May 5th, 2019

5th street los angeles 1905


There was another 40% off coupon from CVS in my email so I bought a six-in-one screwdriver. I'm gradually rebuilding my stock of tools I'll almost never need, but will need right now when I do need them. That was all that happened on Saturday, as far as I can remember. Well, taking a shower and fixing a dinner that made me a bit sick, and a whole bunch of Internet. Still pretty much limbo.

The present isn't very present when it's disconnected from the past, and the past goes a bit more vague all the time. Today something led me to a Google street view of the 800 block of South La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. The last time I looked at this location on street view there was a familiar building that is gone in the most recent view, taken in March, 2018. It was a small brick building with a tile roof, partly one story and partly two story.

Our family doctor once had an office on the second floor of this building, until he retired in the early 1950s. One o the things I did before leaving Los Angeles in 1986 was visit this building. I didn't have a camera so got no photos, which is probably just as well since they would have burned up along with all the others, but it's still there on the older versions of street view. I recall being surprised in 1986 how small the building was. The narrow tiled stairway to the second floor which so worried me when I was small seemed almost rustically quaint when I saw it again after more than thirty years, and not at all frightening.

The building is there in the January, 2017 street view, and by March of last year there was only a cyclone-fenced dirt lot with a few cars parked on it. The sidewalk is still there, and is probably the same one I walked on when we walked up to Wilshire Boulevard to catch the bus downtown after an appointment (my dad always drove us to the morning appointments, then saw the doctor first and as soon as he was done left for work, so the rest of us always got to spend a day downtown after seeing the doctor.)

I looked back through the various views in Google's archive, and saw that the building had grown a bit seedier and decayed over the last decade. The second earliest view available, from May, 2009, shows the place occupied by a restaurant, and looking fairly well-maintained. I don't actually have a clear early memory of the outside of the building, only parts of the interior, and the small courtyard on the ground floor which that stairway was right next to. And I definitely remember looking out that second floor front window and watching the traffic passing on the street below, and looking at the marquee of the La Brea Theatre at the end of the block across the street. The theater is still there, though it was converted into a church long ago, and I have to wonder how much longer it will survive.

So one more place has joined the inventory of things I can never see again. It's a big inventory now, and I'm sure it will get bigger. I wish I could say something profound about it, or at least a bit touching, but that ability seems to have left me. I guess it's joined that inventory. I don't think Google will ever find me a picture of it.

La Brea Avenue, May, 2009: