A Heads-Up for Readers: Derby’s Not Gone, It’s Just Hanging in a New Spot

“Los Angeles, Then and Now” is an entertaining photo book by Rosemary Lord, though, of course, much of “then” isn’t recognizable “now.” Nostalgia, as someone said, isn’t what it used to be in L.A.

But Lord is only partly correct in announcing the passing of one icon: the Original Brown Derby restaurant, which shut down in 1980.

She writes that, though “the huge derby hat was promised preservation on top of a strip mall ... unfortunately the hat has vanished.”

Actually, it just blew down the block a ways on Alexandria Avenue, north of Wilshire Boulevard.


The chapeau, its brim visible on the base, forms part of a Korean restaurant (see photos).

A newer sign identifies the mall as Brown Derby Plaza, and luckily the restaurant owners have conformed.

When the hat moved, it was initially painted silver.

Affectation alley? One can only guess if the large number of actors hereabouts accounted for the sign spotted by Helen Playfair of Santa Clarita (see photo).

Foul offer: Don’t know if you’ve heard, but you can go to a Milwaukee Brewers game and rest assured that you’ll come away with a foul ball or a fair ball that saw action. All you have to do is fork over $36 beforehand and the club’ll give you one afterward.

If that sounds like a lot of money, consider that in 1996, actor Charlie Sheen bought all the seats behind the left field fence of Anaheim Stadium for one game in hopes of shagging a home run. Cost: $5,000.

“Anybody can catch a foul ball,” Sheen explained. “I want to catch a fair ball.”

Alas, neither the Angels nor the visiting Detroit Tigers hit one over the fence into Sheen country


Foul offer (cont.): Despite what Sheen says, I’ve never caught a foul ball, except at one of my daughter’s softball games (and I wasn’t allowed to keep that one). So if the Dodgers or Angels instituted the $36 deal, I might take it. At 57, I’m starting to get a bit old to be taking my baseball glove to games.

Exiting one issue...: The items about freeway references by Southern Californians reminded Mike Kotzin of Pomona of “a regionalism I encountered in the Army. A guy from Brooklyn in our outfit always said he was going to ‘take a shave’ instead of just ‘shave.’ Although he insisted that everyone from his locale said it that way, we rode him mercilessly, asking him where he was going to take his shave to. Your imagination can probably provide his answer.”

MiscelLAny: It’s interesting to consider that Bob Hope, born 100 years ago, was of the same generation as such distant figures as Clark Gable (b. 1901), Lou Gehrig (b. 1903), Irving Thalberg (b. 1899), Jean Harlow (b. 1911), Ernest Hemingway (b. 1899), Charles Lindbergh (b. 1902), Al Capone (b. 1899), Joe Louis (b. 1914) and George Gershwin (b. 1898).



Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, ext. 77083 by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012 and by e-mail at