Tripping with Susie

me looking out at the lights of Las Vegas, age 16

Today I had lunch with my childhood BFF Susie.  Her birthday was last week, a day ingrained in my mind for life.  We often check in with each other at birthday times.  October will be the next time we might see each other, my birthday.

Her parents have both now died and just last week on the actual day of her birthday, like a gift, escrow closed on her parents’ house.  Susie told me she had a box of memories saved for me.  She brought them to lunch.  There were pictures and letters and other souvenirs.  She claims she has no use for any of this memorabilia.  No kids to hand it down to.  I’m family, it now belongs to me.  With these photos I can create all new blogs.   With other photos, I can fill in for blogs I didn’t have just the right photo for.  But, it is this one small eighth grade class photo of me,  I had given to her– that was just stunning.  I wrote these words on the back (look below)

And here we are all these years later, doing just that, talking about our memories.  Not to mention, that is the whole purpose of my blog — now celebrating it’s third anniversary — memories.

the 8th grade pic with my note written to Susie you read above


Here is a story about Susie and me at age 16, at least I was 16, and she had turned 17.  It was the same time of year as our recent lunch.  We were tripping.  Kidding.  We took a trip.  First to Vegas.  My brother was working that summer for a man named Morrie Stevens at his TV station in Henderson, Nevada — KHBV.


Digression.   A year earlier I was on another trip, also to Vegas, without Susie.  I was with my dad and we went to see Bobby Darin who blew me away with his charismatic performance.  And he came off the stage during his show to chat with my dad, introducing the “famous Duke” to the audience.   Very impressive.  I spent a lot of my free time at that age fantasizing about losing my virginity to Mick Jagger.   But there on the Las Vegas strip, after seeing Elvis perform one night at the International Hotel, I would have given it away to him, even the less attractive slightly bloated version.   He was SO sexy.

Back to a year later.  Susie and I were in an adventurous mood and on the spur of the moment decided to fly to San Francisco instead of home to L.A.  I called my dad, he called a friend who happened to run a hotel in a seedy part of town, the Tenderloin.  Jack, or as he was known to his friends and family, “Yonkle”, would let us stay there for free.  Also, my dad, really into freebies, arranged for two tickets for us to see this new (to the west coast) very famous play called “Hair.”  It was already playing on Broadway in New York starring a young Diane Keaton.  I was in the process of morphing into a hippie chick, so it would be fun to see a musical about like-minded people.  I was so excited to not only be traveling, which I loved, but finally to be seeing this play that was on everyone’s radar.

Age of Aquarius

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I cannot even describe to you the impact “Hair” had on us.  Finally a celebration of us, this new age. The Age of Aquarius.   And at the end, the big reveal.  Everyone comes out on stage fully naked.  I was so caught up in the play that for a brief moment, I forgot what was coming.  But then, there they all were holding hands and swaying and singing and I couldn’t look.  Nope, I just should have focused on a few people, but I’m such a complete hysteric that it was just a blur.  Standing before me was a sea of pubic hair. But no identifiable parts of the human anatomy.   I never fucking really checked out the men’s naked bodies.  Damn. However, I thought it was so fitting to have seen this first-of-its-kind rock musical in the heart of San Francisco where the hippie movement began during the Summer of Love, which in turn started the sexual revolution.  And when I finally joined in with that, sorry to say it wasn’t with Mick or Elvis and not with John Lennon either.  John Lennon was not even one of my adolescent fantasies.  But speaking of naked bodies and John Lennon, I should tell you that I often stared at the life-sized poster of him and Yoko hanging in the small dressing room of the first Maxfield store on Santa Monica Boulevard, near the Troubadour.  All that hair (speaking of hair) on both of them scared the shit out of me.  To get to that dressing room, I would walk past the rack of vintage 40’s furs with the padded shoulders, the ones Roxanne Shepard wore to school each day (Roxanne, a fast girl, who probably saw a naked boy or two in her time) to try on my corkies.


Susie told me I introduced her to avocado and cheese sandwiches with sprouts at a hippie style restaurant when we were in high school.  I still eat those sandwiches a lot and already talked about them here once before.  I often go to John’s Garden in Malibu for my fix.

However, in honor of Susie’s Greek grandmother who took us on an embarrassing hippie-tour-ride on the Sunset Strip, pointing at longhair counterrevolutionary types as we slid down on the floor of the backseat so as not to be noticed.  I would like to talk about Greek Restaurants that I love.

First place I will recommend came to me by way of a Greek man named Al that I loved.  He lived on my block here in the Palisades.  He raved, and I do mean raved,  about Papa Cristo’s Catering & Greek Taverna on Pico and Normandie in Los Angeles.

Anyone who knows me, understands that since I hate to drive, I make it easy and go to Malibu’s Taverna Tony.  Sometimes I just pick up their Taramosalata (fish egg dip) to go with their homemade pita bread.

In a small town in Quebec, called St-Sauveur, my absolute favorite Greek Restaurant is Lesvos.  Since I doubt anyone is ever in that town, try their restaurant in Montreal, also called Lesvos. Everything you order is fresh and delicious.

If you’re in New York, well, you just have tons of Greek Restaurants to choose from.  Tell me what your favorite is!!!

Jack (Yonkle) on right, brother Marty on left, wife of Marty, Doris in center

me wearing my corkies from Maxfields, with SOCKS? !!! don’t ask!!!!

from left me, Susie at her wedding and friend Ruby from childhood

older version of Susie and me

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27 Responses to “Tripping with Susie”

  1. robin says:

    brief post here, longer to follow on fb. here it is: hooray!

  2. Julie Phalen says:

    Anotherngreat memory. Thanks Freddie, can’t wait for our mother daughter lunch.

  3. Julie Phalen says:

    My computer really messed that up, sorry for the run on.

  4. Ellen Bloom says:

    Ruby Santellanes! I remember her. I saw her a few years ago…she lived across the street from a friend of mine. She’d changed her first name, but was still beautiful!

  5. What great memories and Hair…I must have seen at least 5 times…
    You are amazing what you are doing with all of our childhoods Fredde…
    Nora E. would be proud…
    Love the poster!..xo

  6. David Miller-Engel says:

    Good one Fredde…..BTW there are too many Greek restaurants here to even begin to say which is best….Back to Hydra for my favorite….

  7. Alan says:

    I was always in love with Chooch. (Did anyone else call Susie by that name?) I remember your visit to Las Vegas. Fun times. My other option that summer was to work at Jack’s hotel in SF as a bellboy. That would have been fun. But notwithstanding the 120 degree heat, I’m glad I spent the summer in Las Vegas.

  8. Carol Dudley says:

    Never ever a dull moment with your blog Fredde – love them all. xoc

  9. Mitch says:

    Great times, Fredde! I also remember Ruby. And I remember when you could fly to SF for $19 on PSA. We usually drove, though,because we were too young to rent a car. You’re right. San Francisco was Adventureland for us as teenagers.

  10. Albert says:

    Susie was my date to our prom…Conversely,
    I was her date…Hi Freddie!

  11. Larry says:

    OMG, Roxanne. Avocado sandwiches from the Yellow Submarine and Govinda’s?

  12. Phil Kaufman says:

    Used to visit Govinda’s quite a bit. On Santa Monica as I recall. They had a great fresh carrot juice. Always sort of liked the Hari Krishna’s.

    Speaking of Age of Aquarius, makes me think of Old World Restaurant on the Sunset Strip.

    Also a nice French restaurant on the beach in Malibu, called ‘La Mer’. Good food. Always ordered their escargot in garlic butter sauce.

  13. pauli says:

    Thank you for reminding me of that strangely earthy time in our collective history when it truly was all about hair…it must have been so weird and great to see that note you wrote way back when…such a wise child!

  14. Augie Duke says:

    OK time to get paid for your amazing stories

  15. Christel Chesney says:


    #1) Ditto on what Augie said.

    #2) You got to see HAIR. In person. In San Francisco. And you didn’t look at the guys “package”. What’s wrong with you woman? LMFAO

    #3) October 12 is the birth date of my first husband Tom Jaworsky (my son’s father).

    #4) October 12th is also my wedding date to current husband John Chesney. John was husband #3 that I remarried after husband #5 Phil Bivona died. Confused yet?

    5) Husband #5 Phil and I were 2 weeks shy of our 10th wedding anniversary when he passed away. This year will be John’s and my 10th wedding anniversary. Yoo Hoo finally gonna make a 10th wedding anniversary. That is a milestone for ME.

    5) You turn the number 12 around and you get 21. October 21 is my birth date.

    And I love that you have all the photos of all your friends. That to me is amazing in itself.

  16. Alice Stambler Seidman says:

    Another good one, Fredde. “The Great Greek” on Ventura in the SF Valley is a pretty decent place for Greek food.

    BTW, what ever happened to Ruby Santellanes?

  17. Susie says:

    Ruby Santellanes became Rene Santell. I think she is now Rene Santell Best and lives in West LA.
    Fredde, I can’t believe we have known each other for 52 years! No wonder we have so many memories. When we were growing up you always told me “remember the good old days” and I do. We had so many happy and carefree days on Roxbury Drive.

    And yes Alan, you were the only one that called me Chooch…and where did that name come from?

  18. gari says:

    have you started the book yet?

  19. todays date: NO-ONE ????
    LOVE YER XXXX YOKO ONO: THE VICAR, CURATE ??? OF ROSSINGTON: NEAR DONCASTER: SOUTH YORKSHIRE: STILL YOUNG, FREE, AND SINGLE, AT 56 ???? EH ???? i sat on JOHN LENNONS BED, in PARIS, FRANCE: i don’t know if it was the same sheets on it or not ???? that exibition centre near THE ZENNETH ARENA thing in PARIS: i’m bob dylans greatest bbc radio request writer: PASSAGE HOUSE: PIMLICO: WESTMINSTER: LONDON: i have a signed photo of NELSON MANDELLA, BILL CLINTON, and TONY BLAIR, here: i bought it at the DR WHO SHOP on THE STRAND, here in LONDON: THE SATURDAY BEFORE the election win of BARACK UBAMA for a 2nd term in office: i don’t know if, doing this, helped get him in, again or not ??? MAYBE IT DID ???

  20. Doreen Ringer Ross says:

    Can never look at that picture of John and Yoko without thinking of you and laughing to myself. Love the note on the pack of that school picture….you always knew you were going to hold on to your friends for life. Another of the many things I love about you.

  21. Tracy Brooks Swope Avildsen says:

    Love this…And YOU!!!

  22. Hillary says:

    Hi Susie! I would love to reach Ruby/Renee. Don’t see her on facebook….

  23. Renee aka Ruby says:

    Hi Freddie!

    So strange…. I found your site by a total accident. WOW!

    Yes, I’ve been known as Renee Santell since I was 19 AND married at 26 and then known as RENEE SANTELL BEST. I’m still Renee Best.

    I don’t do FACEBOOK but I’ve submitted my email address whenever you feel you might want to connect.

    I hope all is well with you. I can’t believe I’ll be 62 this month. YIKES!!

    Is nice to remember our fun times and friendships!!!

  24. Renee aka Ruby says:

    Hi Freddie,

    It’s me “Ruby.” Yes, known as Renee Santell since age 19 and married and still known as Renee Santell Best.

    How are you? I came across your site by total accident….sooo bizarre.

    Please connect whenever you’re able. My email address is submitted above. Hope all is well with you.


  25. Linda says:

    But I digress … love the memory detours! I’ve been crazy about taramosalat since the first time I had it in London many moons ago …

  26. DeeDee Lancet says:

    You write GOOD, Freddé!!
    Will comment mo on FB.

  27. Linda says:

    I love taromosalata, too … This story is wonderful, full of digressions and interjections and flashbacks …

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