Working 9 to 5. Then 8 to 2. Vintage Los Angeles.

By Anita Garner

Early 1960’s. Mardi Gras Room, Park Wilshire Hotel near MacArthur Park, Los Angeles.  The former Nita Faye Jones, now Anita, with Barry Townley of The Barry Townley Trio. 

There was almost no time lapse between graduating Herbert Hoover High in Glendale and singing all night in clubs.  I was underage, wore tons of make-up and turned my natural red hair blonde, spending hours in a salon every month to keep it that way.

Step down from Wilshire Blvd into this hotspot. Seats on the right faced the stage. It was packed even on weeknights. 

A nightclub singer’s wardrobe was flashy. Feathers. (There are feathers on the bottom of that white dress and the bottom isn’t far from the top.)  Sequins.  Fancy fabrics.  Much of my paycheck went to a little shop in Beverly Hills where I made layaway payments.

The pay for a singer back then?  Not enough to afford the clothes.  Many of us worked two jobs.  I was a skinny teenage girl burning the candle at both ends. My day job was to try to look good at a front desk in the  plush lobby of a high rise in downtown Los Angeles.  I was a lickety-split typist but I didn’t tell them that because I doubt I could have stayed alert enough to complete a task, so I just sat there.

The company was LAI, Lockheed Aircraft International, where military officers from other nations came to negotiate the purchase of aircraft with a team of LAI attorneys.  My job was to smile and greet them and push buttons to summon their hosts and translators.  Through translators, we chatted. They loved music and wherever I sang, there they were.

So – all day in an office, then change clothes and sing until 1 or 2 AM, then drive home, try to sleep, wake up to lots of coffee and do it all over again. it took a while before I made enough from singing to stop the day jobs, but eventually every bar and restaurant featured musicians and a singer and times were good for live music all over Southern California.

I don’t remember back then ever having a single conscious thought about my work in clubs having anything to do with rebelling against my upbringing.  It was just something I knew how to do.  I grew up performing with my family.

I’m still surrounded by boxes of photos for my book project.  Pictures do bring up stories. I’m telling this one to say, well I’ll be damned,  there’s much in  common here with my mother.  Fern Jones took her guitar into a radio station when she was 12 and they were glad to give her a show.  By the age of 14, she lied about her age to sing in honky-tonks, then went to work with a big band. Then she met Daddy.

Because of Daddy’s religious beliefs, I was raised with no makeup, no going where liquor was served and pretty much everything else a young woman wanted to do was a sin. These days I look at pictures of teenage Fern and it’s apple, meet tree.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Working 9 to 5. Then 8 to 2. Vintage Los Angeles.”

  1. Keep going through those storied photo boxes, Anita Faye. They capture the fascinating times of your life and I can’t wait to hear more.

  2. I’m supposed to be sorting and labeling, but of course I brake for stories. I’m grateful for social media, so I can share them while they’re becoming ancient history.

  3. Love your stories and pics. Reminds me of my own years in Hollywood in the 60’s. I had the same blonde hairdo and loved getting dressed up to go to those nightclubs. Keep those trips down Memory Lane coming!

  4. Such a glamorous time to be young and on the town several nights a week. It’s a wonder we got any daytime work done at all.

  5. I’ve said this many times but with each new peek into your past it becomes more apparent that you really have lived a fascinating life. Keep the tales coming. You tell them so beautifully.

  6. Thank you for reading and for always encouraging the storytelling. Mother said, before she passed, “You’re so lucky, you got to try everything you wanted to try.” To some extent, she was right. Highly irresponsible of me at times, but then I was raised without a whole lot of stability, so maybe not as unusual for me.

  7. What an exciting life for a girl who had been raised so very protected! btw My mother graduated Hoover High and I was born in my maternal grandmother’s CA bungalow on California Avenue. Love that photo!

  8. Ohmigosh, Grace, who knew so many of us were familiar with Glendale!! I loved it there but had to leave, of course, because my parents where there. Wouldn’t be a proper rebellion without leaving town. Silver Lake was becoming exotic for us young’uns so a roommate and I took ourselves up some steep stairs to our dream apartment there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *