Hello, again, dear BLA Subscribers:
Back in 1994, my friend Kelly was visiting from Portland, Oregon, and I took her around Hollywood to show her the sites. One place she really wanted to see was Hollywood Memorial Park (which was still called that back then, and was still under the so-called management of the criminally inclined Jules "Jack" Roth), and in particular, she wanted to visit the grave there of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, the infamous mobster who was killed in Beverly Hills back in 1947.
This was shortly after the devastating Northridge earthquake that year, so when we arrived at the cemetery and made our way to the Beth Olam Mausoleum in the back, we found it padlocked with a sign that read "Closed due to earthquake damage. Only Family members will be allowed in. Please check in at the Administration building to be granted access."
Disappointed but not deterred, we made our way back to the main entrance of the park and into the Administration building. There we found an older, very dour looking woman sitting behind the reception desk. "May I help you?" she asked without ever looking up. "Yes," I replied, "we would like to be let into the Beth Olam Mausoleum." "Who are you here to see?" she asked, still not making eye contact with us. "Benjamin Siegel" said I. "Oh, and are you RELATED to Mr. Siegel?" she asked, dripping with sarcasm. "Yes," I said, "I'm his grandson." Of course, this was not true, but it was possible. Siegel had two daughters who were born in the early 1930s, about the same time my own mother was actually born, and if either of them had given birth in the mid-1950s to a male child, that child would be about my age and probably fit my general description. Crabby old lady finally looked up. "Really??" She was genuinely impressed now. "Benjamin Siegel was your Grandfather? Do you know how many people come in here looking for him all the time?" "That's very nice," I said. "Can you please let us in?" "Right away, Sir!" She picked up a phone and called a groundskeeper to come and fetch us immediately. Kelly at this point was afraid she would burst out laughing so she ran off to the ladies room, leaving me sitting there alone in the lobby not knowing if I was about to be arrested for impersonating the relative of a dead gangster or actually be escorted to his crypt. She was gone a pretty long time and I was becoming more nervous by the second. I asked the lady if I should perhaps come back at another time. "Oh no, they're on their way!" she assured me. On their way for what, I wondered.
Kelly eventually pulled herself together and indeed, a very nice groundskeeper pulled up in a golf cart and drove us back to the Beth Olam Mausoleum, where he unlocked the chains and allowed us to go inside, unescorted. He waited for us outside and gave us free reign for as long as we wanted.
We still laugh about that day all these years later. I like to imagine that the crabby old receptionist tells this story still, about how she met Bugsy Siegel's grandson one day. And I hope she tells folks "He was very nice."
(Published: Sun Jul 29 2018; Hits: 0)
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