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Blast from the Past

I watched the Rose Parade this morning on t.v. in high definition for the first time and was really blown away by the experience.  Amazing detail! 

Even better, the city in So. California where I grew up, Downey, won the Founders Trophy for best float created entirely by community effort. 

Here’s the artist rendering of that float:

When I was a senior in high school, back in the Stone Age of 1965, my friend, Penny, was chosen as a princess for the Miss Downey Court and was lucky enough to ride on the Rose Parade float for that year. 

Lyndon Johnson was President at the time and had amused (and appalled) folks when he used to demonstrate how he pulled the ears of his beagle dogs— lifting their front paws off the ground.  (He said they liked it….hmmm.) 

So the float for ’65 was, naturally, a beagle with a huge cowboy hat.  The dog’s eyes were all googly from having its ears yanked and the title of the float was “Ouch!” 

I found a faded photo of it on the Downey Rose Float Association website:

Downey, by the way,  is well-known for having the oldest McDonald’s restaurant in the country. The 1953 McDonald’s restaurant at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. (at Florence Ave.) was the third franchised McDonald’s built and is the oldest surviving McDonald’s. It was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 1994 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. It was one of the first restaurants franchised by Dick and Mac McDonald, prior to the involvement of Ray Kroc in the company, and it still has the original “Golden arches” and a 60-foot animated neon “Speedee” sign.

With low sales, damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and the lack of a drive-up window and indoor seating, the restaurant was closed. However with both the public and preservationists demanding the restaurant be saved, McDonald’s spent two years restoring the restaurant and reopened it. Customers today can visit the original restaurant and an adjoining gift shop and museum.

I had many a meal from that place when I was a young’un!  The funny thing is, when my husband and I take our grandkids to the McDonald’s here in Texas, there are photos of this one in Downey on the wall next to our favorite booth!  Looking at them always gives me a “Twilight Zone” feeling.  Here I am, in a McDonald’s in central Texas with my grandkids, looking at photos on the wall that just happen to be of the McDonald’s I used to frequent in California in the ’50s and ’60s. 

I think it would make Rod Serling proud…