Installment 3 of the iowahawk California vacation slide show
Saturday July 26
I woke up bright and early and roused Tammi Jo and the kids, excited to spring my special secret little vacation surprise on them.
"Remember how this was the day we were all going to drive to Anaheim and see Disneyland?" I asked.
"Uh huh," said the kids, warily.
"Well, guess what? That was just a cruel joke! We're actually going to...."
"Go on a murder tour of Pasadena with an evil clown!"
We headed up on the Pasadena Freeway (California's oldest) and grabbed some breakfast before meeting Ruth Waytz and Gale Banks on the designated pick up curb for the Pasadena Confidential tour run by Ruth's pals at Esotouric. Fun stuff, and only one of the many tours run by the group. Check 'em out for more macabre fun in LA.
Soon we were introduced to our distinguished host, Crimebo the Crime Clown! We boarded our air conditioned coach for a slow driveby of crime sites that included the former homes of Sirhan Sirhan and "Charles Fuller," a nattily dressed pet chimp whose 1914 spree included a baby kidnapping and the tossing of a bulldog through a window. Lest you think Pasadena chimp crime is any better today, consider the recent case of Moe (warning, not for the faint of heart).
A charming bungalow complex, scene of several unspeakable crimes.
Swanky streamlined deco South Pasadena High. In 1940 drug-addled teacher Verlin Spencer went on a rampage here, slaying a Superintendent named George Bush.
Our first full stop was Millionaire's row and the stately Cravens mansion, once home to a well heeled family which now houses a branch of the Red Cross.
Crimebo bids you welcome. Wipe your feet please!
Greeting us in the marbled foyer: a rococo table piled high with adorable dolls with missing mandibles. Delightful!
The sumptuous state room, gaily strewn with faceless dismembered torsos.
While Tammi Jo, Ruth and Hawkette went upstairs with the tour group, Banks, Hawkspawn and I sneaked to the basement for some unauthorized exploration. After a few minutes of independent touring I ran into Hawkspawn who was staring contemplatively into space, next to a Hefty bag.
Even after a few jostles he remained silent, so I decided to see what was bugging him in the Hefty. Well whaddayaknow? It was a big bagful of faces that had just come out 0f cleaning.
We reboarded the bus and passed a few more sites, including the home of Jet Propulsion Lab founder / mad genius / L. Ron Hubbard scam victim Jack Parsons who died there in a mysterious 1952 explosion. Next stop: the dizzying heights of Pasadena's Suicide Bridge.
Before tromping out, Crimebo enlisted me and two fetching young women as thespians to re-enact his one act comedy of the despondent mother who leapt to her doom in 1937.
After our curtain calls, it was out onto the bridge. Vertigo, anyone?
Our last stop was the downtown Masonic temple, home of the grisly 1933 "Sphinx Murder" of a local dentist. Here young Hawkspawn delighted to the wacky antics of Crimebo as he cavorted about the once blood-soaked steps and Sphinx statue.
Tour over, we bid adieu to Ruth and Banks and made a quick stop at the dumpster of broken dreams for every Iowa Hawkeye football fan.
Back to LA where we checked into a new hotel. Seems our previous hotel, The It'll Do in Inglewood, wasn't good enough for Tammi Jo, even with its above-ground pool, ceiling fans, and free color TV.
Oh, no, not for our pampered princess Tammi Jo. Nosiree, she wants to stay in some fantasy over-$20-per-night palace with "less gunfire" and "fewer hobos" and blah-blah-blah. I finally got tired of the nagging. Thinking quickly, I rented a wig and hotel maid uniform and wrangled us room at the Avalon in Beverly Hills.
After we got settled in and put up the anthrax quarantine sign on the hotel room door, the kids and I headed over to Hollywood where we met Coop and Ruth for the late night horror show at the venerable Silent Movie Theater.
As luck would have it, the theater was at the climax of its weeklong Comedy Gore festival, and tonight's feature was the goriest, comedy-est movie ever produced: the 1991 Hong Kong bloody laff riot, "Ricky Oh" (a/k/a "The Story of Ricky")
The Coops, kids and I settled into our front row couches with anticipation and were not disappointed. Here's a little snippet of the cinematic fun:
A good time was had by all. The kids and I headed back to the hotel for restful dreams of evil clowns, torsos and exploding heads. Tomorrow is another big day!