Posts Tagged ‘Angeles National Forest history’


The woman in the picture is eighteen. The location, resembling a Hollywood stage set, is Avalon, on Catalina Island, some 30 miles west of Los Angeles harbor. Yachts anchor offshore, a casino is in the background. The time is around 1928.

Catalina Island, 1928 ©SR Euston

The photo of the woman is well composed. A slight angle of the jacket, balanced by an offsetting angle in the legs; the arch in the background complementing the gentle curve in the bench. The dress style reflects the late 1920s—a large bead necklace, purse, pumps, short waved hair sliding over the left forehead. The smile is just about right. Not strained, rather comely. A perfect afternoon in the ocean air of what used to be California’s answer to Capri. A very young woman from the midwest, recently arrived.

Canyon Trail, San Gabriel Mountains, 1927© SR Euston

Then there is the picture of the young man, circa 1927. He pauses on the trail, which is dropping into a steep canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains, some 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. He carries a side pack and rucksack to carry overnight provisions for a stay at one of the numerous hikers’ camps sprinkled though out the Angeles National Forest. In another photograph, the young man gazes towards the mists, the trail ahead leading through burnt-over chaparral.

Mountain Mists, Angeles National Forest © SR Euston

One day, hiking with different parties, the man and the woman meet on the trail. I imagine it was hot, as hiking the San Gabriels so often is. They exchange conversation. The woman is with a Sierra Club group.

Now, reel forward a few more years. It’s the deep depression. The early ‘30s. The man and the woman who met a few years ago on the trail are posing together in the mountains as a couple. The high boots look uncomfortable, but ranger official. The outfits look remarkably alike, even to their belts. The sleeves are rolled. The clothes look rustic, undoubtedly khaki or deeper brown. One can almost smell the scent of pines encasing the scene. The woman’s hairdo has changed rather dramatically. Her eyes show a more mature look, scarcely studied or posed. And there’s symbolism as well as geography in the mountain setting—a far cry from the real estate creation called Avalon, Santa Catalina Island.

So in 70 or so miles from island to mountains, from the fake but pleasurable to the rugged yet accessible, from teenage responsibility, from being single and 18 just arrived from Minnesota to married—all so far off in time and place, yet so near.  SRE

A Couple in the Mountains, early 30s © SR Euston


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