BY-WAYS - 2/17/44 - Visit with Knox and Family in California - Feb. 10, 1944

Hello, there! Across the nation!

How are you all? I wish I could send you all a package of this California sunshine, Oh, yes, it rains now and then. In fact, I arrived in a down-pour - and I was prepared to be quite skeptical about the weather. But the sunshine makes you forget it ever rained. Now, I was going to make these California letters works of art. But I find I have no time for art. I can't get even a respectable letter written to my family. But, believe me, I'm storing up plenty of material for the future. I think that Knox's clinching argument in favor of my coming out here was, "I can furnish you enough material to run the column for five years." I happened to arrive on a propitious day - Knox's birthday - Feb. 3. His devoted wife and daughter prepared a turkey dinner, with all the trimmings. Lovely pink candles and pink baskets adorned the table. And that spry young man of 65 pranced around like a school boy. He never will grow old. In fact, he seems to grow younger with the passing years - in spite of the fact that he works hard and fast. He is the busiest of doctors.

Cousin Leard came over on Saturday - and three times since. He looks much younger than his pictures. In Hollywood phraseology he is not photogenic. But I see mirrored in his kind eyes all the little acts of kindness that he did for his mother. He was a good son. He reminds me so much of Ellis when he talks. I'll tell you more about him later. Last Sunday Cousin Blaine and his wife, Kate, drove over from their home in Temple City - about 15 miles east of Glendale. My clearest memories of Blaine are his good singing voice, and his incorrigible teasing. He is the tallest of these tall Gilkerson men. With a great capacity for friendship. His wife knew all my father's people in Iowa. So we seem like old friends. It's wonderful - to come out here - and be right among your own people. It still seems like a wonderful dream. One is deeply touched and humbled by the magnaninity in others. Here is Knox, giving of his valuable time and skill. And Anna, his fine wife, giving up her room to me - and doing it most graciously. And their daughter! Well, if I haven't quite lost my heart to California, I certainly have to Helen. She is my idea of a perfect Christian. Yet she is chuck full of fun.

Now I must talk about California itself. Of course the palm trees are the most radical departure from our vegetation. Many are as tall as telegraph poles - with little tufts on top. There are some banana trees, with bunches of green bananas on them. (Bananas are like gold bricks back home). Yesterday I picked ripe olives off an olive tree. There is a grapefruit tree bearing fruit next door. In fact, there are two grapefruit trees, two avocados, two pineapple, guavas, an apricat, a persimmon, and a lemon tree, right in Knox's back yard. We visited a home yesterday, where a tiny orange tree - about four feet tall - had half a dozen oranges on it. In the orange groves that we passed, the trees were loaded. Helen deplores the absence of flowers right now. But I see marvelous flowers. So many poinsettia - some of them double. They are from five to eight feet - maybe ten feet - tall. A row of gorgeous red flowers; with their rich green foliage, against a white or cream stucco house is really a picture. The Spanish architecture is beautiful. No two houses alike. When you get up on a "mountain," as I call it, and look down on the red tile roofs, it's a beautiful, colorful sight. Knox's house looks snow-white to me. I asked Helen if they painted it last year - last summer. "No, it's been more than five years." A Cleveland or Pittsburgh house would be a dreary sight in five years. The yellow acacia trees are in full bloom now. And the pyrocanthus, with its thick clusters of red berries, grows in profusion. There is a hedge of them along one side of Occidental College.

Leard came over on Monday with a bouquet of the loveliest sweet peas I have ever seen - his own culture. They are just about my favorite flower. It seems strange to see people working in their gardens. They rotate their crops - and keep their gardens going all year. Tuesday, Knox and Anna and I went to visit Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The Last Supper window is really something out of this world. Reconstructed from Leonardo de Vinci's original sketches collected from the art museums of Europe, this gem by Rosa Coselli Moretti of Italy is one of the world's great art treasures.***

Now Knox blows in - and announces that we are to go on a little trip. So I must close abruptly. More news next time.

Love to you all -
Florence B. Taylor

Next - 2/24/44 - Visit to Long Beach

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