El Miradero

El Miradero, shown here, was the fantastic, eastern-inspired home of Leslie Brand, an early Glendale millionaire. He willed it and the surrounding land to the City of Glendale, which turned it into a memorial library after Brand died. The whole complex was known, fittingly enough, as Brand Park. El Miradero was used as the background for many a prom photo.

I should probably mention that I have been an avid library patron all my life. For me, there were few places more interesting than a good library, and a large amount of my time as a kid and teenager was spent reading. In fact, when I was in junior high one teacher identified me as "the kid with the book," which was probably accurate. (In retrospect, I realize now that spending much of my early years in this way was probably a mistake. I should have been making friends, getting out with them and dating more.)

Glendale - the city adjoining Burbank - had a great library system, bigger and better than Burbank's. (But then, until recently, one could say that about the shopping district as well.) This was my favorite library because it was devoted to the arts. All of the books - and there were many - and all of the records and cassettes were based on the arts. The place, for me, was very welcoming and safe: no science, sociology, engineering, math or any other difficult matter was to be found here, just the arts. The place was easy to like.

I think I discovered Brand with Angela back in '72, when I first started to drive at age sixteen. Since both of us were bookish liberal arts types, we spent a lot of time here.

Mike McDaniel and I used the place as an occasional pit stop and base of operations for the Cruise. I can remember a couple of Saturday afternoons spent in the parking lot fixing Lincoln Continental power windows, which, since they were in late Sixties model cars, always needed repair.

No, I have no funny stories regarding the place, save zooming around nearby at night (it was on our cruise route). One early fly-by was after Bob Avery, Mike and I had seen "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" in Glendale while we were all in high school. It was a cold, cold night and I was in the bed of Bob's '73 Mazda pickup wearing a short sleeved shirt. I was frozen and was being thrown around every time Bob took a corner tightly. (Physical discomfort and reckless driving: essential teenage experiences.) The only time I felt more alive as a teen was when I took Becky and Gail to Disneyland. The morning had been misty and wet, and on the Matterhorn Becky's long, damp hair kept slapping me in the face.

There are a few interesting things behind Brand Library. If you walk up a trail you will encounter a family cemetery - one of the monuments is a pyramid - and a trail that goes all the way up to the ridge of the Verdugo Hills. I hiked this one afternoon after school - it nearly killed me. I figured out why the day after, looking at the trail from the porch of my house, where it could be seen: there is a bank of smog that settles down nearly every day around that level. My hike took place right in it.

My menacing pose in the cemetery behind the Brand Library (note pyramid in back), Summer 1976

Pyramid balancing at Brand Park Cemetery, Summer 1976

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