Archives for : April1954

Which Came First?

We never miss the yearly Spring Brunch at the club. They do such a great job of including the children in fun activities. Last year, there was a lovely lop-eared bunny petting zoo and the kids loved feeding pieces of carrots to the fuzzy rabbits. This year’s theme was Chicks and Eggs. I found a sweet pale pink crinolined dress for Daisy, a straw boater hat with a matching ribbon, and planned to stop at Mister Cobbler’s for new patent leather shoes. Stevie Jr. balked at the idea of trying on new clothes but after much complaining, huffing, and puffing, I was able to find the right-sized jacket. The pants could be altered to fit. He’s going to be tall like his Dad. With a new shirt and a pale blue clip-on tie, he’ll be dressed like a little man. Getting him to try on new shoes might require some bribery, but I was up for the challenge.

On the morning of the brunch, I woke up early and dressed. I laid out Steve’s suit and tempted him to get out of bed by putting his cup of coffee on the vanity in the bathroom. Daisy was easy to dress even though she didn’t like the scratchy crinoline. I surprised her with a little matching purse that she immediately filled with tiny plastic animals and bracelets. I sent her into the kitchen to twirl around on the linoleum to break in her shoes. Junior was a little harder to get ready because he refused to cooperate and stood stock still while I dressed him. He had gone to bed with wet hair and it stuck up all over his head in funny points. I wet it again and smoothed it down while he wrenched up his face in mock pain. Once everyone was ready, Steve took pictures of the children for our photo album. I was exhausted and we hadn’t even left yet.

The brunch buffet was beautifully laid out and the children used their good manners and sat up straight while they ate. Junior likes to watch the chef make his waffle and he loads on the toppings. Daisy loved the baby-sized pancakes on skewers and she dipped them in the pool of maple syrup on her plate. I am going to steal that idea for Saturday breakfasts. As the families finished eating, you could feel the growing impatience of the children while they waited for the fun to begin. Jane Van Wyck was the event organizer this year. She announced for the families to meet at the practice putting green behind the restaurant for the activities. As we approached the putting green, I heard some peeping and cheeping. Baby chicks in various pale colors hopped about on the green amongst brightly dyed hard-boiled eggs. I looked at Steve and saw the color drain from his face. All at once, kids starting running toward the green. The bigger kids arrived first, smashing the eggs into the sod while trying to pick up the chicks. The chicks hopped about as best they could to get away. Anxious chicks apparently are hard-wired to react to anxiety the way humans do. You could hear the kids announce their disgust as the chicks started to use their natural pooing defense. The kids put down the chicks and rubbed their hands on their good clothes. Mothers and fathers grabbed tissues and handkerchiefs in defense against the excrement. The peeping slowed as the chicks started to calm down. After a trip to the overcrowded restroom, we grabbed our candy and started to drive home.

Every now and then, I thought I could hear a peeping sound from the back seat. When I turned around, Stevie made chick-like noises that made Daisy giggle. He had quite a bit of bird droppings on his suit jacket and it would need a trip to the cleaners. Daisy had been disappointed because she was too little to catch a chick. I thought it was cute of Stevie to entertain her. When we arrived home, Junior offered to take off his jacket and pulled Daisy towards the bedrooms so that she could change also. This was suspicious. I waited a minute and then followed them quietly. Junior’s door was cracked open and I could see him gently holding a baby chick so that Daisy could pet the down with her fingers. She was delighted and looked up at her big brother in awe. I quietly closed the door and went back to the kitchen. Steve was pouring a drink while discussing the damage that had occurred to the putting green. I told him that he had a bigger problem and let him know about our new pet. Steve handled the situation very diplomatically. “Feathers” now has her own enclosure in the laundry room. Snowball is frightened of the noises that come out of the chick so she stays away. Feathers is fond of big band music and sometimes I leave the radio on in the afternoon to keep her company. Stevie Junior and Daisy take turns “walking” the chick outside. Well, it’s not really walking, but more like herding. Steve told the kids that they could keep Feathers until the chick outgrew the enclosure. After that, they would drive the chick out to Uncle George’s farm to live a peaceful life.

Godzilla Ate the Girl

The movie listings in the newspaper reminded me about Brooke. When she arrived a couple of weeks ago, we were enthralled with our brush with stardom. Mags called to explain why Brooke had finally visited. It was true that Brooke had been cast in a couple of films. She had completed her scenes for one film but when it was released, she was seen briefly in a background shot. Brooke told Mags that when the second film scenes were shot, Brooke couldn’t really tell what would happen. She had been given pages of a script with no title, her scenes were filmed in front of some special screen, and she had no context of the story. Brooke had spent two weeks screaming in reaction to the mask worn by a man on a lift above her head, climbing up a fake building, and running to escape something. She had some scenes that she enjoyed filming during which she performed multiple death scenes. They were fun because she could be as dramatic as she wanted. Brooke had asked for more information on the film, but none was given to her.
Brooke did manage to wear a pair of gold high-heeled shoes that Karoleen had created for her. They were covered with giant fake gems. Karoleen was trying to start a side business designing shoes and needed some publicity. The shoes were one of a kind and dazzled under the studio lights.
A few days prior to her arrival here, Brooke went to the studio to complete an audition and saw workmen pasting a two-story-high movie advertisement on the side of the building. On one side of the advertisement was a two-headed beast and the other side wasn’t finished. Brooke’s heart sank as she saw a pair of gold jewel-encrusted high heels on the body of the woman that would show on the other side of the advertisement and realized that she had filmed a creature feature. She skipped the audition and jumped into a phone booth to call her agent. Freddy Finkelstein could not answer Brooke’s questions about the film. He had accepted the part so that Brooke could get more exposure. Brooke slammed down the receiver, returned to her apartment, packed, and drove for two days to see Mags.
Brooke had settled into a routine with Mags. They shopped, had afternoon cocktail parties, and talked. Mags invited us all over one morning to spend time with Brooke. Sure, she was sophisticated, but so was Mags. Maybe it was in the family genes. We got over our shyness and asked Brooke lots of questions. The flashy car, furs, jewels, and fancy clothing were part of the illusion. Brooke was quite sweet and smart as a whip.
I caught Brooke with her hair up in pin curls one morning when I stopped by to see Mags. It was late morning, and Brooke was making eggs in the kitchen. According to Brooke, Mags had “stepped out.” Brooke stood over the stove with a cigarette holder hanging loosely from her lips. She wore a long, flowing floral robe that tied in the front with Marabou slipper heels. So Hollywood. I asked Brooke if she wanted me to finish the eggs for her, and she nodded while yawning. Mornings, even late mornings, were not her strong suit. Her facial features without makeup were youthful and innocent. Brooke sat down at the kitchenette with a cup of coffee and an ashtray. I dropped some bread into the toaster, grabbed the grape jelly from the icebox, and plated the breakfast. Brooke looked up at me and silently mouthed her thanks. I poured a cup of coffee and pulled a cigarette out of the stash that Mags keeps in the kitchen cabinet. We sat in silence for a few minutes while she ate.
I asked Brooke if anyone in LA knew where she had gone. She told me that there was no one in LA who cared. I did my best to let her know that there were probably lots of people who cared about her and encouraged her to call someone and let them know. I didn’t think that it would be good to have someone start an investigation into the disappearance of Brooke unless she wanted more publicity. Brooke’s head lifted and her eyes lit up. Apparently, publicity was important to her. She quickly excused herself, thanked me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and kissed me on the lips. A starlet’s idea of acceptable behavior could really be misinterpreted. I picked up the breakfast dishes and left them rinsed in the sink.
Later that day, Mags called and told me that Brooke wanted to say good-bye to me before she left. I walked across the street and found Brooke packing up her hatboxes, luggage, and make-up case in the convertible. She was dressed up in a completely gold outfit. Beautiful shiny gold dress, small gold-netted hat, gold gloves, and shiny-jeweled gold shoes unlike any that I had ever seen. I’m not even sure that wearing a pair of shoes like that was even legal. Mags came out and placed a small picnic container on the front seat. Brooke grabbed me again and hugged me tightly without kissing me this time. I was grateful because I’m pretty sure that everyone in the neighborhood was peering out from behind their front drapes watching us. Mags and Brooke shared a sweet good-bye. A small tear slipped from one of Mags’ eyes, and she wiped it quickly away. Brooke hopped into the car, waved, and sped off. I turned to look at Mags and said, “What the hell was that about?” Mags linked her arm in mine and steered me back into the house to tell me about the events of the last couple of hours.
I had unwittingly given Mags the reason to call Freddy. The thought that her leaving might have garnered some publicity encouraged her to call him. He told her that there were a lot of people looking for her, and he was ecstatic to finally hear from her. Reaction to her creature feature “Heroine of the Hydra” was tremendous and there were industry insiders and studio representatives calling day and night for Brooke. Freddy told Brooke that her innocence and beauty had sparked a demand for her talents. She was the new “It” girl. He had stacks of scripts for her to read and a certain designer had requested that Brooke model the new line. Freddy laughed and told Brooke that a small frenzy had erupted with women looking for the same gold-jeweled shoes that she had worn in the movie. Brooke couldn’t wait to get back to LA to her new opportunities.
Mags was glad that Brooke had come to her when she needed to get away, and they had forged a good relationship. For myself, I felt good to have inadvertently helped Brooke find a reason to return. I’ll follow her future career with great interest. Brooke has a world of opportunities ahead of her!