Richard W. Bann Letter of 15th September, 1999

I just phoned Lois Laurel-Hawes, asking about her next letter for the web-site. Lois told me she is not feeling well just now. Her doctor prescribed an antibiotic on Friday, and she is not up to sitting at a typewriter.

We did speak about the upcoming annual WAY OUT WEST Banquet, set for Saturday, October 16. Lois plans to be well by then. Many of us here are looking forward to that event. Not just for the film clips and rarities. Through the years we have had many great guests at this affair. Scores of talent in front of and behind the cameras associated with Laurel & Hardy films. Hal Roach, the widows of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, directors like George Marshall, editor Richard Currier, composer Marvin Hatley, co-stars like Anita Garvin and Billy Gilbert.

This year, however, it's not so much who, or when, or what will happen at the Banquet, but where it will take place. It seems so obvious, and yet there has been no opportunity for this until now.

This year, for the first time ever, the SONS OF THE DESERT oasis in Los Angeles will hold its annual banquet not in Hollywood, not in Beverly Hills but Culver City. We will wine and dine at the Culver City Hotel where Stan and Ollie filmed so many of their best comedies. And so did Charley Chase (whose daughter June may join us). When Hal Roach units shot films like PUTTING PANTS ON PHILIP and LIMOUSINE LOVE there in the 1920s and 1930s, the place was known as the Harry H. Culver and Company Building. The structure was then an office building. Later it became an apartment building. Then it was vacant for many years. Now it is a hotel. It's always been, and remains today, the principal Culver City landmark.

The first time I visited Los Angeles I drove directly from the airport to Culver City. Even when I got lost, I was determined to find Culver City as the first priority of business. I wanted to visit the site of Hal Roach Studios, and nearby Main Street of Culver City. It is the shortest main street in the world, probably, runs only one block, and at one end is the Culver city Hotel.

The address is 9501 Culver Boulevard. In 1924 this edifice was basically erected on its own block, approximately the shape of a triangle. It can be seen from all over the area; there's nothing else like it and it stands out like a proud old mountain. A third bordering street is Washington Boulevard. Driving west a few blocks was Hal Roach Studios, and east on Washington Boulevard was mighty Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, now owned by Sony.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1985. Main Street in Culver City had changed very little since the days when Hal Roach Studios patrolled the streets and shops with little production crews and cameras. But the first ten years I lived here saw drastic changes in the area. Things changed more in that period than in all the preceding time.

It has now been modified somewhat, but luckily the historic Culver City Hotel is still there. Lois Laurel-Hawes, and some fortunate few fans of Hal Roach films will get a tour as part of the WAY OUT WEST Banquet, now only weeks away.

We have been told the staff there is well schooled in the art of fine dining. Two new chefs have been hired just for this occasion. Evidently they „sure know how to plan a meal."

Laurel and Heartily Yours,
Richard W. Bann

* Not to be reproduced in full or in part without the author's permission.