One of the best places to visit in Southern California is the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar. a world-class museum of rare automobiles and mechanical musical instruments, including the private railroad car of Clara Baldwin Stocker, millionaire heiress of tycoon “Lucky” Baldwin. Martine and I met up there with my best friend and his sons. We took the tour in the larger of the two buildings, and then saw the additional cars and music machines in the museum building.
On one hand, the cars and other objects on display are easily worth an admission price of ten dollars or more. But both the tour and the museum are free of charge, thanks to a foundation set up by J. B. Nethercutt of Merle Norman Cosmetics. There is one jaw-dropping moment when, on the tour, one enters the Grand Salon (illustrated above), where the Collection’s rarest and most beautiful cars are located. Perhaps the single most distinguished rarity is a silver Duesenberg shown near the center of the photograph.
Among the music machines, I was most impressed by a superb player piano that played a recording of Rhapsody in Blue played by the composer himself, George Gershwin. Mr. Gershwin’s interpretation of his work was nothing less than superb, and was a great accompaniment to viewing the cars in the Grand Salon.
Some of the best places to see in Los Angeles were the result of bequests from millionaires, including Descanso Gardens (Manchester Boddy), the Huntington Gardens and Museum (Henry E. Huntington), and the Getty Museum and Villa (J. Paul Getty). It somehow smoothes the rough edges on these otherwise rapacious tycoons, to enjoy the bounty of their collections.
This is the third or fourth time that Martine and I have visited the Nethercutt, and hopefully far from the last.