In Which a Ghostly Visitor Returns

March 15, 2007
Los Angeles

“Well, dear boy, I suppose you thought you were through.â€Â

“Yes, I did.â€Â


“Good grief! Do you see this bridge over the Gold Line? It looks like it’s held up with hairpins and spit!â€Â

“Saliva, dear boy. And what is the Gold Line?â€Â

“Well, it’s sort of a streetcar, except it doesn’t run on the street.â€Â

She leaned back in her ghostly chair. “And what did you think of our little year?â€Â

“I was quite wrong, wasn’t I?â€Â

She merely nodded.

“You could have at least told me.â€Â

“Dear boy, you needed to find out for yourself.â€Â

“OK, so there were movie theaters in Los Angeles.â€Â


“And there were comics in the paper.â€Â

“Little Nemo is one of my favorites.â€Â

“I couldn’t believe all the domestic violence. Awful stuff.â€Â

“It was terrible,â€Â she said.

“And getting a divorce was so difficult.â€Â

“That was horrible,â€Â she said.

“And the rotten doctors, the fakes and charlatans, dirty restaurants, the drinking and alcoholism. The exploding gasoline stoves.â€Â

“Well,â€Â she said chidingly, “you didn’t write very much about people who were nice. You newspaper folks never do.â€Â

“Most of all, we haven’t changed very much, have we? I mean, look at our problems with transportation… with sanitation… with growth… with housing… immigration… ethnic discrimination… education… polluting the ocean. A century later, the Police Department is still pleading for more officers. It’s the same story, with different details, that we had in 1947.â€Â

“And why do you think that is?â€Â

“Ma’am, that’s a short question with a long answer. You could tell me, couldn’t you?â€Â

“I could.â€Â

“But you’re not going to, because I have to figure it out for myself, is that it?â€Â

She nodded.

“I’ll miss all of you so much.â€Â

“You know where to find us,â€Â she said.

“Was it a kinder, simpler time?â€Â I asked.

“Maybe in some ways, but mostly no.â€Â And then she paused for a moment. “Go take a picture of your bridge. It hasn’t fallen down yet, has it?â€Â

“Nope, it’s still there. Or at least some bridge is still there.â€Â

I didn’t know what else to say: “Thanks for everything.â€Â

“You are most welcome. And thank you.â€Â

And then she was gone.

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