McDonnel’s Drive In, 1935

Not Mickey D’s, this was long before that concern was a gleam in Ray Kroc’s eye.

Had to make a few edits when I found some updated information about the first photo.


“Eat in Car” early drive-in at Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, California 1935. Photo by John Gutmann. The location looks a bit different than the two earlier photos below. This may have been after a remodel.


McDonnel’s at night, circa 1931.


The staff waits for customers, 1931.

Here is a link to a current view o the location on Google Maps.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Corner Store – Boston’s oldest surviving brick building.


The Old Corner Bookstore.

Some have billed this as the first brick building in Boston, but that fact is in dispute. What is not in dispute is that this is a wonderful relic from years past.

And looking as it does today:


Google Maps search done by /u/MyApplePie


A stereogram of the Old Corner Bookstore taken in the 19th century

“Threatened with demolition in 1960, the building was “rescued” through a purchase by Historic Boston, Inc. for the sum of $100,000.Historic Boston is a not-for-profit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they are a usable part of the city’s present and future. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Boston Landmark under the auspices of the Boston Landmarks Commission.” – Wikipedia

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Crooked House of Windsor


Lovely historical building, built in 1592, looking like it might have been built by Numerobis:


If you’re an Astérix fan, you’ll know what I mean.

According to Wikipedia, the thing went skeewompus because it was rebuilt with green wood in 1718. Of course, buildings tend to do this over time,


but contractors are always cutting corners:

Leaning Tower of Pisa

I am put in mind of a couple of things:

Terre vasée, Krous, qu’est dément
En y vaquer Krous qu’est d’émail.
Il fondu Krous qu’est de si que se pince,
Agacer Krous qu’est déesse taille
Il botté Krous qu’est de quatre.
Vich côté Krous qu’est de mousse
Année olive tous guetteurs
Déracinés Krous qu’est délit Toulouse.
-Mots d’Heures, Gousses, Rames (van Rooten)


Image from Granfa Grigg Had a Pig, by Wallace Tripp. Some of the loveliest nursery rhyme illustrations I’ve ever had the good fortune to encounter.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Gordonton, NC – July, 1939



Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. July 1939. Gordonton, North Carolina. Kerosene pump on the right and gasoline pump on the left. Rough, unfinished timber posts have been used as supports for porch roof. Brother of store owner stands in doorway. Photo by Dorothea Lange. Found at /r/historyporn, posted by /u/texanwill.

One family took photos of what this area looks like now, you can see them at Panoramio; photos by coleimage. Below: Country Store No. 2.



The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Original Penn Station, New York City



New York, circa 1911, the original Pennsylvania Station lived for only half a century, ultimate succumbing to declining train ridership and the pressure to build upward.




Another view from Gimbels department store, circa 1910.



The general waiting room



1962, the year before its demise.

Fondly remembered, sadly missed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Mission Inn at Riverside

Just got back from a little junket to California to see an aunt who’s almost 100, and some other friends and relatives as well. One of the things we saw while we were in Riverside, where one of my cousins graciously put us up (and put up with us) for a few days was the Mission Inn, an amazing hotel which made me think of my earlier visits to the Hotel Del in Coronado.

This enterprise began as an adobe cottage called the “Glenwood Hotel,” built by civil engineer Christopher Columbus Miller in 1876, and like the Winchester Mystery House (but a lot more sanely) has just continued to grow. We only saw a fraction of it, but what I saw was impressive. There are multiple wings with multiple flavors – Spanish, Oriental, etc.

Here are a few photos:


Special chair built for President Howard Taft for a conference. Taft’s portrait hangs in the background. He later is said to have remarked “I’m big,but I’m not that big.”


The Steinway Centennial Grand Piano. This piano was crafted as the company’s gift to the USA for the 1876 Centennial celebration. During a national tour, it was somehow “misplaced” – how one misplaces a grand piano is beyond me – but was rediscovered to be the one and only when it was undergoing restoration in the 1980s. Exactly how and when it came to the Mission Inn is unknown, but at the time of its disappearance the hotel was still a simple adobe cottage.


Herculean painting of the California Alps.


Campanero, or bell wall, built in 1903 and modeled after the belfry at Mission San Gabriel. Stairs on the right used to lead to the rooftop gardens of the original adobe building, which was later demolished in 1948 to make room for a swimming pool.


Another view of the campanero.


Restored cannon


The Nanjing bell, an imperial temple bell from the Manchu Temple in Nanjing, China. 3500 lbs, cast between 1875 and 1908. More information is readable on the plaque.


The other side of the campanero.


The internal rotunda. Normally accessible only by guided tour, we happened to be present when someone came out and we slipped in.


The rotunda, looking up. The stairs are structurally out of code, and are usable only by tours. There is a wonderful old elevator that ascends to each floor.


Tiled fountain at the bottom of the rotunda.


The goodwoman of the house, taking a photo of me as I take one of her.


The sky.


Another view of the rotunda.


An iron spiral fire escape in the bowels of the hotel.


Tiled dome visible from the top level of the rotunda.


Another view


This old building on the left is also part of the Inn’s property, but has yet to be restored.

There’s so much more… I’d love to stay there some time, if I could only win the lottery or something. In the meantime, it’s nice to just stroll the grounds and the lobby.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe, France


Click for a full-size version

I happen to be a dyed-in-the-wool francophile; how in the world did I ever miss knowing about this stunning accomplishment?

From Wikipedia:

Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe is a chapel in Aiguilhe, near Le Puy-en-Velay, France, built in 962 on a volcanic formation 85 metres (279 ft) high. The chapel is reached by 268 steps carved into the rock. It was built to celebrate the return from the pilgrimage of Saint James. In 1429, the mother of Joan of Arc, Isabelle Romée, was said to have come to the site to pray.

I would love to visit this chapel some day.

Sometimes David wins, and sometimes Goliath

In 1994, Donald Trump – that wonderful specimen of humanity – convinced the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to exercise eminent domain on his behalf to condemn the home of Vera Coking so he could build a limousine parking lot next to one of his casinos. Fortunately, level heads prevailed and the petition was rejected on the basis that this was not a “public purpose,” the reason for which eminent domain was established. The Institute for Justice defended Ms. Coking, and she returned to live in her long-time home in peace.

By the holy skull of Mogg’s grandmother, this kind of douchebaggery – wealthy people throwing their weight around by dint of money and power – has always incensed me, especially when it is done in such an insouciant and public way. Trump reminds me of Leona Helmsley, she who disdained the “little people,” and I’m mightily glad he lost this particular battle, just on general principles.

Last month, another David and Goliath situation quietly went to the large player, but not – as the Salt Lake Tribune implied – on Goliath’s terms. Back in 2002, Earl Holding was constructing the Grand America hotel and bought all the property on a block for that purpose – except the Flower Patch, who didn’t want to sell.


The Flower Patch



Aerial view showing the corner lot.

In December, the property owner finally accepted an offer to deed the property to the hotel, but on his terms.

Parrish, who sold business control of the Flower Patch chain of stores to a Florida company in 1999 but held onto the properties, confirmed the sale Monday. The Sandy resident and property manager said his commitment to keeping the historic Salt Lake building as a flower shop faded over the years. “Now it’s just a business situation,” he said.

Flower Patch chain owner Tom Gordon said that while ‘‘a great location,’’ the building is old, antiquated and ‘‘quite frankly, not worth remodeling for our purposes.’’

So the landscape changed, and it became a viable business decision to sell out; but it happened when the property owner decided the time was right, and not before. As a result, Holding had to reduce the size of the planned hotel by 125 rooms. And for as long as I lived in Salt Lake, I smiled to see that little flower store there. It reminded me of another couple of situations which – although fictitious – have burned their images indelibly into my mind.



The Little House “could not be sold for gold or silver.” (By Virginia Lee Burton)


Batteries Not Included.

The 1% owns so much and takes so much and gives so little (with some notable exceptions) that it’s nice to see the little guy win every now and then.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Laus Deo


As part of the repair of the Washington Monument after earthquake damage, workers verify the correct position of the aluminum “capstone” that tops the monument. At the time of its creation, Aluminum was the most precious metal available because of the difficulty of smelting it from bauxite. Estimates vary as to its valuation, but it would have been as precious as silver and perhaps much more so.


The underside of the cap, showing lightning rod conductors and a trap door.

Trap Exterior

Exterior view of the trap door during repairs. What this exists for I am uncertain, unless to allow access for repair of the lightning rods which are placed atop the monument.


In 1984, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its casting, a full-size replica was cast and exhibited at Tiffany’s.

The cap has four sides, each one exhibiting an inscription in cursive writing:

North face West face South face East face
Joint Commission
Setting of CapstoneChester A. Arthur
W. W. Corcoran, Chairman
M. E. Bell
Edward Clark
John Newton

Act of August 2, 1876

Corner Stone Laid on Bed of Foundation
July 4, 1848

First Stone at Height of 152 feet laid
August 7, 1880

Capstone set
December 6, 1884

Chief Engineer and Architect,
Thos. Lincoln Casey,
Colonel, Corps of EngineersAssistants:
George W. Davis,
Captain, 14th Infantry
Bernard R. Green,
Civil EngineerMaster Mechanic
P. H. McLaughlin
Laus Deo

The expression “Laus Deo” means “praise be to God.”

The reason for this inscription has been and continues to be debated by religious and secular scholars, as well as readers of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which was an intriguing book despite being short on fact and long on artistic license . Since the founders aren’t around to ask, the true answer to its meaning will probably lie forever shrouded in uncertainty. But it’s interesting to know that the cap is there, even though very few people on earth have ever seen it directly.

Click through for more history about the cap.

The Old Wolf has spoken.