1921 – Concerning Carmel’s Past


They’re starting a journalism class seventh period “come and join” said the red-haired youth.  Aw I’ve got to memorize my part for dramatics objected the snub-nosed one.  You can do that later. All the bunch is in the class come on.  So the two climbed the hill that September afternoon in 1914 by the ivy-covered buildings of Los Angeles High School.  Along cool corridors they went and into a large but rather dark classroom. Many boys and a few girls were listening to a teacher who was talking about the “why” “what” “who” “when” and “where” of something or other. Details were hazy, for to the mind of one of the newcomers there was but one distinction in the room. That was a face that stood forth from the gray blur of othe faces vividly, as a black and white oil paintingwould in an exhibition of sepia washes.  It was the face of a fresh dark-haired girl, a young girl, startingly young even for high school. She was vivacious, piquant, as central a figure in that room as a musical comedy star is when the spotlight is on her. The face had the oval fullnessof an infantile Mona Lisa.  After class the red-haired youth was exceedingly bashful to the side of the girl and said “Carmel Myers this is Teddy Taylor. He’s kind of a nut about wanting to be an actor and Teddy this is my sister. She thinks she is going to be a writer. At the end of the school year, Carmel Myers had the longest string of clippings contributed to the school weekly of any one in the class and the string included a notice of a performance in which Teddy Taylor appeared such a flattering notice that young many was unjustly accused of writing it himself. Carmel Myers was then 13 years old, and an interscholastic baby vamp, if there ever was such a creature though she won’t admit it. Some half hundred moons have waxed and waned, and the scene now shifts to Universal City, where Carmel Myers has signed a 3 year movie contract to star after a flyer in musical comedy in New York. She seems the same exquisite girl but she must be some older 19 years of age. But she is still just as delightful though perhaps a trifle more reserved than in her high school days. ‘Hello Carmel, I haven’t seen you in a long long time”. “Wny hello Teddy! then she glanced nervously around. “Mr. Hertzman I’m not late for my interview am I? You said someone was going to be here. Your talking to him laughed the impresario of publicity.  Teddy! Why are you  ” That started an avalanche of questions and it looked as if the intereview had been snowed under, despite the fact she was now the thespian, and I was the writer.  Finally, I steered around to the subject of her sojourn in New York. “I was there only about a year” she told me. “You know, I’ve always wanted to go on the stage, so when my first contract with Universal expired, I decided to try it. It’s wonderful, but I am so disappointed to find that I can’t play in pictures and behind the footlights at the sametime. It’s physically impossible. Do you know the thing that impressed me most? The California complexion. The girls from the west seemed to have such a healthy color even under paint and powder, in contrast to the lilly pallid city girls of the east.  I saw ever so many old friends. Houston Peterson came backstage one night. He was a professor at Columbia University and now talks in a deep voice and looks the part. We laughed.”  Momma Myers had been gazing earnestly at me. “Are you the young man who came home with my son Zion one time and ate up the chicken for our Sunday dinner while I was away?” “No no, mother”Carmel fibbed tactly.  “Well I just wondered” said Mrs. Myers. then she amicably changed the subject. Carmel made her first stage appearance in “The Lady of the Lake” at the old Custer Street School and she wore a Scotch costume, and was ever so excited about the play” “Yes, said Carmel and my her was a blond six footer who forgot his lines in the middle of a passionate love scene. You were sitting on a nail keg said Mrs. Myers. Supposed to be a rock with bottles scattered around scenery! What made me feel bad was ringing down the curtain. Bu they raised it again, and we started over and I prompted he hero in all his lines.” You weren’t doing any acting at Los Angeles High School were you Carmel?” “Only in our cellar at home. I was a scrub only in the 9th grade so all I could do at school was debate. The teacher in Journalism used to accuse me of being crazy about the boys, and I wasn’t at all except that I liked to talk to you about Morris. then we chatted about schoolmates the class poet, the girl-hater who married, the star debater who got a job in a pickle factory and the verses Carmel used to contribute to the weekly I helped edit.  “Do I? Bessie Love was in that contest, too we rode on the same float in the parade, as mades of honor. That was the very happiest year of my life up until then”..

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