Happy Foot / Sad Foot

I’m nothing if not a creature of habit. For years on our morning dog walks we would trace the same route, one point of which overlooked a Silver Lake landmark — the famed rotating sign on the corner of Benton Way and Sunset Boulevard for a foot clinic that was dubbed “Happy Foot / Sad Foot” because on one side of the sign there was picture of a (see below) — you guessed it: happy foot and on the flip side was one of a sad foot. The legend that built up around the sign is that you will have either good luck or bad luck depending on which foot you see when you look up.

The sign had been there for as long as I can remember (going back to the early 1980s) and I couldn’t imagine it ever going away. But this is Los Angeles and of course it did, about five years ago when the clinic moved to Virgil Village, one neighborhood over to the west.

I’ve witnessed the disappearance of a lot of my Silver Lake treasures in the 20 years I’ve lived here, but it was the loss of the sign that signaled something of a deathknell for the community as I knew and loved it, and potentially one for what had become a morning ritual of getting to that point on a bend in the road where the sign would come into view and my wife and I would call out whether I saw the happy foot or the sad foot, something of a mini predictor as to whether our days would unfold happily or sadly — not that I believe in that sort of thing.

In the sign’s mourned absence, I thankfully found a company called World Famous Original that sold sets of enameled Happy Foot Sad Foot pins, so I didn’t hesitate to purchase one after which I’d keep them in my pocket on our walks and whenever we’d hit that spot I’d dig in and come out with whatever pin I touched first. The tradition continued.

But it was an imperfect system in that I would find myself sometimes slow to extract a pin from my pocket, feeling for a familiar indicator of the happy foot over the sad foot, which defeats the spontaneity. Some might even call it [que the dramatic music] cheating.

I know, I know… I take this shit WAY too seriously. Case in point: A year ago I actually looked into making a custom coin to flip with the images on either side. Heads, happy. Tails, sad. Entirely too pricey.

So I finally did the next best thing yesterday, I DIY’d my own coin by cutting off the pin bits from the backs of each and then filing them down flat, after which I glued them to an old self-serve carwash token, like so:

I put it to use during this morning’s dog walk and its inaugural random flip came up Happy Foot. As it should!