Ode to 1973


proof sheet me bettsie kayla 1309 promenade

Memories from when I lived in my first apartment — a beach cottage on the sand, just north of the Santa Monica Pier…

Cosmo, my beloved Siamese cat. Beach volleyball. Daily trips to Campos, on Pico, for taquitos. My surfer boyfriend decorating the courtyard cottage, all in red: red Persian rug, red picnic table. My must-have, wrought iron, decorative spiral staircase, adorned with ferns that I could not keep alive.

Dennis Schafer, the manager of the building, with his retro mustache. His incessant Sunday night listening, on a cranked-up radio, to Dr. Demento. And listening to Stan Freberg, too – so I told him I knew the family.  Speaking of cranked up – my boyfriend playing his favorite record Suffragette City by David Bowie over and over and over again, standing by our record player to turn up the volume as it builds at just the right part towards the end of the brilliant song — and then the lyrics “Ohh wham bam, thank you, mam.”

The postman, who was also an actor, who lived two doors north. Bob Englund, the actor who lived next to the postman, then out-of-work. Ed Carter, who toured with The Beach Boys, living a few doors south.  Jan Heininger actor from Michigan living in the same courtyard with his girlfriend Kerry — my doppleganger.  His best friend Bruce Pearn.   The Beverly High crew that moved into another bungalow, Alex Gamble and Jerry Smith. Their visitor, Steve, whose last name was the cigarette my mom smoked, and the first person I knew on Quaaludes – every single day.

Cosmo and his girlfriend Sarah.  And me with Cosmo.

Cosmo and his girlfriend Sarah. And me with Cosmo.

Ducks in Cliff Coleman’s front-yard pond. My attraction to the ducks, where I spent hours saying, “Hello, duck,” in my only-for-animals voice. Joyce and her sons, Joey and Chris, who lived in the same commune as David Hasselhoff. The boys, visiting me daily. Me, wishing I could adopt them and take them out of the pot-filled, sex-orgy environment I imagined they lived in.

Dishes, filling my sink, overwhelming me until my mother would come over and do them. Me, trying to be a grown-up by cooking on the extra-small stove in our extra-small kitchen and burning the scallops. Still, they were delicious and left an odor that lingered for days.

Sleeping so late, most days, with all the windows closed and the heat blasting, that I was nearly comatose — but awakened by my Santa Monica Canyon neighbor and friend, Peter Davidson. Pretty certain he saved my life a few times from carbon monoxide poisoning. Peter and I, running/driving to Campos for my breakfast/his lunch.

My late-sleeping forcing my cat, Cosmo, to climb a high shelf, knock down his box of food, tear open the individual packets, and pull out the dry pellets with his paw, to feed his girlfriend, Sarah, first, before he ate. My wardrobe of long, vintage dresses, hanging in a too-short closet, draping the floor. Cosmo, spraying, leaving his cat-urine scent on the MGM auction clothes I was so proud to own. The boys I adored, Joey and Chris, waking me up one morning before school to tell me they were pretty sure Sarah, Cosmo’s live-in girlfriend, had been killed on PCH. (They were right.)

Making guacamole — the way my mother made it. Playing volleyball. Sally, the blonde, expert volleyball player whose serve – and everything else — was enviable, who all the boys had secret crushes on. Sally’s blonde underarm hair.   (We were hippie chicks, we didn’t shave.)   Dying my own underarm hair, so I could sport the blonde look, too – but leaving the Jolene bleach on too long, turning my armpits neon orange. (It distracted the opposite team.)

Sally the "it" girl and her then boyfriend.

Sally the “it” girl and her then boyfriend.

Walking to the public parking lot where we all paid by the month, and seeing my 8-by-10 composite pictures —  the ones I kept in the car for auditions — strewn around the whole lot and out to the sand.  My car had been broken into. Hundreds of photos of my face smiling back at me.

Composite picture that served me well.

Composite picture that served me well.

Bettsie and Kayla having sleepovers with me when my boyfriend was at school during the week. Dancing to Dancing Machine by The Jackson 5 with Bettsie and Kayla. I choreographed us and made us perform for anyone we could corral as an audience.

Meeting my dad for dinner at Chez Puce on Lincoln & Pico for the best crepes in town.

Working a few days a week at plastic surgeon Kurt Wagner’s office in Beverly Hills. And working on the side as a Jafra makeup & skin care consultant — convincing people to buy the Royal Jelly moisturizer, their supposed big seller. Getting huge cases of free Neutrogena samples from Wagner’s office that would last me for years. Using my friend-with-the-extra-long-fingernails’ sexual relationship with a veterinarian to get lower vet bills for Cosmo.

Putting the fur pieces I collected as a kid from the furrier in Beverly Hills to good use as a cat fetch toy. Cosmo batting around a tampon in the bathtub – creating his own toy.

Sharon, the friend-with-the-extra-long-fingernails, Robin, Maria, and the one nurse in the office we hated — Laraine. When Laraine left the office, we sang, “I can see clearly now LARAINE is gone!” Kurt giving me an ultimatum: work full time or quit, because my commercial acting career was getting in the way and I was missing too many days. Hhmmm – you can guess my choice.

My cottage at 1309 Promenade gets revisited by me a lot. I have a recurring dream where on the other side of the wall a whole universe of my past and belongings reside. It’s another dimension where my lost wardrobe lives.   In this dream, I enter a portal through the wall. My beach shack has been available to me, rent-free, for the past 40 years. My unconscious mind provides this luxury for me. I find treasures there like my burnt orange knit dress with the orange satin trim. That dress clung tightly to my body, making me appear curvier than I was. And all the other MGM auction clothes that had never been cleaned or ironed, some yellowed under the arms from bit players in the 1930s or 40s. I can touch and feel all these gems from my early adulthood – if only in my dreams.

As for guacamole – not exactly the way mom made it — that’s in my fridge.

My very first commercial. Shot in Pasadena. The production office sent someone to pick me up at 1309 Promenade at the crack of dawn because I hated driving freeways. Cosmo got to eat early that day.


Recipe for Burnt Scallops:  I was winging it.  I bought scallops at Phil’s Poultry on Beverly Drive.  In a bowl I whisked a few eggs and in another bowl I put some bread crumbs (store bought).  In a saute pan filled with tons of butter and way too much fresh pressed garlic, I cooked and then burned the scallops.

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4 Responses to “Ode to 1973”

  1. Laurence Cohen says:

    I worked on a project with Kurt and Kathy Wagner. Small world! Great story.

  2. Linda says:

    Soooo descriptive … what great memories!

  3. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    Fredde…. This is your most unique CTFCIM.. vignettes .. a first. as for the surprise with the red Toyota.. something reminiscent of our Duke. He took Barb and my Volksy (under guise to be fixed) called and asked us to meet him in Santa Monica at Ford dealership ?? Walked us on the showroom floor and right in front of our eyes…. BRIGHT CANNARY YELLOW PINTO. He was exuberant “IT’S YOURS” I thought Barb would spill her lunch.. She hated the car and said she wouldn’t drive it… I pretended to be thrilled. .. Drove til it rusted..

  4. Karen says:

    I felt like I was there!

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