For years Huell Howser was on the local PBS television station. Originally, he had a show called Videolog followed by a show called Visiting and finally a show called California’s Gold.
That’s Huell. Everybody in the state of California probably knows who he is and, I suspect, everyone in the state of California misses him. I never met him but I feel like I know him. R.I.P. Huell. (1945-2013).
Anyway, Huell would travel around California to different sites and basically ask people to show him around while he asked questions and then he acted flabbergasted or amazed at what he was seeing or hearing. He never seemed fake. He always seemed honestly interested. One of the sites Huell visited was the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar. The only reason I know about this place is because of Huell’s show. The Nethercutt is out in Sylmar in two rather inconspicuous buildings.
This is the first building. It looks like a storage facility.
The doors are rather nice though. They’re bronze.
There are automobiles on the ground floor and on the first floor. This 1903 Peerless and the Orange Lincoln that follow were on the ground floor. (In the basement.)
The Peerless looks like something out of OKLAHOMA! with that fringe on the top.
This orange Lincoln is really cool.
The interior was orange too. I would feel like a pimp driving it. If I owned it I would buy an orange hat with fur trim and wear it whenever I went for a ride.
This is the main floor. It’s supposed to resemble a car showroom from the 1920s.
The main floor’s ceiling.
There were so many great cars but I’m drawn to the movie related ones. C.B. (That’s what Norma Desmond called him) was in Sunset Boulevard.
Demille’s radiator cap.
Once again, in Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson says she owns an Isotta-Fraschini.
1928 Isotta-Fraschini. Look at that grill. It would be near impossible to keep clean.
Fatty is one of my favorites from the silent film era because of his big sex scandal.
Fatty’s radiator cap. It looks like a chubby Atlas.
This is what I actually came to see. It’s the reason I drove all the way out to Sylmar. This figural group is on the second floor of the building and it was made for the P.P.I.E. in 1915.
I think it’s really neat and it’s world’s fair related.
This second floor was filled with a variety of items like this. It’s one of those Lladro’s.
On the 3rd floor they had a lot of big musical instruments like this old, movie theater, pipe organ.
These pipes were revealed when the curtains that circled the room parted. At which point, the concert began and the organ started churning out songs from its electronic memory. I don’t remember a lot of the songs (my memory isn’t as good as the organs) but the finale was the theme from Star Wars. That stuck in my head because, well, it’s the theme from Star Wars.
This guy, Kyle, oversaw this part of the tour. He reminded me of myself but he may have been a bit more masculine than me if that’s possible.
There were other big instruments on the 3rd floor. I think Kyle said this was an Orchestrion. It’s a whole orchestra in a box.
She’s cool but she doesn’t move or dance when the Orchestrion plays.
There were also watches and other doodads on the 3rd floor…
…for example, an old record player and Nipper.
There was a dinning room too. The Nethercutts used it for entertaining. Their home was in Brentwood but they brought people here for dinner. That seemed odd, to me, but I guess this way they didn’t have people traipsing through their home.
This is the other building.
In it, there were more cars.
That’s real pretty.
This is right near the entrance.
It looks like it is from outer space.
I like this car because of its compactness. I can see myself driving it.
That’s a strange looking car.
This 1937 Pierce-Arrow was pulling…
…this Pierce-Arrow Travelodge. It was super cool.
This is the view walking through the front door.
The view if you’re standing in the kitchen and looking toward the front of the travelodge.
…looking to the back of the Travelodge.
… if you’re sitting at the kitchen table.
…view from the other kitchen table seat.
Looking out one of the kitchen windows.
Background on the Travelodge.
This is the second reason I drove out to Sylmar. I wanted to see this train car: the California.
The train car was owned by this woman. Evidently, her father made money in mining and real estate, lived a very long time, finally died and left his daughter a large fortune. One of the things she did with the money was to purchase this private rail car for herself.
You enter the car through the rear door.
The parlor area was set up with a dinning table and this is what you see when you enter.
This is opposite the dinning table.
There are stained glass windows throughout the car.
Like most of the items in the car the lighting fixtures are original.
Clara’s bedroom slept two. This is one bed.
…and here’s the other.
This is Clara’s bathroom. You can see the toilet’s wood lid at the bottom left.
This is the 2nd sleeping compartment. Here is one side.
…and here is the other side of this compartment.
Looking down the long narrow corridor of the car.
The 3rd sleeping compartment. This is one side of the room…
…and this is the other side of the room.
There is a kitchen on board with a black cast iron stove to the left of the sink.
This is where the servants slept. There were three men (porters) who accompanied Clara and her guests. The seats fold down to form a bed.
This is the engine and coal car that the museum has hitched up to the California.
You see this right before you enter the engine room.
I like the color.
The kind of engine it is.
Looking out the engine’s windows.
A couple of final things…
There are large collections of radiator caps in both buildings.
Uh, I like Egyptian stuff but I’m not sure about this. I don’t know if I would want that on the front of my truck.
I like this better.
How did these things NOT get broken? Nowadays, they would be stolen the first time the car was left on the street. Am I too pessimistic?
Isn’t there a name for lions with wings? There must be.
This is my favorite one. I’ve always had a thing for Felix the Cat. I would want to attach him to that Orange Lincoln. I can see myself tooling around in that vehicle with Felix attached to the hood. I would be the envy of every Latino man who saw me.