Ada would be working Saturday . I had mentioned to my friend Willie during the pool game on Thursday that Saturday might be a good day to go see the Music Box steps . We had been talking about it , off and on , for several years .
I’ve seen the steps . I spent years passing close to them on my way to work . Once I made a point of finding them and taking a look . Or twice . Maybe twice . But Willie was enthusiastic about seeing them one day .
In 1932 Laurel and Hardy made a film called The Music Box . Willie claims it was a silent film , and I am a bit skeptical , but Willie’s probably right . The film plot involves moving a piano up a long flight of concrete steps . It keeps sliding down , etc. , etc.
The steps are still there . They’re located on Vendome Street in Los Angeles . Is it the Silver Lake district ? I think so . Or it might be in Echo Park . Lots of steps in this hilly neighborhood just west of downtown . Twenty or thirty years ago you would have been able to buy a house around there for a song . Not so nowadays , I suspect .
The steps are very close to Sunset Boulevard . This part of Sunset is cool now , has been trendy for twenty years now , or a few more . Before that it was part of the refuse left behind after earlier Los Angeles folk ran off to the outlying areas, zipped optimistically west along Sunset , for example , and left the spurned inner city areas to rot . This one somehow survived in pretty good shape . The streets above the Music Box Steps are quiet , tree -lined , peaceful . Seems like a fine escape from the hubbub of the city , an oasis hiding almost in plain sight .
So , about 3:00 we headed out toward the steps . Had to climb them , of course . Apartments line the steps now . One house at the bottom looks as if it were there in 1932 . The one on the other side of the steps obviously wasn’t .
A Hollywood heritage organization has placed a small plaque in one of the lower steps . Someone has scratched a name on it , the trace tag of a social defective . There’s a sign , too , designating the steps as Music Box Steps .
It occurred to me that a person born the year the movie was made would be 81 years old now . I wonder how many people know or care about the Vendome Street steps . I mean , other than the poor souls who have to lug their groceries up those steps or cart their garbage down . Do they channel the two comedians when they do ?
Willie can scratch seeing the Music Box Steps off his list of things to do .
We took a little detour on the way home and saw some Disney history , too . I used to know all of this Hollywood history stuff when I lived there .
A neighbor asked me soon after I’d moved there what I knew about the history of the neighborhood . I launched into a wonderful speech about the studio down the street , now a place solely dedicated to television news , but that had been where Doug Fairbanks made some of his early silent swashbucklers ; about how close the D. W. Griffith studio had been , now gone , and how Intolerance had been filmed on the site of what is now the Vista Theater ; about how Walt Disney lived two blocks away when he’d first come to L.A. , had lived there in his aunt’s house and had used her garage as his studio .
The neighbor looked bored , irritated . He interrupted me . ” No ,” he said . ” I meant the history of the neigborhood . ”
Then he launched into his own rendition , about how one woman on our street was a hoarder , her house packed to the gills with junk ; about how the couple across the street had been divorced ……………….. That kind of thing was what he meant by history .
To each his own .