Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year (1925)

Don’t know about any of you, but I’m kind of glad to see 2016 come to an end. Mind you, for me personally, 2016 was better than 2015, mainly because I was sick almost all of 2015. In 2016 I had my left hip replaced, but that was a Good Thing. Now all I have to hurt about is my back, and there’s even hope for that. But we lost SO MANY PEOPLE in 2016. Unfair, 2016. Phooey.

However, this particular blog isn’t about me, or even 2016. It’s about my home town of Pasadena, California, and its New Year’s Day traditions. And, of course, Daisy Gumm Majesty and her crew.

Daisy Gumm Majesty’s latest adventure, SPIRITS UNITED (which I expect to finish writing one of these days), takes place in Pasadena in October of 1924. But the new year (1925) is fast approaching! On Thursday, January 1, 1925, Daisy and her family (and maybe Sam Rotondo, if he can walk that far on his injured leg) will stroll the few blocks from her darling little bungalow on South Marengo Avenue to Colorado Boulevard and will, among a whole bunch of other people, watch the Tournament of Roses Parade (more often known merely as the Rose Parade).

The Tournament of Roses Parade began its history in 1890, when folks in Pasadena drove their buggies and tallyhos (whatever they were), decorated with roses, along the streets of Pasadena. Over time, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed, and the Rose Parade became a more structured event. The big deal after the Rose Parade was, for the first few years, chariot races. Then the City Fathers (and Mothers, one presumes) decided to build a football stadium, which they called the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl was dedicated in October of 1922.

When I played the flute and the piccolo (not at the same time) in the Eliot Junior High School band (yes, I know it’s called a middle school today), we actually marched in the Rose Bowl. The less said about that, the better, mainly because the tuba player ran into a goal post. It sounds funny, but it wasn’t for him. It hurt. My class at John Muir High School graduated in the Rose Bowl in… Well, the year doesn’t matter. Let’s just say I’m old. An old and venerable place, the Rose Bowl.

Here’s a picture of the Rose Bowl under construction in 1921:

Before the Rose Bowl was built, games were held in Tournament Park, which has since been renamed Brookside Park. For years and years, the Rose Bowl was the largest football stadium in the nation. Daisy didn’t much care about that, but her late husband, Billy; her current fiancé, Sam Rotondo; and Daisy’s father, Joe Gumm, are all football fans. However, they didn’t go to the 1925 Tournament of Roses Game. For Pete’s sake, tickets cost $5.00 each! Nobody in Daisy’s family would waste that much good money to watch anything so frivolous as a football game. Anyhow, beginning in 1926, the Rose Bowl football game was broadcast throughout the nation. Great modern invention, radio, by golly! That means Daisy and her mother and aunt will be able to sit in the living room and read while Joe and Sam listen to the radio-signal receiving set Daisy bought for her late husband a couple of years earlier.
The 1925 game must have been exciting, however, because Knute Rockne’s legendary (to some. I’d never heard of them) Four Horsemen from Notre Dame played Ernie Nevers and his team from Stanford. Notre Dame won 27-10, in case you wondered.


As for the Tournament of Roses Parade itself, for many years the queen and princesses who composed her court were chosen from among students attending Pasadena City College. Before that, however, I don’t have a clue how the queens, princesses, and sometimes even princes were selected. The very first Tournament of Roses Queen was Hallie Woods, who ruled on New Year’s Day, 1905.

Here we have a souvenir postcard from Pasadena for New Year’s Day, 1925:

There was no queen in 1924 for some reason beyond Daisy’s understanding or recollection (and Google wouldn’t give me a reason). In 1925, however, the Tournament gurus made up for their neglect in 1924 by choosing Margaret Scoville (who was, I presume, a local gal) as Pasadena’s Rose Queen. She was married, by the way. I think there were only two married Rose Queens in Pasadena’s long history.

Here's a photo of Margaret Scoville, not when she was the reigning Rose Queen in 1925, but taken at a meeting of former Rose Queens held in 1956. Margaret’s the kind of dumpy one in the middle of those seated:

Naturally, Aunt Vi will fix something spectacular for dinner. Well, it’ll at least be mighty tasty. In fact, because the Gumms are originally from Auburn, Massachusetts, I suspect she’ll opt for a New England boiled dinner, which can cook while she and the rest of the family toddle up to see the Rose Parade. A New England boiled dinner consists of a corned beef brisket or a smoked ham and a bunch of root vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, maybe some parsnips and perhaps even some cabbage (yes, I know cabbage isn’t a root vegetable). Since neither Daisy nor I like black-eyed peas (and anyhow, they’re a southern tradition) we’ll just skip those, thank you very much. Of course Daisy’s father, Joe Gumm, would probably adore some codfish cakes. I know my own father did (he was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and grew up in Hartland, Maine). Since, however, neither Daisy nor I like those either, Vi will forego them, bless her heart. There aren’t many foods Daisy and I can’t get down home and comfy with, but black-eyed peas and codfish cakes are a couple of them. Kippered herrings are another matter altogether. We both love those.

Anyway, the last time I personally ate a New England boiled dinner was when my younger daughter Robin, my mom, and I drove across this vast nation and visited relations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. My half-sister, Ann Provost, (who lived in Dexter, Maine) made it for us. It was spectacular. Mind you, it’s kinda like corned beef and cabbage, but it’s not called that on New Year’s Dayor probably most other days of the year if you live in Maine.

By the way, the Rose Parade and game never occur on a Sunday, which is why this year’s (2017’s) parade isn’t today (January 1). That’s because all the floats and bands and so forth, scared the horses tied to railings outside the various churches on Colorado Boulevard (which was called Colorado Street back then). That particular custom persists to this day.

I’ll be in touch with the winners of December’s contest individually. As I seem to have an overabundance of UNSETTLED SPIRITS, one of Daisy’s many adventures, I’ll be giving away copies of that book in January. If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email ( and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site ( or email me (you won’t be smothered in newsletters, because I only write one a month). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at

Thank you, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Alice,

Glad you posted and told us you did. Always great to hear from you. This is a wonderfully informative post. I'm always impressed by the Rose Bowl, being a flower person at heart. I love your novels and you are the best editor I know.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Such interesting information!
Thanks for sharing.
Good luck and God's blessings in 2017!

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Jacquie! That's the nicest thing anybody's ever said about me! I'm a flower person at heart, too.

Thanks, Pam! Happy New Year to you and yours!

Susan Oleksiw said...

I didn't realize how much history there was behind the parade. I'm glad you enjoyed your New England boiled dinner. Not everyone does, but as a New Englander I'm fond of them.

And yes, I echo Jacquie: you are a great editor. I hope 2017 is better to you and all of us. It can hardly be worse.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Susan! I love New England boiled dinners. I've heard some folks eat pork and sauerkraut at the new year. I'd like that, too :-)

Susan Bennet said...

Fascinating history about Pasadena; looking forward to latest Daisy epistle. Any Mercy books in the future? I love them, and really enjoyed having Daisy and Mercy join forces in Thanksgiving Angels. We will need something enjoyable to look forward to this year and next.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Susan! I appreciate your kind words. I'll get the latest Daisy book finished one of these days (the year has been up and down, what with operations & stuff). I wish I could say there'd be another Mercy book soon, but I can't because although Five Star closed their mystery line, they won't give me the rights back to Thanksgiving Angels, and I don't want to have another series with a big hole in the middle. That's what happened to Daisy. The seventh book in that series, Spirits Revived, was published by Five Star and I didn't have the rights to it when ePW picked up the series. I think, if I ever gets the rights back, ePW will publish it as #6 1/2 (I hope). I hope to finish writing Spirits United soon. If only life would cooperate, you know. And boy, do I agree with you about the next few years. We have to keep our spirits up, I guess, although I'm not quite sure how. Thank you again!

Susan Bennet said...

Could you incorporate Mercy et al into a Daisy book? Or do publishers keep the rights to characters as well as a given title? It seems very counterproductive, especially when dealing with a successful author of well liked series.
I hope you will have a healthy, happy and productive New Year. We need to be able to lose ourselves in great stories with sympathetic characters and shut out the real world for a few hours now and then. Thank you.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Susan. I actually did incorporate Daisy and Mercy into a book, Thanksgiving Angels, which is technically a Mercy book, but Daisy and the gang show up, mainly because it takes place in Pasadena. It was fun. However, I kind of wrote myself into a corner, because in that book Daisy and Sam are not yet married -- and it takes place in November of 1926. So Daisy and Sam are going to have a looooong engagement! To help prolong their engagement I shot Sam in the last Daisy book, and he's still recovering :-) I hope to write more Mercy books, but I don't know when. I agree. I used to want to write the Great American Novel. Now I just want to entertain people for a few hours. We definitely need to be able to lose ourselves in stories these days. The real world is too darned scary.