nostalgia


Oh no: not that Tara. I’m talking about the famed fictional plantation manse from a little film back in the day whose name coincidentally rhymes with the last name of the film’s central character — O’Hara, as in Scarlett. As in “Gone With The Wind,” or GWTW, if you will.
 Yeah, that Tara.

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Let me back up. I ravenously follow the Photos of Los Angeles group on Facebook, gobbling up its never-ending parade of pictures of L.A.’s distant and not-so-distant past. A few days ago this photo (at right, click to enlargify), was posted of a still from an episode of the 1950s TV series “SupermClark! Behind You!an,” showing its star, George Reeves (who coincidentally had a part in GWTW) in full Clark Kent mode, on a hill back-dropped by a broad swath of our smog-inundated city. The poster, Sally Deupree, asked, “Culver City. Recognize the building in the lower left with four columns?”

I immediately recognized it as Tara, which meant Reeves was standing hat in hand on what is now a section of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park — which meant beyond him was Jefferson Boulevard, then the Ballona Creek channel and then the old Pathe Studio backlot, where so many of the exterior scenes of GWTW were realized.

In an attempt to get a past/present frame of reference (I last did that with the location of Wrigley Field’s homeplate in South Los Angeles), I went on a googlehunt for a layout of the old studio, and hit gold at the 40 Acres website with this 1940 map (click to enlargify) pinpointing the various GWTW sets on the Pathe Studio backlot, with Tara’s position indicated there on the left.

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Then, of course, for a present-day juxtaposition I google-mapped the location (click to enlargify):
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Which means basically that at the deadend of Hayden Place south of Higuera Street, somewhere around the current location of Woo Agency and Omelet you can stand on the paved-over land upon which Tara once stood, not to forget Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and, yes, George Reeves. Cue the sweeping overture that is “Tara’s Theme”:

Well, it is official. I’m a landowner. Last January when my Uncle Doug died I was informed that in his will he bequeathed to me property he owned in Walker County, Alabama. Nine months later, the legal process is complete and I am now sole titleholder to 15 reportedly well-timbered and entirely undeveloped acres, replete with a creek known as Sims Branch (named after my grandmother’s parents) running through it, pictured approximately as shown below via Google Maps.

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What makes the gift even more special than being deemed worthy of it by my uncle — who was pretty much one of a very few adult males who demonstrated any kind of regard or concern for me during my childhood — is the fact that this particular plot of land is where my grandmother lived and where I stayed with her when I’d visit as a child.

Her house is long gone now. It was sold years back and its buyers jacked it up off its foundation and moved it to an unknown location. Though I last was inside when I was 7 years old, I can easily recall its layout… and lots of memories.

It’s an interesting sensation to own land that’s been in my family for quite some time, even if its far away and smack dab in the middle of nowhere. I certainly hope to stand upon it sooner rather than later, but who knows. If this life-long experiment as a Los Angeles native ever craps out, odds are this is where you might be able to find me. Either in a log cabin, a double-wide, or a recreation of my grandma’s home constructed from memory.

 

Not sure why, but back when I was growing up I was always so much more an “Emergency!” kid, only occasionally watching the landmark “Adam-12″ series (1968-1975). Thanks to Netflix over these last six month or so, I’ve methodically marched my way across every episode of the first five years, and am about three or four into the show’s sixth (and second to last) season on the air.

Why? I attribute a fair share of my interest to nostalgia, but also to the fact that it holds up all these years later as a pretty damn good show. Of course, my main enthusiasm for it might have something to do with my present status as a trainee in a public safety program, and for sure whenever partners Pete Malloy and Jim Reed (Martin Milner and Kent McCord) inevitably do wrong by today’s law enforcement training standards, it reinforces how I should do things right. Whether they’re doing person searches before handcuffing, using the old “feet back and spread ‘em!” technique, calling for back-up and then not waiting for it to arrive before charging headlong after armed criminals into buildings, or turning their backs on suspects, the dynamic duo never fails to teach me what not to do almost each and every 24-minute episode.

Another reason is that it was filmed all around Los Angeles. Although the team was based out of the old Rampart Station on Temple Street and Benton Way, sadly most of the filming locations were in the San Fernando Valley. But Malloy and Reed certainly got all around town over the years and it’s an added bonus when I discover scenes filmed in my neck of the hoods. Take the following screengrab still from a scene showing Malloy with Sergeant “Mac” MacDonald (William Boyett) taking cover behind their patrol car from a shotgun-carrying robbery suspect pinned down in the then-open ped tunnel in Echo Park a block north of Sunset Boulevard on Montana Street between Logan and LeMoyne (click it for the bigger picture):

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Then there’s this one from way back in the first season when the partners pull over a young socialite for speeding around the west side of Silver Lake Reservoir (click it for the bigger picture):

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There have been plenty of others I’ve recognized (for example, the opening credits of the first couple/three seasons involved the vehicle speeding north on Hoover from 6th Street with historic First Congregational Church in the background and the countless stock shots of the station house), but I’ve been too lazy to screengrab them. If any more show up during the remaining episodes I’ll get into the habit of capturing and posting.

UPDATE (03.15): I remembered in an episode from Season Five (1972) during a protest scene staged in front of Rampart Station, the angle of the shot showing McCord and Boyett talking outside the entrance revealed the LAPD had a notable neighbor across Temple Street back then… the Church of Scientology. Interesting that they were as modest about their signage as they are now.

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While wandering through my entirely unorganized image archives for no particular reason beyond nostalgia’s sake, I came across these snaps made during an Echo park stroll with Susan in June 2004 of the landmark Jensen’s Recreation Center sign illuminated, an occurrence that’s pretty rare these days.

The pix themselves are nothing I’d brag about other than they capture a beloved link to the area’s past in its glory (click the thumbnails for the bigger picture):

From a 2005 post on the Historic Echo Park blog:

For more that 50 years, the 17′ x 28′ incandescent sign (illuminated with 1,300 red, green and white light bulbs) atop the building that depicts a bowler throwing a strike was dark. A testament to the neglect and disrepair the building and the neighborhood sometimes suffered over the years. In 1997, the sign was restored to its original appearance through a cultural affairs grant. For many residents, the relighting of the sign was a momentous event that signaled the revitalization of the community and gave the neighborhood an identity.

The sign’s most impressive aspect not found in these images is the animation depicting a bowler rolling a strike along the top of the sign.

What a carefree world it once was, when you could lay the flailing baby in a basinet placed unsecured in the back of the family station wagon and ensure its complete and total highway turnpike safety simple by making the right tire choice (click it for the bigger picture):

Saturday Review, July 29, 1961

So my cousin Margaret is coming out to visit my mom later this month and to prepare I helped my mom clear out some boxes of stuff she’s been storing in the unused spare bedroom of her apartment. One such box happened to contain, a veritable treasure trove… at least to me.

Consisting of issues of Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Look, Life and other magazines from the 1920s through the 1970s, the box holds an amazing array of periodicals (remarkably well-preserved) that my late stepfather William R. Cox collected — topped off with issues from the Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times from none other than November 22, and 23, 1963, respectively.

In the days since I’ve leafed through issues at random, totally blown away by the documents that I was holding in my hands. And while many of the events and stories chronicled are familiar from an historical perspective, what’s really been drawing my eye are the advertisements, awesome works of art and many of which I’d never seen before.

As a sample I’ve taken rough snapshots of six gorgeous full-pagers appearing in the August 21, 1994 1944 issue of Life, galleried below (click the thumbnails to supersize the images):

I’m seriously thinking of opening up a new blog devoted strictly to posting and sharing these incredible ads.

A set of darts, given to me when I was 12 years old by the dart-loving father of childhood dart-loving friends Casey and Brady Riggs, has sat unthrown for almost 35 years, until today when I finally hung a dart board outside the backdoor that I bought a few months ago and decided to commemorate their first throws in more than a third-of-a-century.

Man, I’m old.

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