One would think that I would praise the Los Angeles Museum of Art to the skies. I don’t. (Too much non-representational modern garbage.) Instead, I think back to the Cleveland Museum of Art as reflected in the lovely lagoon which leads to the main entrance. It was surrounded by two universities which have since joined into one: Case Western Reserve University used to be the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University.
As a high school student, I used to take the bus down to University Circle and take an art appreciation class taught by the museum staff. After each class, I would stroll around the galleries, especially the one dedicated to the French Impressionists. There was a particularly beautiful Van Gogh there. And, as a kid, I loved the medieval armor gallery, the like of which I have never seen in any other art museum.
The Armor Court at the Cleveland Museum of Art
There wasn’t a whole lot of abstract expressionism around, though I suspect there is more now. The closest I came to liking modern art was a moody painting by the American Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917). It was called “Death on a Pale Horse.” I am happy to hear the painting is still there.
“Death on a Pale Horse” by Albert Pinkham Ryder
Each time I went to the museum, I would have lunch at a soda fountain by East 105th Street, always ordering a lime rickey, which was pretty much like a lemonade except it was made with lime. Back then, I thought of lime as an exotic fruit instead of an accompaniment to my tequila.
Places like the Museum meant a great deal to me. It was a way I could get away from home on a Saturday and enjoy myself and learn something at the same time.
This is a story that begins almost sixty years ago. As a student at Chanel High School, I occasionally took college-level courses in English at Western Reserve University during the summers. I would take two buses to East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue. At the southwest corner, there used to be a drug store that has a soda fountain. I became addicted to a menu item that they called a “fresh lime rickey,” except that this version contained sugar and had no gin, bourbon, or other liquors. It was delicious.
Some ten years plus pass. I assert my independence from my parents by taking trips to Mexico. I note that, unlike on our side of the Rio Grande, there are virtually no lemons available—but lots of limes. When one asks for limones in Mexico, one gets limes.
Another twenty years pass. During cool weather in Los Angeles, I always take my hot tea with a squeeze of lime.
I could not help noticing that Mexican fruit vendors have a little plastic device they use to squeeze out all the juice from halved limes onto the fruit salads they sell. My mind, which had been working extraordinarily sluggishly suddenly flashed a bright “Aha!” I found one of these squeezie devices at the supermarket. Limes, which run for half a dollar each at Gringo supermarkets can be obtained for a dollar a bag from a little old Chinese woman who sells them on the streets of Chinatown. And there is a Mexican market just a couple blocks from me, the Eden Mercado, that sells them for a reasonable price.
The result: I have rediscovered lime rickeys, though made slightly differently because of my diabetes. I press out the juice from a lime half into a glass, add water, ice, and artificial sweetener, and I have a delicious drink that is much better by far than lemonade.