Matt Weinstock, Oct. 7, 1959

Ledge to Remember

As anyone who was around then will recall, things were mighty tough in 1936.  The Depression was on and jobs were scarce and, while hardly anyone went hungry, many persons weren’t eating too well.

In this prevailing condition a young newspaperman named Hal set out from New England to find a place for himself.  He got to Detroit in winter, found nothing, and decided to head for California, where at least it was warmer.  He lined up a ride with an auto caravan and in a few days found himself marooned in Wyoming with $3.

He hitchhiked to Los Angeles, registered at a cheap downtown hotel and tried unsuccessfully to get a job on the papers.  When his money was gone he sneaked out of the hotel, leaving a note that he’d return for his bag and pay his bill.

HE HEADED for San Francisco but found Bakersfield so cold he thumbed back to L.A.  By this time he’d learned how to get along without money.  He slept in old cars in parking lots or auto wrecking yards and had become accustomed to being stabbed in the back all night by loose springs.

Still unable to find work here, he started hiking to San Diego with the vague notion he might eventually get to New Orleans.  He got to South L.A. the first night, found a wrecking yard and was sleeping in a car when he felt a sharp pain on the soles of his feet.  A policeman had struck him with a nightstick and was ordering him to move on.

Broke, tired, hungry, he walked dozens of blocks until he found a ledge next to a drugstore where he could sleep.  It was the low point in his odyssey, although a week later he got a job on a paper in Phoenix.

The years have passed and today Hal is a top man in a phase of Hollywood and TV activity. But every time he passes the drugstore — on the way to his cottage in Balboa — he is exhilarated by the recollection of the night he slept on the ledge, which is still there.  It’s a wonderful reminder to him never to take things for granted and a tonic against self-importance.


OOPS! — At the ground-breaking ceremony for the $30 million Hopkinton-Everett dam at Concord, N.H., a few days ago, Vice President Nixon was quoted by AP as saying, “No nation in the world can afford the luxury of continual floods and the United States is no exception.”  Luxury?


    INCIDENTALLY it appears the wire service gentlemen have finally broken through another banality barrier.  For years it was customary, when a military flier was killed in a plane crash, to state awkwardly, “Identity of the pilot was withheld pending notification of next of kin.”  Twice in the last fortnight such stories have stated simply, “The pilot’s name was not announced until relatives could be notified.”  Thankyez.


THE World Series frenzy caught up with Henry S. De La O yesterday as he was walking on Whittier Blvd.  A stranger, seeing the cord extending from his ear to his pocket, rushed up and asked what the score was.  Henry, who has a hearing deficiency, replied, “Mister, this is really a hearing aid.”


    ATTENTION OF persons incurably addicted to perversity is directed to this statement on Page 10 of the Saturday Review:  “Last year bank robbers in the United States took $1,300,000 in holdups.  During the same period of time, however, the employees of banks walked out with $9,500,000.”  Positively shuddery.


    AT RANDOM —   It’s a safe bet that in time every phase of human activity will have been introduced by a cocktail party.  This is to record that one was held for the press a few days ago at theWestwood, a new, modern psychiatric hospital . . . It’s Tom Cassidy’s observation that hi-fidelity is catching up with infidelity as grounds for divorce.  Husbands become so engrossed in their woofers and tweeters they neglect their wives. . . Oops!  Yes, another one.  One of the new new cars was stalled in traffic Saturday at 10 p.m. on Olympic Blvd. at Country Club Dr. — the very day it made its debut.  Police cars, flares on the street, the whole bit.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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