Burb's Eye View: Shoppers hope to take home some memories

The crowd at the late Bob Hope’s house Saturday indicated one of two things: Either people will buy anything just because a celebrity owned it, or people will buy anything at a garage sale.

At 8:15 a.m. Saturday morning — a full 45 minutes earlier than it was supposed to start — shoppers packed the parking area of Mr. Hope’s home in Toluca Lake like sale-seekers at a Walmart on Black Friday.

Elbow to elbow they shoved each other, grabbing anything they could from the folding tables manned by volunteers and some of Hope’s family. One woman cradled an armload of glass bulb Christmas tree ornaments — the kind you’ll see on any tree, anywhere.

What does one find at Bob Hope’s garage sale? A lasagna pan? Perhaps a stuffed bear dressed as Santa? Some bathroom tile? All of the above.

Susan Rousseau and Art Mroczek battled the throng and emerged with four plastic bins full of sea-foam green bathroom tiles — around 250 in all. They don’t own a home.

“We were just looking for stuff that we can use [eventually],” Mroczek said. “Some people are crazy for this stuff.”

Outside the guarded parking area, Frank Greenwood looked on at the line that had formed when the tables were cleared. In just 45 minutes the place sold out, and Greenwood could only stand and watch.

“I would love to get in here and get a hold of a hat,” he said.

His collection of 700 hats rotates in a display in his Burbank home. He’s lived here since 1970 and owned several restaurants in the area — sometimes visited by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. When the performers left, often they’d leave their hats — additions to Greenwood’s collection.

He may have better luck next year, when Hope’s estate auctions off the bigger-ticket items of the home. Saturday’s rummage sale highlights included some action figures (of Mr. Hope of course), CDs and holiday decorations.

The whole thing sent one’s head spinning. It was not nearly as organized as the garage sale at Bing Crosby’s house in 2008, according to neighbor Sharon Pucci, who stopped by the sale on her way to work.

“At that one we got to go inside,” she said.

When the initial fever of commerce began to break, neighbors began greeting one another at the entrance and on the street. The rush ended almost before the sale was scheduled to begin, though people kept walking up to the house to see what was left, and to get a last glimpse at the home that has been a Toluca Lake landmark since Hope built it in 1939.

The neighborhood is left with memories now — the Hope House is still revered as the best place around for trick-or-treating. It will always remind Amanda Duchow of her childhood.

Duchow grew up knowing the stories of the Hope family — her mother worked on all the performer’s TV specials. She and friend Pat Rogers of New Mexico said the morning was like a little neighborhood party — and what’s not to like about a party?

Plus, you get to take home the serving dishes. Duchow clutched a “new” lasagna pan, which she planned to use for a gooey five-cheese macaroni dish.

“I think I’ll have to call it Hope-ful Mac and Cheese,” she said.

BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he isn’t shopping at celebrity garage sales, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter @818NewGuy.

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