Illustrated excerpts from WINGING IT


Mere seconds later I felt the impact of machine-gun bullets slamming into the underside of my Spad and realized I had just fallen for one of the simplest and most effective tricks in the book. The Boche pilot had spotted me somewhere along the line, perhaps even before I saw him, and he had patiently waited for me to close into firing position. Then he had pulled his power completely off and lowered his nose, causing me to fly right over the top of his rapidly slowing ship. From that point he went to full power and raised his nose, putting my Spad directly in his gun sight.

(Chapter 1)

These good fortunes brought with them significant improvements in my style of living. I now owned a small home in the prosperous Silver Lake district between Los Angeles proper and Hollywood, I was driving a spanking new roadster manufactured by the Stutz Company, and my bank account balance was growing by leaps and bounds. And all of that before my twenty-eighth birthday!


(Chapter 2)

A literal army of workmen were amassed along the north side of Marathon Street. To the right a long, modern-looking structure was rising to a height of three floors. This, I thought, might be a new administration building. Adjacent to this structure and directly in line with Bronson Avenue was a nearly completed and elaborately ornate entrance arch featuring two spiraled columns on each side of the opening. Scaffolding was erected next to its crowning arch and several painters were busily adding the studio name above the opening. The sign said "Paramount Pictures." Another name change?


(Chapter 3)

The distance between Silver Lake and the station is not great and by seven-forty-five we were pulling up in front of the block-long, three-story, white stucco building with its five large arched windows rising above the entrance. I handed the cabdriver a dollar bill, telling him to keep the change and, luggage in hand, made for the nearest of the brass and glass double doors leading to the depot's waiting room.

(Chapter 3)

From the experience of many rail trips I knew what lay beyond those doors. Below a ceiling soaring three full stories above the floor was cavernous space filled with row upon row of wooden benches and surrounded by ticket counters, shoeshine stands, news vendors, the ubiquitous Travelers Aid service stations, and the other purveyors of goods and services required by rail passengers. All of this was illuminated by two rows of large chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling. Each fixture was equipped with a circle of eight brightly glowing globes

All in all, the scene must have been quite thrilling to the traveler who entered the space for the first time. It was a place befitting the beginning of an adventure.

(Chapter 3)

To my immediate left as I entered the drawing room was a narrower door with a sign that said, "Toilet." Beyond that was the main area of the room. The outside wall featured two small sofas facing each other below two large windows. On the inside wall were upper and lower berths. The upper berth was closed, that is, folded up and out of the way. The lower berth was made up and ready for use. The entire drawing room space was paneled in a rich dark wood accented with gleaming brass fixtures. The seats were upholstered in a dark green cloth befitting the richness of the paneling and hardware. The accommodations were, indeed, luxurious.

(Chapter 4)

The view out my windows was now a desert scene beyond which lay a rather large body of water. The body of water had to be the Salton Sea, which meant we were well into the Imperial Valley and rapidly approaching the California-Arizona border.

I was still watching the barren countryside slide past my window a few moments later when I heard a light knock on my drawing room door. Upon opening the door I once again found myself looking into the big brown eyes of Clara Bow.

(Chapter 5)

Bill was seated by himself at a table near the front of the dining car. I sat opposite him, facing the rear of the train and Charlie slid into the seat next to me. We ordered dinner--Roulades of Beef for Bill and Charlie, and Trout a la President for me--and then turned to the business at hand.

(Chapter 7)

My recollections of the time I spent at nearby Kelly Field seemed quite clear, but time had dulled my memories of the miserable Texas heat. The dark night air outside the train, which was easily seventy-five degrees or more, brought those memories back into sharp focus.

My recollections of San Antonio's Southern Pacific depot, however, were accurate. Named for the Sunset Limited, Sunset Station is a more or less square two-story building in the Spanish mission style with an arched roof paralleling the station platform. Set in the arches at both ends of the roof are large circular stained glass windows. The one over the main entrance was a colorful depiction of the Southern Pacific emblem.

(Chapter 7)

Only about a mile from Sunset Station, the Saint Anthony is a block-long, ten-story, brick edifice across East Travis Street from a tree-lined park in the heart of downtown San Antonio. Seeing the hotel again brought back more memories of my days at Camp Kelly. The Saint Anthony was much too swell for an air cadet's meager salary, but in town on a weekend pass, I once ventured into the hotel's lobby just to see how the rich people lived. I recall being quite impressed with the luxury of it all. Of course, that memory was from the perspective of a young man severely lacking in worldly experience.

(Chapter 7)

Walking into the hotel for the first time since those days, I saw the place from a quite different point of view. The lobby was a long, narrow space extending to the left and right of the main entrance. The outside wall was lined with tall windows overlooking the park across Travis Street. Square columns topped with gilt filigree ran down the center of the space and supported a beamed ceiling decorated with deeply inset panels.

The walls, columns and ceiling were painted a shade of off-white and overstuffed chairs upholstered in beige material closely matching accents in the maroon carpet were set against the back wall and next to the columns. Sconces with elaborate brass mountings supporting illuminated white globes were affixed to the columns and walls to provide additional light. A large fireplace that I suspected seldom saw a fire was set into the back wall. The entire space was tidy and well-maintained, but seemed rather Spartan compared to its counterparts in more metropolitan cities, such as the new Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

(Chapter 8)

I stepped out onto the touring car's running board and, shielding my eyes from the sun in the eastern sky, I scanned the recreated battlefield.

. . . .

To defend against such advanced weapons, the ground war in France was fought from trenches. Typically these field works were six to eight feet deep and anywhere from four to ten feet in width. They were reinforced with dirt berms, rocks, sandbags, wooden beams, and anything else that was handy and might stop a bullet or the blast from an artillery shell.

(Chapter 9)

Finally everything was in readiness. The camera had been repositioned in such a way so as hide the fact that Miss Bow was no longer under her truck. She was, in fact, standing some distance behind the camera, well out of harm's way. When the dust had settled, a space was cleared under the truck so Miss Bow could climb back under the truck to make it appear as if she had been there the whole time.

Once again Wellman took a look through the camera viewfinder before yelling "Camera . . . action!" On that command all hell broke loose. More explosive charges placed in the village buildings were set off and showers of debris from the explosions landed on the dirt street. Amid the explosions, Wellman pointed his index finger at the operator of the first crane who released his load. A split-second later the church steeple landed with impressive impact atop the supply truck. Seconds later, Wellman gave a similar direction to the operator of the second crane, at which point he dumped the contents of his clamshell bucket on top of the now severely damaged truck. All the while the camera operator calmly turned his crank, recording the chaos and carnage on film.

(Chapter 10)

The brown paper package was heavy, and when I got it open, I saw why. It contained a Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol and a cardboard box of the big forty-five caliber rounds it fired.

Looking up at Wellman, I said, "This is kind of drastic, isn't it? Or do you know something I don't know?"

"It's just a precaution, Eddie. If you and I are right about that flier being out to get Clara, you might find a use for that Colt before this is all over. I hope not, but better safe than sorry."

I sat there feeling the weight of the pistol in my hand and trying to decide if it made me feel better or worse. I decided on the latter.

(Chapter 11)

I immediately recognized the three-engined transport ship awaiting our arrival on the tarmac near the south end of Kelly Field's runway because it was quite possibly the ugliest aircraft I have ever seen. That the ship had been the subject of numerous articles appearing in Aviation Week magazine during the past year also made it recognizable.

"Ford's Aero Flivver," as the new AT-4 Trimotor was known by those who were less than enthralled by its design, was the result of Henry Ford's apparent desire to monopolize aircraft manufacturing in the same way he became the leading manufacturer of automobiles in the United States. Built by a Ford subsidiary, the Stout Metal Aircraft Company, Ford's futuristic ship was truly something to behold.

(Chapter 11)

The Army Air Corps' auxiliary airfields were intended to be support facilities for nearby full-fledged bases, and are primarily for training purposes. As such, they seldom provided more than the most basic services. Rimrock Army Air Corps Auxiliary Airfield certainly fit that description.

I concluded that Rimrock started out as a civilian field because it was still serving in that capacity despite the Army Air Corps' presence there. What I saw from the air was a dirt runway with four small hangers and a couple of outbuildings. The few aircraft I could see on the ground were mostly civilian ships, although I spotted two Consolidated PT-1 primary trainers parked next to one of the hangers and what looked like another PT-1 on the other side of the runway.

(Chapter 12)

Not waiting for a reply, I stepped back into the cockpit and slid into the pilot's seat and stared at the complex instrument panel in front of me. The ships I was used to flying seldom had more than a couple of engine gauges and the most basic flight instruments--bank and turn indicator, altimeter and compass. The Trimotor's panel, on the other hand, had a dozen or more dials and gauges, many of which meant absolutely nothing to me. Since, however, the ship was behaving itself and most of the needles in front of me were pointing toward the centers of their arcs, I figured we had neither too much or too little of anything at the moment and concentrated on the fundamentals of flying an airplane.

(Chapter 13)

This was the point in a landing when things begin happening quickly. March Field was almost under the Trimotor's nose. I took a quick look down to fix the layout in my mind and noticed several vehicles lined up on a taxiway just east of the runway. One of them was a bright red fire truck.

I held my course for another forty seconds or so, and then it was time to make my turn to the south. Keeping my right hand on the throttles again in case I needed to add power, I pushed down hard on the left rudder pedal while turning the control wheel to the left.

Almost grudgingly, the Trimotor lowered its left wing and began turning. I felt the ship getting heavier . . . airspeed dropping to 70 MPH . . . nearly through the turn . . . roll out level . . . airspeed 75 . . . better.

(Chapter 15)

Located on a large empty expanse of land several blocks from the parade ground, the March Field O Club could have passed for a desert oasis. The sprawling single story, stucco building in the Spanish mission style was surrounded by a carefully tended garden of hearty shrubs and miniature palm trees, all of which must have made it a welcome sight to the officers upon whom fate had bestowed a posting to this austere airfield.

(Chapter 15)

Following road a road sign pointing the direction to Riverside, our driver turned west on Alessandro Boulevard, and about thirty minutes later we pulled into the town's main business district. I asked the driver to drop us off at the Mission Inn because it was one of the few places in Riverside I knew. Lying through my teeth, I told him we were expecting to be met there by a car from Miss Bow's studio.

He dutifully pulled to the curb in front of the gaudy monstrosity of a hotel that seemed particularly out of place in a rural town like Riverside. After unloading our bags and until the Army car disappeared from view, we stood on the sidewalk looking as if we expected a studio limousine to pull up at any moment. I then hurried Clara and Ruth to a bench deep within the Mission Inn's lush gardens where we could not be seen from the street and relaxed for the first time since stepping off the Trimotor almost four hours earlier.

(Chapter 16)

Clara grinned her whimsical grin. "And pick us out something sassy!"

Crossing Orange Street mid-block, I was pleased to see that the Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System office was open for business. There were four nearly brand new automobiles parked in front of the agency office, and as I walked past them, I saw just what I was looking for. Clara would not think the two-tone blue Oldsmobile six-cylinder coupe fit her definition of sassy, but it had the definite advantages of being a sturdy car with plenty of get-up-and-go-qualities I suspected would come in handy before all was said and done.

(Chapter 17)

The community of El Monte is in the heart of a large agricultural area and is surrounded by farms and orchards stretching all the way to the San Gabriel Mountains several miles to the north. The terrain is generally flat and, with no obstacles in their way, the area's roads tend to be long and straight. This last feature was of particular importance to me because it meant I could see a long way behind us in my driving mirrors. As before, however, I saw no sign that anyone was following us.

(Chapter 19)

Clara spent about thirty minutes browsing the racks and ended up with four outfits she deemed worthy of trying on. The first, and ultimately the one I liked best, was a knee-length Kelly green dress made of what Clara described as silk crepe. It had the sort of low waistline that seemed to be all the rage with a ribbon sash that tied at the back. What I liked about it was the way it kind of flowed with the movement of her body when she walked.

(Chapter 20)

The Inn--a rustic, rambling structure built in the craftsman style of architecture--was located on a bluff between downtown Ventura and the ocean. As the sun was close to setting, the parking area, located on the town side of the building, was fringed with deep shadows, so I took a slow drive through it to see what might be lurking in those shadows. Seeing nothing more sinister than an older couple taking a casual stroll with their cocker spaniel, I parked in front of the Pierpoint Inn's main entrance and with Clara taking my arm, we walked through a lush planted area and into the Inn.

(Chapter 21)

U.S. Route 101 heads inland from Ventura, winding its way over the low coastal hills that form the western end of the San Fernando Valley. Once over the hills, we were rolling past the valley's rich farms, ranches and orchards that grew out of the area's original Spanish land grants. When the City of Los Angeles brought water to the valley a dozen or so years ago, agriculture boomed and small farming towns--Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, and Toluca, to name a few--sprang up and prospered along Ventura Road, the main east-west path through the San Fernando Valley.

(Chapter 21)

When we reached the point where Route 101 turns south, I continued east on Ventura Road, or Ventura Boulevard as it was named here, and at a few minutes past eleven o'clock, we arrived in the little municipality of Burbank, where I intended to make two stops. Turning north on San Fernando Road, we entered Burbank's business district, and a few blocks later, I pulled up in front of the first of my stops, the Security Bank at San Fernando Road and Olive Avenue.

While Clara waited in the Oldsmobile, I went into the bank and traded a five dollar bill for another pocketful of quarters, dimes and nickels. Then we drove a few blocks further on San Fernando Road to the outskirts of the downtown business district, where I pulled to the curb in front of an eatery called The Good Eats Cafe.

(Chapter 22)

Glendale Air Terminal is located on the north bank of a bend in the Los Angeles River, opposite sprawling Griffith Park on the south side of the river. The field's single runway is paved and runs from the southeast to the northwest with the air services and hangers lined up along the eastern edge of the airfield's property.

(Chapter 22)

I kept my eyes on the ship and before long I could make out its black fuselage and the bright yellow paint on its upper and lower wings, the color scheme used by the Seventeenth Aero Squadron. Further verification of the ship's military identity came with the red and white horizontal stripes on its rudder and the big black letters spelling out U.-S.--A-R-M-Y across the underside of its lower wing. The letters were bracketed by the red and white star insignias recently adopted by the United States armed forces.

(Chapter 22)

My bank is the headquarters branch of the Security First National Bank in the six-hundred block of Spring Street. I took Figueroa south to Sixth Street, which I followed east to Spring. There I turned left and parked in the first empty spot I came to.

(Chapter 23)

Silence came over the line for about thirty seconds, and then Costello said, "I think I've got exactly what you're looking for here. It's a 1926 Cadillac 6430 two-passenger coupe. It's one we sold to a fellow when the new models came out during August of 1925. "The fellow bought it for his son, and the boy only put a few hundred miles on it before he decided he wanted something larger so he could haul his pals around. We took the coupe in trade, and since it is a very low-mileage car and practically new, we use it as a demonstrator to show off the Cadillac V-8 when we have a performance-minded customer. The coupe is much lighter than the other closed Cadillacs, and with eighty-seven horses under the hood, it goes, if you'll pardon the expression, like a bat out of hell."

(Chapter 24)

Staring absently through the hotel's front window, I mentally reviewed the list of friends who might stop by for a visit, and came up with no one matching that description. Faint alarm bells began going off somewhere in my head and I thought of another question to ask.

"Jimmy, what sort of car was this fellow driving?"

"Oh, it wasn't fancy or anything, just a two-door Chevrolet sedan. I think it was gray with black fenders."

It took my brain maybe three seconds to make the connection, but when the gears finally matched up and fell into place, the faint alarm bells I had been hearing went to full volume. Outside, parked at the curb in front of the Clinton Hotel, was a gray and black two-door Chevrolet sedan.

(Chapter 25)

Ocean Park is squeezed into a narrow space along the beach between Santa Monica and Venice, and its primary reason for existence is fun. The attractions provided for that purpose include broad beaches and three or four long piers jammed-packed with a variety of amusements, including carousels, roller coasters, whip rides, and every sort of concession imaginable, from skill games to an endless array of food stands. The area is also home to several large ballrooms where tourists dance the night away to the music of well-known orchestras.

(Chapter 26)

Pier Street dead-ends at the piers, which are spread out along a cross street called the Ocean Front Walk. We flipped a coin and turned left toward the southernmost of the three or four piers. On the way we passed Jones' Fun Palace, a roller skating rink, and two theaters.

Just beyond the theaters we turned onto what a large sign told us was the Lick Pier. The beach on our left was mostly deserted and on our right was a string of small concession buildings, including a place called Alber's Waffle House. I was just thinking that a waffle smothered in maple syrup with a sausage or two might make a good dinner when Clara spotted another sign three doors down and said excitedly, "Oh, look! Chop suey! Have you ever had chop suey, Eddie?"

"No, that's one culinary delight I've managed to avoid."

(Chapter 27)

Telephone calls made, I turned back onto Wilshire and continued driving toward town. Our destination was at the corner of Wilshire and Crescent, a small airfield known as DeMille, Number Two. I turned left on Crescent, and from there onto the field itself. Then I drove along the backsides of a row of hangers and buildings that lined the Crescent side of the airfield.

When I came to the small hanger I rented for my ship, I pulled up alongside it and said, "You want to see what I spend all my money on?"


(Chapter 27)

I unlocked the hanger's side door, reached inside to turn on the light switch, and ushered Clara inside. She took about four steps, stopped, and stared up open-mouthed at the Bristol biplane sitting in the middle of the concrete floor. "Oh, Eddie, it's beautiful!"

"I think so. She's a Bristol F.2B, a British combination pursuit and observation plane. That's why she has two cockpits. Pursuit ships only have one. Ships like this were flown by both British and American fliers during the war."

(Chapter 28)

When I turned, Clara was no longer standing next to me. She had walked about fifteen feet toward the front corner of the hanger to watch a Curtiss JN-6 biplane take off.

I watched the takeoff over Clara's shoulder, and said, "Now there's a real old-timer. She's called a Jenny and Curtiss has been building them since the beginning of the war."

"Well, she sure is pokey compared to the airplane that took off just before her."

"You're right. Jennies aren't very powerful, but they are easy to fly and quite forgiving of the kinds of mistakes cadet pilots make. That's why the military uses them for training beginning fliers. In fact, the first ship I ever flew was a Jenny."

(Chapter 28)

I dropped a nickel in the slot and dialed O for operator. When she came on the line I said I wanted to make a collect person-to-person call to Colonel Efram Smythe at March Army Air Corps field. I didn't know if Smythe would accept the charges, but I was getting a little tired of single-handedly supporting the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

(Chapter 29)

Rather than a court layout of individual cottages, the Rancho Rodeo was a single structure built in an L shape. The long stem of the L paralleled Santa Monica Boulevard and consisted of ten rooms. The short stem stuck out toward the street on our left and housed the office. The open space between the L and the road was a graveled parking area, except for a large garden area at the end opposite the office.

(Chapter 29)

Looking around the room, I noticed an unusual feature, a stylish, compact Atwater-Kent radio set resting atop a small table between the armchairs, evidence that the proprietor of the Rancho Rodeo Motor Lodge spared no expense in providing the latest in luxuries for their guests. I did note, however, that the device was securely bolted to the top of the table on which it sat.

Clara noticed me looking at the radio. "Isn't that swell? We have a radio! Do you think you could find us some nice music to go with our lunch?"

I said, "Will do," and turned the knob labeled "On-Off/Volume." After waiting for the set to warm up, it rewarded my efforts by playing an Al Jolson recording of a song with rather silly lyrics called Pasadena.

(Chapter 31)

I balanced the cloth sack on the narrow section of fuselage between the two cockpits, loosened the drawstring, and drew out a leather helmet with rubber hoses attached to the earpieces on the sides of the helmet. From there the two hoses were combined into one with a metal Y connector something like a doctor's stethoscope. Holding the helmet up, I said, this is your flying helmet and the hoses are part of what's called a Gosport tube. The Gosport tube lets us talk back and forth while we're flying."

(Chapter 31)

Next I glanced at the black face of the altimeter mounted directly below the compass. Altimeters have two hands, just like a clock. The short hand points to the ship's altitude in thousands of feet and the long hand registers the altitude in hundreds of feet. So when the short hand was almost to the white numeral "2" and the long hand indicated between seven and eight hundred feet, I gradually pulled the throttle back to the engine's cruising speed. The Bristol responded in a very ladylike manner by gently lowering her nose into level flight. We were flying at an altitude of two thousand feet.

(Chapter 32)

The original idea of the maneuver was to cause the pursuing pilot to over-fly your ship, thus putting him directly in front of your guns. In this situation, though, the only gun I had was the Colt and using it would be tricky.

(Chapter 33)

The Cantina is a dinky little eight-table joint with colorful Mexican serapes on the walls and aromas from a small kitchen out back that always made my mouth water. A radio in one corner of the room belted out spirited Mexican tunes, creating a lively, festive mood among the mostly Spanish-speaking lunch crowd. It was the sort of place you see in motion pictures where a beautiful senorita with dark flashing eyes leaps upon a table and dances to entertain the admiring vaqueros from a nearby rancho.

(Chapter 33)

When we finally arrived at the picnic ground just east of the dam, there were no other cars around. I parked the Caddy near a wooden picnic table and we made ourselves comfortable. It was an easy scene in which to be comfortable under a blue sky with a few puffy white clouds, surrounded by shady oak trees, and serenaded by cheerful Meadow Larks going about their business in a field across the road. The air smelled fresh and sweet with no trace of the exhaust fumes that poison the air in town.

(Chapter 34)

Looking out at the automobile traffic passing the busy intersection, the uneasy feeling I had been feeling for most of a week came rushing back. We were standing in plain view of the cars going by in the same damned small town in which Lasky lived.

"Did you know Lasky lives right here in Beverly Hills?"

She stared at me in surprise. "Oh, god, that's right. He does. I'd forgotten . . . ."

"Come on, kiddo, let's get back to the Rancho Rodeo before Lasky pulls up to the curb and offers us a ride in his damned limousine."

(Chapter 36)

The scene was almost exactly as C. K. said it would be. There was a big dark blue four-door Packard parked all by itself behind the warehouse. A man I presumed was Joe Ardizzone climbed out of the backseat as we pulled up. A second fellow-a small guy with a big bulge under his jacket-was standing next to the Packard's passenger-side back door. Together, the two of them walked to a point about halfway between the two cars and waited.

(Chapter 37)

A gold crown-shaped setting was perched atop the engagement ring with something like a buttress on each side. Two tiny circles of gold filled the openings created by the buttresses on each side of the mounting. The upper edges of the ring were engraved with a delicate art deco design. But the most beautiful part of the engagement ring was the diamond. It glittered with a radiance that nearly took my breath away.

(Chapter 38)

Leaving the downtown area, I drove south on California Street and continued to the point where it dead-ended at the beach in front of a large three-story block-shaped building that turned out to be the Ventura Bathhouse and Auditorium. The parking area in front of the bathhouse was crowded, as was the beach beyond it. Still, the sunshine and salt air were too inviting not to take at least a short stroll, so Clara kicked off her shoes and off we went traipsing through the sand.

(Chapter 38)

The girl added, "Yes! We think you're just the cat's whiskers!"

Clara grinned back at them and said, "Thanks, kids. I'm always glad to meet fans."

Gushing, the girl said, "Oh, you're so nice! I'm Lizzy and this is my boyfriend Walter. Could we please have your autograph?"

"Sure, kids. What would you like me sign?"

Walter patted his pockets and came up with a color picture postcard showing an aerial picture of Ventura. "Here, we got this to send to friends back home in Fresno, but we can get another. This is way more important!"

(Chapter 38)

About halfway down the veranda, next to a wooden bench between two of the dining room windows, Clara stopped and pointed. "Oh, look, darling! Those little glowing sea creatures are putting on another show for us! Isn't it beautiful?"

I looked where she was pointing and, sure enough, the dark areas between breakers were glowing with blue-green phosphorescence. "That's quite a show! Let's sit and watch for a bit."

(Chapter 39)

The trees lining Chapala Street were bigger now, but otherwise, the three-story Victorian at 1632 looked just like it had when my folks moved there soon after my twelfth birthday. The house sat well back from the street behind a stone and wood fence. A narrow driveway ran along the right side of the house past bay windows at the front corner and off the dining room. The front porch and entry were on the left side of the house below a peek-roofed balcony outside the master bedroom. A tall, ornate brick chimney rose above the living room on the right side of the house.

(Chapter 39)

In typical Victorian fashion, hand-carved woodwork was everywhere throughout the house, such as the ornate stair railings and newel posts, window and door frames, built-in shelves and cabinets, and the fireplace mantel. Clara seemed to find this elaborate woodwork enchanting.

"All of the detail work is beautiful, and you've taken such good care of it. It's like living in a fairytale home. I just love it!"

(Chapter 39)

Picking up a hammer from the workbench, I began breaking up ice while Millie instructed Clara on how the mixing cylinder fit into the churn. When I had created enough ice chips to get the churning started, I showed Clara how to fill the churn around the cylinder with alternating layers of rock salt and ice.

"Clara, the rock salt helps keep the ice in the churn cold while the paddles inside the cylinder mix up the ingredients--milk, sugar, eggs, and fruit or flavoring--and keep them in contact with the metal cylinder walls, which gets freezing cold from the ice."

(Chapter 40)

Plain, soft features behind a pair of round wire-frame spectacles gave Jesse Lasky more the appearance of a bookkeeper than one of Hollywood's first motion picture tycoons. There was a predatory glint in Lasky's eyes, though, that made it clear this man was no bookkeeper.

(Chapter 40)

Built three years ago on a hillside within walking distance of the Silver Lake reservoir for which the area is named, my little Spanish bungalow has only two bedrooms and less than 900 square feet--a fact which requires that I keep things neat and tidy. Clara was fascinated by all the custom cabinets and other built-in spaces I had installed to store things out of sight and out of the way. It's a cozy place for one, but would be crowded for two, and it certainly wouldn't do as a place to raise kids.

Outside, the bungalow was surrounded by a high hedge with front and rear gates. Because of the hillside location, the garage and my office were located under the house. There were also decks off the back of the house on both levels with a wooden staircase connecting the two. We sat on the upper deck enjoying the view of the mountains behind the bungalow and we made plans.