The traffic was minimal and we ended up arriving in Pasadena around 11. Pasadena is beautiful and charming, with a totally different vibe than the other areas we had visited. We drove around the historic downtown area where beautiful architecture and roses abound. We stopped at the Wrigley Home but it was closed. Wrigley, the chewing gum magnate, donated his home to Pasadena with the stipulation that it be used as headquarters for the Tournament of Roses.
The noon hour approached so we headed to the museum, myself a bundle of nerves. The building itself is quite beautiful - very modern with lots of glass and dark stone. The sidewalk leading up the entrance with planted with exotic trees and expanses of lush green grass where statues by Rodin and other artists were displayed.
I met my friend at the entrance who made all this possible (she runs a website on Robert Walker, Jennifer Jones' first husband and she knows the Walker family). They opened the doors, we purchased our tickets and went directly out into the museum gardens where Robert Walker Jr.and his wife, Dawn, were waiting for us. They were incredibly nice and told me some wonderful stories about Jennifer. We spent an hour talking and then Robert had to leave for a sound check and Dawn remained with us, regaling us with even more stories.
At one point, the museum curator came out and she told me that she wanted to introduce us and tell the audience about my Jennifer Jones website (very nice!). At that point Dawn jumped up and said that she had something to share with the audience. She returned with a wine bag and when she sat it down on the table, I could see the head of an Oscar poking out. It was Jennifer's Oscar - you could have scraped me off the floor. I can now say that I not only have held an Oscar, but I've held Jennifer Jones' Oscar!
Two hours had passed and it was time for the program. The curator spoke with Robert Walker Jr. on stage and they both shared some stories with the audience. A funny one that the curator told involved art expert Sister Wendy. Jennifer Jones was a big fan and she wanted to get Sister Wendy to come to the museum and record a film about the art pieces there. Sister Wendy had only seen one film in her entire life and that film was "The Song of Bernadette". When she arrived at the museum, Jennifer greeted her with open arms, exclaiming "Wendy!!!" and Sister Wendy held out her arms and screamed "Bernadette!!!"
They then showed "The Song of Bernadette" and it was a very moving experience seeing it on the big screen with an audience. After the film, I rushed through the museum, trying to take in the wonderful art that was there, but I have to confess I was numb from the excitement of the day. We left the museum and Cindy, Vickie and I had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant where I had a margarita to calm me down (and I don't drink often!)
Before I left the museum, I did take time to wander through the magnificent garden. Jennifer Jones was instrumental in both the redesign and landscape design of the museum and gardens during the last two decades (she was married to Norton Simon). The garden was designed by Southern California landscape designer, Nancy Goslee Power in 1999. It is a tranquil garden with a long pathway surrounding a meandering pond. Plantings include more than 180 species of trees, shrubs, vines, ground cover and perennials. Sculptures are integrated into the landscape.
The day could not have been nicer. My expectations were truly surpassed!
One more post to go - the last one will be about our day on Sunday when we went to Santa Monica and Malibu.