It is an era of compulsions. Apparently everyone has had them all along but now it’s considered not only proper but fashionable to express them, no matter in what murky paths they lead.
Publicist Doris Hellman, for instance, cannot abide the sight of a market cart separated from its flock. When she sees one standing lonely and downcast on a lawn or sidewalk, sometimes several blocks from its home, she stops her car, identifies it, and phones its location to the market. She cannot understand how shoppers can be so inconsiderate as to leave them stranded.
At first she was caring for only one market’s homeless carts. The compulsion grew and now she keeps on the lookout for the grocery chariots belonging to five stores in her neighborhood.
Along Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood she is known as the little shepherd of the lost market carts.
MEET THE PEOPLE -- A girl at the perfume counter of a North Hollywood store doused herself with some stuff that was supposed to make her alluring and paraded back and forth, announcing, “See, I’m excited!” Her girlfriend said, “Not you, silly, it’s supposed to get the boys excited!” . . . A young woman in a Crenshaw Blvd. store couldn’t find the china bed-tray breakfast set she wanted, nor could she make the clerk understand what she was looking for. Despite her explanations, the clerk said blankly, “Do you want a service for 8 or 12?” Retorted the young woman, “I don’t know that many people that intimately!”
ADVICE TO REVELERS
Drink hearty at the party,
And when you’re
Chock-full of your booze,
Be sure the life you lose
Is your own.
FOR 17 YEARS desert rat Harry Oliver has been Peg leg Smith’s press agent. Each Jan. 1 he staged the Peg Leg Smith Lost Mine Trek and Liar’s Fete in the Borrego Desert. This year, Harry reports sadly, Peg Leg has gone soft. He will ride on the Palm Springs float in the Rose Parade, which has as its theme, Tall Tales.
Harry swears there once was a Peg Leg Smith and he did show up one day with a sockful of nuggets. But neither he nor anyone else, the tale goes, was ever able to locate the mine they allegedly came from.
Harry has kept the legend alive all these years, spiking its, ahem, authenticity occasionally by strewing a few weathered peg-legs in the desert. Excited rock hounds would find them and claim they were on the trail of old Peg Leg’s lost mine.
Harry did his job too well. Tomorrow his favorite ghost gets a ride in the parade.
PUBLIC AT LARGE -- A West L.A. resident hopes that for 1960 the phone company there will change the size of envelopes it encloses with subscribers’ bills. They’re one-eighth of an inch too small for a normal-sized check which, as a result, must be folded . . . John Kernitzki , 3, came down with a stubborn virus recently and his mother has been taking him almost daily to a doctor’s office for tests and shots. While there the other day he asked, “Hey, mommy, why are all these people coming into our office?”
AT RANDOM -- While covering the Rose Parade last year for his TV adventure program, Bill Burrud gallantly lent his topcoat to a girl shivering in the dawn chill as she waited for her float to get into position. He hasn’t seen the girl or coat since. Tomorrow he’s wearing a sweater . . . The San Fernando City Council approved a business license for William B.Vokes to operate a car agency. That’s right, a Volkswagen shop . . . Cheering note from The Insider’s Newsletter: A Pentagon scientist, after studying statistics, concluded that the average driver makes 10 million successful decisions before making the wrong one that gets him killed. So start counting . . . Same source: An optimist is a man who says this is the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is one who thinks the optimist may be right.
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
|Dec. 31, 1942: "Woman substituted for man power on the "Coney Island" set the other day when one of the boys in a dance sequence was ordered to his draft board instead of his studio. Starlet Vanita Wade put on a tuxedo and took his place," Hedda Hopper says.|
Sheriff John covers preparations for the Rose Parade!
Dr. Charles F. Sebastian dies, Sept. 4, 1971. You may recall him from the Harry Raymond bombing.
View Larger Map
The Central Receiving Hospital was replaced by the Rampart Division station, shown by Google maps’ street view.
Stanford's Dick Norman says: "Take 6 1/2 points or whatever you can get on Washington in tomorrow's Rose Bowl game."
|Dec. 31, 1959: Joe Hyams visits the set of “Inherit the Wind” and captures some of the horseplay between Frederic March, Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelly. Tracy says: "I thought last year's [Oscar] broadcast reached a new low in entertainment when they did that community singing bit. This year might be better because they've got the good sense to let someone else pay the tab. The years the industry paid for the telecast itself it was pretty terrible."|
“Somebody Is Always Taking the Joy Out of Life,” by Clare Briggs.
|Dec. 31, 1919: Ottoman/Othoman Zar-Adusht Hanish, "little master" of the sun worshiping Mazdaznan cult, arrives in Los Angeles. He is accused of "revolting offenses against young boys and girls," The Times says. His real name is Otto Z. Hanisch, son of Richard Hanisch, a Milwaukee piano teacher, the story says.|
|Dec. 31, 1909: Former stockbroker Henry SO. Clark is hospitalized after hitting his head on the pavement at Spring and 9th streets when a man struck him for talking to his wife.|
Again this year there’s an unmistakable though unorganized trend toward calling everything off between Christmas and New Year’s Day and letting the week drift itself out, which it does anyway.
Nobody feels up to anything, especially answering the phone or paying attention to the stern, year’s end admonitions by savants and politicians.
They’re recovering from the Dec. 25 overindulgence and bracing themselves for the Jan. 1 bacchanalian revel.
Actually all they’re interested in, besides having a little fun, is getting through the week alive or at least not spending a night in the drunk tank. Everyone is frightened by the traffic statistics.
So they operate at half speed, maybe exchanging unwanted Christmas gifts or going to the market for a loaf of bread for turkey sandwiches.
A candidate for president could make a lot of hay coming out foursquare for declaring Christmas week a national holiday, dedicated to meditation. No, not medication, mister printer, meditation.
THE WIND blew down the Christmas decorations, including some pine cones, on a Woodland Hills home and the 10-year-old boy who lives there was trying to reassemble them when a neighbor boy came along. Their fathers work at the same aircraft plant and they are usually playmates. But this time the visitor was mischief-minded and kept tugging at the decorations, pulling them down again. Finally the boy who lives there exclaimed, “If you don’t stop that I’ll have my dad fire your dad!” Anyway, it stopped the mischief maker.
START TO FINISH
A football coach at the
Unbeaten, untied, untired,
Is all fired up.
At season’s end
The chances are he’s
SECOND STREET between Main and Los Angeles Sts. has been barricaded to traffic, forcing motorists to detour, not a simple matter in Civic Center traffic at the rush hours.
Not only that, high wooden barriers painted green on the sidewalk side have been erected along the curbs, apparently to prevent people from seeing what goes on in the ripped-up street. This is frustrating to sidewalk superintendents, who have become accustomed to gawking through peepholes.
One theory about the block-long blinders is that the contractor really is about to dig for the buried treasure of that early-day L.A. resident, Don Hidalgo De Nada. Another is that the operation is a publicity stunt for the motion picture “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
So I asked an aluminum-hatted workman, busy lifting large timbers from one spot and dropping them five feet away. He said cryptically, “Strum dren.”
AS IF ALL THIS were not enough, there are also strange goings-on in the next block on 2nd St., between Main and Spring. Many months ago a scaffold was put up on the county engineering building so workmen could remove the overhang without endangering passers-by. Nothing happened except that all this time pedestrians have had to thread their way through the metal framework supporting the scaffolding. But a few days ago the job was quickly done and Monday the scaffolding was taken down. And then yesterday it was put up again.
This corner has long suspected that a sinister clique meets regularly in a dark room and plots ways in which to bedevil the public. Obviously they’ve been at it again.
AT RANDOM -- Attendance at Disneyland last Saturday exceeded 40,000, bringing the week’s total to more than 100,000. The license plates in the parking lots tell the story. They’re from almost every state, including Hawaii, but particularly Washington and Wisconsin . . . Speaking of which, Nick Nickcevich of Long Beach says he has a bad case of “ennui-sconsin ” from reading the sports pages . . . Smirnoff has got out a “rescue kit” – a flask of vodka, a can of tomato juice, a headache remedy and dark glasses.
| Three Tristans update: I sent this item to bass-baritone Alan Held, who’s appearing in the current Metropolitan Opera production of “Tales of Hoffmann.” |
Held says, “ I have been in several performances where a singer had to be replaced midway through the night--most memorably was a Tannhauser at The Met where we went through 2-3 tenors in one night (can't remember). It seemed we went through the entire list of Met tenors during that show. I also did a lot of Tristans in Barcelona that seemed to have a revolving door of tenors. My own professional debut was made while jumping in as Colline in Boheme. These things happen all the time in opera--sometimes a singer really isn't sure if he can make it through the night but wants to give it a try and then once confronted with the dryness of the stage, things change. And I've been in countless performances where the singer isn't sure they can even start the night but ends up singing the best performance of the run. These are special nights and can bring a lot of excitement to the show.”
Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera
Dec. 30, 1941: “Jackie Cooper is studying the finer points of drumming with Buddy Rich of Tommy Dorsey's band these days and doing so well that he sits in with the band at the Mocambo now and then just to get used to playing before an audience.”
Hedda Hopper tapes a “Ben-Hur” segment with Stephen Boyd, Francis X. Bushman and Ramon Novarro, but not Charlton Heston.
Los Angeles officials struggle once more to deal with congested streets. I have said this before, but it bears repeating: Traffic in Los Angeles is 100-year-old problem.
| Dec. 30, 1959: “Americans came to the end of the 1950s with more of everything, more wealth, more cars, more schools and churches, more gadgets, more babies--and more self-doubt--than ever before.|
“A vague shadow of uneasiness spread across the land.
“ ‘There is an overwhelming feeling here that somehow we have lost our way,’ wrote James Reston, Washington correspondent of the New York Times. ‘Nobody seems to know just how or why. But everybody feels that something's wrong.’ ”
Isn’t this a great drawing? I suppose in 1919 smokestacks meant progress and not pollution.
Enumerators prepare to take the 1920 census and have a few questions. Is a lone man or woman without any known relatives a family? Yes. When is a chicken ranch not a chicken ranch? When it earns more than $250 a year. Then it’s a chicken farm.
Dec. 30, 1919: George Steunenberg writes: