Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Balinese Shop



"say It is only a paper moon

sailing over a cardboard sea,

But it wouldn't be make believe

If you believed in me.

yes It is only a canvas sky

Hanging over a muslin tree,

But it wouldn't be make believe

If you believed in me." -lyrics from Paper moon



A long time ago there was a wonderful shop at the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove blvds. in Pasadena. Memory seems to fade the details but I believe it was a Victorian type of house that had a large hanging paper moon lantern in the window. The paper moon had a smiling face on it. I wish I had known in those days to take a photo of the shop window and of the owner who was a kind and gentle man named Jim Stevens. I used to go to that store with my mother. The things in the Balinese shop were beautiful, exotic and special. My mother would take me there when she wanted to buy something exceptional for a landmark birthday. She let me pick out a beautiful ring for my 16th birthday and again for my 21st. The memory of that store stands out in my mind. I wish it was still there. It was a place filled with good vibrations and a kind of magic.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember that wonderful store and it seemed to me that it stood apart physically and mentally for me all through my early childhood. It was a place of fantasy and I even loved when we drove by and saw the moon in the window.
Thanks for the memories.
Nancy

Laurie said...

Yes - those places, and those memories, are the best!

barb cabot said...

Nancy you're right..The Balinese shop did stand apart from anything else. Seeing the moon in the window just seemed reassuring...Like the beautiful moon in the sky at night, it was a very comforting feeling.

menehune said...

Ah, nice memories to store in one's mind. Can't say that I have one store that brings back such memories -- at least not quite as nostaglic - maybe Woolworth's? m

Pati said...

The Balinese Shop holds a very special memory for me and I can see Mr. Stevens' face, as I write this. As I think back to that time, it's almost as if it didn't really exist. It was as if one opened a closet door and stepped into an entirely different and wonderful reality. And, then, when the door closed, one was back in their "regular" existence. How wonderful to be able to conjure up a world within a world. Thanks for bringing that place back.

barb cabot said...

Oh Menehune...you've just tapped into my memory...Woolworth's...and Newberry's. I've got a few memories about those stores too.

Anonymous said...

On a google search I came across your site...my mother who is now 90 worked for Jim at the Balinese shop and I have very similar, wonderful memories! The huge paper moon on the second floor, the summer movie nights and all the wonderful imported, magical items...! Also, Mr. Stevens as I knew him, would open up the shop for us to have premiere seats for the Rose parade! Thanks for the memories!

barb cabot said...

I would like to post this from an email I received. It is a remembrance that someone sent my sister's friend about the Balinese shop. I think it captures yet another aspect of the magic that was this shop. Here is what they said:
"I loved the Balinese shop! I still have a ring I bought there. They had a sign that said "Children may touch". It was a big, beautiful old house-I still think about it when I drive by the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove!"

vbonnaire said...

I was there with my mother too. And etched in my memory is that large paper moon with the face in the window. I have never seen another like it. I have loved paper lanterns all of my life because of that moon and I loved that you chose "paper moon" to illustrate that too!

Ted Wright said...

I could kick myself for not taking a picture of it.....

barb cabot said...

Ted Me TOO! I have so many pictures in my mind of that magical place. It was truly magical wasn't it? Everything in that store was a little treasure. A moment in time gone. So happy to have had a piece of it.

Anonymous said...

We loved your article over on our page about Old School Pasadena and shared your link. Thanks

https://www.facebook.com/groups/113883598710531/

kl wall said...

Jim and Monza Stevens were the owners and good friends of my family. Beside the paper moon lantern, the thing I remember strongest was the smell of sandlewood when you entered! It was the most wonderful, relaxing smell. Took me years to realize there was no incense burning, but the smell was fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I just learned that Jim Stevens passed away in March 2013. We will miss his kind soul. I knew Mr. Stevens from the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association. His obituary references the Balinese shop.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/pasadenastarnews/obituary.aspx?n=james-a-stevens&pid=163742324

Anonymous said...

I kept thinking I had dreamt The Balinese Shop at Colorado and Orange Grove. Where the freeway is now. I had forgotten it was in an old house. Thanks for the memories restored.

Anonymous said...

In the 1950's the first foreign movies I saw as child were shown to audiences on bleachers out in the back of the aptly named Wonderful Balinese Shop in Pasadena. My parents took me there on warm Summer evenings. I clearly remember seeing French films there like "The Red Balloon" and "White Mane" that made indelible impressions on my four-year-old imagination. The shop itself was a treasure trove in a Victorian house on a lot that now is part of the Norton Simon museum complex (not part of a freeway). The creative and friendly individuals who operated The Wonderful Balinese Shop had a delightful influence on many more people than they could possibly imagine.

Jenefer Luckey said...

I still have one of the moon lanterns! My grandmother and mother were great fans of the Balinese Shop and it's owners, the Stevens. We often went to the summer film series and the shop itself for special, wonderful things. When we visited my grandparents up on the high desert (Inyokern) you could see the lit moon lantern shining out to welcome us as we arrived after dark.

Marylinn Kelly said...

I just found your post by googling "The Wonderful Balinese Shop." I still live in South Pasadena and just finished a phone call with my sister who has for some time lived in Virginia. I'm going to share this with her, for we both feel just as all you all do about the shop. I had two dresses from there and can't imagine why I ever let go of them. My sister and I speak often of how lucky we feel to have grown up in Pasadena in the 50s and 60s. The dime stores, the French Villa coffee shop/restaurant, all the downtown stores. And the seemingly impossible magic of The Wonderful Balinese Shop - the scent, the paper lantern, the kind and imaginative owners, the merchandise. What a warm and lovely visit here. Thank you so much.

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