Little Old Lady From Pasadena

I was very much taken with the [March 2011] cover story, “Fighting for Amanda’s Dream.” So much passion, greed, determination, vision in all the particulars of that drama. Martin Winch’s sense of duty and honor to his aunt and uncle’s dream is the first instance of what became the Reed Honor Code, writ large. The Reeds’ 12-year “residence” in Pasadena, California set off one of those “Ah-ha!” epiphanies in my mind.

When I was a boy, my parents would often take me to play in a park with an old Victorian house on it. I always wondered why it was called Carmelita, and who lived in that old house. At the back of the property stood an immensely tall, shingle-clad water tower. It was all torn down in the 1960s, and in its place was built the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, complete with beautiful gardens. The multiple layers of symbolism, connection, symmetry, irony, what-might-have-been, came cascading in, now knowing the back-story. Amanda Reed did get an institution built for the “intelligence, prosperity, and happiness of its inhabitants” . . . in both cities. And every New Year’s Day, that institution (now the Norton Simon Museum) is the backdrop for all to see as the television cameras film the Tournament of Roses Parade making the great turn at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards.

Fleshing-out that period of Amanda and Simeon’s life in Pasadena would provide an interesting resonance to the founding of Reed.

—Stuart Byles ’75

La Crescenta, California