Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hangin’ with Carl Sanderson Edwards and the family Old Dan Tucker style!

Photo: Me and Brian at the Mission Hills park. Over 200 years old.

Vacation, Vacation, Vacation! Working non-stop and sometimes 11-hour workdays will put a huge drain on you, especially if you have not had a vacation since 2004! So, what do I do when told to take off? Easy! Pack my bags and head back home to sunny California for a week to kick it “Little House” style with the Parts!

Okay, so here I am at Bob Hope airport after my L-O-N-G several hour flight from the south waiting on my little travel bag to arrive from the luggage claim after a good 30 minutes. So it falls into my lap finally, yay! So, I have my bag and now its time to go find Mr. Carl Sanderson Edwards himself! I look and look and nowhere to be found in the waiting area. I was hoping he didn’t get caught playing with goats named Fred or setting off firecrackers to get my attention. Instead, I see a bald Brian Part with a goatee styling with some boots and jeans on shouting out to me, “Hey Lennon!” I was like whoa, a cowboy lookin’ Bruce Willis and here in my mind I thought I left the south! Hey it works vice versa, Brian thought I was going to dress country too! I told him, me country? Ha! I’m a Buckle guy! The Buckle is my favorite store next to Eddie Bauer.

Photo: Brian holding up his script cover used in all of his works, including "Little House" and an original script from "Little House" inside.

After leaving the airport we went to Brian’s mom’s house where he grew up. He showed me around the home and told me about different things he and has family did in that home while he was growing up. Then he takes me into the guest room where he showed me a wall with all of his black and white composites from his career that dated back before “Little House” to a few years ago.

The first evening with the Part’s were spent with Brian and his mom, Betty. We sat in the kitchen talking about his career in Disney films and working and socializing with actors such as Matthew Broderick, Kurt Russell, Jodie Foster, Kim Richards and more. Finally, I had the memories kickin’ in for Brian and his mom when I pulled out an old original call sheet from one of Brian’s episodes and hand drawn map that was given to actors and their parents by Michael Landon to find certain locations. When Brian’s mom saw that map she remembered instantly where the location was and shared how some of the roads don’t exist anymore. Then they both looked at the call sheet and the original scripts that had Brian’s character "Carl" in them and he remembered a lot of what went on during filming of that episode and shared stories about the set and the jokes that were played on eachother.

Photo: Myself visiting Mike and Half-pints stars on the walk of fame.

The next adventure, Hollywood! After running some errands in town and Brian’s wife Melody picking up the rental car we hit the town up! Not by covered wagon either! So here we are going through Beverly Hills and Hollywood and during this drive Brian shared about the different places he worked and auditioned at. Finally it was walk of fame time! Melody, our lovely chaperone took us anywhere we wanted with no complaints so we hit up stars we admired. Brian visited the stars of James Brown, Bruce Willis, Shirley Temple. Me, I visited the stars of America’s Sweetheart, Mary Pickford (who I am in love with and someone who is old enough to be my great grandmother, oh well!), Charles Chaplin, Vivian Leigh and the two of us visited Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert’s star, which was a very nice view for me personally since I have admired these two people for most of my life. However, I was a little sad that Michael Landon’s star had damage. There was a crack right in the middle of the star. Hopefully, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will fix this. Write to them!

Photo: Melody and Rocky

After a couple of days at Brian’s mom’s house I went to his home up in the mountains. The home was very nice but had a couple of four legged friends that weren’t too sure about me. Two dogs. One was laid back and was great, but the other, Rocky! I think he wanted to go and do some Rocky Balboa on me! In the end, we got a long and he let me pet him. The town Brian and his wife live in up in the mountains is very much like “Little House” but in my opinion seemed more like the town on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I didn’t do to well in this area because I’m a city boy, not a country boy. I had no cell power (tower didn’t work in the area) and that means no Internet. I was out of the multimedia era and stuck back in a time before we had cell phones and Internet service. If anything, I learned how much I rely on modern technology. Sad huh?

Photo: Brian feeding the horses.

That morning, Brian and I walked around his community in the mountains, which was a lot like walking around a farm community. The roads were dirt and everyone had livestock. Brian went over to a friend’s house to feed the animals. When I saw Brian feeding the horses, I was wondering if he was going to have a allergic reaction after he shared a story with me about him and Melissa Gilbert steeling some horses on the set to go riding and coming back to the set with swollen eyes from having a allergic reaction, but all went well and no eyes were swollen.

Photo: Brian jamin'

No disappointment without modern technology! I had a fun concert put on by the Part’s in their recording studio that evening. Brian and his wife Melody played songs they wrote in the past and a lot of present material. He even played a “fun” song about his role as Carl on “Little House” and about life on the set. I think the concert went on for about 3 hours or more.

Photo: Dean, myself and Brian in Dean's editing room.

The next adventure with the Part’s, back to Hollywood and too see a familiar face and a familiar location! Yep the trio left the prairie mountains Old Dan Tucker style and went back to Hollywood, but first had to make a much needed stop. We made a stop to Santa Monica to see a familiar face, Dean Butler. We caught up with Dean in his studio at Legacy Documentaries. Dean came outside as we were getting out of the car to greet us. We walked inside the office and he showed us awards and pictures hanging up in his office. Then he gave us a tour of his studio and showed us his editing room. Very friendly and had a wonderful visit.

Photo: Me and Brian at the Ingalls homestead.

The adventures with the Part’s continued during my visit with a trip to a familiar location, Big Sky Ranch where the original “Little House on the Prairie” TV series was filmed. What a treat! Walking around the property almost made you feel like you stepped out of the real world and entered the “Little House” TV series world. Yeah, no buildings are still standing, but the trees and roads still look just like they did in the series and the feeling is one that is hard to describe. For Brian, it was different. This was his first visit back to the ranch since he left the show.

Now for the weird part… the weather was beautiful that day in Simi Valley, but when we were visiting the Plum Creek spot (the Ingalls homestead) it was VERY windy the entire time. When we went into the Walnut Grove location it was fine, the weather was perfect. Before we left the ranch, we wanted another look at Plum Creek and minute we stepped on the grounds the wind picked up again. Never seen anything like it. I didn’t say anything, but before I could Brian and his wife both said they felt a peaceful presence and I spoke up and said the same thing. I don’t know much about that sorta stuff, but it was an interested feeling that I never felt before. Was it a visit from Mike? That is what Robert Stack would say, “an unsolved mystery” that is being said without the creepy theme music to that TV show.

Photo: Myself at Mary Pickford's hand and footprints.

As the day ended we hit Hollywood up for a sequel… we looked at the Hollywood sign, went to Grauman Chinese Theater were I got to see the hands and foot prints of Mary Pickford. Had a lady ask me who that was and I went into defense mode (errr) but with humor and said that was Mary Pickford! Mary Pickford was one of the pioneers of Hollywood and pretty much help build this town you are in. She was impressed and started taking pictures of Mary’s prints as I walked off. Maybe I made a new Mary Pickford fan out of her! During our new years eve visit to Hollywood me and Brian were just walking down Hollywood boulevard talking and did we see some of the strange things, people getting arrested for theft in tourist shops, folks dressed up in costume from different movies. Now some of these guys looked like the real deal and some well looked bad.

As we were leaving the entertainment capitol city we were all getting a little hungry. We first stopped by a place called Mario’s Pizza where they play live bands and sale EXPENSIVE pizza. Brian wanted to go here because he wanted me to see a place were he and his wife once performed. We walked in and Mario wanted twenty bucks from each of us as an entry fee. We got in and the prices they wanted were so high I could buy my own star on the walk of fame. So, we left the Monopoly man and went to Mel’s diner that was used in the 1973 film, American Graffiti and had a good time.

As the night was ending we went to Brian’s moms house to bring in the New Year. What a day! Before the night was over Brian gave me a trophy of his that he won first place in Motocross during the time he was on “Little House” and signed a few photos to me for my autograph scrapbook.

New Years day… back in the south and looking back on the fun and exciting week I had with the Part’s, visiting with Dean and spending the last day of 2009 on the grounds “Little House” was filmed at. I say to quote Bill and Ted, “That is a most excellent adventure!”

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