We say goodbye with sincere sadness to KCET stalwart Huell Howser, whose "California's Gold" series was a mainstay with us for many years. It encouraged our own journey into looking at the little-known corners of wherever we happened to live at the time, in our own Southern California sojourn before (and after) settling in Altadena almost twelve years ago. We discovered a hiking trail through Monrovia backyards that required a trail pass (!), the alleged site of the first Easter celebration in California (a monument along Arroyo Boulevard), hidden but public staircases in West Pasadena, etc. Occasionally, for friends or as a service for fundraising auctions, we lead a tour of famous Los Angeles crime scenes, or a walking tour of the architecture of Pasadena's Prospect Park neighborhood, and Huell has served as an inspiration for those. One could say that some of the Howsereque stories we run of Altadena life are a continuing tribute to his curosity and wonder about place, a love that has rubbed off on us.
We also want to point you to this article we ran in 2010, when Howser was attempting to sell a home out in the middle of the desert. The mid-century modern house was on top of a volcanic cinder cone, and the architecture suggested the lair of a Bond villain (if there was a trap door in the floor directly to the volcano it would've been perfect). The house was designed by local architiect Harold Bissner, Jr., whose son Jamie runs a forensic architectural firm in Altadena and is a member of the town council. Howser ended up donating the house to Chapman University -- where they're thinking of using it as a film set ("You disappoint me, Draco," he said, dropping his henchman through the trap door into the yawning mouth of the volcano ...)