Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Nov. 25
Hey, how 'bout that Bob Hope garage sale, huh?
I'm temporarily stationed in Burbank approximately a mile-and-a-half from ground zero, the Toluca Lake home of Bob and Dolores Hope.
It's a route I can drive in my sleep: turn right on Riverside off Pass, and hang a hard left on Ledge. Not unlike the horse that draws the buggy, my car knows the path.
Last week, while making my daily constitutional past the lilac-draped enclave, I noticed a large pink placard perched on an easel outside the main gate at Moorpark and Ledge, or as I like to call it the intersection where violence meets insanity.
The flier heralded an upcoming "IMPORTANT" garage sale, but no names were implied. If you thought Hope's cue card dependent one-liners were a bunch of crap, you should have seen the shit they had laid out for sale.
I wasn't expecting to find an autographed golf club or the floor-length red, white, and blue garment Dolores modeled on Bob Hope's Bicentennial Big Bag of Allegiance. Nothing on display showed any indication that it had once belonged to the venerable funnyman.
It was a miracle. For years I drove past the Toluca Lake Earth Station crying out Dolores' name to no avail. Today, the gates were open. Those who attend this garage sale will make a pilgrimage over the very ground that Mr. Hope trod starting in 1951 when he first annexed the property.
Everything had been thoroughly picked over. I guess the American Legion beat me to it. All that remained were empty picture frames, woven baskets, souvenirs of bygone Easters (a rare stay-at-home holiday for Bob given the fact that he spent every Christmas overseas "entertaining" our fighting forces), and books on the fine art of crock pot cookery.
Only one item came close to connecting me to the man, a mint-in-box Rubbermaid toilet seat extender like the one pictured below.
Bob, who had long since grown tired of using toilet water as a ball washer, dispatched one of his handlers to Home Depot in search of the porcelain pick-me-up.
If only there had been some sign of ownership or authentication. What's to distinguish this privy perch from one belonging to Buddy Hackett or Slappy White? A bill of sale with Hope's name taped to the box or a DNA sample on the rim, any form of validation would have justified my forking over a ten-spot.
The battery in my camera was deader than Dolores. The only photographic representation comes in the form of a photo fellow Hopeologist Larry Crandus forwarded me on Facebook. Thanks for the memory of almost sitting in the lap of greatness, right here!