THE BACK LOT (part two)
I couldn’t resist. A smile broadened as temptation alter my course, luring me to cross the bridge that led to this port-of-call. I had to watch my step, as some of the wooden planks were warped. The square-paned windows were dirty, but that didn’t deter from their characteristic charm. I could just see abundant flowers in the now empty window boxes. Suddenly something shook me from my fantasizing. The beating of wings, within reach, stopped me in my tracks. I stood transfixed and was quite amused, of all things, a big seagull landed on a piling. “Well, hello, big fella,” I said, “are you working here today?” He, with not too much to say then dove into the murky water, obviously for some breakfast.
My heart was still beating a fast rhythm, as I moved on through the seaside town, and on to my next point of interest. My trek took me past a grove of trees and shrubs. This sort of landscaping is commonly used to provide a block between sets. That was rather spooky, winding through these overgrown bushes and dense trees on my way to where, I didn’t know. I’m sure these woods were used in movies, as it was big enough to give the impression of a dense thicket. I could just imagine a horse-drawn carriage or a merry band of thieves riding along the crooked byway.
Within a few moments I emerged from the “backwoods” and was once again astounded at what lay before me. It was totally unexpected, but there it was, as big as all outdoors! A desert! Complete with house-sized boulders, and a road that wound through the huge rocks, and narrowed down with the cliff up one side, and a sheer drop-off on the other. The rock formations were so authentic looking, one would think that they had been there since the beginning of time. Yet they didn’t seem at all indigenous to the area…Culver City! I walked up along this road, filled with potholes and hazards of all descriptions. Following along, cresting the top of the winding road, I look down to a totally different environ. Down in the Valley, stretching all the way to the hills, was a verdant green forest surrounding a lake. The water was dark and inky from the decaying leaves falling from the trees that grew down to the shoreline. The scene before me was quite reminiscent of the landscape I had seen in the Southeast. It could have been Maryland, Virginia, or the Carolinas, for the way it looked. There was a quiet foreboding that spoke of the hazards that lurked in the dark waters of an eastern wood lake. When I arrived at the shore, a crayfish was my official greeter. Perfect atmosphere!
Time was passing by swiftly, and my seven o’clock call was but a few minutes away. I bid Mr. Crawdad a fond farewell, and aimed myself in the direction of the old West. After passing by fields with a traditional farmhouse complete with barn, I arrived at my destination and was immediately transported back in time to somewhere in the mid-1800s. I was full of what I had just experienced in my long walk to work, a feeling I will never forget.
Alas, Lot 3 no longer exists. Now standing, where once wildlife of all sorts basked in the glory of this refuge, are acres and acres of condominiums. Nothing is the same. There is no epitaph or recognition of what’s so quietly stood until the ravages of progress painfully took it away. I can’t help but be sad whenever I pass that spot of “Hollywood” that has slipped into oblivion, like so many dinosaurs, yes, like so many dreams. Viewing old MGM movies, now owned by the Turner network, I see all those wonderful geographical locales that so enchanted me all those many years ago.
Another part of Hollywood that this little trek revealed, and that has always intrigued me are the sets (continued next month)