Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fourth Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar

Once in a Chinese bazaar I fought to avert my eyes from the unusual animals for sale as food: puppies, kitties, snakes. At the recent Los Angeles Archives Bazaar I fought to look away too – the sights, sounds and amazing stories in the featured photos, films, rare books and newspaper archives were so riveting, I couldn’t tear myself away. For example:

- Who knew my elderly West Adams neighbor Mayme Clayton was stuffing her garage with the second largest archive of Black Memorabilia in the country-- rare Little Black Sambo’s, slave stories, and L.A. Harlem Renaissance photographs?

- Who knew there was a Great Shark Hysteria of 1939 – multiple shark attacks in Long Beach, with a missing Compton fisherman turning up in a shark’s tummy off Catalina – identified by his Timex?

- Who knew Raymond Chandler lived in 36 different Southern California locations – from Monrovia to Riverside to Big Bear, 24 places in L.A. alone -- with his wife Cissy, 20 years his senior?

Los Angeles is famous for its hucksters, riots, mass murders, and celebrity suicides. Fortunately someone’s been preserving all this weird wacko-jacko history once the police barricades come down: the city’s mousy archivists – in dozens of local archives and libraries. Yep, we always knew these shy librarian-types with their horn-rimmed glasses and sweater clips had all the good stuff. Still waters run deep -- like under the L.A. bridges highlighted in this cool calendar available from the rad organization Studio for Southern California History.
Catch the Fifth Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar next year (see their Facebook page). Here’s a video from last year’s event.

(Guest blogger Renee Montgomery is head of the archives program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where her favorite historical event is The Bridge-Game Murder in May Company)

Picture found courtesy of the LIFE archive on Google Images, found here.

1 comment:

lafromla said...

I like that link to the LA River Bridges Calendar. Photographer Doug Hill photographed all 124 bridges of the LA River. I love Doug Hill.