The Toluca Lake Tick Tock

When I was little, my parents used to eat occasionally at the Tick Tock restaurant, at 10123 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake -- the north-east corner of Riverside and Talofa Ave.

I was small enough when we were eating there that I have no specific idea about when this was. It was certainly in the late '50's and perhaps very early '60's. I also have no real memory of what I used to eat there. Except for one thing. The Tick Tock had these rolls, which I remember having orange frosting on them. To me, these were the reason to eat there.

In later years, I would every so often have occasion to drive through Toluca Lake; and at some point, perhaps in the '70's, I noticed that the restaurant was no longer there. I couldn't quite remember its name. And it had some sort of decor of clocks. It was replaced by a sushi restaurant, and now by a "gourmet" hamburger place called "The Counter," with extensive remodeling.

In fact, in recent years I drove through Toluca Lake quite a bit, going to a dentist (on Alameda Blvd.) or a friend's house in Burbank, eating at the Marie Callender's restaurant (closed in 2012, now a bank), going to a jeweler's for watch repair, eating at the Bob's Big Boy -- 4211 Riverside Drive, actually in Burbank, built in 1949 and the oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy in the United States -- or, finally, visiting my parents' graves at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. But I really couldn't remember the name of that old restaurant, when I happened to think about it.

Then I saw a show about Hollywood Blvd. Among the old images of the street, there was a restaurant called the "Tick Tock." I immediately realized that this was the name of the former restaurant in Toluca Lake. I had never known that there was another location, the original one, in Hollywood, founded in 1930 -- in 1934 it moved to 1716 North Cahuenga Blvd. (a place now called "Sharkey's"). Since that restaurant didn't close unti 1988, obviously, I didn't know Hollywood all that well; and I didn't. I don't think I knew Cahuenga Blvd. at all.

The rolls I remembered from the Tick Tock were the "gooey rolls" and were popular with all. They usually had cinnamon glaze, but every week could also have orange or white (vanilla?) glaze. Either I luckily got the orange day or confused the cinnamon with the orange.

Despite a fair amount of information on the Web, including an informative Tick Tock Blog, I haven't noticed the date when the Toluca Lake restaurant closed.

So a bit of my childhood, and of Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley history, is recovered. I am also reminded of the interesting street name "Talofa," which is the Samoan equivalent of Hawaiian "aloha." I'd love to know how the street got that name, but I haven't turned up anything yet.

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The Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon

The Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon was an image that briefly existed on the rock face above the south entrance to the tunnel (the only tunnel) on Malibu Canyon Road, in Los Angeles County. This was painted in one night by Lynne Seemayer (1936-2017) on October 28, 1966. The figure was 60 feet tall.

Seemayer had disliked the graffiti on the cliff; and since January, 1966, she had been cleaning it off, dangling by rope from above. No one seems to have noticed what was going on. Nor did anyone particularly notice for a couple of days after the painting was completed. By November 1st, the consternation of LA County officials was great, and they tried twice to removed the painting, with fire hoses and paint stripper. That didn't work. Finally, on November 3rd, they simply covered it over with brown paint. Thus, the Pink Lady, like the mosaics of Sancta Sophia, remains underneath, and not forgotten, hopefully to be revealed again in a more enlightened future.

The County sued Seemayer for the costs of dealing with the painting, and Seemayer sued the County for defacing her artwork. Both suits were dismissed, on the grounds that the cliff face was actually private property -- although one might think this could generate lawsuits in its own right. Who were the owners? Feelings seemed to run high on both sides of the issue, with a lot of people, not just County officials (in a conservative area of the County, despite Malibu nearby), unable to handle a bit of nudity. Ten years later, a brief attempt to allow some nude beaches in LA Country was soon halted. If the publicity allowed much of an art career for Seemayer, who otherwise worked as a paralegal, it doesn't seem to have amounted to much; and, sadly, with many other noteable people, 2017 was the year of her death.

I was 16 at the time of the appearance of the Pink Lady, and I didn't have a car to go see the painting during its brief existence of less than a week. But the impression lingers, like an afterglow, or the warmth of a kiss.

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Copyright (c) 2016, 2017 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

Gladys from Latvia

In the Spring of 2010, I arrived in London for a brief visit before going up to Oxford to deliver my "Lecture on the Good" at the Oxford Roundtable conference.

I was staying at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, at 2 Whitehall Court, on the Embankment not far off Northumberland Ave. I had stayed there before, in 2006. In the meantime, the hotel seemed to have changed ownership -- to a Chinese hotel chain -- and been remodeled. The old Victorian stuffiness of 2006 had been replaced by furnishings that were clean of line and modern. I wasn't quite sure what I preferred, although I didn't mind the changes.

My first night in town, I wanted to have dinner at an Indian restaurant I knew up on Charing Cross Road. It being London, it was raining. The hotel thoughtfully provided umbrellas, so I was prepared. Three times in England I've been caught out in the rain without an umbrella, most recently in 2019, when I really should have known better. I was fooled by weather that looked good. No fooling in 2010.

On my way back from the restaurant, I was waiting in Trafalgar Square at a signal to cross over to Northumberland Ave. It was still raining, so I was comfortably under my umbrella. Then a young woman ducked under the umbrella and came up beside me, smoking a cigarette.

While I've never smoked, and I think it is a bad idea, I don't mind the presence of smokers; and I even like the fragrance of cigar and pipe tobacco. There is nothing appealing about cigarette smoke, but it doesn't really bother me either. I notice that it may be ex-smokers who dislike the smell the most, perhaps because it tempts them to go back to it. I have no such problem.

I have mixed feelings about smokers, who in the first instance seem imprudent. On the other hand, there are few things as overtly and obviously rebellious in modern life as smoking. So, despite their folly, I cannot but feel a little respect for the courage, or contariness, of smokers.

The cigarette of the young woman, of course, was a minor thing in comparison to the fact that she was a prostitute and was offering her services. I don't remember exactly what she said, but she made her intentions pretty obvious. American prostitutes may say to passing motorists, "Want a date?"; but this woman didn't say that. I wish I could remember. But I was startled, and now it was a long time ago.

I had never been a customer of a prostitute and had no intention of starting in 2010. I had no interest in the various forms of trouble that could arise from such a transaction, from the fact of marital unfaithfulness, to disease, to legal, criminal, or other entanglements. None of it worth the trouble.

This was actually the first time I had ever been propositioned in such a way. And she was attractive. I rather liked her, both for her looks and her attitude or style. It was almost a charming moment, under an umbrella in the rain in Trafalgar Square. But I made it plain, as kindly and politely as I could, that I wasn't interested.

She took it in good grace and went on her way. Her parting shot, however, was to say, "I'm Gladys, from Latvia." I think that rejected prostitutes can often be hostile or insulting, with aspersions about one's manhood, but nothing like that from this one.

Naturally, I feared for her in the life she was apparently living. Prostitutes from Eastern Europe were not unusual in London, and the stories of their mistreatment and desperation were current for years. "Gladys" did not seem desperate; but, of course, I could know very little about her. And "Gladys" is a Welsh name, not Latvian.

I did see her again. As I walked down Northumberland Ave, she had evidently gone ahead of me. As I passed The Sherlock Holmes pub, I saw her coming out the door and heading up the street. She probably didn't see me again, on the opposite side of Northumberland.

This encounter was vivid and, for me, unusual enough, that I did want to write about it. However, considering her status and possible danger in London, I didn't want to risk putting anything out about her, if she could be recognized, by the police or by gangsters. But now it has been eleven years. I hope she is OK and that her stituation has been resolved in a good way.

I will never know. In the Hereafter, perhaps I can make inquiries.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

Message T-Shirts

A few years ago I got the idea of placing some Greek text on t-shirts. Ads from Custom Ink suggested this and Vista Print. Every cause has its t-shirt, so I thought I might as well walk around advertising The Proceedings of the Friesian School with something that might arouse curiosity. With a Greek text, people might wonder what it is; and I would be equipped with business cards giving the text and the URL for its explanation.

The text I picked was this:

πάνδεινα κακὰ πέπονθεν ἡ Ῥωμανία ὑπὸ τῶν Ἀράβων μέχρι τοῦ νῦν.

This means, "All terrible evils has Romania suffered from the Arabs even until now." I have liked this quote because it uses the name "Romania," about which almost nobody is well informed, and because it mentions the "Arabs," which is a little unusual. Mediaeval references may more often say "Saracens." The translation is not on the shirt, just the URL, ""

The text is from De Administrando Imperio, by the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, who was quoting the earlier Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor. The "all terrible evils" were, of course, originally the result of the Arab Conquest of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, etc., in the 7th Century AD. This reference, however, was specifically to a deal during the reign of Justinian II whereby, for a consideration (some tribute), irregular Christian forces, which had been raiding against the Arabs, were withdrawn from Lebanon. Theophanes did not think this was a good deal.

As it happened, which I might have guessed, people are in general not that interested in what you have on your t-shirt, whatever it is. Some people might ask what language it was. The only person I've run into who could actually read it was a Greek woman at the desk of a Hilton hotel on Trafalgar Square in London. So, in short, I wasn't handing out a lot of business cards.

However, I liked the shirts. I had them in long and short-sleeved, in red, white, and blue. So, not long ago I decided to get some more with a different text. This time the Greek is:

ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.

This is a little easier to explain. It is something Socrates says to the jury in the Apology: "Men of Athens, I am grateful and I am your friend, but I will obey the god rather than you" (29d).

I don't recommend saying this sort of thing to modern judges. They are not going to like it. Socrates, of course, was condemned to death by his jury, so they didn't like it either.

I ordered some different styles and colors, like the orange sweatshirt with hoodie above, and gray, as at left. Whether anyone asks about the text or not, these are very much my own shirts.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved