Thursday, November 9, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXXXIV

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Christmas, 1967.
I flew to California where my brother Richard, his wife Nancy, and their one-year-old daughter Katie and I drove from Los Angeles to Fresno to see my mother.  My brother’s birthday was December 18th and we were able to have a little pre-party before he and his family would go back to LA. He was busy organizing a new legal department for Dot Records.  

I would stay in Fresno and then just before Christmas my mother and I would drive to LA also.

My mother took me on a little tour to show me some things that had changed since my last visit. An enormous shopping complex had materialized on an area I remembered being open fields, the Manchester Shopping Center.
There was a Beauty College there and I thought I’d go and do some drawings that might be useful for Connie Bartel, who was still turning out Hair Trends magazine.
It was interesting and I was surprised that some of the women wanted hair styles that were as elaborate as some that I’d seen years before in Paris night clubs.

Where in Fresno could they go that would need such elaborate elegance?
I told my mother later that some women left with styles looking like Princess Soraya, the ex-empress of Iran! And for daytime.
Most of the women just had simpler suburban styles which seemed much more appropriate.
I overheard some interesting comments, too.
Mother and I had lunch in an authentic feeling Mexican restaurant.  Authentic really just meant Californian to me as New York did not yet have  a simpler kind of Mexican restaurant;  there were gourmet restaurants which specialized in elaborate and delicious Mexican specialties but it was still difficult to find a simple burrito or taco.

Okie Frijole satisfied my yearning!

A few days before Christmas, my mother and I drove to LA, a long drive through the San Joaquin Valley with a stop in Bakersfield before driving over the mountains to arrive in the LA basin.
My mother was staying at her sister and brother-in-law’s house in the hills of Los Feliz overlooking Griffith Park and I was at my brother’s in Beverly Glen, my favorite part of town.  It was the house I’d lived in before moving to NYC in 1960.

The Glen” as the locals call it is a rural-seeming canyon pass leading to the San Fernando Valley; it has an aura of Bohemianism even though officially it’s now Bel Air!  It’s a haven for people wanting to get away from the city and since UCLA is about a five to ten minute drive away (depending on traffic) many of the residents are involved one way or another with the university!

Burt Bluestein, who’d been so helpful working on The Secret Cinema with Paul and me was now living in LA working on real movies!  He came by to visit.
And Christmas Eve more friends dropped by.  My sister-in-law Nancy got to meet some of the people she’d been hearing about!
Margo and Herb DeLey came by too.  Herb was a close friend ever since we were fraternity brothers at UCLA and he and Margo helped me when I first arrived in Paris.  Herb was a french PhD and I couldn’t yet speak a word of french!
Christmas Day my grandfather arrived in the Glen;  he was driving all over town visiting family.  He’d come to New York to visit relatives on Long Island a short time before so I’d seen him somewhat recently.

Richard and Nancy’s friend, Lenny Sager came over too.
One-year-old Katie was showing everyone what Santa Claus had brought.

Bullyrook the Scottie got his traditional Christmas stocking of bones!
The next day Richard Paul came over.  He and my brother, Rich were planning a comedy record called Uncle Sam’s Minstrel Show with Dick Paul as the voice of LBJ, President Johnson!  He was having success as a working actor having given up his previous career as a psychological therapist.  My brother had met him one summer when they were both doing Shakespeare and persuaded him to pursue an acting career instead.  It was certainly good advice and soon Dick was a familiar face on television and films!
My friend Howdy Hoeffding had also come back to LA from New York for Christmas. I’d met him first In Paris, learned he was from LA, accidentally run into him again in NYC and we’d been friends ever since.

We got together at Cyrano, a chic coffee house on the Sunset Strip.  We thought that would be a good way to get a good dose of LA before returning east!  Howdy brought his friend, Gail whom I’d heard about but never met. 
Having been away from “Hollywood” for awhile, I was looking at everyone and everything with fresh eyes.  I’d become a New Yorker!
It was an evening well spent. Gail and Howdy agreed.
Margo and Herb stopped by again the next day as I was getting ready to meet my mother and Aunt Lil for lunch in Hollywood.
We met at the Small World Emporium, recommended by my brother.  It was near his office and he’d hoped to meet us there.
My brother wasn’t able to make it to lunch but later in the day I was surprised when Hal Buckley appeared at the house.  I’d known Hal in New York when he was a regular cabaret performer. As a matter of fact, the night before I flew to Europe I saw Hal in a Julius Monk show at The Plaza Hotel and after, he persuaded a group of us to take a quick wade in the fountain in front of the hotel.  And here he was — in Beverly Glen!
It turned out he was living right across the road at The Four Oaks with Jack Allen!
Herb and Margo came again — this time for dinner. Herb had been offered a long desired position in the French Department of the University of Illinois and he’d accepted it.
A celebratory evening finally ending with a bit of euphoria.

And earlier in the day I had run by a Western Union office to send a telegram to my cousin June in Honolulu. She and her husband Milt had invited me to come for New Year’s Eve and I was going.
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