Ann Erdman is the Public Information Officer for the City of Pasadena, California.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010
Mystery History -- Solved
Karin wins with her 10:33 a.m. Tuesday guess "The Mother Goose Pantry Restaurant on Colorado Blvd, built 1929. Nathaniel West used it as inspiration for the Cinderella Bar in Day of the Locust."
From the looks of the photo above, the proprietor had so many patrons she didn't know what to do! But I doubt she beat them all soundly and put them to bed.
Diners were seated on the ground floor and in a dining room upstairs.
The architectural style is known as roadside vernacular, which dotted the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century.
Sure enough, one of the settings in "The Day of the Locust" by Nathanael West is the Cinderella Bar, shaped like the iconic glass slipper but made of stucco, where female impersonators entertain the clientele. The novel, published in 1939, takes place in Hollywood during the Great Depression. There's also a film based on the novel, produced in 1975.
For some reason there's not much information to be found about Mother Goose Pantry. There is conflicting information on the Internet about what year the restaurant was constructed and what the address was, but there's definitely agreement that it was built sometime in the 1920s somewhere on Colorado Boulevard.
So I turned to Dan McLaughlin, one of our crackerjack researchers at Pasadena Central Library, who looked in old city directories. These wonderful books were published for many years and can serve as a pretty good snapshot into the history of specific addresses.
Mother Goose Pantry is listed in the 1927 city directory as being at 1955 E. Colorado Blvd. So I'm taking that address as gospel. It was on the north side of the street near Berkeley Avenue, about three blocks east of Allen Avenue.
Here's a vintage menu from the Mother Goose Pantry that I found on an auction website, but I'm afraid I lost track of which one (it wasn't eBay). I wish an image of the inside of the menu had been included.
Thinking of constructing a building in the roadside vernacular style? Make sure the property's zoned for that!