December 24, 2009. When I was growing up in the ’50’s in Pasadena, my father was president of an organization called the “Print Maker’s Society of Southern California”. This group had been very active during the ’20’s and ’30’s during the heyday of Craftsman and Art influences in Pasadena, but my Dad, being the youngest member, was president by virtue of having the energy to do the job. The membership had become older and there were not a lot of young printmakers coming up through the ranks. (Growing up, the lithograph press in the garage was thought of with awe, rather than thought of as strange. Although, nobody else really had one.) The group had yearly meetings that I remember even though I was less than ten. My mother would do the refreshments. Fossilman’s was a South Pasadena ice cream store where she would make a special trip to pick up punch. (I can still remember the taste of it-citrusy, with foamy stuff floating on top and a gorgeous pink/magenta color) and there were always lemon cookies with lots of powdered sugar on them. The meetings were held in a building overlooking the arroyo near the Rose Bowl. It was called the La Casita del Arroyo. Why do I remember that the ceiling of this building was made from the velodrome wood from the 1932 Olympics? It was glorious to play outside around this building and jump from stair to stair down its exterior staircase. This being the arroyo, those stairs were large stones and boulders from the same area. I was so happy that I did not have to stay inside and watch the old man with silver hair demonstrate how to make and print an etching.
Turns out he was the renaissance man named Harold Doolittle. He made craftsman-like furniture, his own printing press, and made beautiful etchings. (He is referenced in California Design, 1910, the catalogue of an exhibit at the Pasadena Center in 1974.) And my parents received Christmas cards each year from him and his wife. In the things my mother gave me after my father’s death, were three years of cards. I matted and framed them and they stay on my wall year round. (Where I live, you plan what you will throw in the car if you have to evacuate during a fire. They are right by the front door, and they will be the first to go. oops, Cliff is rubbing against my leg, reminding me that he and Katie will be the first, but these prints can be second. Second oops, Cliff and Katie, pictures when the kids were young, then the art from the walls.)
He made an etching each year for his cards and then hand lettered a greeting. Yes, and a little gold leafing, also. I want to share this one with you even though it is hard to get a picture because it is framed behind glass:This is what it says: (envision hand-lettered script)
“I wish there were some new way to say Merry Christmas.” Twice today I have overheard that remark. And each time I have said reverently to myself: “Thank God, there isn’t.” The spirit of Christmas is as simple as the heart of a child. It needs no new slogan & no special sales effort. No advertising agent can lend new glamour to its ancient magic. It is as elemental as the sun & the wind & the rain, as the stars that glowed on Galilee one holy night & now shed their same steady light on an older and perhaps a wiser world. No, there is no new way of saying Merry Christmas. Nor would we want one. The tree you will deck is the same as all the trees of its kind that have stood on all the hills since the world was young. The joy in a child’s eyes on Christmas morning is the joy that has filled the eyes of children since Christmas became an annual institution. Back of the gifts and the gaiety is an immemorial spirit of good will to men. Christmas is still Christmas. In a world awry with changes let us give thanks for One Precious Permanency. -Merle Crowell. MERRY CHRISTMAS Vestina & Harold Doolittle
This was probably sent around 1955. The ampersands are exceptionally beautiful.
So for 2009, may your heart be like that of a child.