“Go ahead! Steal that door wreath! It’ll be a keen, mad prank”

The weather app now shows a low of -47 for this weekend, along with six inches of snow. That’s with the windchill, of course; the actual temp will be -27. This the last full weekend before Christmas for shopping. It will dissuade us not a bit, for we are hardy, and windchill only matters when you’re boasting to other people of the things you endure.

I will note this: the colder it gets, the longer the dog takes to go outside. He stands in the door when you open it up so you can watch at least $7.48 worth of heating costs ruined by this sudden temperature shift. He doesn't really want to go outside, because it hurts. There is a fire inside and his warm bed by the hearth, and that is where he is content to remain.

I'd do the same, but we must shop. Things must be identified and secured by ritual exchanges of plastic rectangles!

At work I found a Bob Hope Christmas two-disk set. It's the surest cure for Nostalgia you can imagine. I was talking with my TV-critic friend at the paper about Hope the other day, how he built up so much good will from his shows for the troops, how he was an incredible presence and force in entertainment for so long, and was also regarded by the generation that came after the Greatest one as that old guy who showed up on TV and wasn't funny. Tried to be hip and it just didn't work.

But it wouldn't be Christmas without . . .

Oh, it probably would.

The year is 1993. You wouldn't know it from the car - or would you? Looks like an early 80s brick to me, but I'm not schooled in the styling of domestic luxury vehicles.

So we see ol' Bob "Phoning it in for four decades" Hope greeting all of his "friends," who have brought their relatives. Everyone pretends to be chummy, because they're all old friends, being Hollywood people and all that.

There are a few modern sketches, but the show consists mostly of a tour of previous specials - and their Famous Guests.

It's 1973. I don't ever want it to be 1973 again, because they put that pillow with that rug.

This was really for my parents. All their old friends were here:

I love Phil Silvers, but when this aired he'd been dead for eight years.

My grandpa loved this guy from his days on the wireless:

He was still alive when this clip was repeated. It was shot in 1978.

Like I said, my grandpa's faves:

Benny had been dead for 19 years. Hope had outlived this skit partner by two years:

I'd stop there, but this next one sums up the TV Variety show better than anything else.

Somehow using the Jeopardy! typeface just makes it better.

I'll wager the Paramount is the one in New York, not the one in LA. Possibly because I don't think there was one in LA. I've stayed at the Paramout - pretentious, artsy, tiny rooms, popular bar, lousy view, overpriced.

They all look like cheerful guys, but there's something shark-eyed and mercenary about these movie-biz execs.






Twenty-five thousand souls - a perfect size for a downtown that's either meeting the challenges of the 21st century head-on, or has declined into a constant, shameful reminder of past strengths. Can't be both, you know.

Any guesses what this is? You should know by now.


Correct. Or at least it was, once.

A law office. Or a cunning trap!

The guilty approach the door, and a motion detector triggers the silver panels, which swing down and smash the guilty like a fly.

I'd like to think they added the third story later.

But I'm not sure. It's the phone company, and I don't know if it housed any switches or relays or whatever they have in there. The brick patterns on the third story match the patterns between the first and second floors, so perhaps they brought back the original architect, and he got revenge for not getting paid enough the first time.


Another test: do you know what this is? No, it's not a 1920s franchise chain that sold quaint pies.

The chimney is different, but I'd bet it's a Pure Oil gas station. They had those steeply pitched roofs. It's on a corner, which also says Gas Station. I could be wrong about the brand, but I don't think I'm wrong about its original use.

Why did they use the Storybook Cottage motif for gas stations, though? Was there something so magical about automobiles that they wanted to add a whimsical note of fairy-tale locations?


The unfortunate banishment of the upper floor.

This is the point where I google names and learn things I should have added to the pictures above. Heaven forbid I should do some research unless it's absolutely necessary - which, of course, it isn't; this is hardly some authoritative project. Anyway: it says Hendy. There's a keyword. But you need more.


Hendy-Ogier? Yes. It was an automobile dealership, built in 1929. Just in time.

Go ahead, pry its original raison d'etre off the wall. Double dare you.

Hendy-Ogier Auto. I feel bad for the person who had to answer the phone.


Blank though the Hendy-Ogier upper floors may be, they're baroque compared to the Cash Spot:

If there was another facade, it's in jail now.


Well, looks like there's not much around town after all, so HOLY COW


Another proud act of hope from 1929. Designed by F. A. Henninger. Ran as a movie theater until 1980, and I can only imagine the indiginities it suffered over the years. It's a community playhouse now.

The 20s were so generous.

This is the sort of urban view that made a fellow hitch his thumbs in his suspenders and beam with pride; town's getting big.



It's the The Pawnee Hotel:


Originally the Yancey, renamed in 1932.

Yes, it's an old-folks home now. Of course. The residents were once the children who came downtown with Mom and Dad and wondered what glamorous things happened in the town's big hotel. Now they sit in the lobby and wait for the nice young lady to come by with the casserole. It's always casserole on Tuesdays. But look at what's survived all these years:


That should make up for yesterday, right? RIGHT? Thank you. ;)

Motels await. Stay warm.


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