I have been having a love affair that has been going on since 1963. I am not talking about my love affair with God, my wife of 70 years, the children, and our extended family. I am talking about my love affair with California, the San Gabriel Valley and, especially, Pasadena.
For one thing, we have what may be the best climate in the world. Every morning I stand at my window and look at those majestic mountains, backed up by blue skies, and say to myself, “Thank you, Lord!” You don’t have to live in California long before you realize how great it is. I am told that every year, after the Rose Parade, 100,000 people troop to California.
In addition to mountains, we have wonderful beaches, great farm land and terrific cities. California also has some of the most scenic national forests and parks in America. For another thing, California has a wonderful mixture of people. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors and nationalities. To use the vernacular, “Ain’t it grand?”
Pasadena no longer has a racial majority. I belong to an organization that has a monthly meeting at 8:30 a.m. Saturdays. Normally I am not an early riser. So, for this meeting, I race out of the house and run by the local McDonald’s, one that has a children’s play area. On Saturday mornings it is filled with young families of many ethnicities enjoying weekend breakfast. It is a great experience. In addition to English you can hear several different languages, among them Spanish, Armenian and Korean.
Pasadena is also a higher education hub. I live one block away from Caltech, one of the most prestigious schools of higher learning in America. I often walk through the campus. In addition to the obvious signs that it is a great place of learning, it also has on campus a small pond containing the most turtles I have ever seen.
Another delight at Caltech is a small area called the Garden of Associates. Within the garden is a great bronze statue of Tenjin, a famous 9th-century Japanese scholar, sitting atop a water buffalo and reading from a book. I often sit by Tenjin and carry on imaginary conversations with him. The conversations I have with him about Donald Trump could fill a book. Tenjin is quite amazed that a great democracy like the United States would elect a man like Donald Trump as president. I share in his amazement.
In addition to Caltech there is Pasadena City College, a junior college with over 30.000 students. Pasadena is also host to the Art Center College of Design, ranked third in the nation in its field. Then there is the famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is owned by NASA and managed by Caltech. Just west of Pasadena is Occidental College, one of the great small colleges in America.
Closely allied with Pasadena is Altadena, an unincorporated area to the north with a population of more than 43,000. You hardly notice as you drive north that you’ve entered Altadena.
Another thing about Pasadena is its city government. They don’t always do everything I would like to see occur, but they do a lot of things I do like, and they are well above most city governments in America. Starting with a good city council, a good mayor, a good city manager, a good police chief, and a good fire chief, life is generally good in Pasadena.
Racially, we’ve made great progress. To illustrate, until recent years most African Americans lived mostly in the Northwest area of the city. Latinos are also predominant in the Northwest. Today there is much more diversity in our living spaces. For example my wife and I have lived in the same apartment building since 1980. It is located close to PCC and Caltech. When we moved into our apartment 37 years ago there was not a single black tenant. Today there are a number of black tenants and all is well. All other racial groups are also much more diversified. Today we have more Latinos living in Pasadena than ever before.
So, as you can see, I love Pasadena. While not perfect, it is one of the greatest little cities in America, as well as a very pleasant place to live.