Wed 13 Oct 2010
Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Evelyn Ruth Billings. I wrote about her demise back when I was editor-in-chief at The Roundup, the student newspaper of Los Angeles Pierce College.
From her tragedy came a personal triumph. My op-ed piece went on to take first place in the column writing category at the 1994 statewide Journalism Association of Community Colleges competition. Judged so by none other than one my my favorite columnists of all time, Jack Smith (which was as great an honor as winning).
The plaque hangs today off my desk hutch, and while the prize ain’t no Pulitzer, it’s my pride and joy — but one always tempered by the knowledge that it came at the expense of another’s pain.
Why do I bring this up? Not so much because of the passing of the 17th anniversary of Evelyn throwing herself off the Mulholland Drive Bridge in the Sepulveda Pass, but moreso because of the bridge itself.
Coincidentally I just learned today that the span is destined to be demolished and replaced to accommodate a widened San Diego Freeway beneath it. From what I understand Caltrans and Metro will actually build the replacement bridge first and then destroy the existing one.
I’m not upset because the city is going to lose another landmark. The bridge is eye-catching for its height above the 405, but other than that there’s nothing notable about it architecturally or historically. But I am somewhat sad to see it go because not a passage that I’ve made since, either beneath it or across it has gone without me remembering the last place Evelyn stood upon this earth alive and saying a little prayer for her.
Rest in peace, Evelyn.