Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dial M for Murder

Well, I've just spent the last 2 hours in an internet wormhole. It started, as things often do, with Sam Maloof - world renown woodworker and native son of Chino. He made his home and workshop in Rancho Cucamonga but it was later moved to Alta Loma, at the very top of Carnelian, when the 210 freeway was extended. I actually think that's when I first heard about him, when an article ran in some newspaper back in the 90s about what they were going to do with his home because it was on the National Register of Historic Places. And then he was on the PBS show "Craft in America" and gosh I love that show. I love things that are beautiful, functional, and handmade and I love people who just say, you know what, I'm going to make artsy metal gates for the rest of my life so there!

Anyway, Sam Maloof. My dad and I went up to his home for a tour. He's been dead for a few years but his apprentices still run the workshop and his home has been turned into a museum. And folks, you should visit. His pieces are amazing and you can touch all of them, which is always my one true wish in a museum. Here, look. (The website doesn't show the prices but we saw the price list at the showroom and his famous rocker is $28,000. Start saving your shekels, kids.) We were on the tour with several other people including some Brits and a couple of women who seemed to be having a religious experience. They capital-L Loved that tour. And at the end, when we got to sit in one of his chairs, they kind of floated above it and closed their eyes and rubbed the arms and sighed. In their defense, it was a really comfortable wooded chair. And I don't say that lightly because most chairs are uncomfortable for me due to my Freakishly Short Leg Syndrome.

So here's where I veered off tonight. The Maloof Home is in the same neighborhood where a murder happened back in 1964. A woman drove her husband's black VW bug, with her husband taking a self-medicated nap in the back, into the wash and lit it on fire (local friends, it's where Banyan and Sapphire meet.) The place is nothing but houses now but back then it was all lemon groves so the car burned for an hour before she eventually went for help and claimed it was an accident. I know about this grizzly bit of local history because Joan Didion wrote about it and the ensuing trial in her essay Some Dreamers of the Golden DreamI came across it several years ago at the same time I was attending church in a building just a few blocks south of it on Sapphire. It was a weird experience reading an essay written in a different time by a famous author and seeing street names that were familiar to me. And now every time I'm up that way I think of that murder and that essay. But I also think of church and the friends who live there and the lovely display of Christmas lights the neighborhood puts on each year. I wonder if they know about the murder.

I reread it tonight (it's long and juicy). And that's where the wormhole began. Because then I read an essay about the essay. And then an essay written by the daughter of the couple. All of it tragic. And now my mind is filled with intrigue and murder and I'm going to have to watch an episode of Parks and Rec before bed to put the Blue Bird of Happiness back in the old heart. You guys, don't murder your husband, okay? No good will come of it.

But do go to the Maloof House.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

How did I not know about any of this? I mean, that was only a hop skip and a jump away from me! I need to come see it this summer, and then see you!