Trip in Time Helps Mark Centennial in Pasadena

Times Staff Writer

The standard of maintenance on city vehicles has improved in the last several decades, said Pasadena Police Chief James Robenson, whose 50-year-old squad car suffered a flat tire Saturday at the beginning of a nostalgia-steeped parade marking the city’s 100th birthday.

“The first reaction is, ‘Who’s shooting?’ ” Robenson said later. “Then we went clumping along and one of the officers said the car dates from 1936 and he thought the tire did too.”

After suffering some good-natured gibes from the crowd on the curb--"It was along the lines of, ‘Now you know what it’s like to get towed,’ ” Robenson said--the vintage vehicle was dragged off the parade route and the flat was replaced with a spare.

The next challenge was to return to the right decade in the chronological procession of bands, floats, costumed residents and antique cars representing the history of the city by the Arroyo Seco. “We had to do a little time travel,” Robenson said.


Start With the Indians

The parade attracted about 2,000 participants and 25,000 spectators, who lined the streets despite the June smog that spectators and television viewers generally are spared during the Tournament of Roses Parade each Jan. 1.

Pasadena history goes back to the Hahamogna Indians, who were recognized by a float showing an Indian bower draped with vines and gourds shading Rose Ingraham, a 101-year-old Indian woman.

Other entries recalled the Spanish and Mexican pioneers and the early Anglo settlers who lived there before a temperance campaign led to cityhood on June 19, 1886.

Prohibition followed, and Beebe’s, the only saloon in town, was shut down, but the new city failed to stop the sale of beer and wine in restaurants, an era that was dramatized Saturday by a line of staggering tipplers in wing collars and old-fashioned hats.

Cheers for Temperance

They were followed by women armed with rolling pins and Bibles and dressed in Carry Nation outfits of long-sleeved white blouses and long black skirts in a tribute to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

The spectators, many hoisting beer cans, waved and cheered.


Also popular was a mule-drawn hay wagon, typical of the early Rose Parades, which carried 24 smiling former Rose Queens.

There were also restored big-wheel bicycles and tricycles, a barbershop quartet and a hay wagon carrying members of the choir of Throop Memorial Church and the glee club of Caltech (once known as Throop University). The institutions were founded by Amos Throop, in 1886 and 1891 respectively.

A horseless carriage carried the city’s oldest longtime residents, Beth Boadway, 93, who has lived in Pasadena all her life, and Elmer Smith, 89, who arrived in the city as a boy.

Other antique cars carried a Teddy Roosevelt look-alike and Kamol Tassananchalee, president of the Thai Arts Council of the Pacific Asia Museum, who wore the elaborate, cone-hatted costume donated by a Siamese prince after his visit to the city in 1902.


Olympic Tribute

Other highlights included a genuine Pacific Electric red car, converted to run on wheels, and a 1930 Packard Phaeton carrying Pasadena Olympics stars including Dr. Sammy Lee, who practiced diving before the 1948 Games using a special high board built for him at the Huntington Hartford Hotel because the city’s other pools restricted use by nonwhites.

Military vehicles from World War II represented the 1940s, led by the Al Malaikah Temple Million Dollar Shrine Band, resplendent in green pantaloons, gold puttees, green jackets and red fezzes. There was also a tribute to Pasadena athlete Jackie Robinson, who went on to star at UCLA and break the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Other entries followed life in the city through the ‘50s, symbolized by girls on roller skates dressed as drive-in restaurant carhops; the ‘60s, for which Phil Taylor, former head of the Board of Realtors, dressed up in a black Beatles wig and a multicolored Nehru jacket; and on into the future, represented by 1,000 schoolchildren carrying American flags.


Once seen as an exclusive enclave, Pasadena has slowly become integrated, not without a bitter fight over school busing. The changing population was obvious in Saturday’s parade, which included participants from many ethnic and racial groups.

Exactly Fits the Part

An actress portrayed the Little Old Lady From Pasadena, the subject of a popular song, but there were others in the crowd who fit that description.

Edna Crawford, 70, who has lived in Pasadena all her life, said she enjoyed the parade--which went off without a hitch, except for the police chief’s puncture. And she would like to see more of them in the city which is already famous for its Tournament of Roses and the more frivolous Doo-Dah Parade held in November.


Crawford was wearing a red “Lil’ Ol’ Lady From Pasadena” T-shirt, which she said has been an effective icebreaker on her travels to Hawaii and elsewhere.

“I wear it wherever I go,” she said. “Sometimes they say, ‘Where are your tennis shoes?’ ”