As I pass by Hollywood’s statuesque Villa Carlotta every day, I see a number of items placed in paper bags by someone who likely lives there. It saddens me to realize that the developers of Hollywood are forcing residents to move from this venerable old building where Luella Parsons lived her entire Hollywood life. There is a window adjacent to the street where the doyenne of celebrity gossip passed her latest column to a messenger who transported the dish to her publisher.
The sumptuous lobby, with its grand piano, incredible greenhouse and a stunning large skylight, is empty—now cold and gray. Some tenants are fighting their eviction notices with every fiber of their body, fighting to remain in the place they called home for the last forty years.
Many of these distinguished folks have already left, but I have met many of them who have no desire to go elsewhere. God knows, where they will go but they must purge, purge, purge.
Even if I don’t routinely take any of the abandoned items adorning the street (although sometimes I do, I admit), I always look to see what treasures are being rendered up and—although my imagination works diligently—I have yet to figure out who’s rendering them.
Take, for example, this piece of painted piece of wood (maybe 3” X 7”) which looks as though some part of its message has already been broken. I’d like to think it was something a small child of seven or eight had painted in Bible School, seemingly long ago.
Perhaps the Bible School teacher meant so much to the child that she grew up, holding on to this cherished remembrance of the teacher throughout her adult life. She has clung to this true keepsake of “FAITH”—without the “F”—as an emotional mainstay throughout her life that is now being sacrificed to an unknown—indeed, to an unknown world.
Why I would choose to pick up such a grubby old piece of wood (with rudimentary printing in orange and green colors) becomes the question for me. And yet I do. I marvel at the fact it was made into an art piece that must have hung next to paintings in her room at the Villa Carlotta, an artifact no less important than the legendary grand piano in the lobby or as meaningful as La Parson’s infamous window accessible to street traffic.
What, I wondered, happened to the person that allowed her to give away “AITH” after it provided so many years of sustenance?
I pause for a moment, feeling great sadness as I reflect on my imaginings and gently place it back in the bag. I hope that someone else might pass by and wonder why it’s there.
Or maybe I quietly wish that its owner had made a mistake and will come back and retrieve the piece of discarded wood painted with four letters of a word full of vast meaning.