Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gardena getting its share of popular eateries

yogurtland photoGardena Marketplace (at the northeast corner of Western Avenue and Artesia Boulevard) seems to be the new hotbed for hot and trendy eateries. Chipotle and Yogurtland now occupy the space of the former Blockbuster Video store.

I occasionally rented movies from the old Blockbuster, but with the movement toward streaming movies, my DVD player is going the way of my VCR.

Eating frozen yogurt, however, remains a star on my weekly, if not daily, to-do-list.

I have to admit that I can’t get enough of Yogurtland’s build-your-own yogurt cups. For those unfamiliar, it’s the equivalent of a buffet-style restaurant. You pick your cup, move down the line, choose your flavor of yogurt, continue down the line, and select your toppings. By this time you’ve hit the weigh station.

You pay according to weight.

Don’t take my word for it, just Yelp Gardena Yogurtland and see what’s trending.

But the big news at the Market Place is that fast-food burger joints will be cranked up by year’s end.

Burger King at the southeast end of the center has gone, if anybody cares. In its place will (hopefully) come an In-N-Out Burger, for those who can’t get enough of its double-doubles and fresh-cut fries.  I’ve got to admit, it has a cult-like lore.

When I was a bit younger, there was only the Carson Street In-N-Out. Then came the Crenshaw Crossroads restaurant, and the Redondo Beach site. Within the last two years, the In-N-Out revived the Old Towne Mall (yeah, I still call it that) in Torrance.

I have to qualify this by saying as of late August 2013, it’s not official that In-N-Out Gardena is a done deal. Some neighboring businesses in that area, eateries namely, have voice their opposition . And the In-N-Out people will only confirm that they are giving Gardena “consideration.”

So, love it or leave it, the menu is ever changing. Bon appétit.

When Mother meets Mother, the memories fall into place

Mother Dolores Hart signs a copy of her autobiography for fans, including my mother.

Mother Dolores Hart signs a copy of her autobiography for fans, including my mother.

When we arrived at the bookstore in Culver City, it was at 2:30 on a warm Saturday in June. I drove my mother from her South Bay home to meet Dolores Hart, the well-documented actress who turned her back on Hollywood to become a nun.

Mother Dolores, all of 74, was in town to promote her book, “Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows.” My mom was a fan back in the day, although I think it was really about Elvis more than all the starlets who draped his arms.

Just the night before, I called my mom and asked, “how would you like to meet Dolores Hart?” My mom, in her reserved but excited way, answered, “Why, yes, I would.”

The bookstore parking lot was a bear.  I barely found a parking stall. Then, 10 seconds after entering the bookstore, Pauline Book & Media Center Daughters of St. Paul, I saw a table of displayed hardcover books that were dwindling before my eyes. Instinctively I dived (at least that’s how I want to tell it) for a copy, not knowing whether it smudged, bruised or bent — thankfully, it was blessed condition.

Within seconds, all of Mother Dolores’ books were in the hands of adoring fans. How was I to know that half-way through the book signing, all of her books would be sold out? Anyway, I handed the book to my mother and she took her place in line. Meanwhile, I circled around to take photos.

There was a crowd in the bookstore.  I heard a lot of quiet chatter among people, whispers of “Is that her?” and “Gee, she looks good.” The book signing was a hit, if I’m allowed to say that. Mother Dolores was radiant and gracious from the first person to the last.  She greeted my mother with a charming smile, a warm handshake and words that were delivered as if greeting an old friend.

Dolores sat and signed her autobiography. Her lifelong friend and book co-writer, Richard DeNeut, sat at her side. A TV news cameraman and I exchanged nods. I saw so many fans step up to touch Dolores. One guy pulled out every Dolores Hart, actress publicity photo in his collection, and she signed each without a sigh.

Another gentlemen in his 70s carried a board with photos. When he reached the front of the line, he pointed to a teenage girl and boy, and reminded Dolores, “you were my prom date.”

She chuckled and studied the photos with delight.

I was reminded of years past, when as a kid I heard about Dolores Hart, the ingénue, the new Grace Kelly. Her name stuck with me, as did a hundred other actor names, because Mom was a fan of the Hollywood cinema.

And on this day, it was like turning back the clock.

My mother walked out of the bookstore beaming, clutching her new book and regaling stories of old Hollywood. She was strolling down memory lane with a twinkle in her eye. And for the briefest moment, I was that little kid hearing those wonderful stories of a time that was.