Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Forty-five years as a photographer, beginning with yearbook staff in sixth grade.

The power of positive thinking

I livew in my own little world

Today is March 1.

In San Diego.

It’s raining.

It’s been raining for about 18 hours.

No.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

This is not the San Diego that I’ve come to know and love.

Weather reports say we’ve had 0.68 inch of rain since midnight last night.
That’s enough to flood many areas of San Diego….
to cause hundreds of car accidents because people just don’t know how to drive in the rain……..

I grew up along the Gulf Coast in Texas, and I still know how to drive in the rain….

So I knew exactly what to do this morning: Go watch the rain!

For your viewing pleasure, watch this short rain video. Pay close attention to what happens at the 0:10 mark.

Did you see it?

Wasn’t that awesome?

As I was recording the video, I thought to myself, “Go away rain,” and magically it was wiped away!

The power of positive thinking….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14D: Casa de Pedrorena

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The fourth one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14C, is Casa de Pedrorena.

Casa de Pedrorena

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Miguel de Pedrorena JrCasa de Pedrorena was built in 1869 by Miguel de Pedrorena Jr (picture ►), a wealthy stockman. His dad, a native of Madrid, Spain, living in Peru had come to San Diego as a ship’s agent, marrying into the prominent Estudillo family in 1842. Although he claimed the lot adjacent to the Estudillo home in Old Town, the historic Casa de Estudillo, he died in 1850 before he could build a home.

One online source states that the structure was built in 1850 by Miguel Sr. Since he died on March 21, 1850, I’m going to go with it being built in 1869 by Miguel Jr. I just don’t believe an adobe or framed home could be built in San Diego at that time in a mere 2½ months.

A plaque on the grounds (lower right corner of picture above) states that Casa de Pedrorena was the final adobe built in Old Town, and one online source states that its thick adobe and mud-plastered, whitewashed walls were typical of Mexican adobes in the area. However, the shingled roof, as well as the mill-sawn, wood-columned front porch, reflected American building practices.

Other online sources state categorically that Casa de Pedrorena was “one of” the first frame houses in Old Town.” Several sources state that it was “the first frame house” built in Old Town. Here is a picture taken around 1920:

Casa de Pedrorena

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I looked closely at the building exterior but could not determine whether it was a wood-frame building or an adobe. I guess I’ll just leave it at that. As my wise old grandmother said, “It is what it is.”

Miguel Sr. came from one of the best families in Madrid, being educated there and at Oxford University. He served as a captain in the United States Cavalry during the Mexican-American War. He was in the forefront of the attack against Fort Stockton when it was finally captured.

El Jupiter cannon in the Junipero Serra Museum in San DiegoDuring the early part of the war, he had buried under his house (or the patio behind it, one source says) El Jupiter (picture ►), the old bronze cannon now on display at the Junipero Serra Museum (see my post here) in order to prevent its being used against the Americans.

Miguel Sr. was a member of the California Constitutional Convention which met in Monterey, California, in 1849. He was a member of the group headed by William Heath Davis which attempted to found New Town in 1850, an attempt that failed because of the lack of fresh water.

Miguel Jr. gave Casa de Pedrorena to his sister, Isabel de Altamirano, in January 1871, a gift that joined together two pioneer California families. Isabel and her husband, José Antonio Altamirano, raised their family in the home.

Although some sources call the home “Casa de Pedrorena y Altamirano,” Altamirano also owned the little frame house next door where the San Diego Union newspaper was first published in 1868. The newspaper building is more traditionally connected with Altamirano’s name rather than Casa de Pedrorena.

Casa de Pedrorena remained a family residence until 1907, although one source says “until the 1890s.” It was restored in 1996 by California State Parks and is said to be one of five historic 19th century adobes in Old Town State Historic Park. Currently it is a gem, jewelry, and rock shop, open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There are two old railroad mining cars located on the property:

Railroad mining car at Casa de Pedrorena in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Railroad mining car at Casa de Pedrorena in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (2-27-15)—LLAP

Friday Flower Fiesta

A little something different for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta.

Up until September 2004, my name was Russel Ray Kirk, and I was a fanatic about all things “Star Trek.” In fact, put “Star” in the title—e.g., “Star Wars,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” etc.—and you were assured of having at least one die-hard fan.

Throughout my youth and up until I changed my name to Russel Ray, I was also known by a nickname that was first bestowed on me in late 1966, “Captain Kirk.” I was only 11 but I couldn’t quit talking about Captain Kirk. He fascinated me, as did “Star Trek.” I anticipated each week for the next couple of years, and summers were a real bummer for me.

As I got older, my logic earned me another nickname, “Spock.”

The death of Leonard Nimoy today at age 83 takes me back to Friday, June 4, 1982, when I stood in line to be one of the first to see “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” A few hours later, my thinking about “me” and “us” had changed, all because of something “Spock” said in the movie: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Those words spoke to me about why I pay taxes for schools (I have never had a child in school!), roads, police, fire fighters, libraries, and so much more. Today, “us” extends to the Affordable Care Act—The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Life is about more than just me and my needs or wants.

Today, as Jim was in the hospital recovering from minor surgery, the nurse asked us if we had heard about Leonard Nimoy. We had not, but he didn’t have to say anything else.

I never got to watch “Star Trek” on Thursday nights at 8:30 in September 1966. Way too late for an 11 year old with homework. Fortunately, it was shown in our little farming & ranching community on Friday afternoons at 3:30. School got out at 3:00. You know where I was from 3:30 to 4:30.

Leonard Nimoy’s death is one of the three saddest days in my life (I’m lucky, I know), the other two being the murder of John Lennon and the death of my best friend, Ken Lewis, when he was just 32.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy, but may you live on through Spock for millions of future generations. May they live long and prosper.

In memory of Leonard Nimoy

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Urban barn

Picture of the Moment

Now that the days are getting longer, there is time to go exploring after teaching chess at elementary schools in the afternoon, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I got a surprise the other day when I went exploring in a 1% neighborhood and saw this:

Urban barn

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Usually, in order to see a real barn here in San Diego, one has to travel far out into the boondocks. This barn, however, was in a semi-rural neighborhood of large homes.

Barn location map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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He’s home!

Picture of the Moment

Someone was gone for 213 days, but he’s home now!

Welcome home

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Discovered yesterday as I was exploring on my way to a new elementary school to teach some rugrats how to play chess.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14C: Casa de Bandini

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The third one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14C, Casa de Bandini, was one of San Diego’s great Mexican restaurants when I came to San Diego in April 1993. It had been for about thirty years, but that all came to a crashing end around 2006 when the State of California did not renew the lease of the restaurant, now located about 30 miles north of San Diego, in Carlsbad. I have not been to it because I don’t frequent Carlsbad often enough or long enough to eat at a fine dining establishment. I do remember that they had the biggest margaritas in the world, the 32-oz “Bird Bath” margarita. Sadly, I lost all of my pre-2006 pictures in The Great Hard Drive Crash of August 2005.

Here is the Cosmopolitan Hotel in June 2012:

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And here it is a century ago, ca. 1913:

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In addition to being a historic structure, Casa de Bandini also has to be explored in terms of the Bandini family itself. First, let’s explore the history of Casa de Bandini.

Juan BandiniDon Juan Bandini (1800-1859; picture ►) built Casa de Bandini from 1827 to 1829, originally a one-story structure with a thatched roof (probably palm fronds!), seven rooms, an entrance way, enclosed courtyard, corral, and several sheds. The house included Spanish Colonial features usually found only in the California missions. Enhancements to the home were done in the 1840s, including pane-glass windows, a brick-lined patio with well, and a small bathhouse to encourage his daughters to visit more frequently.

Financial losses forced Bandini to sell his house in 1859, and he died in November 1859. Part of the building was converted at that time into a store.

In 1869, Albert Seeley, a stage master, acquired the building and converted it into a Greek Revival hotel, the Cosmopolitan. The first story was renovated, and a wood framed second story and balconies were added.

Albert Seeley sold the Cosmopolitan in 1888, and in the years that followed, it was used first as a rooming house and then converted for use as an olive packing factory.

Cosmopolitan HotelIn 1928, Cave J. Couts Jr., Don Juan Bandini’s grandson, bought the property and restored it as a memorial to his mother, Ysidora Bandini de Couts. Couts remodeled the residence in Steamboat Revival architecture style, and by 1930 it had been wired for electricity and plumbed gas. Couts renamed the building The Miramar Hotel and Restaurant.

James and Nora Cardwell bought the Bandini property in 1945. Their son, Frank, renovated the building in the 1950s into an upscale tourist motel. The Cardwells sold the property to the State of California in 1968, the same year Old Town became a state historic park.

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now let’s look at Don Juan Bandini and who he was. He was born into a revolutionary Italian family dating back to at least 1478 when an ancestor assassinated the brother of Lorenzo Medici, the ruler of Florence.

Juan had been born in 1800 in San Marcos de Arica, Peru. Juan’s father, a native of Spain and a lieutenant on the Spanish ship “Nymphia” at the Battle of Trafalgar, found his way in 1818 to Monterey, then the capital of Mexican California, to defend the city against pirates.

In 1831, Juan denounced his allegiance to Victoria, the Mexican governor of California, his pronunciamiento stating:

“Let the rights of the citizens be born anew; let liberty spring up from the ashes of oppression, and perish the despotism that has suffocated our security.”

With that, Bandini and fourteen other San Diegans seized the Presidio of San Diego and arrested the Mexican authorities. Governor Victoria tried to end the uprising (the “Revolt of 1831”), but when Victoria’s army and the Bandini-led rebels met near the Cahuenga Pass on December 6, 1831, Victoria was wounded and his forces defeated. Following the battle, Victoria resigned as governor and, on January 17, 1832, sailed back to Mexico.

Mission San Diego de AlcalaJuan Bandini was a significant influence behind the secularization of the California missions, eventually earning the title “Destroyer of the California Missions.”

Juan Bandini supported the Americans during the Mexican-American War. His three daughters are credited with making the first American flag that was raised in the Old Town Plaza on July 29, 1846.

Following the war, Juan entered the business world, but all he did there was bring his family to the brink of bankruptcy with his wild and crazy ventures. The fact that he and his wife were early socialites, often spending as much as $1,000 on galas and fiestas, didn’t help. Bandini is credited with introducing the waltz to California in 1820.

Juan and his first wife, Dolores, had two sons, Alejandro Felix, who died at the age of 14, and Jose Maria, and three daughters, Josefa, Arcadia, and Isidora. When Josefa married Pedro Carrillo, the Mexican governor, Pio Pico, gave the new bride the Peninsula de San Diego Rancho, which included Coronado and North Island, as his personal wedding present.

Pedro and Josefa had one son, Juan José, who had two sons, Leo and Jack, who became quite famous in modern America. One source says that Jack became a world famous engineer, the builder of Idlewild Airport in New York City, now known as JFK International Airport. However, I could find no other corroborating sources.

Leo CarrilloLeo Carrillo (1881-1961; picture ►) was a film star from 1929 to 1950. In 1950, he took the television role of Pancho in “The Cisco Kid,” arguably the role that made him most famous.

Right here in San Diego County is the Leo Carrillo Ranch, a fascinating place to visit and where I saw my first white peacock!

For more on the Leo Carrillo Ranch, see my post here: Where are the colors, mommy?

White peacock at Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad, California

White peacock at Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (2-23-15)—THAT Lady Gaga last night was an impostor!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I never could sit still long enough to watch award shows, and since I haven’t had cable TV since September 2013, I could not have watched last night’s Oscars even if I had wanted to.

I did catch highlights on AOL and YouTube, and I must say that the Lady Gaga who sang all of that “Sound of Music” stuff last night was not the Lady Gaga that I’ve come to know and dislike. I’m going with IMPOSTOR! Nonetheless, whomever was up there singing, nailed it!

What’s more important to me here at Music on Mondays, though, is this:

On this day in 1978, there was a tie for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards:

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone

“Love Theme From ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)”
by Barbra Streisand

It is the only tie in the 57-year history of the Grammy Awards.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bringing everything together with last night’s Oscar Awards, Barbra Streisand is the only person to be involved in a tie at the Grammys and a tie at the Oscars! In 1968, Streisand and Katherine Hepburn tied in the Oscar Best Actress category, Streisand for her performance in Funny Girl, and Hepburn for her performance in The Lion in Winter.

The Song of the Year at the 1968 Grammys was “Up, Up and Away” by The 5th Dimension:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to the Billboard Hot 100, “You Light Up My Life” spent 25 weeks on the chart, 10 of those weeks at #1.

“Love Theme from ‘A Star is Born’ (Evergreen)” also spent 25 weeks on the chart, but only 3 weeks at #1.

Ten years earlier, “Up, Up and Away” peaked at #7, spending 12 weeks on the chart.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post