Ironically, when I was a kid in the Sixties, I didn’t need drugs. I lived in Beverly Hills.
I didn’t grow up rich, I grew up around rich. Like many lovely normal children, I grew up in the “poor” section of Beverly Hills. We were so poor, while all the other kids who lived above Santa Monica Boulevard got a private limo to school, we had to walk. Five blocks; it was no big deal. We didn’t know we were significantly better off than most of surrounding Los Angeles, or for that matter, the entire contiguous United States. Beverly Hills had the highest divorce rate in the nation; nearly 50% of the kids I knew from grade school came from broken homes. Granted they were nice million dollar homes, but broken nonetheless. Of all the homes in Beverly Hills, none was like The Witch’s House.
My parents were middle class by American standards.
They wanted me to benefit from the best education system in the United States and Beverly Hills was known for that. We lived in “the flats”; the one-story Spanish Colonial style white stucco houses with terracotta tiled roofs. Fireplace, wood floors, backyards; these places were great. And, since my parents were always on the move like corporate Bonnie and Clyde, I got to live in one on nearly every street, from Elm to Camden.
Beverly Hills back then was a film-land fantasy.
Riding my bicycle up Beverly Drive, I would pass Lucille Ball, Danny Thomas, Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Cagney, coming out of Nate N Al’s deli. Once a week in homeroom, a strange CIA-looking man in a dark suit and mirrored glasses would appear in the classroom doorway and ominously point to a kid sitting at his little kid’s desk. The kid would get up and follow the stranger out. The kid was a child actor and was scheduled on the set. You’d go to a friend’s house after school to play and his mother would bring us milk and cookies. Then you’d realize his mother was Bette Davis. But, Halloween? Wow.
Nothing like Halloween in Beverly Hills.
Sure it was fun to dress up in scary costume and knock on an anonymous door in the section of Beverly Hills north of the class dividing line: Santa Monica Boulevard. (Which used to have a freight train run through it.) But was most fun was visiting The Witch’s House. On the corner of Carmelita and Walden.
Built in 1921 the house originally served as offices in a Culver City film studio. Designed by art director Harry OIiver (who was a pioneer in Storybook architecture) the house was moved to its present location in 1934 and was initially occupied by the Spadena family. Virtually no right angles and a full working surrounding moat, the house was purchased and renovated by real estate developer Michael Libow.
But when I was a kid….
We went there Trick Or Treating. The lady who lived there at the time dressed up in full black witch’s costume, including pointy hat and broom. She’d hand out candy to all us kids. This was the Beverly Hills I grew up in. Like growing up on a film studio.
Cut to me in therapy the rest of my life.
Enjoy LA! While it’s still here…..