Archive » August 24, 2007
By Kathy Mullins
Things Aren’t What They Used To Be
Stories about the Storys
My apologies to Valley Journal readers for missing the chance to earlier alert them about two heart-warming old shows that PBS (KCET Los Angeles) re-ran recently as part of its ever more frequent fund drives.
Several years ago, Ralph Story, the popular Los Angeles radio-TV gentleman, who retired to the Santa Ynez Valley with his wife Diana, hosted a two-part mini-series that explored the Los Angeles of yesteryears. Entitled “Things That Aren’t Here Anymore” and “More Things that Aren’t Here Anymore,” the series especially delighted native Angelenos, who had firsthand experiences of life in their city in the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
But so many of the rest of us are in some ways connected to Los Angeles and also found the series fascinating.
What a trip to view it again! Best of all was seeing Ralph Story in action, hearing his distinctive mellifluous voice and remembering how lovely it was to have known him, and how wonderful that the fundraising segments of the KCET rerun included an interview with Ralph’s widow Diana.
My colleague Elaine Revelle was born and raised in Los Angeles and after the Storys retired here she and Ralph always had a lot to chat about. Elaine cherishes the memory of the memorial services that was held at St. Mark’s in Los Olivos, where Ralph’s show-business career was highlighted and thanks to Father Stacy’s diligent research, a special tribute was conducted to commemorate his service in the Air Force.
Stopping into the bookstore after participating in Los Olivos’ Quick Draw art event, Marilyn Cronk mentioned the PBS program and reminisced about her time working with Ralph and Diana Story at their art gallery, housed in what is now Patrick’s Side Street Café.
As former director of Solvang’s Elverhøj Museum, Marilyn now devotes much of her time to painting. At the Quick Draw event she not only sold a painting, but one too big to fit in the buyer’s car. Consequently, Marilyn agreed to personally deliver it to Arroyo Grande, not far from where she lives in Santa Maria.
In addition to outsize canvases and a departure from her more abstract works, Marilyn has found a successful niche commissioning portraits of people’s pets.
“I am surprised by how much I enjoy it,” she said.
Speaking of how things used to be, a useful new book “Missions of Southern California” has been issued by Arcadia, publishers of photo-filled paperback volumes of specific local history, usually $19.95 (including the locally popular one that Curt Cragg and the Buellton Historical Society recently produced about their community).
Assembled by James Osborne from his huge collection of old mission postcards, Arcadia’s new book includes sections on the Santa Barbara, Santa Inés and La Purisima missions. It will be especially interesting to local history buffs, tourists and fourth-graders in California public schools, who take an intense unit of concentration learning about the missions.
For more glimpses at how things used to be we invite you to do some nostalgic browsing among both new and used books.
A look through “California Bungalows of the Twenties” by Henry L. Wilson (Dover $12.95) might inspire a person to build their own bungalow. The book includes 75 house designs.
“L. A. Deco” by Carla Breeze (Hennessey & Ingalls $27.50) could inspire a drive to Los Angeles for an architectural tour. This book has an introduction by the late David Gebhard, a renowned historian of Southern California architecture, who was a long-time resident of Santa Barbara.
For fun and a look at some very California sights that still can be seen, sample “Weird California.” It purports to be a guide to our state’s “local legends and best kept secrets” (Sterling $19.95).