One summer highlight was Mom’s visit, during which she convinced me to take her to Watts Towers, which I’d somehow imagined to be a 1960s-era urban renewal housing project, like coop city. NOT! For more than thirty years, a relatively uneducated Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia single-handedly constructed and decorated everything that you see here – to thank his adoptive country for providing a home and a living, to atone for things he’d done that he wasn’t proud of, to express his faith, and/or for other reasons that we may never know. They certainly stand out in the low-income neighborhood of Watts.

Left and right here, you see some detail of the tiles and glass that Simon Rodia cut and placed meticulously to create the artistic effects he wanted. Mom particularly wanted me to include some photos of the green glass for our old family friend Florence Cole, whose husband worked many years with 7-Up — from which most of these bottles came, back in the days when all bottles were made from glass and polymers weren’t even a gleam in an inventor’s eye yet.

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