Tuesday, January 24, 2012


RESEARCHING THE DEDICATION DATE of St. Joseph Hall, I came across this picture of the Circle and building from the mid- to late 1940s. So little has changed in the Circle that this could have been taken last year. The flagpole, of course, was moved to make room for the new fountain, and some of the view of the South Bay disappeared decades ago behind the Humanities or Drudis-Biada buildings.

The dedication date is March 25, 1945. The picture is on matte card stock with fluted edges and was produced by the long-gone Flaim Studio on Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pixelizing the past

OUR WEB SERVICES FOLKS are working with Admissions to come up with a new promotional video for the Mount. Romesh Fernando noticed on an online archives inventory that we have old film, video and audio stored here and was curious to see if there were any historic images that could be used.

The reels are a bit mysterious because they're not adequately labeled, and of course we can't look at them without the "antique" playback equipment. Anyone seen a home movie projector lately?

Romesh borrowed a couple of reels and had them digitized by the friendly people at Digital Pickle in Pasadena.

The still photo above is a frame captured from some footage of nursing students and faculty doing their clinicals at a local hospital. Other results revealed color home movies from a swim meet, a volleyball match and graduation that fell sometime between 1949 and 1956. There is no sound with any of this stuff, but it's quite exciting -- and a bit eerie -- to see these 50- or 60-year-old moving images reanimated on a computer screen. It'll be fun to see what else turns up and how it gets used in a new online video.

Back in the days of those Super 8 movie cameras, who would have imagined YouTube? Here's a more recent version of what we've got in those mysterious film cans.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

White wonderland

IT WAS NEARLY 80 DEGREES at Chalon last Friday, and amid the beach weather and warm blue skies it's hard to believe that on the same date back in 1949 -- January 13, a Thursday -- the city and the College enjoyed a record snowfall.

It wasn't just a light dusting -- probably more like 4 inches -- and it stuck. I just came across this photo of Mary Chapel, taken from the second floor of Rossiter Hall. What I like about it are the "Christmas trees" on either side of the entrance.

The students (and maybe even a Sister or two) enjoyed some snowball fights before it all melted in the late morning.

The beach weather last week was pretty nice, but day after perfect day in Brentwood can be a little, well, boring. It would be fun indeed to see this place decked in white again.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ruby-red for Christmas

IN THE FALL OF 1949, the Mount's Music Department produced a Christmas album, Sing We Noel, featuring a 16-voice ensemble and traditional carols in French, English, Polish and Latin. Under the baton of choral director Will Garroway, the album was created as a Christmas gift and fund-raiser, and sold for $5 (just over $45 in today's dollars). It was strictly an in-house affair, with recording and production done by the Music faculty and cover design by the Art Department. Vonna Records on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood pressed the final disks on deep red vinylite.

This unbreakable, transparent material was state-of-the-art for audio recordings of the era. Previous technologies, including wax and shellac, were fragile and finicky. The Mount wanted to be able to put gift copies of Sing We Noel in the mail, so the more expensive vinylite filled the bill. Strangely enough, the addition of red dye to the vinylite served to make it even stronger. Our Archives copy is water-stained but the disks seem to be in pretty good shape.

That means they could be played ... if only we had a way to play old analog records. The Instructional Media Center hasn't had a turntable for years.

This is coming up more and more these days: requests for archival material from obsolete media. It is possible, of course, to get old albums digitized -- and remove the pops and hiss that go with vinyl grooves -- but it's expensive, and then we face the problem of what to do with the digital version.

This album has been on a shelf (give or take a leak or two) for more than six decades. Ironically, we're a long way getting that kind of lifespan out of .mp3's. And besides, CD's aren't nearly as pretty as a jewel-colored vinylite disk.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I [heart] email

LOOKING FOR INFORMATION about a former development director, I'm browsing old campus publications. This note from Faculty and Administrative Bulletin, Vol. XXI, No. 17, May 7, 1990:

MATERIALS FOR THE ARCHIVES -- Many thanks to those who have sent information about programs/activities/records of the 1989-90 academic year to the Archives. As you clear your desk for the summer, the Archives could use records of committee meetings no longer needed, as well as other materials pertinent to the progress of the college.
A few years earlier, we detect a more plaintive tone.
During the past few years there has been a gap in the flow of ... information [to the Archives]. To assure a continuity of of source material please send from your office or department notification of events in which you are involved... (Vol. XXII, Issue 17, May 5, 1986)
I'm sure my honored predecessors, Sisters Margaret Lynch, Germaine McNeil and Mercia Louise Zerwekh, would have loved the flood tide of electronic announcements, agendas, minutes, flyers and even photos that arrive in my in-box every day. No more relying on other people to remember to send their stuff. In fact, the big challenge is keeping up with it. I've got a couple hours of filing ahead -- just as soon as I find my mystery man from development!