Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Growing Up in Paradise

Originally posted on October 23, 2013

Well, there were a number of elements in my childhood that were not paradisiacal, but on the other hand, there were some. The location of my home in my early years was one, the subject of this blog. I grew up in Los Angeles about half-way between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, in an area bounded by Beverly Boulevard on the north, Third Street to the south, Fairfax Avenue to the West, and La Brea to the East. The special area to be discussed was my (our) personal playground, or so I felt.


This area included a wealth of fun—a personal, low-key, free, Disneyland, or in the Disney story of Pinocchio, “Pleasure Island.” As shown on the map, less than a quarter mile away there was the Farmers’ Market, the Rams’ Football Stadium (which was then torn down and CBS Television City built on that spot); the baseball park of the Hollywood Stars. A drive-in theatre, and closer to my home, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, whose art deco fronts have been rebuilt at the entrance of Orlando Disney-World’s MGM Studio Theme Park.


In this second diagram, the focus is on “the Pan.” No longer standing, demolished in ? the 1980s?, it was a multi-functional operation: Often they had ice skating and featured two or more shows a year, the Ice Follies and the Ice Capades (get it? Escapade, Ice-Capades? I didn’t get it till many decades later). The Pan held Home Shows, Auto Shows, and other exhibitions. We (living nearby and being boys) snuck in and filled bags with give-away’s.

Because folks parked in our driveway when the big shows were there, they graciously gave us free tickets for our inconvenience and we saw the ice shows. There was a movie house on the far corner of my block, next to a bowling alley; there was a small forest of eucalyptus trees across the alley and what is most marvelous, more so now that I don’t take it for granted, now that I’ve been out in the world, the back lot of the “Pan.”


Above is a rough diagram of our home seen from above, the bottom being our main street, on the left the finger-edge of First Street. The top of the picture heads west. Over the fence, the back lot of the Pan was filled with props: The planks and steel frames that held up the planks for seating were major elements there; but there were piles of other structures. We played hide-and-seek among these! And what was great is that they always set these up slightly differently a couple of times a year, which gave us variety and new discoveries. All this just over the fence: It was as magical as going through the magical “wardrobe” I the C.S. Lewis stories. Many stories about this little paradise for boys, climbing, riding our bicycles, getting occasional splinters. Ow!

I think moms today would get freaked to consider that safety death trap we took for a playground. Not that the back-lot of the Pan was everything. Just across the unpaved road was a big ol’ lot that also featured exhibits, and one time, the Ringling Brothers Circus. That was a high point in my life, watching the roustabouts putting up the tents, sneaking in (?) did we? and wandering among the exhibits. This would have been around 1946 plus or minus.

Most of that time this lot was empty, surfaced in grass, weeds, that when green and pulled up made great hand-grenade dirt clogs—didn’t hurt if you got hit, just dirty and shattered,  and we had dirt-clog fights. I guess it would have been snowball fights if this had not been Los Angeles.

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