Naked Truth About the La Brea Tar Pits

This column's list of milestones in the history of L.A. nudism has been enhanced by Marion Graff of El Sereno, who heard a fascinating tale set in the 1930s.

While Graff was training as a docent at the Natural History Museum in 1982, her instructor regaled the class with anecdotes.

One story involved a woman who decided to end it all in the La Brea Tar Pits. "She took off her mink coat and clothes and walked in in the middle of the night," Graff said. "But you don't sink very fast in the tar pits."

Eventually someone contacted the authorities and the Fire Department rescued the woman.

The naked intruder apparently was one of several people who became mired in the pits before the area was fenced off. Graff was told that in the early century the Fire Department became adept at such rescues by laying a ladder across the invaded pit.

CIVIC SLAMS: "I'm tired of my hometown of Sierra Madre getting no respect," declares Rosemary Hagerott, enclosing a map she received from Avis Rent-a-Car that spells it Seirra Madri (see accompanying).

Hagerott coincidentally works for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, which is also insulted. It's rendered as La Crescenta Pintridge.

She joked that she'd sue the cartographer except that if she lost a big legal fight she might have to move to Azus, Claramont, Monticlair, Temple or La Puento.

OF COURSE, NO ONE'S PERFECT: I gave the name of one Beach Boys song as "Little Deuce Couple," instead of "Little Deuce Coupe," and heard afterward from readers throughout the county--from Santa Monica in the West to Spumoni in the East.

PARKING IS SUCH STREET SORROW: An anonymous reader in Redondo Beach sent along a snapshot of a sarcastic, fictitious flier that was pasted over a city street sign, apparently by a disgruntled neighbor (see photo).

"The reason for the flier," the reader said, "is a recreational vehicle that has been parked on our street for a year, taking up two valuable parking spaces. The area is mostly apartments with no underground parking. Tenants have nowhere to park but on the street. The city has been contacted [about the RV] but takes no action."

CHEESE, PREFERABLY: Andy Kostelas of San Pedro saw a man holding this sign at a wine festival in Santa Ynez: "Will Taste for Food."

BATTERED BY RADIO WAVES: The Oxnard radio station's billboards that made a crack about the City of Angels have been softened somewhat. Now, the "Flip off L.A." message is preceded by one that says, "Flip on Q 104.7" And they do spell "L.A." correctly.


My item about the coming Angel Festival offering "near-death lectures" prompted Pauli Carnes to recall a History of Western Civilization college course in the 1960s. It was "taught by a fellow with a droning, nasal voice on sleepy winter afternoons, right after lunch, in the hissing, radiator-lined attic of an old classroom building in New Jersey," Carnes said. "Trying to stay awake under those conditions perfectly matched the description, 'near-death lectures.' "

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