Mystery History – Solved!



February 1931


I had a long, busy, unplanned day yesterday so I couldn’t write this up in time for my Thursday deadline. Nevertheless!…

Congrats go to BARBARA of South Pasadena, a painter/artist, on her triumphal victory over her competitive guessers!  Her guess of,  “707 S. Oakland, Pasadena. James Rolph, Jr., the governor of California, visits with Albert and Elsa Einstein at their home. They may have eaten spaghetti and they probably discussed religion!” was the best of the brunch of responses.


P1390255a August 2011

Barbara is also one of our local bloggers:  What I See.  I regularly visit her to see what I can see on what she’s up to with her art or photography. And I recommend you do the same to support her blogging efforts. I’m glad to finally be able to hand out one of these, “fabulous prizes!”  I will contact you Barbara on your prize.

In the top photograph (AP) dated February 19 1931, we see Albert Einstein in the center, flanked by wife #2 Elsa, and James Rolph Jr. Governor of  California.  The Governor was giving the official “Welcome to California!” to the Einstein’s.

Btw, before Elsa was his wife, she was his cousin. Times were more liberal in the old days.  His letters, finally released about 40 years after his death, show him to be “an unapologetic ladies’ man who divided his attention among six girlfriends” is how one reviewer described his love life.  I’m sure physics was the big attraction for the ladies. Wonder what the big turn-on is for todays liberated women?

And of course we’re in Pasadena: 707 S. Oakland Ave. In what is now often referred to as the Madison Heights historical district.  The home still stands. And rather modestly in comparison to its neighboring architecture, imho, as you can see in my middle and bottom photographs. The Einstein’s rented the house from Henriette Stowell. Some ancient Pasadena houses have nicknames and so does the 707: aka The Stowell House. It’s often part of architecture tours just as The Hindry House  I recently discussed here.

Stowell had the house designed by architect Wallace Neff. Neff specialized in the Spanish colonial revival style in California.  Many old time Hollywood entertainers had their houses designed by Neff: “I just build California houses for California people.” I suppose Wallace and I are alike: I just blog about Pasadena stuff for Pasadena people.

For those of you who don’t follow history, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a famous theoretical physicist.  He emigrated to the USA in the 1930’s once he saw Hitler & his Nazi followers take a stranglehold on political power in his native Germany. His fame arose from his Theories of Relativity -  in particular, the Special Theory of Relativity and the equivalence of matter and energy ( E=mc2)  which sparked a revolution in the world of physics, and the subsequent Nobel Prize awarded specifically “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.”  The photoelectric effect is a vital part of photosynthesis and thus fundamental to life.

Matter can be changed into energy. Einstein came up with the formula which explains how this comes about – perhaps the most famous or well-known mathematical formula: E=mc2Which in turn means Energy equals Mass times the Speed of Light Squared.

Einstein’s formal education began at a Catholic elementary school in Germany (the current Pope is from Germany), and ‘ended” with a doctorate at Zurich University in Switzerland.



Einstein’s second, third, and fourth visits to the USA in the 1930’s were chiefly to do research at Cal Tech here in Pasadena.  He also met with other famous scientists. While in town he & the wife lived at the S. Oakland Avenue residence above. It’s less than a mile from the university. I’ve seen pictures of Einstein on a bike.  Have to imagine he could’ve biked to/fro school.

I could go on & on, on a subject like this (and btw, it looks like I’ll be going on a bit longer carrying this Mystery History torch)  if I was a lottery winner who only had to wait for the checks in the mail. I’m only a starving blogger. I haven’t even begun to get to a surface to scratch on this subject. But for the rest I will have to leave you with a few sources for your historical study:



  The Einstein Papers Project @ CalTech 

Associated Press

 Einstein’s Online Archive

Nobel Prize



“The Hardest Thing in The World to understand is the Income Tax!” –Einstein

“Here in Pasadena it is like Paradise! Always sunshine and clear air, gardens with palms and pepper trees, and friendly people who smile at one another and ask for autographs!" –Einstein



Gotta Get Going.  Stay Thirsty My Friends