11 July 2009

Tacos and Stars

When we last left our heroine she was sans car in the desert dodging mountain lions while contemplating the return to El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles. Before two knights came to her rescue, there were additional adventures. For once I had some vacation time, which meant heading into Ensenada to play Dominoes at Hussongs and buy Palomino for the cookout later. Yes the first time I heard it, I thought "horse". Not true. Palomino is a wonderfully spiced steak similar to a New York. Fire up a BBQ and cook over lemon wood for instant transport to heavenly spheres.


I have mentioned that it wasn't a good idea to go into Hussongs on the weekend. On Friday and Saturday nights, this old beautiful bar is turned over to Los Animales from the states with Federales stationed at the doors to catch the bodies wearing "Hecho in Mexico" T-shirts as they fall out into the street. Peaceful ones transported to the beach to allow the sun to burn the alcohol out of their systems. You don't want a description of the bathrooms. In reading the linked article above, I noted an accurate description of Hussongs in the 1970s and that it has changed for the better and more like the weekdays of my memory.

During the week it was wonderful with all the expats from small apartments and the harbor gathering to play board games, read and chat while young boys made the rounds shining shoes or drawing pictures to be hung on the walls. I doubt it is still there after more than 30 years, but one of the caricatures on the wall was me. This was a time to head down by the sea for fish tacos. What do you mean "fish in a taco?". The fish gets thrown from a boat to a lady on the pier who immediately goes to work. The classic is breaded with a beer batter, but the linked video here is healthier. Once you have had one, you may become a lifelong addict.

So we were hitting El Lemon for general groceries, off to the harbor for fish tacos and laying plans for a lunch at the Chinese restaurant before hitting the Carniceria for the Palomino. Who goes to Ensenada for Chinese food? Why everyone who knows that one of the best has been there since the rails were being laid in the mid 1800s. On this particular trip, the lunch plans got waylaid by Robert Coogan and an invitation to his boat. I don't know all the details but Robert seemed to live almost full time on his boat outside of trips to LA for work or family business. An invitation to have him cook for you, was not one any sane person would refuse since he supplemented his income by writing articles on gourmet cooking in a boat's galley. So there I was on the deck of a beautiful boat, basking in the sunshine, looking out on the Pacific, and being regaled by a great talker with stories of old Hollywood by someone who had been there and managed to survive ... not undamaged, but seemingly pretty pleased with life.

Robert was ten years younger than his brother Jackie and just about the time Jackie was entering the gawky teen years, mama put Robert to work in the movies with his first roles in the movie "Skippy" and its sequel "Sooky" in 1931 at the age of six. To give you an idea of the importance of these early child stars, Skippy was nominated for the Best Picture and the director, Norman Taurog, won the oscar that year. While he did work regularly in films until 1950, Robert never attained the fame of his older brother. The death of his father in 1935 when he was only 11, his mother's remarriage, and the rift in the family caused by Jackie's suit to reclaim his earnings made for a very unsettled childhood.

From his conversation, I gathered Robert may have remained closer to their mother, but she was a very difficult woman. Even in the mid 1970s, he wasn't relishing the idea of the drive to LA to handle some family finances. Which brings us to the knight in shining armor part ... or at least pickup of a willing hitchhiker. Robert got an invite to that night's BBQ, and I got a ride back to Los Angeles. What I didn't know was that accepting a ride from Robert Coogan was an invitation to another adventure....to be continued.

5 comments:

carol g said...

You are such a tease...
to be continued...

Travis said...

I know you know it, but I'll tell you again anyway. I am simply loving these stories. Thanks so much for sharing your memories with us.

Jamie said...

Thank you sir. I suppose I could do the whole "Accidental Hollywood" series if I can dredge up the details. Really should have kept a diary.

maryt/theteach said...

Gee, Jamie, I remember Jackie Coogan...don't know much about him though. Have to settle down to read your stories, they sound great! :)

Linda said...

Such stories you have to tell! I'm telling you, you need to write a book before you hit that age where we all have trouble remembering 'the good parts'!

Write on!!