A Single Yesterday

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Chapter 27

Two days later, Zach and Charlie were walking down Hollywood Boulevard, in sunny California. They had just arrived from Colorado the prior day and decided to go sightseeing. It was mid-October, and the weather was still warm and on the humid side, which was typical that time of the year in Los Angeles.

Zach pointed to the crowded Grauman’s Chinese Theater and snapped some photos of it with his camera while Charlie followed closely, eating an ice cream cone.

The theatre opened May 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s film The King of Kings and Zach wanted to have at least one picture of them in front of it, so he asked another tourist—a gentleman with a young woman if he wouldn’t mind taking a photo of them with the theater in the background. The gentleman said he would be delighted to take a photo of them.

Zach and Charlie liked Los Angeles and thought the people were friendly. They didn’t seem to be in as much of a rush as the people in New York. Though the people in New York were also friendly, they just seemed to be always hustling somewhere, and a little stressed out. They noticed the people in California seemed to be a bit more laid back than New Yorkers. Perhaps it was the climate. California had beautiful weather.

Zach noticed Norma Talmadge’s footprint on the sidewalk. The theater credited Norma Talmadge as having inspired the tradition of celebrity imprints when she accidentally stepped into the wet concrete. Zach was excited and walked along the sidewalk snapping photos of all his favorite celebrities: Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Jackie Cooper, The Marx Brothers, Jean Harlow, Shirley Temple, and Bing Crosby. There were other celebrity imprints, but Zach didn’t recognize any of their names.

At one point of the sidewalk, the famous “HOLLYWOODLAND” sign could be seen on a distant hillside. Zach made certain he took plenty of pictures of it.

After their walk down Hollywood Boulevard, Zach and Charlie took a taxi to Santa Monica. When the taxi dropped them off they walked the crowded promenade along the beach. There was a lot of commotion going on at the beach that day, particularly one section called Muscle Beach. There where muscular men in swimming trunks performing acts of strength. One group of men were standing on each other’s shoulders three men high. Young women cheered until they came crashing down on the sand.

Further along the promenade, there was a group of girls admiring young men exercising with weights. Their muscles bulged as they pumped up their muscular bodies. One of the men in the group was taken back by Charlie’s size. He was a handsome man in his early 20s. He placed his weights down in the sand and approached Charlie in awe. “Are you a bodybuilder?” the young man asked Charlie.

“A what?” Charlie said.

“A bodybuilder. Ya know, like Eugene Sandow and Charles Atlas,” the young man said.

Charlie looked puzzled at the young man.

“Do you lift weights?” the young man asked. He gestured to the weights on the sand.

“No, I don’t use those,” Charlie said.

“You’re kidding,” the young man said. He looked Charlie up and down. “That’s crazy man, I can’t even imagine what you’d look like if you exercised with weights.”

Charlie didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

“Oh, excuse me,” the young man said. He cleaned his hands off on a towel and stuck out his hand. “I’m Jack, Jack LaLanne. I’m opening a fitness club in Oakland in a few weeks. You should stop by sometime if you ever come up north. You sure have a lot of potential.”

“Thanks,” Charlie said shaking Jack’s hand, “but we’re just visiting California for a short time. My name is Charlie, and this is my friend, Zach.”

Zach could see that Jack was particular about his physique. He thought maybe Jack would shun him for being a dwarf, but he was polite and shook Zach’s hand without giving his size a second thought.

“Okay, well if you’re ever up in the Oakland area, be sure the both of you stop in and say hi,” Jack said.

“We’ll try, thanks,” Charlie said.

“And good luck with your gymnasium,” Zach said. “Hey, would you mind taking a photograph with us?”

“Sure, no problem,” Jack said.

One of the girls who admired Jack volunteered to take the photo for them. They thought it would be a real hoot to really ham it up, so Zach and Charlie removed their shirts and stood with Jack in the sand. The three of them flexed their muscles as they posed for the camera. After their picture was taken, they all laughed and said their goodbyes. Then Zach and Charlie continued to walk towards the ocean. “What a nice kid, I hope he makes it,” Zach said to Charlie.

“Yeah me too,” Charlie said, “but I don’t know how you can make a livin’ owning a gymnasium.”

The sun was just starting to set, and Zach wanted to take photographs of it. When they got closer to the water, they removed their socks and shoes and rolled up their trousers. When they reached the water it was cool and refreshing. Neither Zach nor Charlie had ever been to a beach before. In fact, neither of them had ever seen the ocean.

Zach laughed as the water washed up around his feet. He though it tickled. When the water receded it caused his feet to disappear deeper into the sand. He wiggled his toes until he could see them again. Charlie watched how such a simple experience brought Zach so much pleasure. Zach seemed to cherish every moment as though it were his last, and Charlie admired him for that.

Charlie watched some boys near them riding surfboards. They laughed and carried on as though they didn’t have a single care in the world. It reminded him of the way he and brother used to play when he was young, and it brought a smile to his face.

After a few moments, the sun made its way closer to the horizon. Zach and Charlie stood and watched. They were mesmerized.

The sky looked as though it were on fire, with red and gold colors that streaked across the sky until the sun melted into the Pacific Ocean. “Looks heavenly don’t it?” Zach said.

“Sure does,” Charlie replied. His voice was tranquil.

Zach aimed his camera and snapped a few more pictures before the sun completely disappeared. Simply breathtaking.

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