Harold Lloyd
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Meeting Harold Lloyd

Our train tickets took us to Los Angeles, where Dad called on some wholesale trade to see if he could open a few new accounts and write a little business. He had some samples with him that Walter had sent to Phoenix.

We stayed at the Biltmore hotel with its gigantic marble columns and ate a few meals at Clifton’s, which was a new kind of restaurant called a cafeteria. This cafeteria had a waterfall and was famous for never turning away anyone who was hungry and couldn’t pay. The original Clifton’s (with waterfall) is still in business and still has the same policy. The neighborhood has changed, but it’s nice to know that some worthwhile landmarks are still around.

We took a bus tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and were dropped off for a few minutes outside the high, wrought iron gates fronting the estate of the famous silent movie comedian Harold Lloyd. I remember pressing my face between the bars of the gates as if trying to will my way through them.

The name of the street meant nothing to me, and in no way could I have expected that thirty-five years later I would buy a house a mile-and-a-half up the road on that same Benedict Canyon Drive.

When I lived there in the 1960s, I would occasionally see Harold Lloyd as we both shopped in the Rodeo Drive hardware store (this was before Rodeo Drive became world famous as one of the most chic and expensive shopping streets in the world). Lloyd then was retired for many years, and he shopped sometimes with his grandson in hand. We’d gotten into the habit of nodding slightly to each other as we passed in the aisles, though I had the distinct impression that he was a very private man.

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One day, I took the bull by the horns as we were both at the cash register together. "Mr. Lloyd," I said, "I don’t know if this will amuse you or not but…" and I proceeded to tell him of this little boy who would have died just to have seen him in person back in 1929. And now I lived up the road from him and was also in the film business. He did get a great kick out of the story, particularly that it was so important for a six-year-old to have remembered it all those years.

He turned out to be as gracious and charming as he had ever been in films. He hadn’t the slightest idea who I was, which was all right with me. I think he probably didn’t watch much television.

NEXT: Aunt Bert