16 July 2009
An old friend is having a birthday this week and even the Los Angeles Times article above celebrated the event. The Farmers Market in Los Angeles is turning 75 this week. I had just turned four when my aunt and uncle took me there for the first time as a birthday present. The signal lights still had flags that popped up and down with the red and green lights and gave me a chance to say, "Yellow means hurry up and stop". The Red Car trolley line still ran with its tracks down the middle of road. The first Freeway was only three years old and was still little used compare to major thoroughfares such as Wilshire Boulevard and Sepulveda were the main overland routes. Angels Flight was still more than 20 years from its decades long closure.
So why does this one little outing still stand out more than sixty years after the fact. I would be taken many places to see many things in a topsy turvy childhood, but this one trip stands out. I'm sure I liked the now famous clock tower above, but it was the Howdy Doody puppets from a very new TV show in the doll store window that really stood out. I didn't particularly like dolls, but those puppets really made an impression. As we headed into the courtyard and the white tables and chairs to sit for lunch, my newly acquired reading abilities got to show off in public for the first time, "We can't sit here. This table is reserved." By this time the aunt and uncle were used to me reading everything that looked like print because they had been living with it for a year, but the surrounding people looked more than a little bemused.
My two favorite places from that first outing are still there. The candy maker with a window so that you could watch the wonderful fillings rolled over marble covered with melted chocolate and each candy given its signature swirl to indicate the filling within. The other bit of insanity since I didn't understand the joke, was watching a decorator create one of the famous "Pink Elephant" cakes with elephants all over hanging from the bottle of champagne, burrowing into the cake with their fat bottoms sticking out, passing out over the edge. I loved those elephants.
The day was topped off by a visit to the many stands holding all sorts of fresh produce, much of it brought in from the San Fernando Valley that was still all farm land. My aunt who was a phenomenal cook bought cherries for the wonderful pie that would appear the next day.
If you have never been to the quirky, delightful Farmers Market in Los Angeles, do make the attempt as despite many changes it is still going strong and there is sure to be something you will want to eat or buy.