Monday, February 26, 2007

Pasadena's Armenian Churches

Ok so enough with the poetry and back to the vibrant Armenian community in Pasadena. This past weekend I took a stroll through the town and went to all the old and new Armenian churches. Some of the old churches that existed back in the 40s are gone, but others are still around.
This is the old building that housed St. Gregory in Pasadena. It's on Michigan Ave off of Walnut, just south of the 210. When I first pulled up by it I was amazed at how small it is. St. Gregory moved to its current location in 1964 due to size issues, the Armenian community was growing.

This church is now converted to what seems like a community protestant church. It's in fairly good shape for its age. It has a small parking lot on the left and an alley on the right. A pleasant little church, but the street it lies on is extremely narrow, a parallel parking nightmare on sundays.

This is the old location of the Cilicia Congregational Church. It was erected in 1936 and was actually the second location of the congregation (the old place is long gone and was used in the 20s).

This church has since been converted to an African American Church of Christ, it has very little remnants of an Armenan church.

This is the new church for St. Gregory. This location was used since 1964, but for 5 years now they have been rebuilding it. It was a great sight to see as I was driving on Colorado, it towers over the block and makes our presence known. It isn't done yet though, the committee says it will be done by June, but I and a lot of other seriously doubt it. It should be done the fall hopefully, and if not then next year Pasadena will have its grandest church to date.

In studying the Armenian community in Pasadena, this church is one of the best things to happen to this city. It's relocations and reconstructions are testaments to the growing influx of Armenians into Pasadena.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bedros Tourian-Repentance

My Aunt gave me a calendar made in Aleppo in which every month corresponds to a different Armenian poet. The month of February has Bedros Tourian on it, and I have never heard of him before and he didn't come up in Dr. Bardakjian's reference book. I asked my dad and he told me he was a precocious youth, a poet who never reached the age of 21 yet was able to create such beautiful works.

Again, Groong is an invaluable source with an article on Tourian

He contracted tuberculosis at a young age and was fated to die a young man and he knew this. A quote from the Groong article:

“Tourian’s love is the beginning and the end of his desire to live and the dark fate of being predestined to die… The motive of (his) poetry is always the battle between the desire to live and the fate of not being able to live… the clash between being and not being, striving and not reaching…”

This poem is entitled Զղջում, or repentance, and it epitomizes his state of mind that was wrought with grief. He shares the pain he feels at the sight of his mother crying over him because he is doomed to die a young man. At the end he poignantly asks God to forgive him for causing such grief.


Անշուշտ ճակատիս վրայ մահու
Դալկութիւն մը կը պլպլար,
Եւ մահու թռիչ մ՝ունէի,
Լսեցի մօրս հեծեծում...
Բացի աչերըս խոնջած,
Մօրըս արտօսրը տեսի՜...
Ո՜Հ, Ճշմարիտ գորոխի
Մարգարիտներ սուտ ու կեղծ...
Մայրս անհո՜ւն ցաւ մ՝ունէր,
Այն սեւ ցաւը Ե՜ս էի...
Ա՜Հ, գըլուխըս փոթորկեց...
Այս սեւ հեղեղն տըւի դուրս...
Ո՜Հ, ներէ՛ ինձ, Աստուած իմ,
Մորըս արտօսրը տեսի...:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Armenians in Pasadena

After studying for over 6 months, I finally took the lsats last Saturday. This test had consumed my life and now that I'm done I suddently have a lot of free time on my hands, which I will need as I'm writing my senior thesis on the Armenian American community in Pasadena.

Much of my sources include oral history of old timers who have been active in the community for quite a while. Last week I sat down with a man who was in Pasadena when the current church was being built. He was a carpenter and actually helped build the church. It was a great chance to learn about our community, and I suppose it's safe to say that the community in Pasadena can serve as a microcosm of Armenian communities elsewhere. When the church was being built, all Armenians (protestants, apostolic, etc) coalesced to build this church and its adjacent school.

What is interesting is the trend in Pasadena in Armenian immigration. The first Armenian settlers in Pasadena were from Turkey and subsequently lived in Pasadena for generations (Amerigahyes). Yet there have been two recent influxes of Armenians from other locations. The first main one was those that came from Lebanon and the Middle East due to the civil war (my parents) and the most recent one is the influx of Hayastantsis. There is definitely some sort of network here. The more recent immigrant may have had contacts or were drawn to Pasadena due to the current Armenian community at the time of their arrival. Whatever the case, Armenians attract other Armenians. First Amerigahayes, then Beirutsis, then Hayastantsis, but all Armenian.