In 1984, our former neighbors, the Partons from Mansfield Ohio, came to visit us at our new home in Mission Viejo, CA. If you grew up in the Midwest, you will remember that California was considered to be “La La Land,” populated by weirdos. We had been very reluctant to move to California and the Partons were very anxious to see if we had succumbed to the bizarre California influence. That question was never resolved.
Ralph Lauren, Versace, Yves St. Laurent and Oscars gowns are a few images that come to mind when one thinks of Rodeo Drive. The street is famous worldwide. So, it is not surprising that the Partons wanted to cruise Rodeo Drive. Mission Viejo is 65 miles from Beverly Hills on the other side of Los Angeles, so getting there is a commitment. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is fairly close to Beverly Hills so we decided to do Rodeo Drive on the day we took the Partons back to the airport for their return home.
The day came to head to LAX via Rodeo Drive. We owned a 1982 Oldsmobile station wagon with a third, rear-facing seat. It was before seat belts were enforced and we had already proven that, if three of the kids squeezed into the rear seat, we could squish all nine of us into the car. We elegantly tied the luggage to our roof rack with clothesline, scrunched into the car and hit the I-405 north. The trip north was uneventful except for the pothole that blew off our passenger side front wheel cover. Stopping to pick up a wheel cover on the I-405 is tantamount to suicide so we kept on “truckin.”
It was mid-afternoon on a weekday and when we arrived on Rodeo Drive, there were curbside parking spaces in front of the stores. We found a parking space directly in front of Versace. Because it was the middle of the day and the stores were not busy, a couple of the Versace clerks were standing in the front window watching the street. Their eyes seemed to bulge as they stared at our car stacked high with luggage and with one wheel cover missing. As the nine of us exited the car mimicking a “clown car,” the clerks did not seem to see the humor. In fact, they now exhibited near panic. By the time we strolled into the store, the full force of the store’s personnel was on the floor and followed us as closely as possible to make sure we got the very best of service. Unfortunately, there were not enough store personnel to follow each, but they did the best they could. As we left, I looked back through the front window and it appeared they were taking inventory. And we were very pleased to discover that the Versace store personnel had apparently notified the other stores that we were on the way.