GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Friday, August 5, 2011

Brentwood, California

I grew up in Brentwood, California in a house designed and built by the architects Buff & Hensman for my father. The Riviera Country Club was at the end of our street and we would crawl through the fence and play football on one of the fairways which were very well maintained we thought. It seemed like quite a normal place to live and the people were nice. Many of them were celebrities which was not a word I would have understood at the time--I was just aware that a lot of my friends' parents and many of my neighbors were on television and in the movies. One of my friend's parents were Hugh Marlowe (all About Eve, The Day the Earth Stood Still) and K.T. Stevens (The Rifleman, The Young and the Restless) and it seemed I was always seeing one or the other of them on Perry Mason.

Very often, I would spend weekends at Jeffrey Marlowe's house and we'd watch Twilight Zone and stay up late. Dinners there were formal with Hugh sitting at the head of the table preparing each plate and passing it around the table. Jeffrey's mom was an elegant woman and--truth be told--I had a crush on her. Hugh had a workshop that was joined with a detached garage and it was memorable for me as he had Playboy centerfolds pinned to the wall. I thought that was extraordinary and not something that would have be countenanced by my step-mother who we thought of as Cruella DeVil from 101 Dalmatians. Many, many years later as I was walking through the Hamburger Hamlet restaurant in Brentwood--an adult, one might say--I heard a voice call out my name. It was K.T. Stevens, who I hadn't seen in ages, calling me to her table to say hello and chat. I'll never forget her.

On the subject of Playboy magazine, my next door school friend was stunned that I'd never seen a copy. I was stunned that he was stunned. A day or so after that conversation had taken place, I found myself playing in front of my house as his mother arrived home in her beige Thunderbird. She stopped near me, lowered the passenger window and called to me. "This is for you," she said handing me a brand new copy of the current Playboy. I didn't know what to say but managed a "Thank you" before she continued on to her own driveway. I think I was in the sixth grade at the time.

I remember going door-to-door asking neighbors if they had seen our lost dog. One of the doors opened to reveal Jane Powell (Alcoa Theatre, The Red Skelton Hour) in a bikini. She was the first woman I'd ever seen with so few clothes on and I almost forgot why I was there. She was quite a sight for this six year-old in those pre-cable TV, pre-Internet times.

We used to play in a tree-house fortress hidden away in the hill above the country club and below Sunset Boulevard. One day, a lot of men were searching through the wooded area. In the newspaper the next day, we learned that a woman had been murdered in her house just above us and that she had been found in her bathtub barefoot. I recall wondering at the time why the fact that she was barefoot was worth mentioning.

I pass through Brentwood from time to time and will stop at the Country Mart for the roasted chicken and fries with the seasoned salt. Most of the shops that were there have gone; some have been replaced by new ones. I wonder if those growing up there today find it all as magical as I did.


Chad Glass said...

Your writing placed me back in time, to a childhood that I momentarily related to but never experienced.

Mike Gulett said...


Most of us have childhood memories like this - well, except for the movie and TV stars.

I hope you keep sharing your memories.

Vic said...

Great post, Stephen. Thanks for sharing your boyhood memories.