Travel stories

 It has been so long since I lived on Highway 1 that I have forgotten the names of some of it.

The first place was El Granada … a nice little town just south of The Devil's Slide, about 3or4 miles north of Half Moon Bay.
My telephone answering service was the lady who ran the little hardware store two blocks toward the beach.

We had an Italian landlady named Suzi.

Later on we rented a 3 bedroom house for $180 per month up in the hills overlooking El Granada, with a hole in the middle … what do they call them … atrium? Open to the sky, so it would catch the rain. Windows into it from two sides. There was a balcony on the North and West sides where we'd have coffee or tea and a meal, and watch the sunset that would profile the Farallons out in the begining of the Pacific Ocean. Frieght ships would sound their fog horns. It was so idyllic.

I travelled the whole Western Slope of the country from there. Everything south of Canada, North of Mexico, and West of the Rockies. I'd even sometimes go east to help one of the regional employees of the brochure company whose Photography wasn't up to the job they had landed.

I shot several hotels in Carmel and Monterrey. Also all over the place. Hotel managers were very friendly people. I think they got lonely because the had to live there and it just wasn't done to make friends with the employees. I remember one of the most fun ones of all. Right across from a beautiful oceanside state park that had been the scene where a famous movie of Treasure Island had been filmed. The hotel was called The Highlands Inn. The only thing that marred its location was that there was a huge motel on the hill above it called "The Tickle Pink Inn" (Or motel. something like that, I forget) The manager gave me his own favorite room … a kind of crow's nest at the very top, with a private stair up to it, and all 4 sides glassed in with crank open windows. There wasn't usually much to do at night, so I saw a lot of movies, but although I was never a drinker, I thought this particular night I"d go have one in the bar. A good German beer. I think it was Spatenbráu. I got into a conversation with a pretty girl with sandy blonde hair, wearing blue jeans, also sitting at the bar. She said she lived just down Highway 1.

I have long forgotten the name she gave me, but after she left, the manager came over and said "Do you know who that was?"

I told him her name as she had given it.

He laughed. "That was Kim Novak. She lives down the road apiece."

He told me her trademark platinum blonde hair was a wig.

I also met Gene Autry. He had a hotel on Hollywood Blvd. I forgot the name.

Another account that was a lot of fun was The Arizona Biltmore. Biltmore was owned by The Wrigley Corporation. They also owned the resort at Avalon, out on Catalina Island. He told me that before they sent him there, they interviewed him in depth, to make sure he was mentally stable, because they said several managers had suddenly become what they called "Rock Happy" and completely unable to stay on the island. He said he assured them that it would never happen to him, so he got on a boat and went out to Catalina to assume his managerial position … and that about two years later he woke up one morning and had to leave. He said it was so bad that he even consdered swimming if there were no boat, but when he called Wrigley they didn't even argue about it, they just sent one of the corporate managers to Catalina and gave him that nice Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, where every room was a separate cottage, and you got your own golf cart to drive to and from it.

One thing I have got to mention is the food. I can hardly describe the delicious food. Absolutely world class chefs most places I shot for their brochures.

One time it was some hotel in Chicago. I had so much fun. The manager came to me and asked me to take a picture of him with Sally Rand dressed in her skin tight flesh colored tights, behind that giant pink ostrich feather fan. I did, and she asked me if I'd like to join her in the coffee shop for a cup. She was 61 then, she told me, and I was 32. I guess she passed away years ago, but she was a very enjoyable lady.

Another time, I went to Dayton to help the rep there shoot a ski resort in Michigan. HIs wife was having a hissy fit for some reason, and it was snowing like a sonofabitch, so I ended up for the next two weeks in a Holiday Inn, where there was a nice German waitress. I spoke fluent German at the time (no more, funny how you lose it if you never use it.) Anyway, I mentioned that I missed German food. That night she brought me Rinds Rolladen (a stuffed beef dish, rolled up like window shadt, which is what Rinds Rolladen means … beef roller blinds.) and Schpaetzle … which means "LIttle Sparrows" and is a kind of Southern German noodle. No food in the world like it in my opinion. It turned out that her husband was one of the cooks, and knew how to make German food.

Finally he bailed me out and we drove up to Iron Mountain Ski Resort in Michigan, to shoot the ski slopes, but a new blizzard caught us, too much snow to see more than a dozen feet, so as it was December 23rd, and we hoped to rescue the season by having Christmas with our families, we headed back to Dayton.

At Lansing, I saw a sigh that pointed to the Lansing, Michigan airport, and told him to turn into it and maybe I could catch an airplane back to California. We arrived just as the last plane west was leaving, so he sent me to the car to get my luggage while he bought my ticked with his company credit card. As I rushed back in the Ĺirline agent told me to jump over the scales and follow him out the back, where the DC3 (of all things, a Goony Bird) had a stair run up to its door so I could get on and take off. The pilot was waiting for me.

I jumped in, the Stewardess took my luggage and stowed it somewhere, I found a seat and we were away. Not long after we landed at Muskegon and a man in an airline uniform got on and said, "Is there a Mr. Fairchild on board?"

"Yes, right here!"

"I think you have somebody's car keys."

"O, my God. When is the next plane going back?"

"Not until 4:45 in the morning"

The Lansing airport closed its doors soon after my takeoff, and made my friend go outside in the snow, and his car was locked. I tried to apologize but he never spoke to me again.