Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Picnic at Forest Lawn

If you live in Southern California, sooner or later, you are going to bump into a celebrity and because this happens, topics of conversation often begin with, "Guess who I saw yesterday?"  I've dined in restaurants with Danny Devito, Ray Romano and the late Robert Mitchum.  I also literally bumped into Jay Leno at a book fair, but didn't know it until my husband whispered in my ear,  "Do you know who that was?"   Michael Douglas, however, I recognized while shopping on State Street and I sat behind the late Julia Child at a museum lecture.  There was no mistaking that one!

So I understand why tourists flock to the Forest Lawn cemeteries in Los Angeles.  Many of their favorite stars are buried here in the Hollywood Hills or in the original Forest Lawn in Glendale.  Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, John Ritter and Liberace are all here, the one I come to the most.  However, I have never been to their graves.  I come here for the parklike setting and the absolute serenity and beauty of the place.  (Plus, it's right next to the 134 which spits me out of L.A. and on to the 101 for home.)  The Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn Cemetery overlooks Disney Studios, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers.  It's located next to Griffith Park which is another nice place to picnic.

I keep intending to download a grave map and make the dead celebrity tour, but the truth is, after I eat one of those big pastrami on rye sandwiches I carry up here, I fall asleep on the grass.  Maybe next time, I promise myself.  After all, they aren't going anywhere.

  I end up strolling aimlessly up and down the hills.  I marvel at the different languages I find on the simple bronze plaques.  There are people of every race and every religion up here--all buried side by side.  I'm not the only one who has discovered this beautiful oasis.  There are other people with blankets and picnic baskets.  A Chinese family lights joss sticks on the grave of a loved one.  A lone old man is pulling weeds.  No artificial flowers are allowed.  No kitsch.  Cleaner than any park.  And far more quiet.

Forest Lawn.  A favorite place for a picnic and a rest before that stressful drive home.


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