Tag Archives: los angeles

Dad in tights

Well, I never thought I’d see my dad wearing tights, but I unearthed this treasure of a photo recently. Mom had mentioned that Dad had done some “Shakespeare in the park” or other community theatre when he first came to Los Angeles. I guess she was right, because now I have photographic evidence!

My dad in all of his tights-wearing glory!

There is no caption on the back, so I don’t know anything about what play it was, or what year it was, but it looks like Dad is taking his community theatre role seriously!

So he didn’t become a Hollywood star, but there was more to my dad than I ever knew when he was alive.

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Hey, this Coke tastes like onions!

As I’ve mentioned before, most of our restaurant visits as a family were to fast food places, but occasionally, we would go somewhere a bit nicer, or least to a place that had cloth napkins. The Red Chile was a family favorite. When we were in an Italian mood, we would head to Vito’s. I can’t determine if this place still exists as there are two restaurants, Vito’s and Vito’s Pizza, listed online in the L.A. area. The place we went to was a modest, family-run restaurant with the traditional red and white checkered tablecloths. I remember it being a pretty far drive, so we didn’t go very often, as Dad didn’t like to drive in unfamiliar areas that had heavy traffic. Mom loved the eggplant parmesan, while Dad usually had the meatball sandwich. I was very small, and there was no kid’s menu, so I munched on meatballs and garlic bread. (Wow, what a healthy dinner!)

On this one particular visit which stands out in my mind, I ordered a Coke as usual. It was a hot day and I eagerly peeled off the paper wrapping on the straw and took a big sip. It tasted very funny. I couldn’t quite identify it at first, but Dad noticed my wrinkled nose. I told my parents that my soda didn’t taste right. My mom thought I was just being picky. Dad offered to order me another one (probably to get me to stop whining about it) but Mom didn’t want to make a scene. I went into tantrum mode, refusing to drink the soda. At some point, we figured out it was the ice cubes! They must have been stored in an area with something made with lots of onions and they had absorbed the distinct flavor.

I received a new soda, without ice. Our Italian dining adventure went on without any further issues. I can’t remember when or why we stopped going to this particular restaurant, but I still have the fuzzy memories and that taste of onion-flavored Coke to savor.

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Dad’s stay at the haunted Cecil Hotel

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UPDATE 10.26.17: I see that once again the Cecil Hotel is a trending topic, thanks to Investigation Discovery’s show, Horror at the Cecil Hotel. A Discovery Channel producer actually contacted me after seeing this blog post. My dad would agree with the word “horror” when it comes to describing the Cecil. He stayed there during the 1960s, and had a chilling experience. Read below for the details.

If you have had any paranormal experiences at the Cecil, I’d love to hear about them.

Previously, I wrote about finding my dad’s naturalization record on Ancestry.com. Out of curiosity, I Googled the address listed as my dad’s residential address on the form. Results for the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles popped up. As I delved deeper, I discovered what a bizarre history this place has, and it also made me remember dad’s haunted hotel story.

Dad was proud to be a U.S. citizen, but was always proud to be Irish as well.

Dad was proud to be a U.S. citizen, but was always proud to be Irish as well.

In more modern times, the Cecil became home to serial killers, such as the “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. Now the hotel is trying to reinvent itself by promoting its central location and affordable rates. You really should check out the reviews and photos online. Talk about bait-and-switch. The lobby is absolutely grand, pristine with gorgeous architectural details. But once you leave the lobby, things get grim (and grimy) in a hurry.

If you enjoy reading hotel horror stories, just Google it. Some politely refer to it as a “transient hotel” and others call it an outright dump. This gentleman has an excellent description of his stay there, entitled “A Dump with a Future.”

The Cecil Hotel also served as inspiration for the “Hotel” installment of American Horror Story.

In a nutshell, the Cecil Hotel has never had a sterling reputation, even when it was known as the Hotel Cecil during my dad’s tenure there in the mid-1960’s. In 1962, a woman committed suicide by jumping from a room at the Cecil, also killing a pedestrian that she landed on below. Goldie Osgood, known as the “pigeon lady of Pershing Square” was choked to death in a room there in 1964. The case was never solved.

Which leads right into my dad’s haunted hotel experience. Every time he told the story, I could feel the fear come off of him in waves, even after so much time had passed. He claims he went to sleep that night in his room at the Cecil, only to awaken to the feeling that he was being choked. He was bathed in a cold sweat and couldn’t move or call for help. He felt hands around his throat, but could not see anyone. He literally thought he was going to die in that room. Finally, the feeling left him. He bolted out of the room and ran downstairs to the front desk. After he gasped for breath, he told the hotel clerk what had happened. The clerk said that someone had been murdered in that room. Dad was able to get his room changed, as he made it clear he would never sleep another moment in that room.

Did Dad have a supernatural experience in that room? Was it the room the pigeon lady was murdered in just the year before? I’ll never know, but it does make for one hell of a story.

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Dad’s naturalization record

As part of my research for this blog, I’ve been spending some time on Ancestry.com, building out the family tree and looking for any documents I can find relating to my family. I did stumble upon my dad’s naturalization record. It doesn’t reveal much, though it does finally solve a family mystery of sorts.

Dad’s birth year was 1932. That’s what it said on his driver’s license and other official documents. But Dad would insist he was born in 1933. My mom and I never understood this little white lie. If you are going to fib about your age, wouldn’t you go ahead and shave at least 5 years off? What difference does a year make in the scheme of things?

The naturalization record says April 10, 1932 so case closed. Sorry, Dad.

I was curious about the address listed as my dad’s residence on the document. It turns out to be a very interesting place. More about that tomorrow.

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