Matt Weinstock, Oct. 19, 1959
October 19, 2009 | 4:00 pm
After a long time, I crossed orbits again the other day with Peter O'Crotty, writer, beachcomber and enthusiastic fugitive from civilization. Pete, a fun-loving, charming gentleman to whom crazy things are always happening -- with his help, it must be added -- disappeared into the desert below Tucson about five years ago.
The last I heard he had built a adobe house and announced he was holing up in it until the world came to its senses. He calls his place Rancho Despoblado, which means deserted spot or wilderness.
What was Pete, a man with a talent for being happy though broke, doing back in L.A. in of all places, a luxurious bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel?
Well, when he bought the first 200 acres for his house he found it was inadequate for the needs of his one cow, which died. So he kept buying land and he wound up with 67 square miles of desert. Makes nice running room for his horse and the rattlesnakes, which abound there.
ONE DAY NOT LONG AGO a man came out to his place with a magnet or something and informed Pete his land was loaded with iron ore. This was no world-shaking discovery, as iron ore deep in the desert, even Pete knows, is about as worthless as anything you can think of.
However, this man and his associates thought otherwise and a deal was made whereby they plan to develop it. They also have some television interests in which Pete, who once wrote a screenplay for Howard Hughes, is participating.
With his new wealth Pete promptly bought a new car and put in a 40-foot swimming pool. The car comes in handy when he gets the impulse to go fishing in the Gulf of California, about 70 miles away, and where, by the way, tequila is only 90 cents a quart.
The pool is fine except that rattlers like to curl up on the filter. This presents quite a problem. There's the danger of shattering the tile if you shoot them. So his sons coax the snakes out of the pool, then dispatch them. In fact, his boy Mike presented Pete with a silver-plated rattle off a four-footer as a birthday gift.
"THE FUNNY thing is that I'm still a beachcomber -- a desert beachcomber," Pete said. "I find all sorts of shells on my place. It used to be the bottom of the ocean, you know."
Pete could hardly wait to finish his business here to get back to his desert hideaway. But he's beginning to wonder about his Rancho Despoblado.
"It's even getting too civilized there," he said sadly. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one of these days someone will be subdividing the Grand Canyon."
A LADY WHO lives in a modern home in South Bel-Air phoned a professional window washer and asked if he could come over and clean her windows.
After she explained the nature of the job he said, "I'll have to send a man out for a consultation."
"Consultation?" she asked. "What for?"
"Well," he replied, "we have men who wash big windows and men who wash small windows."
"You better send a man who has at least a Ph.D.," she said. "I've got 86 windows to clean, all sizes."
WHEN A doctor told Al Diaz he'd have to reduce Al said, "I'm not overweight, doc, I'm underheight" . . . And Marge, 13, summed up the situation for everyone when she was taken to a doctor for treatment of a sore throat. "If it's going to hurt," she said nervously, "tell me now so I'll faint before I feel it."
AT RANDOM -- The scene in TV Westerns that irks a gal named Vallette is the one where the hero says to a listless, bereaved friend, "You've got to snap out of it, Joe, she wouldn't want it this way." At which Joe says, "Thanks, Mac, I'll be all right now" . . . Jack Perkins thinks the networks should televise Charles Van Doren's appearance before the congressional committee investigating quiz show rigging. Should have as big a rating, he figures, as the original show.