I drive through leafy, charming South Pasadena almost every day. Of course I love the (shuttered) Rialto theater and the hypnotic neon at Gus’s BBQ nearly makes me careen into parked cars. But I I never got as excited as I did cruising by the weathered façade of an old aerospace company called Day-Ray on Mission Avenue. The brick building was pretty standard issue, but the entrance was straight out of the film noir era. That long low moderne trellis slinking across those big dark windows was mesmerizing. Those blocky wooden letters perched on top like a blue-and-white hat. Sure the letters were a little akimbo and the woodwork was about to collapse, but it was just so charming and perfect. Then one day it was gone. The company was still there, making airplane parts like they had for 70 years, but the little detail that connected it to all of us – that helped make South Pasadena special – was missing. That element we interacted with, that people blogged about, posed for pictures in front of, a landmark used for directions, wiped clean. After several hearings before the Cultural Heritage Commission, everybody agreed that a replica sign would be created. Master woodworker David Johnson brought the D, A, Y, – and R to his Highland Park shop, made templates, and created flawless reproductions of these historic elements and reinstalled the truncated sign (“Day-Ray Products, Inc.” was now just “Day Ray”) on the original site. He explains the process here. All of us that appreciate these little treasures have the deepest gratitude to the folks that made this happen. We’re so grateful that a few folks worked so hard to resurrect this tiny slice of L.A. history.
Photographs by David Johnson/Sidecar Furniture