Memories Of Foggy Falling Leaves Evenings From Your Youth

April 26, 2014

As I was moseying down Melrose to LaLa’s….two pigeons …doves……. landed at my feet which made me pause and think of my dear friend Angel who raises them…

which made me think of tacos…as he without a doubt makes the Best …he cooks up a storm …of food in restaurant size cauldrons…..absolutely fabulous Mexican food!!!!!

but I was thinking of coincidences…as earlier I had been at the Arclight Movie Theatre to see the wonderful movie “Locke”…..

Tom Hardy is the sole actor…sort of but not like Sandra Bullock was in “Gravity”….

I arrived early at the theatre…

there were two old couples in front of me…well actually the same age as me….

they were talking of TV Comedy shows….and one said then there was that Comedy show with a woman…

one said Carol Burnett??? the others said yes….

and then they started talking about Harvey Korman …

my dear friend Donna was married to him and was responsible for making him the star he became……

one of the old duffers was saying how “that short guy”…would try to make Harvey laugh…and how Harvey would resist….

they could not recall that “short guys” name…

I wanted to yell out “Tim Conway”…..

but the old duffer said that Harvey use to date “the girl who lives above me on Croft”….

which made my ears PERK up….and realize they were talking of an old friend Shirley Wilson…..

Donna had told me about Harvey’s affair several years ago…which I was not aware of…..but to have it resurrected in my memory sort of surprised me…as I once was quite fond of Shirley as I met her through my second lover Roger Billingsley…

Shirley went to a “shrink” as she called what one would now call a “coach”….well like FOREVER…

I remember it was her mother who use to bury her dolls when she was a child in their back yard of Georgia….after decapitating them…..

..yet she was supposedly one of Donna’s best friends….

.well Shirley never regained the eccentric stature she once held in my life…as I have always been in awe of Donna ..

years ago she and Roger (dead years ago of AIDS..way after when we broke up and he had thrown all of my clothes into the street…another story)…owned on the posh Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.. shop they named Twigs

…as each gift was wrapped with a bunch of real twigs that Donna would collect in her Santa Monica neighborhood…..(and Donna was the Creative person behind the name and the gift wrap)

I loved working there…

as I have said before Donna was one of the FIRST Strong Women I encountered way back then….she had balls before it was an admirable thing for women to have…I guess due to my mother whom I adored not having any in front of my scarey Father…I was drawn to Donna out of admiration….

she was the one who gave me my favorite gift of the time…a stalk of Brussel Sprouts…which she Hates….

when I got to LaLa’s…

Claudio…my straight Argentinian came rushing up to show me how well his arm has healed….flipping it in all directions…he is a sweetheart

and then my favorite Mexican busboy with the long pony tail came up to bump fists…and tell me how his 10 year old who is learning Chinese has now taken up soccer..the kid is the apple of his eye…he has custody of his kid….and I just really love to support his furthering his child’s education…..and to see the happiness his son brings him…

then my Gay waiter came up…he wears some leather thing that I don’t quite understand …it goes over his shoulder and is belted..reminds me of Nazi attire for some reason….

..he is in his 20’s and comes from no money at all…but I do so like him…he is marrying his friend of 5 years in June …and I do want to give them something beyond a smile…

but he said “Have you ever heard of the restaurant “Mildred Pierce” on Robertson Blvd….we found a book of matches in the back of a drawer in the apt we are renting..

we drove by the address but it is NOT there……

which astounded me as that is the First restaurant my Uncle bought and created for his lover Nicky Nichols after he came in to his money left by his parent at the age of 40…

it was a glorified hot dog stand but Sonny and Cher did dine there once….way back then….

and I remember those matches distinctly as Nicky designed them so that on the tip was a bit of carbon so one could use them as a pencil…in case one got lucky and wanted to write down a phone number……

the only problem was that they had several lawsuits as the carbon would fly off as you struck the match and land in someone’s eye…..

my uncle went on to buy for Nicky one of the Most Popular Gay restaurants…in Los Angeles…which was named the Garden District…at 747 La Cienega where I worked for several years running the office…..back before “Sugar” as Nicky called everyone….ran it financially into the ground….and many years later after my uncle had died…was padlocked by the IRS for not paying taxes……on Valentines Day

never forget working in the office which was across the street on Sherwood…above a frame spraying shop…

and man the fumes…I should be dead by now….

Nicky thought everyone was stealing from him…was a total functioning drunk…..would sit in a drunken stupor in his station wagon across La Cienega from the restaurant….and watch to see if the late night cleaner was stealing food…well the guy WAS allowed a free dinner which he usually took home in a paper sack…

but Nicky would come in to the office after I got there at 8 and say “Robby Fire Pedro…I caught him stealing food….” I felt so sorry for the Mexican guys as he seemed to lambast them the most…Sabino their fabulous cook..and man could he prepare the most wonderful Abalone which was so plentiful back then…

Nicky would drunkenly show Sabino HOW to cook a hamburger on the kitchen’s grill…I was always embarrassed for them but they all were secretly laughing at their Cherokee boss…..

by the way Nicky in his hay day was drop dead gorgeous…looked like a young Tyrone Power…..

I put his mail (bills) in the top drawer of one of those 4 file grey upright cabinets…

he would reach in and see the bills…and throw them at me saying “Sugar Pay THESE…I don’t want to be depressed today…”

there were like 15 waiters…(all of whom were gay)… with whom I was VERY close to and considered “family”…

they ALL died of AIDS…

I was always “married” and not promiscuous…due to Scarlett in Gone With The Wind”…another story…..

…there were two other successful Gay restaurants in LA…The Carriage Trade owned by Don West and Numbers owned by Don first boss as I worked at his Ah Men store in the catalog department…and again another story

It was a pick up hustler place on Sunset …gorgeous young kids in their youth picked up by older grey/dyed haired men with their profuse gold jewelry on their wrists and around their necks….man the Liberace period of gay life….

but back then the Garden was THE Place to be…and the money it made….

back in the 70’s a bartender could make $800 a night in tips……and a waiter $500….

Easter was the most profitable day…and Man the Easter bonnets that the guys would wear in …well Gays ARE creative!!!!

Nicky’s friend Martha (Maggie) Raye would be there sniffing poppers…dancing in the aisles

I would go with my Uncle and his lover Jim Reitzel …whom I still adore as he is one of the most wonderful men around…but we would go for brunch…and due to Sumner’s fabulous stories and friends…stay from Brunch through dinner…..and end up closing the joint..14 hours later ..

will NEVER forget there was one night when Sumner and I were alone….and we went through this scenario…and left at 2…we were walking to Sumner’s car…

he was telling one of his fabulous stories…well we were a tad inebriated….. but laughing so hard that we were crying…..Sumner was on a cane…he lost his footing fell on top of me…and we ended up in the gutter…laughing hysterically..

..I will NEVER forget that precious moment….we both were bleeding…and went back to the Garden where my dear friend Juan (the driver for Donna’s Budapest eve)…opened the door gasping at the blood on my white levis……

One REALLY does Have to Seize the Moment….

as years later you will look back and smile at that one foggy falling leaves evening from your youth…and just sigh…..

One Response to “Memories Of Foggy Falling Leaves Evenings From Your Youth”

  1. Richard said

    What a great read! My name is Richard Koper and I’m an author currently researching the Live of actress Barbara Nichols. She visited the Garden District regularly. Do you remember her?

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