 7-12.

A closeup of the matching vintage tile, for which I’m an avid fan of!

A vintage postcard of the exterior of the home:

This is what Shirley’s bathroom looked like. Even at the tender age of seven, Shirley was concerned about her figure!

A previously posted shot of Shirley posing with her beloved brothers inside the same home:

Final shot for today is what the home looks like today. Well, maybe not exactly this very day, but the last time I was in Santa Monica a few years back:

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.