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Mount Washington's Twelve Gifts of Thanksmas - Part 2

With a special thanks to those profiled on "Up the Street", the author remembers highlights of the past year.

While compiling The Twelve Gifts of Thanksmas, Part 2 (a look back at the highlights of The View from Jack Smith’s Street) the video visits to Mount Washington houses for the column’s Up the Street component stood out.

A special thank you to all those Mount Washingtonians who opened their homes to me and the readers of Up the Street.

For the seventh gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a tour of a Mad Man era home. 

With HBO’s Mad Men all the rage, it was great fun to get a Mother’s Day peek inside the 1960’s-era home of Nicole Thomas and Roy Staley in the “island in the sky” Mount Washington West development.

The mid-century homes in the diverse neighborhood, one of few to cater to Chinatown’s business community, were lauded by a “Los Angeles Times panel of housewives” and exemplified the indoor-outdoor flow of California living. Thanks Nicole and Roy!

For the eighth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: the Southwest Museum Photography Project.

The Southwest Museum re-opened to the public in May 2012 but only on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Worried that the Autry National Center, which operates L.A.’s first museum, might close the latter if there wasn’t sufficient interest, NELA resident Ginger Mayerson--a writer, photographer, collage artist, composer and publisher--started the Southwest Museum Photography Project.

Visitors to the museum are encouraged to sign the guest book to register their visit, take photos, and send their favorites to Mayerson at editor@swmpp.wapshottpress.com with a link to their site and/or more photos of the Southwest Museum.  I’m grateful to Ginger Mayerson for her efforts to promote public interest in--and a record of--the Southwest Museum.  Thanks Ginger!

For the ninth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a visit to Mark and Arlette Feinberg’s “House of Summer."

Walking into the home of Mark and Arlette Feinberg is like saying hello to summer. Everywhere, the home, which was designed and constructed by Feinberg with the help of his friend, builder Mark Van Slooten, brings the outdoors in.

The windows offer panoramic views.  Balconies are bordered by riots of bright green vegetation and doors open on to a lavender-scented garden. Light spills on to simple, elegant woodwork designed by Feinberg’s Mount Washington Wood Works.

It’s a house that takes advantage of the best that Mount Washington has to offer. Thanks Mark and Arlette!

For the tenth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a romantic sidewalk mystery.

On summer walks, I discovered a series of romantic messages chalked on the sidewalk. There were chalked hearts interspersed with arrows.  Messages -- “I (heart) you” and “You make me : )" -- culminated in a grand declaration of love on Mount Washington Drive. “Happy anniversary, my love,” scrawled the final message. “I (heart) you w/ all my (heart)."  A star and an arrow marked the spot.

I’d love to know the identities of the happy couple (hint, hint) but it’s enough to know that in Mount Washington, love is everywhere, even on the sidewalks.  Thanks, secret lovebirds of Mount Washington!

For the eleventh gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a visit to the Freeman-Jardini home.

Up the Street’s first video visit was to the Wachtel Studio-Home: once an artist studio and gallery.  2012’s final home tour was of a home that was once a church.

Gwen Freeman and Andy Jardini bought the “transitional Craftsman-Victorian” -- built in 1908 as a combined house and church for a Reverend Merrill -- and lovingly restored it over the years.  Reminders of the home’s former identity include vaulted ceilings worthy of a cathedral, a choir-ready balcony, and an alcove where a pipe organ once stood.

Standing guard over the garden and former church is “Johnny Angel”, which artist Gwen painted for the first Los Angeles Community of Angels Project.

Reverend Merrill would undoubtedly approve.  Thanks Gwen and Andy!

For the twelfth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: Voices Within at Mount Washington Elementary.

“If you want to tell a story, write a song.”  The advice was from Amy Ferguson, of the Voices Within artistic team; at Mount Washington Elementary, 4th and 5th grade students took that advice to heart.

Using the history of communication for inspiration, Cindy Lowery and Safini Convey’s students worked with Voices Within lyricist Mark Savage and composer David O to create songs about African drums, the Pony Express, and Morse code. The students performed the songs with Los Angeles Master Chorale members.

After one song, about a child helping a deaf grandfather learn sign language, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Thank you Mount Washington Elementary, Voices Within and the Los Angeles Master Chorale!

From our street to yours, best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

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