Down the Rabbit Hole

Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center

Song BooksEver gotten sidetracked with details? Of course you have. Probably now, more than ever, since the only appointment you have to keep is with your computer for the next Zoom event. The click-bait of the internet is more enticing than ever, and the journey down the rabbit hole of information is almost irresistible.

I enjoyed a dive down the rabbit hole recently looking up information on the history of the Senior Center’s facility. The Pasadena Senior Center turned 60 this past Friday, May 22. In old-fashioned terms, it was our Diamond anniversary. We celebrated this past Friday with a party (virtual, of course). I compiled a short slide show of images of the Center over the years for the presentation.

One of the images I found shows the exterior of the original building; a simple ranch-style structure, long and low with a pitched roof and a 1950s modern aesthetic. The beautifully manicured lawn in front and the trees of Memorial Park in back show the Center as a serene and pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The basic footprint of the original clubhouse encompassed the north hall of our current facility, where the Lounge, Sy Graff Fitness Center, Dance Studio, and Cliff Benedict Room are, with an enormous lawn between the entrance and Holly Street.

PSC Construction Expansion 1997The Scott Pavilion opened in January 1998, part of an expansion that tripled the size of the building. Funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Margaret Bundy Scott, this major project gave the Center the configuration that we know today.

But wait! In the Center archives I found a construction photo from the 90s expansion that showed the old building stripped down to the studs and the big lawn torn up ready for new construction. That photo clearly showed a large wing on the west side of the grounds that was not there in 1960. None of the Center’s limited written histories mentioned any construction between the 1960s and the 1990s. Oh my! Rooting out this completely unimportant detail became a cause for me – a mission – and an excellent excuse to take another dive into the rabbit hole of internet research.

I went back to the online archives of the Pasadena Star News, Pasadena Independent, and San Marino Tribune. I guessed the era of the mystery addition was the 1970s, and searched by keywords related to construction, addition, expansion. Finally, voila! I found it. A small mention in the Star News as part of a regular column listing Senior Center activities:

Pasadena Star New, February 5, 1975: “Ground was broken and construction is beginning on the Paula E. Foley Service Wing at Pasadena Senior Center. The completion date is now set for April 14. This much needed addition will allow us to greatly expand our services to our community.”

But who was Paula E. Foley? Woo hoo! Another rabbit hole to explore! (P.S. “Polly” was the Center’s Executive Director 1964-1974, just in case you wondered).