Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day Tripping, Chapter 2: Philippe's, The Original

Lauren, my sister, plans out these trips.  Our original intention was to attend the LA Gift Show at the Convention Center.  Just as I am an aspiring writer, Lauren is an aspiring pastry chef. She can bake! (and a great cook too).  With the proper documents at hand, we were ready to mingle with true business people and gather ideas for proprietorship of my greeting cards and  her decadent sweets.  First stop though was lunch.  Not just any old lunch, but seeking out a special place, a famous LA landmark, existing since  the beginning of the 20th century.  Generations, including our own,  have tasted the scrumptious sandwiches prepared daily by this deli, Philippe's. You can check out their website at for more info,but I'll post a little history here copied from the site. 

Philippe's History

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Southern California. Philippe's was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the "French Dipped Sandwich." One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. And so was born the "French Dipped Sandwich," so called either because of Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on or because the officer's name was French. The answer is lost to history.

In an inconspicuous corner of China Town, there the crowds of locals (and some not so local) gather. Immediately caught up in nostalgia and simpler times, a  large room with many "picnic-like" community tables fill the space and lines of people wait for their own "carver" to take their order as they approach the counter. Decorated with classic photos of yesteryear, eclectic novelties and sawdust floors, the smells of the meats ready to smother the soft french rolls dipped in the juice of the roast is served quickly and professionally on paper plates with a dill pickle and a bag of chips. Satisfying!                             

It is always a busy place
Fuchsia toes, fuchsia flip flops...sawdust...
A history in LA  told in newspaper cutouts on plaques.

...and fuchsia, well pickled eggs!

Two things caught my photographer eye as we sat and ate our French Dips.  Behind me, along one wall, a row of telephone booths, made of varnished wood stood ready (in my imagination) for any cub reporter to slip in a dime and place a call to his editor, or a man with a hunch and a dream,  placing a quick bet on the horses at Hollywood Park. 

In the 1940's my mother came down here with her father, a shop owner himself in the jewelery district.  My grandfather also spent a lot of time at the stock exchange building.  They rode "the Red Car, " an electric trolley rail car, down to Philippe's to eat lunch. This glassed photograph shows exactly that scene. 

The second thing that truly stood out and amazed me, the counter right at the door.  The original wood and glass cabinet displayed and array of colorful candies and gums from days gone by and housed other memorabilia from the eatery.  
My grandfather always had Blackjack and Juicy Fruit gum at his house.

 With tummy's full, these two adventurous sisters (Lauren and I),  set out on the streets of LA, headed towards the Convention Center.  Camera in hand, I snapped away at many more interesting and iconic sights before we found the parking garage. Our adventure and photography continues in Chapter 3. 

Philippe's, the Original.  Hmmmm,seems I know of another "original Phil, well his name is Phillip, one of the original twelve apostles of Jesus.  When Jesus started his ministry, many people heard of his reputation and great teachings. He soon had many people "lined up", waiting to be "fed,"   spiritually.  On one of these occasions, when Passover season was at hand and many traveled into town for this celebration; a very--- very large crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak and hopefully see or be a part of these miracles they heard about.

Jesus became concerned about the crowd and their physical appetite, asking Philip where to get the best bread.  Jesus knew already of course, He planned the menu! Philip, after looking into his satchel,  told Jesus that the few denarii available to purchase lunch for all these people, came up short.  Andrew though, saw a young boy who brought along a picnic basket filled with five loaves of bread and a two fish. The soft green grass soon became the crowd's community table. Taking the bread and fish, Jesus gave thanks.  Philip and the other disciples now became Christ's "carvers", taking orders and handing out meals to the multitudes. Over 5000 became satisfied that day, in their tummy and hopefully in their hearts, for they tasted a miracle that day. I venture to say, that hilltop got an "A rating."

Matthew 14:14-21
John 6: 1-13.

I hope you find time in your busy day to savor the feast Jesus prepared for you. "Dip" into his Word.   "Give us this day Lord, our daily bread," and sandwiched in between is your promise: 

John 6:50. (NIV) "But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

DayTripping with my Sister Lauren, Chapter 1: Going Postal

Last month, I spent three fun-filled days with my sister Lauren. An  adventure in our own backyard awaited us. The first place, the big city of freeways and skyscrapers,  Los Angeles.  Living about 50 minutes east of me, Lauren arrived to take me along on a day trip that turned out slightly different than we originally planned.  Less than an hours drive from my house heading further west, we set out.  The weather, in the low 80's,
So. Cal. perfection as if I had asked for it. (Maybe I did!).  Navigating the city, no techno-GPS in view, we drove along as if we were regular city-folk, never once lost or nervous.  With my camera in hand, Lauren graciously double parked and circled around, allowing me the pleasure of  snapping shots of interesting buildings  and historical sites, well aware of my blog-photography interest.  So for you So. Cal readers, I hope to enlighten you on some history and trivia and for all you readers outside this state, a pleasurable travel blog. 

Our first stop, Philippe's, Home of the Original Beef Dip Sandwich.  You may be hungry to read here, but get in line now, and wait for Chapter 2.  This restaurant is located at 1001 N. Alameda St.  Across the street though, a post office.  This is what I will blog about first.
Los Angeles Terminal Annex, U.S. Post Office

Located at 900 N. Alameda, the Spanish Colonial Mission-style structure, built in 1940, delivers a feeling of yesteryear with a growing population.  With all the modern mechanics of its time, sorting and processing over 2 million pieces of mail per day and employing over 1600 public servants, this facility remained open 24 hours. In 1950, another expansion took place, adding more square footage to process the increasing demands of a big city.  In 1985, a new honor stamped into history, a spot in the National Register of Historical Places. In 1989, a new L.A. general post office opened, the volume then at 14 million. 

A first-class letter, 4¢ to mail in 1940
Scandal, murder, mayhem, drugs and city-wide chaos, all the things writers love to sink their teeth into, echo through the halls of the building. The year I was born, 1954, two postal  employees, nabbed for apparently bookmaking, probably did not bet on getting delivered to jail.   (Maybe they were ahead of their time and self-publishing?).  Rumors abound that many more took part in these secret back room dealings.  (Got to watch out for those aspiring writers, hehee).

An 8 1/2 hour power outage in 1985, believed sparked from a voltage line in the basement, curtailed the mail for one day.  (Neither snow, nor sleet...but power?  yes, it did). 

Hollywood is everywhere in L.A.  Do you remember seeing the movie Dear God starring Greg Kinnear?  Kinnear's character plays a con-man who receives a judgment of community service. Sent to the post office, he is mandated to the task of sorting and reading through the "dead-letter" file; letters that are undeliverable because the addresses do not exist.  He finds many letters from children writing God, asking for things not for themselves, but for their family.  Filmed on location here and directed by Gary Marshall, we watch  Kinnear's dishonest heart  re-shape when he begins to answer these letters himself with tangible means.  Soon, he involves his fellow workers and transformation happens as Kinnear finds meaningful purpose for his life. 

Although we are not saved by works, doing good things for others is pleasing to God and certainly helps us too. 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
Romans 12:21
 One more delivery to make: 

  I found this on-line, author unknown, but I am guessing he or she delivers the snail mail we still receive; the birthday card from Grandma with X's and O's and  $5.00 safely tucked away, the report cards, and college acceptance letters,birth announcements and refund checks. Send someone a card this week, hand it to your mail person for delivery, thanking him/her for a job well done! 

A Postman's Prayer

 God our father -- may everything we do be "first class." Imprint your own loving "zip code" upon our hearts in that we may never go astray.
Provide in your gracious providence
"special handling" for those of us who are "fragile" and keep us in one piece.
We have been
"signed, sealed, stamped, and delivered" in your image and likeness, and we beg you to keep us in your care as we go about our "appointed rounds."
And when our days draw to a close
and we are marked "Return to Sender," be there to greet us at heaven's door so that nobody may ever say, "unknown at this address." Amen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Wedding

The Wedding

God didn’t get an invitation, or a Save the Date card.
God wasn’t invited.
But Heaven was watching.
No eye  closed, no head bowed down,
But Heaven was listening.
There were no unity candles, no colored sand,
But Heaven was agreeing
No Bible was opened, no scriptures were read
But Heaven was calling.
Music fell silent. 
 But Heaven’s whisper rustled the trees.
God was not invited,
  But His Grace filled every seat.

Mr. and Mrs. Rick Merola
Love made a vow, a promise to keep.
Greater Love is Good,
But Heaven shall wait.
For Heaven is Forgiving, Eternal and True.
God was not invited,
But Hope prays for you.

August 7, 2011