Swallows return to San Juan Capistrano


Image: 1939 NBC Radio National Broadcast of St. Joseph’s Day & Return of the
Swallows Celebration with Father Hutchinson, Mission’s resident priest from 1933-1951 via https://www.missionsjc.com/wp-content/uploads/Program-for-Publishing-1.31.18.pdf

“The annual swallow migration has received a lot of attention over the years. For instance, Leon Rene’s 1939 hit, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano song lyrics are a tribute to the long migration.

“The amazing journey takes the swallows over 12,000 miles round-trip. They abandon their winter haven in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina and travel to southern California, arriving on St Joseph’s Day (March 19th)…”

Excerpt from http://www.arkanimals.com/capistrano-swallows/ .


Original grape vine


1939 image at the San Gabriel mission: Frasher Foto via http://ravenjake.typepad.com/blog/2009/07/the-old-mother-grapevine-of-san-gabriel.html .

“The “Old Mother Grapevine” was planted in 1861… and is one of the most beloved plants in California. She’s kind of a celebrity and has been since the turn of the century. At one point she covered 10,000 square feet…”

Ravenjake (at link above) quotes Ken Payton, from Reign of Terroir, “…the historically important Mission grape is still being used in California for blends and even for 100% variety bottlings. About 1000 acres of Mission remain under cultivation here, roughly the same acreage as Petit Verdot! Though a far less distinguished grape than PV, nevermind Cabernet or Zinfandel, the other ‘founding’ California vine, the Mission grape possesses an unrivaled caché in the state.”

More from Ravenjake: “Here’s another wrinkle in the whole ‘how old is she?’ debate, and that is that Mission grapes were planted maybe as early as 1771 – that sign sayin’ 1775 is about right. Mother Grapevine is maybe 500 feet from the mission, and could have been from the original vineyard. ‘Could’ve been,’ not ‘was.’ Now apparently, the 1861 date was based on an affidavit that the vine was planted by someone named David Franklin Hall of the Michael White Ranch (aka the Mission yard) in that year. Well folks, I’m not entirely convinced! I’m gonna keep an open mind until some more information comes in. All this tells me is that the minimum planting date is 1861, and she might be older – almost 100 years older! If the real date is 1775, then the old girl is 234 years old.

“The San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce newsletter says that when she was at her productive peak (as opposed to the petite decorative mode she’s in now) she produced one ton of grapes per year – enough to make 400-600 barrels of wine. They also say that despite her advanced age, she’s low maintainence – just periodic prunings to keep her on the arbor.”

Read more about it at the link above.

Today’s date could be written 3/9 so it could be considered ’39 Day.


Betty White TV debut

No 1939 image could be located.

“…her connection with television dates to an appearance on an experimental Los Angeles channel in 1939. She and her high school classmate sang songs from the light operetta ‘The Merry Widow.’ They were sweltering in a small studio on the sixth floor of the Packard building while the viewing audience gathered in the ground floor auto showroom.”

Excerpt from 2010 Los Angeles Times article: http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2010/06/betty-white-reflects-on-a-golden-career-.html .

“Even White has a hard time remembering the exact name of her debut show on screen back in 1939. However, there is one particular event she recounts as life-changing during a certain interview with Guinness Book of World Records. She was given the chance to dance on an experimental television show, based in downtown L.A. She wore her high school graduation dress and danced with the student body president (Harry Bennett) of their school: Beverly Hills High – to the tune of ‘Merry Widow Waltz.'”

Excerpt from http://moneyinc.com/things-you-didnt-know-about-betty-white/ .

Learn about 1930s television, including the Don Lee network in Los Angeles, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_television#United_States .

Carl’s Drive In


Image: “Dick” Whittington Collection/USC Digital Library photo via https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2013/03/15/los-angeles-1939/#comments-block .

Location may be Flower Street at Figueroa in Los Angeles.

“I see that one car owner still has his 1938 plate (3C 17 70), perhaps dating the photo in early 1939. And there’s a 39 Arizona plate on the coupe three cars to the right of the carhop.

“It’s hard for me to ID the cars here too, but I see two 36 Ford sedans, one right by the building and one between the drive-in sign and the carhop; a 36 Ford coupe by the building, a light-colored 38 or 39 Ford coupe at the left by the building, a light-colored 39 Pontiac at lower left, a 37 or 38 Ford slantback 2-door in front of it, a 37 or 38 Chevy coupe two cars to the right, and a 39 Ford convertible with whitewalls clear to the right. Those are the only ID’s I have any confidence in.”

Excerpt: Comment from reader Pete Madsen on the Hemming’s post of this photo at the image link above.