Have the BALLS…meet under the clock of the St Francis Hotel

January 9, 2014

I just spent one of those delicious, falling leaves evenings, with my best oldest friend…who is 90

I sooo wished I had a recorder…as I since a small kid have LOVED stories from my elders….from my dear laundress Alice in my high school years…

as back then one did not ask your parents or grands…as it was not proper…..(what a loss for me…)

it goes back to my asking him WHAT he felt was the best invention he has known in his Life…..

he talked of the ice box his mother had in Taft California…..where he was born and grew up…..he remembers the “Ice Man” delivering for their ice box every day….

his first grade teacher was (shoot can’t remember her name…something like Miss Upton…)

her father owned the company that produced the ice for the town’s ice boxes…which sort of amazed me…as I remember having an ice box at our summer home on Burgundy Point in Northern Wisconsin… and our ice was delivered by an ice man who had cut it out of the ice from the lake the winter before…..and we stored it for the summer in our “ice house”…where blocks of ice were laid or is it layed …between layers of saw dust…

….we lived on a long peninsula – a mile in from the county road….no electricity…water pumped by a gasoline powered Briggs and Stratton engine that you had to kick start to make it work…the water was pumped into a wooden storage tank that was 30 feet above ground….when father was not around mother had to go out and pump it many a time to get the engine going…there were a lot of “Gosh Darns” expressed……

Jimmy said he went once up to Mrs Upton’s house…built on a hill above Taft ….. and was AMAZED at their hardwood floors…..as he had never seen anything so grand….

I said that the most impressive thing I remember were electric roll down windows in cars…that my grands had…my father thought they were a waste of money (as he did of AC and back up lights..all extras when I was growing up)……

which led Jimmy to talk about his first car with roll downs…which was years before I experienced them….

he is 23 years my senior….

we talked about his sex life…his first wife…whom he met in San Francisco …

he at the time owned a VERY successful “Record” store…and was involved with all of the juke boxes and slot machines in Taft…he was in SF for a convention of I think music stores….

and met Dionne (sp?) at the bar in the Mark Hopkins Hotel …she was coming from a party…

he asked her if they could meet again…she said “Meet Me Tomorrow Under the Clock at the St Francis Hotel”….

They met…as the clock’s hour hand turned to 7:00……

they fell madly in love….and got married…..but like so many marriages that happened back in those days….when you are THAT young……did not last….

my mother said she would have divorced my father …had it not been socially unacceptable BACK then….as frankly they were in my mind as different as chalk and cheese…

Jimmy with the money he made off of his businesses…and this was AFTER he had been a roust-about in the oil fields of Taft…been in the Army……moved to Hollywood…to Fountain Avenue (West Hollywood now – an Old GRAND building still there)

at the age of like in his late 20’s with Dione …lived above Miss Doris….whom he married like 50 plus years later…..

he had been an actor in Taft….in small productions..but TOTALLY loved the theatre…..and with the money he made from his music store…had the BALLS to spend it ALL on a production of Ibsen’s “Ghost”with really TOP named actors at the time…that he produced at the El Patio Theatre (?) in Hollywood…..

he lost everything financially producing this show..

…even had to sell his wonderful turquoise convertible Cadillac…and take a bus to Manhattan…..where he did not know a soul….

but he met so many many wonderful people.there ….Ray Strickland – Alex McDonald….

lived with Rock Hudson’s wife to be many years later……Phyllis Gates.. and with I think Ray….

knew Marlon Brando…Tab Hunter….the Contessa Lily Gerinni (sp?) … who totally adored him…and gave him at one point $5000…for no reason except she just liked him…..(he said she was a “handsome large woman”….)

she had a Villa on the Appian Way (sp?)….and they traveled back then through Europe together…she was like 20 years older than Jim…..

WHAT I admire MOST about my dear friend Jimmy…is that He has ALWAYS had the BALLS …. to live LIFE the way HE has chosen!!!!

He plans to live until he is 111….and he says he won’t die…he’ll just pass on to the next existence…where he will be reunited with his friends…Lily, Alex, Ray and the dear Miss Doris…….

(sigh!!!)

One Response to “Have the BALLS…meet under the clock of the St Francis Hotel”

  1. Richard Steele said

    Loved the story again, especially the “ice box”, I remember it at my Grandmother’s house and how it sat on the back screened in porch with assorted things in it. She told of the ice being delivered and that it came from the river in the winter–had the 5 and 10 signs to hang in the window. Keep writing. R&R

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