Pasadena, the city where I live, is much older than most other populated parts of Southern California. Long ago, it lost any hope of being fashionable.
Our friends in glittery West L.A. call this the place where "old people go to visit their parents." With little honor in our own land, we 119,400 Pasadenans content ourselves welcoming visitors from abroad, like the hordes from Washington who have descended for Super Bowl XVII.
An Indiana journalist, Daniel Beery, arranged the land deal for the first big settlement here 110 years ago. He wanted to leave the cruel winters of Indianapolis and cure his asthma. The climate was "heavenly," he said. In Los Angeles, a few miles south, he added, "some nights the fog gathers thick and pestiferous and the air is heavy with slow and sure coming death."
The smog has since invaded the magnolia and palm-lined streets of Pasadena's San Gabriel Valley, but the town keeps a psychic distance from Los Angeles. The Tournament of Roses, the Rose Bowl and now its third Super Bowl have helped give Pasadena a separate identity. The photographs of Saturn and Jupiter from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have put Pasadena into newspaper datelines all over the world.
But it is a lonely place for Redskins fans, like my son Joe and me.
USC has a vise grip on popular affection here. Enormous numbers of lawyers, doctors, stockbrokers and real estate executives here were trained at that campus just 15 miles down Rte. 11. When UCLA moved its home games this year to the Rose Bowl, it was obliged to bring its fans along from West L.A. for protection. One of my son's schoolmates is named "Troy," so true are his parents to the USC Trojans.
The Raiders have many devotees now, but they are new and many people remain upset with their ticket policy. The Rams have left a general bitterness about professional football here that is hard to dispell. Last season, the local television station that usually shows Rams games was so uninterested in the Rams-Redskins contest that they switched to a Central Division game. The editor on the Los Angeles Times' sports desk I called to complain about this treated me as if I were from some other planet.
Naturally, there are not many people living here as haunted as I am by memories of the Washington-Miami Super Bowl played 10 years ago at USC's stomping grounds, the Coliseum. I attended the 1972 National Football Conference championship game that led up to that Super Bowl, witnessing the Redskins' victory along with my wife, who was then six months pregnant with our son, Joe.
The child grew up with an eerie yearning to follow the Washington football team, even though we left Washington when he was three. Living in Peking in 1979, he insisted on getting up early to hear a faint shortwave broadcast of the heartbreaking 35-34 loss to the Cowboys. He asked for Redskins gear every Christmas and began insisting a year ago that the Rose Bowl, which he can easily see from the playground of his school, would soon be hosting his hero, Joe Theismann.
Joe has spent the last few days celebrating his perspicacity by making posters welcoming the Redskins, which will be plastered all over our front window. The city of Pasadena is following suit, knowing that this game will bring in even more business than the Rose Bowl game.
Rolse Arnhym, Chamber of Commerce executive vice president, expects the event to earn $6 million for the city and $60 million for the entire area. Some of us have suggested the mayor, former professional singer Loretta Thompson-Glickman, perform the national anthem at the game.
Joe and I failed to win the Super Bowl ticket lottery, but we will be content to put up our posters and free our curb for wayward parkers heading for the game. It is enough to savor the joy of shouting "Pasadena here we come," and realizing we are already here.