Today, F.M. Meredith, author of No Sanctuary, the latest in her crime fiction Rocky Bluff P.D. series joins The Real Hollywood Book Chat and shares with us her memories of growing up in Los Angeles during World War II. The places she talks about no longer exist today and the way of life is completely different. It’s always a pleasure to welcome an author that has ties to the same locations as the writer of The Real Hollywood Blog.
ABOUT THE BOOK: First on the scene of a traffic accident that turns out to be murder, Officer Stacey Wilbur calls Detective Doug Milligan. Despite her former vow to never date anyone on the Rocky Bluff P.D., she and Milligan are romantically involved. Finding time to be alone together isn’t easy.
The murder victim is the wife of a popular Rocky Bluff minister, and several suspects immediately come to the forefront, the minister himself, his nosy secretary, the choir director, and a nerdy stalker. Stacey helps Doug with the murder investigation, but the Chief asks her to go undercover as a prostitute to expose a pedophile which leads to a surprising job offer.
Stacey must make two major decisions that will change her life forever, and a third that nearly causes her to lose her life.
Welcome for day two Marilyn, Will you share with us your memories of growing up in Los Angeles?
Thank you, it will be my pleasure.
F.M.: My growing up years were spent in Eagle Rock, CA a community located in Los Angeles, between Glendale and South Pasadena. It was a wonderful time to grow up despite the fact the 2nd World War was going on from the time I was seven until I was thirteen.
This is what I remember about the war: I heard the frightening announcement about Pearl Harbor by President Roosevelt on the radio, we had an inner room to go to during blackouts (where we played games and ate snacks), sometimes there would be a blackout while my dad was driving—no streetlights, we had air raid drills and alarms while we were in school. Mom had a Victory Garden, don’t think she did very well growing things. Sugar, gas, and other things were rationed. We had food stamps and gas stamps. The Air Warden held meetings at his house where the adults learned about First Aid and other important things while we kids played hide ‘n seek in the dark. I was convinced if we lost the war that I would make the perfect spy. My dad rode his bike to work at Paramount Studios every day so we could save our gas stamps for our vacation camping trips to Bass Lake. Bubble gum was impossible to find—once paid 50 cents for one piece that ordinarily cost a penny.
I told everyone my sister was a princess who’d been sent over from Europe to live with us in order to be safe—I don’t think many believed me except my sister who was convinced she was adopted since she was never sent back home.
I was truly star struck. I bought movie magazines and cut out the photos of my favorite stars and taped them to my closet door. My mom and I would go to live radio shows where many movie stars appeared on Lux Radio Theater. After, I’d wait out in the parking lot and get autographs. Once my favorite Van Johnson starred in a show, but he got in his car and drove off before I could catch him. I ran out in the street, chased his car until he stopped at a light, I stuck my autograph book in the driver’s window. He smiled and I got his autograph.
We went to the movies every Friday night and saw a double feature, a newsreel, cartoon and usually during intermission a live Keno game was played for prizes like a set of dishes. My father would talk all through the movies and point out things like telephone lines in period shows that didn’t have telephones yet, trains that were really miniature trains rather than the big ones that they were supposed to be, action that went on in basement sets, water scenes done in a big tank on the back lot of Paramount. Now I’m married to a husband that always points out errors in airplanes used in movies.
When I was around ten, I’d ride my bicycles around the neighborhood, find a lovely front lawn with a big tree (we didn’t have any parks) and settled down with my writing and art supplies and spend the whole afternoon writing and drawing. No one ever came out of the house and asked what I was doing.
Everyone went on the street car to downtown L.A. where all the big department stores were located: the Broadway was on one end of a block and May Co. on the other with all sorts of great stores in between like Woolworth’s Five and Dime. My cousin and I were just 10 years old when we were allowed to go “downtown” by ourselves, but could only stay on that one block.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I belonged to a Calling All Girls club sponsored by May Co. They had a small theater where they brought in stars and we were thrilled to see Frank Sinatra—a new, young and very skinny, singing sensation.
I walked to and from my grammar school about 5 blocks away, fun because there were always lots of kids walking. Took a sack lunch everyday. It was much farther to our next school, Washington Irving Junior High though sometimes we walked there too or took the bus and streetcar. Eagle Rock High was even farther, mostly took the bus and then the streetcar, then had to walk about eight blocks. Sometimes though, I’d cut across the hills, something we weren’t supposed to do because hobos lived in the hills, and then walk the rest of the way.
During summer time, I always organized a Fourth of July parade with the neighborhood kids decorating their bikes and wagons and wearing patriotic costumes. I also wrote plays and the neighborhood kids acted in them. We charged a nickel to come watch. We played at our friends houses, roller skated or rode our bikes, hiked up in the hills, never told our folks where we were going to be, just had to be home on time for supper.
High school was great, despite all the cliques. Had one of my own, mostly kids I’d gone to grammar school with but with a few additions. We even had our own club. I was always an organizer. Didn’t have a real boyfriend, though plenty of crushes, until one day in my senior year, I was asked to go on a blind date with a young man who turned out to be a really cute sailor. He visited our house every weekend after that—and I married him the next October.
Marilyn Meredith author of No Sanctuary, written as F.M. Meredith
Rebecca is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California with a background in Journalism and a degree in English Literature. She specializes in non-fiction articles for the wedding and pet industry. She blogs about animals, Hollywood and books.