Thursday, August 10, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: San Francisco, Part CXXII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

My UCLA fraternity brother, Jerry Proctor telephoned to tell me that Chuck Dent, another of our brothers was visiting New York and we met for dinner at La Brochetteria.

It had been 9 years since UCLA and I'd lived away from California in New York and Paris since 1960 so there was a lot of catching up to do on my part.

Jerry had traveled quite a bit too so the evening passed very quickly.
I must admit that I have no memory of the evening or Sam Goldfarb but I may have been with Paul Bartel and it may have been a time to talk about our movie, The Secret Cinema.
A few days later I met Mary-Robin Redd for coffee at The Automat in Times Square.
We were chatting and people-watching and Robin looked thoughtful and then just a bit sad.

"They're all gray," she said as she watched the other people at their tables. Then, "wouldn't it be awful if the pumpkin pie turned out to be squash!"

Robin was like that. One night we had a French waiter at the Brasserie and he asked, "vous voulez que je marque le total?"*

And after he left, she looked at me and said, "did he just say 'do y'wanna buy a hotel?'"

(*He'd said, "Do you want me to write the total?" for our check)

A few days later I met my brother Richard and his wife Nancy in San Francisco where one of his closest friends — Ed Rush — was getting married.  Ed (nowadays using his original first name, Paul) and Richard had been friends since they were teenagers, and with the passage of time had grown even closer.  With another friend, Ed had had a short stint as a singing duo and Ed had written the now classic, "Plastic Jesus":

The lyrics, I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I have my plastic Jesus 
Glued to the dashboard of my car!

And so on.

Ed/Paul is excessively intelligent.  And funny!

"Plastic Jesus" was used in the movie  Hud. And as an entertainment lawyer, Richard was able to prove Ed's authorship and get payment for him for the use of his song.

And now Ed was marrying Susan, an art galleriste and adviser.
After getting settled in at a small hotel near the landmark Buena Vista bar we first stopped at Ghirardelli Square before going to dinner.  After, we felt it was obligatory to stop at the Buena Vista.  They'd invented Irish Coffee.
Edward M. "Mike" Berol was one of my father's closest friends.  Like my father (and brother) he was a lawyer and like my father, a specialist in Interstate Commerce.  My father in Southern California and Mike in Northern California!  They'd even become business partners by purchasing a very large parcel of beautiful woodland hillside in Moraga in the East Bay of San Francisco near Orinda and Walnut Creek.
Mike was the most elegant man I think I've ever met. Everything he did seemed to be effortless and just right.  As a young child I used to receive copies of Esquire magazine that he'd bring to me on his frequent visits to Los Angeles where he kept an apartment in an Art Deco building near Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park).  In those days, Esquire's covers were photographed with miniature figures in settings — always with "Esky" the mascot, an amusing caricature of Arnold Gingrich, the magazine's founder surrounded by beautiful miniature bathing beauties or showgirls. I loved the table-top photography and Mike encouraged me.
He was therefore thrilled to know that I'd become a regular illustration contributor to the magazine!
After visiting him in his office we went to the new Playboy Club.
And with Nancy's cousin Tom Haehle, who was living in San Francisco, we ended the evening at Enrico's.
A few years later, while experiencing an LSD trip, Tom felt he'd be able to walk off of the roof of a high rise building.  He attempted it and was tragically wrong in trusting his abilities. Or the LSD.
The next evening we were invited to Mike's home in San Rafael to dinner.  Mike had married for a second time.  I remembered that his first wife's sister Sophie Rosenstein had been the head of talent at Warner Brothers, a fact that obsessed me as I knew I'd be a major movie star!  We lived two houses away from young Paramount star Diana Lynn and she, like me, was a pianist and had been discovered!

For me it was only a matter of time.

But now, Mike had married Peggy and they had infant baby girl twins.
Peggy was fun and just as quietly elegant as Mike.
She was also wildly intelligent and told us a very funny story about the nanny for their babies. The nanny was Mexican and spoke Spanish to the little girls and as the girls got older, there were many secret conversations that neither Peggy nor Mike, non-Spanish speakers, were able to understand.
They felt completely left out!
After dinner we sat talking long into the evening with brandy and for Mike and Rich, a cigar.
And the next evening was the wedding!

It was at The Swedenborgian Church and the whole place was candlelit!

No electric lights at all and the room was decorated with a forest of undecorated fir trees which released a deep green perfume into the room while a harpsichordist played a prelude to the ceremony.  The effect was simple and extravagantly elegant. Though San Francisco had had its Summer of Love just a few months earlier, this was so romantic I felt transported to the city's mid-19th century.
During the late supper there were groups of costumed Mexican musicians and dancers performing and reinforcing the illusion.  

We were Californians!
After the wedding, we went with Leigh Kennicott, another friend from our early years to The Curtain Call. And after midnight, we sang "Happy Birthday!" My brother had turned 27!

What an appropriate name, The Curtain Call for an amazing evening!
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