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Matt Weinstock, Feb. 23, 1960

February 23, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Feb. 23, 1960, Call the Doctor

Right Bows to Might   

Matt Weinstock     It happened at dusk on a Sunset Flyer, which travels from downtown L.A. to Laurel Canyon.

    As Cynthia Lawrence boarded the bus, the driver gave her a check.  This was wrong.  A two-zone fare is in effect along the entire route and no checks are necessary.  But in the submissive manner of commuters, she accepted it.
    The bus roared into the dense Hollywood Freeway traffic.  Midway to Western Ave., the turnoff point, the driver pulled to the side, stopped and started to collect the checks.
    Seven passengers, accustomed to paying the fare without receiving checks, were caught empty-handed and the driver demanded an additional 7 cents from each.  They demurred.  Finally two shrugged and paid tribute.  The other five refused.  The driver resumed his seat and folded his arms.  It was an impasse.
    FIVE MINUTES PASSED, then 10, and still the busload sat locked in conflict.  But not one uninvolved passenger attempted to persuade the others to pay.  They sat united, commuters at the barricades, holding fast to the belief that 27 cents was enough and a free people must resist tyranny wherever it occurs, even on a freeway shoulder.
    They exchanged unflattering comments about life under the MTA.  One after another tried to reason with the driver but he was adamant.  One small group plotted escape but gave it up.  At length, four of the five, feeling an obligation to the others, grudgingly deposited the extra money in the fare box.  But one, a girl, held out.  Finally a distraught commuter, anxious for home and family, donated the 7 cents and the mobile person plunged on.
    Next day Cynthia phoned the MTA to report the incident and learned that the company already knew about it.  A nice lady also confirmed her opinion that there was no check stop on the freeway.  Furthermore, she was told, the driver had been "confused" and would be "re-instructed."
    But what, she asks, about the illegal profit of 49 cents?
    ONE OF THE curious tribal customs in certain elegant residential sections is that people don't get very close.  They know each other by sight but that's about as far as neighborliness goes.
    No long ago Steve Gardner of Bel-Air went to a travel agency to arrange a trip to Mexico City.  To his delight, the travel bureau man turned out to be a neighbor, a waving acquaintance  who was going to Mexico City at the same time.  They arranged to meet there and did and had a wonderful time.  But since their return they rarely see each other.  No reason -- that's just the way things are.
    SALES psychology surveys doubtless will show that people rise more quickly to the bait if the price of an article is $1.98 instead of $2, or $29.9 cents a gallon of gas instead of a simple, straight 30 cents. Many persons, of course, consider this practice a nuisance.
     Well, this is to report that the dissenters are losing ground.  A Redondo Beach barbershop offers haircuts for $1.29.
    IN THE VIEW of Mrs. Mason Sanders of Pasadena, an ad for a stationery firm in the Feb. 1 Vogue represents a milestone in cool, oblique product plugging.  It is a photo of a presumably  Mediterranean courtyard with a row of statues of old Roman ladies, with a caption, "I'm turning the beach house over to you.  Stuart and I will be married at his villa in Capri.  Celeste."  Below is a message, "When it comes to impressing first husbands, a stinging little note on Crane's paper does more for your ego than alimony." 
    Civilized is the word for Celeste.
A buss is a motherly kiss
A buss is something that
    you miss.
    AT RANDOM -- The word payola, newly added to the language, isn't new at all in meaning.  The Chinese got to it long ago with cumshaw.  And apparently we're only in the early stages of the game.  For instance, Joe Furst, who runs a speedometer shop on W Pico Blvd., calls a checkup a speedola . . . Although she is confronted continually with signs to the contrary, Virginia Donohue contends the original prime rib was Eve.

Feb. 23, 1960, Abby