I like to think that somewhere, Carole Lombard is smiling because I've finally moved into my Los Angeles apartment; the furniture arrived today. It's been nearly three weeks since the bed, computer desk and chair, TV, nightstand and other items were packed back in Virginia, and I had to wait my turn as other matters were attended to during this transcontinental move. It's been worth it -- tonight I finally get to sleep in my own bed.
If only I could say my view of the Los Angeles skyline was as spectacular as that photo. But I'm on the fourth floor (albeit the top one) of my 1920s apartment, and I face neither the downtown skyscrapers or the mountains above what locals call "the basin." No complaints, however -- the view faces southwest, so I don't have to worry about direct sunlight (always good for a writer). And there is sort of a Lombard vibe to the area; I'm not all that far from 138 North Wilton Place, where Carole lived with her family for much of the 1920s, or Virgil Junior High School, one-time home of student Jane Alice Peters.
Were Lombard to magically rematerialize in this part of LA today, she'd see many buildings and storefronts still around from her time, but they'd be complemented by modern stucco low-rise apartments and the ubiquitous two-story mini-malls. The people would be different, too -- not large strains of Midwest emigres like the Peters family, but a diverse ethnic blend of Koreans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, blacks and other groups. I've been told the neighborhood is a fairly quiet one...probably not all that different from the 1920s, though residents now use the Red and Purple subway lines, not the Red and Yellow streetcars.
My new apartment is comfy, but the building has its quirks -- chiefly an elevator that's been here from day one (more than 85 years). The metal exterior door opens with a handle, but thankfully won't open if it isn't on your floor. But you have to make certain it's completely shut, or it won't operate. And when you're on the fourth floor and someone who just left the first floor didn't close it all the way, well, you're stuck until someone else boards.
The move isn't complete. I can't use my desktop computer or TV yet, because they won't be installed until later this month. And later this week, I'll return east to clear out what's left of my old digs. But by the time July ends, I'll be an Angeleno for good...just like Lombard was.
To close, I'll salute that elevator with an Eddie Cochran classic that George Harrison and other future Beatles were big fans of in the fifties. From "The Girl Can't Help It," here's "Twenty Flight Rock":