With amusement (and some financial speculation), I am following the story of a woman, Elsie Poncher, who is selling her husband’s crypt above Marilyn Monroe’s on eBay.
She wants to pay off her mortgage in Beverly Hills, a practical goal, and evidently, this particular location at the intimate Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery is worth big money.
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery is an intimate final resting place, smack in the middle of an urban sprawl trumped only by Manhattan. The average person or mourner might have trouble finding it, perhaps because most buried there were not average and wanted it that way. Right off Wilshire Blvd, in the heart of Westwood, only a few blocks from U.C.L.A., sit the white marble crypts and small grave markers of many people who have graced the American screen, delighted comedy clubs and television, and filled our ears with luscious melodies.
My grandmother, Rosalie, is buried there, not far from all the hubbub. She had no idea this little nook of green in a cement neighborhood would be her final resting place.
So Rosie, how do you like being twelve feet from Natalie Wood, in eye-shot of Dean Martin and Truman Capote, in ear-shot of the lavish raves and hushed conversation of the general public as it pays respects to Roy Orbison, Walter Matthau, and Eva Gabor?
Are you watching the tour buses unload gawkers as they make a beeline for Marilyn’s crypt to see if that perfect blood red rose, sent every day by the now dead Joe DiMaggio (I guess they have florists in Heaven), is where it should be, below Mr. Poncher’s crypt.
Did you ever expect (in your wildest fantasies) that your only daughter and her husband Hugh would buy a cereal box sized spot for your ashes, you who hailed from Anna, Texas and landed in Westwood with your second husband Harold, an obstetrician to the Stars??
You were a real character, Rosie, and not at all like so many women born in 1905.
You were a rebel, escaped Anna in 1923 by fleeing to a Dallas secretarial school, and then did the unthinkable (for a Baptist): you married Jimmy, a Jewish guy from New Orleans.
When he ran off with his secretary, you married another Jewish guy, Harold, an obstetrician from Chicago who drove you to Los Angeles in 1948.
And although you were out of your element, you did your best in dealing with the glitz and dazzle of a busy life. You also did one hell of a job coping with an eccentric husband despite your off and on shingles.
I owe my humor and small feet to you Rosie. I am still enjoying some of your 1940’s handbags and shoes that mother gave to me after you died.
I bet you were shocked when we laid you to rest 12 feet from Natalie Wood.
Too bad Harold is far away in another bland L.A. cemetery. 😉
By the way, Rosie, in keeping with your Scotch-Irish Sense of the Thrifty, I am wondering if you would be upset if I moved your ashes to another location. Real estate at the cemetery has increased in value, despite the housing market’s decline.