Monday, October 20, 2014

Olson's Scandinavian Deli & Gift Shop

Olson's is back in a big way on Pico Boulevard!  The original Olson's has been in this location since 1948.  I remember coming here in the mid-1980s for Scandinavian specialties like anchovy paste and lingon-berry jam.  The deli counter was always overloaded with delicious cured meats, Danish ham and pickled herring.  We often picked up sandwiches to go from Mr. Ohlsson.  

Olson's did a huge business just before Christmas.  The neighborhood has changed radically since 1948 when the original Mr. Olson opened the shop.  Scandinavians from across L.A. County made the trek back to Mid-City to buy specialties for the holidays.  I asked Mr. Ohlsson (the second owner of the shop, not related to the original) once about the changes in the neighborhood.  He said that when the area was developed, during the late 1920s and early 1930s there were enclaves of Germans, Scandinavians, Irish and English ex-patriots.  

Photo courtesy of Olson's

Photo courtesy of Olson's

Photo courtesy of Olson's

This is evidenced by a few restaurants still here, Tom Bergin's and Molly Malone's.  I also remembered that in 1926 Charles Bukowski's parents moved from Germany, to Longwood Avenue, near L.A. High School.  I love hearing stories about the migration of various groups around old L.A.

Scandinavian gifts for sale

Björn Borg is a favorite here

Larry and I hadn't been back to Olson's since Bert Ohlsson retired in 2013.  The shop was closed during remodeling.  Swedish people bought the place, retained the name and re-opened the market, gift shop and a little restaurant.  We had lunch there on Saturday.  The sandwich menu is extensive.  I wanted to re-live my youth and have the Skagen sandwich which I fondly remember from The Konditori Restaurant in Beverly Hills.  At Olson's the Skagen is a delicious sandwich with baby shrimp in a sour cream dill sauce, piled into a soft egg bread roll, garnished with lettuce, served with a side of pickled, thinly sliced cucumbers.  Yummmmm!  This is EXACTLY how I remembered the Konditori sandwich. 

Half Skagen sandwich

Italian and Norwegian Soda

One side of Olson's contains grocery, bakery and deli items.  This is where you order your meal.  The other side of the shop has a huge Scandinavian candy section, along with tables and chairs.  There is a big, refrigerated case with huge wheels of cheese available. 
Bulk Candy Section

Huge Wheel O' Cheese (photo courtesy of Olson's)

Olson's also serves breakfast.  I cannot wait to try the Swedish pancakes.

Olson's in 2013 (pre-remodel), photo courtesy of Mrs. Cuddlebug

Olson's Scandinavian Deli
5660 West Pico Boulevard
(323) 938-0742

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Vintage Photo Friday

I hit a mini-bonanza last weekend as far as vintage family photos are concerned.  My cousin JoEllen brought our Great Aunt Luba's photo album with her to Mary Jane's birthday party last Saturday.  I've seen many of these photos before.  Usually, when family members took photos they had duplicates made to give to other relatives.  The extended Bloom side of my family is rather large, so not ALL of us received ALL of the photos.  However, EVERYONE gave photos to our beloved Aunt Luba.  

Morris, Luba, Reta, Marty, Chicago 1940's

Luba (or Lillian as her co-workers knew her) was everyone's favorite auntie.  Luba and her husband Al never had children.  Al died young.  Luba lavished her attention on all of us equally.  She lived in Chicago until after World War 2.  Then, along with her sister Reta and brother-in-law, Morris, Luba joined her brother Lawrence (my grandfather) and my grandmother, Ethel to live in Los Angeles.  They all lived in or near Hollywood when I was a child.  In fact, Luba lived in an apartment upstairs from my Grandparents house on Sunset Boulevard near Highland Avenue when I was small.  Almost every Sunday all of my cousins would visit Grandpa and Grandma Bloom, then rush upstairs to see Great Aunt Luba.  Eventually, after my grandparents passed away, Luba lived in an apartment a few blocks west on Curson Avenue.  She was an interested and interesting person until the day she died in 1989 at the age of 89. She never talked down to children.  She treated us like equals adults.  I still miss her.
I unearthed a couple of photos from Luba's album that Jo graciously gave to me.  Below is one from 1948 of the three Bloom brothers, George, Hi and Mort with their wives, Roz, Celia and Frances.  There was a short time when my Dad's younger brother, Hi was married to my mother's younger sister, Celia.  This is the only photo I've ever seen of them together.  Their marriage only lasted for a couple of years.  They both went on to long-lasting second marriages.  Many of the photos on my Mother's side of the family of Celia and Hi are gone.  Everyone looks so young and happy in this photo.  I wonder what my Mother was yelling about!
Roz, George, Celia, Hi, France, Mort.  1948, Los Angeles
I can't wait to see Mom on Sunday to ask her about this photo.  Where is this location?  I don't recognize the house.
I came across some more of Aunt Luba's photos from 1945.  This is a photo session with Grandma and Grandpa Bloom, Uncle Hi, my brother Ken as a baby and my folks.  There is an address on this house, 2436.  The house in the background looks to be from the late 1930s or early 1940s.  Another question for Mom.

Ethel, George, Baby Kenny, Hi, Roz.  1945

Roz and L.A. Bloom.  1945

Los Angeles was a different place almost 70 years ago.  You could drive from Boyle Heights to the Beach (even without freeways) in less than 30 minutes.  Post-war businesses were booming.  Houses and apartments were being developed for returning G.I.s and their families.  Prosperity was in the air. 

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Central Coast

Mary Jane's and Bob's House, Templeton, CA

I'm getting a LOT of blog mileage out of our 3-day weekend retreat.  After leaving Bakersfield on Saturday we wandered on one of those farmy, blue highways over to San Luis Obispo.  An old blues guy I once knew used to call this lovely little city, Saint Louis Nabisco.  I've called it that ever since.
Bob and Mary Jane

We just had enough time after checking into our hotel to clean-up and get ready for Mary Jane's 80th birthday party.  Mary Jane was married to my Dad's cousin, Marty.  Marty passed away decades ago, but we're still family, close to Mary Jane's kids, Kristy and Craig and like to celebrate milestones together.
Mary Jane and her current husband, Bob live in a lovely area of Templeton, California.  It's about 20 minutes north of SLO.  

Cousins!  Marty Talmy and George Bloom, Chicago, 1942

The next generation:  Linda, Larry, Kristy, Jo, Jessica and Craig
Mary Jane's and Bob's Backyard, Templeton, CA

When we arrived, the party was in full swing.  The yard was filled with friends and family, food and drink.  We got right into the action and started having a great time.  There was a wonderful catered dinner, along with a sumptuous birthday cake.  We started out only knowing the members of our family, but by the end of the party we were friends with everyone!  It was a warm and wonderful gathering.
THE NEXT MORNING we woke up to the sounds of the City to the Sea Half-Marathon outside our hotel door.  Before hitting the road back to Los Angeles, we decided to drive down the block to the PINK PINK Madonna Inn for breakfast.  

Everyone in town had the same idea.  The Coffee Shop at the Madonna was packed.  What a vision.  Everything in this place is over-the-top, overdone and really pink and cute.  Hello Kitty should have her convention here.  Here's a little bit about the history of the hotel and facilities. It's quite unique.

Breakfast was tasty.  We walked around the hotel, restaurant, bar and banquet rooms to take a few photos.
The gift shop is full of glitzy items.  I already own 4 Madonna Inn water goblets in pink and light green.  I added 4 more to my collection in pink and aqua.
The night before there had been an OktoberFest party in the main dining room and bar.  I didn't see any leftovers from the party.  The area was spotless!
Madonna Inn Dining Room

We arrived back in Los Angeles at around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon.  We had a really grand mini-vacation!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Classy Knits - Bakersfield, CA

OK.  OK.  I know I've talked about Bakersfield a lot lately, but we really had a good time there.  We found some hidden gems in that dusty town.  One of the high-points was my trip to Classy Knits & Yarns LYS.

Noel and Katie @ Classy Knits & Yarns

I'm friends with Suzanne ("KnittingSuzanne" on Ravelry).  We became friends through admiring each other's projects on Ravelry.  We finally had a chance to meet at Stitches West a couple of years ago.  When I knew we were traveling to B-field, I contacted Suzanne, told her we were staying downtown and asked if there were any good yarn shops nearby.  Suzanne immediately told me about Classy Knits.

I walked into the shop and immediately felt at home.  I was sorry that the shop owner, Judy (a friend of Suzanne's) wasn't there that day, but Noel and Katie were fun to talk with and very knowledgeable about yarn and the City.
I did a bit of shopping and then sat down to stitch 'n bitch with the ladies while Larry was record shopping.  Classy Knits carries EVERYTHING.  Big bonus, everything in the store was 30% off!  Woo Hoo!  I even found the shelves way in the back where all of the yarn selections were 40% off!  I love it when a shop discounts ALL of the yarn, not just the stragglers.
30% off, Sport Weight Cascade Super Wash for the Tannenbaum Lace Scarf

30% off, beautiful locally dyed yarn (Fresno)

40% off, Versa by Berroco, cotton blend tape

Noel and Katie gave us some good tips on where to eat in downtown Bakersfield.  We also discussed different patterns and yarn choices.  Noel was working on some beautiful crocheted hand-warmers.  She is teaching a class soon on how to make this pattern.  Katie was finishing a mobius cowl for a customer.  She also showed me this darling cotton coaster made from an afghan square pattern.  

Picture Frame Afghan Square modified for a cotton coaster

I wish I lived closer to Classy Knits so I could take the coaster class!  Thanks for a lovely afternoon, ladies!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bakersfield - Sight-seeing and Shopping

The Big Shoe

To me, vernacular architecture is like folk art.  We had many examples of this type of architecture in Los Angeles.  For example, a lemonade shop shaped like a lemon, a hot dog stand shaped like a huge hot dog, a piano shop shaped like a big piano.  A book called "California Crazy," by Jim Heimann is loaded with examples.  
We came upon a couple of fun buildings in downtown Bakersfield.
931 Chester Ave., Bakersfield, CA

Bail Bonds in a little red barn

Downtown Bakersfield is loaded with antique shops, music stores, quirky restaurants and used bookstores.  It's not exactly gentrified, but it's on it's way.  Yesterday, I blogged about The Padre Hotel.  One of the reasons we stayed at The Padre is because it's downtown and close to the vintage shops.
Our house is soooo full of stuff, that I tend to just take photos of the items I would have bought in the past.  We came across LOTS of good stuff at the antique malls of downtown B-Field!
This was the closest we came to the Wasco Clown

THIS is what you can do with all of that crochet cotton hanging around!

I love faces


Larry, checking out the vintage vinyl


This California Hankie was the ONLY thing I purchased

That Little Black Dress
It was almost like going through a museum!  After a few antique shops, we walked over to Front Porch Music.  This, of course, is Larry's favorite shop.  Due to the current ukulele craze, Front Porch has dedicated an entire room to this 4-stringed instrument!

The Zodiac Uke

Banjo Uke

After much thought and a trip to the ready-teller, Larry ended up purchasing a vintage Alamo Fiesta guitar.  It's raw, twangy and cool-sounding.  What a wacky shape!

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery