Greetings from sunny California!
Now, isn't that kinda mean? Do I understand that you are having cold weather back there? A Cleveland girl writes my young hostess here that the snow back home is knee deep. Br-r-r.... You see, the very thought of such cold weather paralyzed my thinking - and I had to stop writing last night. Now it is Friday morning - and only Uncle Sam's swift air-mail pilots can get this letter to you in time. I expected to write to all my friends while out here, compose a few deathless pieces of poetry, and write the "By Ways" as never before. But writing, I find, is the very hardest thing to get done. I'm too busy looking. Without regard for beautiful composition, let me jot down a few impressions. I left the Last Supper window at Forest Lawn like an unfinished symphony. Let me tell you a little more about it. At the end of a great cathedral-like corridor which is glorified by beautiful statuary, this great window holds you as if by enchantment. I cannot give you the dimensions of the window, but each figure is twice life size. So you can estimate for yourself. That window is a dream - and a prayer - and incomparable art. A great man - Dr. Hubert Eaton - dreamed that "The last Supper" would not be lost to civilization. (The original painting by da Vinci on a plaster wall is flaking away) A little slip of a girl - Rosa Caselli-Moretti - the last of a long line of perhaps the world's greatest artists in stained glass - has prayed - fervently - that she might reproduce the great masterpiece. It took her six years. Five times Judas broke in the furnace - as if emphasizing again the fact that one of His own betrayed Him. "If it breaks the sixth time," she declared, "I shall know that God does not intend for me to reproduce "The Last Supper." The figure of Christ stands out like a cameo. The young seminary student, who gave us a descriptive and informative talk, went to an alcove and worked a series of shutters, that gradually shut off all light. Before the final blackout, the figure of Jesus stood out alone, in all its spiritual beauty. We wanted to visit some of the churches in Forest Lawn that day - but every single one of them had a funeral service in session. They say there are from 15 to 18 funerals in that cemetery every day - except Sunday. ***
Cousin Knox has a number of patients who are not able to come to him. Whenever the car was going - whether it be to his patients, or to Helen's training classes, I seized the opportunity to go along. Helen taught a class of missionaries, home on furlough. They have their own little colony, snuggled in the Tujunga Foothills. The scenery there was lovely. On a visit to a patient in Manhattan, "Doctor" - as everyone here calls him - took Anna and me along. We went, through Hollywood - visited the Hollywood Bowl - drove on through Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, saw Mary Pickford's home. My cousins cannot approve of the drinking and immorality in Hollywood. So we did not linger there. We went on to Santa Monica Beach, picking up two fine soldiers along the way. They enjoyed the sight-seeing so much. We drove along the Palisades of the Pacific at Santa Monica - those great, earthen walls, hemming in a vast Pacific. Sunlight on the blue Pacific! That is an unforgettable picture. After the call at Manhattan Beach, Knox drove us over to a chinchilla farm nearby - at Whitney, I think it is. These little creatures, members of the rabbit family, originate in the Andes mountains of South America. Because of the demand for their priceless fur, the little animals became almost extinct. With a small army of skilled hunters, Mr. Chapman, the founder of this chinchilla farm, succeeded in rounding up eleven of the tiny creatures, and brought them here. Mr. Chapman is dead - but his son carries on the business. They now have 1400 "bunnies" - each valued at from $500 to $2500. They have the softest fur in the world. A soft, pearl-gray, the hairs 80 to a follicle, are about an inch long - and finer than a spider's web. We got to pet the shy little creatures. They are pure vegetarians - smaller than a rabbit. Only one coat has been made of the "farmed" chinchillas - so slow is the raising of them. Lily Pons has a chinchilla coat, or jacket, but hers is made of the native Andean fur - no longer procurable. About 40 enthusiasts have bought pairs of these creatures, to start a farm of their own. Anna and I decided we'd wait awhile. ***
Last Tuesday kind friends brought me to Long Beach, where Mother Taylor's brother, Samuel Smith, and his wife and daughter live. They (the Smiths) spent two years in Cleveland, shortly after Virgil's and my marriage - so we are old friends. To speak briefly of the sight-seeing, we climbed a high spot near Whittier College, where it seemed to me we saw most of lower California, the Pacific Ocean, and Catalina Island. We visited Knott's Berry Farm - at Buena Park - expected to eat one of their famed dinners - but found that the dining room is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We strolled through the small, out-door museum, where a redwood slab yields up its history - by its 780 rings - 780 years old. I understand that the indoor museum is really something to see. Oh, yes, we were passing a large orange packing house, the "Sunkist," at Whittier. So we stopped in. We saw the piles - the stacks - of boxes of oranges, fresh from the groves - all dusty and dirty. These boxes are placed on a long conveyor, and carefully dumped (automatically) on rubber cushions that roll them onto an endless chain. They are rolled into a huge vat of hot water, containing an alkali that looks like sal soda. They are caught up in a conveyor, rinsed off with steam, sorted, graded - and finally reach the girl packers, who wrap each orange in the tissue paper that you see, and pack it in the crate. I wish you could see the amazing speed of some of these women. The fastest worker packs about 85 crates a day. There are about 200 oranges in a box - depending on the size of the oranges. So that woman handles about 17,000 oranges a day. She well earns her average of $10 a day. The oranges may be sunkist - but these women are not. On account of the moisture, that is the coldest, most dismal place to work. Perhaps it warms up later in the day. And we must remember that this is February. As you come into Long Beach from the north, you pass through a grove of oil-wells, if I may use that word. The oil derricks in many places, touch each other. And all pumping away. Millions, billions of dollars' worth of oil - right here in Long Beach. There must be fabulous stories of poor people who "struck it rich."
Now my allotted space must be full - and I haven't gold you of this grand Christian family, whose lives parallel those of my dear cousins in Glendale, in that they consecrated their children in the Lord. Dorothy, the only child of Samuel and Annie Smith, was carefully named. Her name, Aunt Annie said, must testify to the fact that she is truly an answer to prayer. So the library was searched for the name. "Dorothy" - "a gift of God" was chosen. And what a dear, Christian girl she is! She is the secretary to the minister of the First Christian Church here - which is famed because of Dr. Taubman's Bible Class, which, in the 1920's was the largest in the world - over a thousand members. Dorothy is more than a secretary. She is friend, advisor, confidante - an all-'round Christian girl. Good-by now until next week.
Florence B. Taylor. 220 W. Broadway,
Glendale, 4, Calif.
Next - 3/2/44 - Blaine & Catherine Gilkerson, Ted, Aunt Daisy & Daughter Clyde
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