One year ago today, I launched Snail’s Postcard Post. Here we are over 150 posts later. Today I want to show you some postcards in my collection that I quite like, and that I have not had fitting opportunities in the past year to post before. It’s a postcard debutante ball!
I’m pretty sure I have not shown this holographic postcard before. It seems to be something of a relativity/personality test, like “Is the glass half full or half empty?” Mama Snail and I–both easily frustrated by technology–both moved this postcard back and forth quickly, assuming the guy is supposed to be banging his head on the keyboard. Mama Snail’s boyfriend however, who has suffered a lifetime of long workdays, moved the postcard slowly just once, thinking the guy is supposed to be falling asleep.
Here’s another postcard I think I may have posted once, but if I have, I can’t find the post.
Watercolor by Mama Snail on a rockclimbing trip in Joshua Tree National Park. I received this postcard on a Disneyland-based tour of Downtown Los Angeles guided by Charles Phoenix. I’ve been wanting to share it for the longest time, so pardon me if I’m longwinded.
Clifton’s Cafeteria is a cultural institution when it comes to Los Angeles dining. Here’s the story: In 1931, in the throws of the Great Depression, a third-generation restauranteur named Clifford Clinton (1900-1969) moved to the City of Angels to establish a cafeteria the likes of which no one else would dare. Clinton had spent part of his childhood in China where his parents volunteered as missionaries, self-supported by their restaurants in San Francisco. The experience bound Clinton to the cause of feeding the hungry. Combining his first and last names into “Clifton,” Clifford and his wife Nelda worked 14-hour days setting up the first Clifton’s Cafeteria at 618 S. Olive St in Downtown L.A. It was perhaps the first instance outside of an office building where employees were called associates, and perhaps the first outside of a hotel where customers were called guests. Guests paid what they could, and were not turned away if they had no money at all. The Clifton’s website explains that, with thanks to loyal suppliers, “During one 90-day period, 10,000 ate free before Clifford could open an emergency “Penny Cafeteria” a few blocks away to feed, for pennies, the two million “guests” who came during the next two years.” One might say Clifton’s fed Los Angeles through the Great Depression.
Clifton’s Cafeteria garnered such popularity that Clinton was able to open a second location in 1935, Clifton’s Brookdale in the above postcard. (Still Downtown, currently under renovation.) Decorated in a redwood forest theme, waterfall and all, Clifton’s Brookdale remains the largest cafeteria open to the public in the world. The “chapel” on the postcard includes a booth where one pushes a button to see a short film of a redwood forest, with Theosophist-like narration called “The Parable of the Redwoods.” Potato salad and a religious experience in one place!
On a roll with the themed environment, the Clinton family returned from a trip to the South Pacific inspired to redecorate the original Clifton’s. In 1939, it became Clifton’s South Seas.
In the late ’30s and early ’40s, Clinton used his civic standing to influence a political clean-up. In 1946, Clifford and Nelda retired from the Cafeterias, handing the reigns to their three children, in order to devote their attention to their new non-profit, Meals for Millions. With special preservatives and packaging developed by Cal-Tech, Meals for Millions distributed food to malnourished people around the world.
With burgeoning suburbia spreading business away from Downtown, the Clinton children opened new Clifton’s Cafeterias in the Lakewood Shopping Center (1956) and in West Covina (1958), pained to close the original Clifton’s South Seas in 1960. In 1978, after the West Covina location’s lease had expired, they opened a new West Covina Clifton’s “The Greenery,” with a conservatory theme that I believe is still serving up “quality food at a reasonable price.” And Clifton’s remains a family operation, now in its fifth generation.
Check out the Clifton’s postcards on their website!
Here’s to another year! Thank you to those of you who follow Snail’s Postcard Post. The appearance of your little icons when you like a post and when you comment encourages me to keep sharing my love of postcards.