It was nice that the previous day had been rather low-key and relaxing, because this the fourth day of Laurel and Hardywood on Saturday, July 5, 2014, would be anything but… especially for David and me. We got up nice and early that morning and made our way from his house in Burbank to the Loew’s, meeting up with everyone in lobby before 9am. Making a few last-minute notes, I found our Bus #4 again and David and I set out to host another but trip.
Preparing some notes before our day of touring
The bus hosts Big Jimmy, Little Jimmy, Kevin Mulligan, and Bob
The first part of the trip was a little pointless from my perspective, as it took us out to Santa Monica to see Stan’s final apartment the Oceana. I had already seen it several times. Heck, I even stayed in it once. But from the other perspective, it was well-known to Laurel & Hardy fans, as most of Stan’s later correspondence came from there. So in a way, no tour of L&H locations in the area would be complete without it. The trip was all drive-bys and included the Oceana, what was left of the train tunnel from their silent film Two Tars, and the Hotel Shangra La, where Stan also lived briefly. David fed me some other notable locations, and I spouted them off to the crowd. Also along the way, David and I gave our bus trivia contests with the person who answered first (mostly Becky Kane) would win an bonus drink ticket to use at the Culver Hotel. I think it was then I realized how little most of these L&H fans knew in the trivia realm.
Handing out the walking tour brochures to those boarding the bus. You’re not trusting me!
David helps navigate and feeds me info to say
I begin the process of drying out my throat
The bus backtracked to Culver City, and all buses convened in the lot where the Hal Roach Studios plaque had been dedicated in 1980. I was there then, by the way. After spending about a half hour milling about on that little parcel of land while everyone got their pictures, the buses took us down another couple of blocks and dropped us off at the Culver Hotel. Bob had asked all conventioneers to wear their convention or other red shirts on this day, and we all assembled in front of the hotel in the sweltering heat for a giant group picture.
Amongst the Sons at the site of the Hal Roach marker
The Three Red Amigos
Madly scurrying Sons
Our group photo in front of the Culver Hotel. Go ahead and squint until you find me.
From about 11:30 to 2:30, conventioneers rotated between three activities: a guided walking tour of the Laurel & Hardy locations down Main Street and the surrounding area, watching L&H films inside the Culver Hotel which had been filmed outside the hotel whist grabbing mixed drinks at the bar (that’s where those drink tickets came in), and having lunch on your own.
This all worked out quite well and I know I would eaten this up as a conventioneer. As it was, I was more intimately involved as I hosted the first two walking tours of Culver City, using a program that Jimmy has re-designed from one of the earlier Way Out West Tent tours of the area. Using the guide made the tour pretty easy, not to mention the fact that I had visited it so many times, I knew it like the back of my hand. I tailored the tour to my liking, going behind the buildings to see the mural, and walking all the way down to the City Hall, which was where County Hospital had been filmed. Not quite accustomed to much public speaking, my voice was nearly strained by the end of the two hour-long trips.
David and Eileen in front of the Culver Hotel
Starting out down Main Street
The new unsightly location of the Leave ‘Em Laughing plaque, that had been removed for quite some time
The mural on the back of the hardware store, along with an uninvited guest
Pointing at things. Most people appear to be looking.
More pointing at a location from Hog Wild and Cougar Town as we head toward Van Buren
I used the final hour to check out a bit of the films, sit in the hotel restaurant with Dick Bann and go through some rare Hal Roach production stills, and then finally going with David over to the Which Wich restaurant on Main Street for a turkey reuben sandwich. It was around 2:30 that we began gathering up the masses to get back on the buses. I must admit it felt kind of cool to be an Ohio boy giving tours in California. In fact several members assumed that I lived locally.
David climbs the Culver
Watching Leave ‘Em Laughing inside the hotel
Browsing Dick’s pics
Two camera looks for the price of one
The Sons charter that Chuck McCann had hung in the Culver Hotel
Finally some lunch!
A nice drawing left behind in the Which Wich shop, by Sons member Greg Hammond
Taking pictures of passengers getting on my bus…
…like this colorful one of Lee
…and clearly a candid of Irene and Mary Mae
The buses went back to the Loew’s Hotel, and everyone had a few hours on their own to explore Hollywood Boulevard or what not. David and I walked around the Hollywood & Highland complex for a bit and then lounged around with the Wileys for a while, chatting about our next bus tour that night, and other unsavory subjects.
A view of the Hollywood Sign from the Hollywood and Highland complex
David and Kris in the Wiley room after a most therapeutic gab session
By 6pm, it was back to the buses for our final banquet of the convention. This would take place at the Heritage Square Museum outdoor complex. But first… no Hollywood convention could possibly be complete without a stop at the Music Box stairs. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been to these (well, I could, but I’m not going to)… but they always entertain. We were pressed for time so I had to take charge of having the three(!) sets of L&H look-alikes clear out of the way so that everyone had their chance to climb them if they wanted. And then, worse yet, wrangle everyone back onto the buses so that we could head on to Heritage Square. In between I got to meet the owners of the house across the street from the steps which can be prominently seen in The Music Box film. I had also asked everyone on our bus to count the steps and report their findings to Randy Skretvedt so that he could modify the incorrect number of 131 to 133 in the next version of his books Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies. Naturally we had varying reports, some in the 200’s.
David helps re-board the passengers
Too Ollies. Too many.
There’s me heading down the famous Music Box steps
The owners of the house on the corner of Vendome and Del Monte, prominently featured in the film
The buses arrived at Heritage Square about 7:15pm and we wasted no time in eating the barbecue chicken, macaroni & cheese, pasta salad, and salad served buffet style. Rick Greene’s wife Patty (and her company Patty’s Cakes) had made cupcakes with the boys’ pictures on them for dessert.
Arriving at Heritage Square and seeing a most familiar man in pajamas
The pajama idea didn’t quite take off, but Bob played it off nicely
The Pottsville train station as seen in the Laurel & Hardy film Berth Marks
The depot today, now relocated to Heritage Square from Palms. And oh yeah, Bob and me.
David, Rick, and me
Jimmy and David prepare to eat the boys
A man, a plan, and Dick Bann
The twelve disciples who have been to every Sons convention since 1978
Carolyn called from home and I took refuge on the porch of one of the historic buildings to chat for a while, so I missed the video Parade of Tents slideshow, the bid for the 2016 convention from Chris Coffey (which won, and would take place near Ulverston, England, birthplace of Stan Laurel), and the video tribute to the Intra-Tent Journal from Roger Goron. However I made it back to my seat for the main event, a play called Hats Off to Laurel & Hardy performed by L&H lookalikes Tony Carpenter and Philip Hutchinson. This is so not my kind of thing, and it ran at least an hour (even in its abridged format), but I must say that I was relatively entertained, and it did have a very poignant ending. Unfortunately because it ran so long, Bob had to bypass showing Berth Marks and Our Gang’s Pigskin Palooka, which had been partially filmed at the Palms train station, where the depot building that now sits in Heritage Square once stood (and appeared in both films, named Pottsville in Berth Marks).
It was getting late… and dark… and it was hard to find the restroom and go in them in the dark, but that’s another story. Bob attempted an auction which quickly fell apart due to an apparent lack of interest, and then followed it with a raffle. I was supposed to be managing the prize table, but the drawing went so fast and furious in order to save time, that I pretty much just let everybody who supposedly won have free reign over the prizes.
Once they were all scooped up, everyone was herded quickly onto the buses, and we headed back to the Loews. Everyone was boarded so fast that not everyone ended up on their original bus, so we merely hoped that no one was left behind in ‘Pottsville’. Despite the rather chaotic ending, it had been a very nice evening, and it was fun to have a rare outdoor banquet with the Sons.
The bus heads home. Bob was left behind, but was not run over.
It was nearly midnight before we got back to the Loews, and then David and I had to drive back to his place, so we were into the small hours before we got back to his place and to bed.
The convention was almost completely behind us now, but we had a couple more activities planned for the next day, as well as a nice, long break for some Disneyland action.
The 2014 Laurel & Hardywood convention will conclude in the next posting…