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Road to Toluca WoodsPosted Sunday, April 17, 2011, at 8:59 PM
At age 30, I left the harsh Minnesota winters for the land of fruits and nuts. I soon found a job as a senior systems analyst for a large computer complex near downtown Los Angeles and rented a house on stilts in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking Universal Studios in the San Fernando Valley.
Six months later, I found a better job at a small computer software company next door to Warner Brothers studios. My office was officially in Los Angeles and the movie studio was officially in Burbank, both bordering the tiny community called Toluca Lake -- a small, quaint area within the Los Angeles metropolis.
Soon I begin looking for a house to purchase. One day I spotted an ad about a fixer with a pool, within my price range, that was "less than 20 blocks from Bob Hope." I didn't know it at the time but the real estate agents in the area used Bob Hope as a point of reference -- the closer to Bob Hope's house, the more exclusive the property. In real estate, location is everything. Apparently, this particular real estate agent had a sense of humor.
I bought the house. The pool was basically a swamp and cost several thousand dollars to get back into shape. Every day I drove to work, I passed by Bob Hope's estate which was a couple of acres surrounded by high walls. I was told he had his own golf hole in the backyard -- about a nine-iron shot.
Not long thereafter, I married. We sold the house and bought a yacht. We lived on the yacht for six months, then sold it and bought a condo in Sherman Oaks. Next we sold the condo and rented an A-frame in Topanga. Then it was time to buy another house. This time, we found one in an area real estate agents refer to as Toluca Woods, south of Cahuenga Boulevard and north of Riverside Drive, "within 10 blocks of Bob Hope."
It was a nice area. William Holden once owned the house at the end of the block. My wife and I often dined at the local hangouts where we would bump into some of the more famous Toluca Lake residents such as Jonathon Winters and Andy Griffith. The fellow I worked for was a member of Lakeside Country Club in Toluca Lake, Bob Hope's home course. I played a few rounds of golf and occasionally lunched there.
Then we divorced. My wife, bless her heart, kept the Toluca Woods house and I moved back into the Hollywood Hills. Oddly enough, I rented a place on the very same street, a little further uphill, as the house on stilts I had rented when I first moved to Los Angeles. Back to square one once again.
Anyway, that's my Bob Hope story. I never met him, or even saw him, yet he seemed to have an impact on my life.
Leslie Towne Hope was born in Eltham, England on May 29, 1903. His father was an English stonemason and his mother an aspiring Welch concert singer. In 1907, Leslie's father moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio. By way of his father's naturalization, Leslie became known as "Bob." In 1920, Bob and his brothers became U.S. citizens.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Bob Hope was a star of radio, television and the films. He and crooner Bing Crosby were featured in several "Road" pictures and carried on a famous comic feud. Hope was also a frequent host of the Academy Awards ceremonies in Hollywood. Although he never won an Oscar for a film performance, he received five honorary Academy Awards for his contributions to the motion picture industry.
Bob Hope will always be remembered for his tireless service to our military troops. He spent much of World War II traveling the globe to entertain Allied Forces. He continued this practice during later conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East and elsewhere, well into the 1990s.
Bob Hope traveled off on the Road to the Great Beyond on July 27, 2003, at age 100. When his grandson asked him at his deathbed where he wanted to be buried, he remarked, "Surprise me."
Thanks for the memories.
Quote for the Day -- "I love to go to Washington -- if only to be near my money." Bob Hope
Bret Burquest recently published THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY (available on Amazon) -- topics include collective consciousness, UFOs, parallel dimensions, Edgar Cayce, Atlantis, St. Germain, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, End of Days, the White Buffalo, Jesse James, Noah's Ark, JFK and MLK assassinations, Dead Sea Scrolls, Illuminati, New World Order, Bilderbergers, Hitler after WW II, reincarnation, Near Death Experience, Mayan calendar 2012, much more.
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.