On a less sinister note, we've also been in receipt of several notes beseeching us to keep the Hof's Hut in the Marina open.
A rather pointed one comes from Ron Winebrenner, of Belmont Heights, who writes: "I realize (Hof's owner Craig Hofman's) economic considerations, but does he realize that he had the only comfortable lounge in the area that serves good quality American food at reasonable prices? I can certainly attest to the atmosphere and food as I have been a regular customer (at least three times per week) since 1970. Perhaps if we cannot convince him to keep the restaurant as it is, he would consider selling it to a group of investors or perhaps a franchise situation."
GODDESS OR LADY? Shimmering like a diamond, or some similarly shiny cliche, among the more predictable correspondences comes a query from Maggie Larkin, a schoolmate of ours from the old days at St. Joseph's and again at Long Beach City College.
Maggie writes, "Many, many moons ago on Second Street street near the old Morrey's Liquor store in Naples there was a building that had a statue of a lady with a tail. Do you remember that? My family was talking about over the holidays and we were curious about the backstory."
Never heard of it. We thought this would be difficult to research, then we found out it was easy to research, then we found out our research was wrong. Then right again. Maybe. Probably. We don't know.
We put on our haz-mat suit and strode into our archives, where we found a 1967 column by our long-ago colleague George Robeson, who declared that it was a statue of a Norse goddess, name-a Huldra.
We used to drink in the same bars as Robeson and felt we needed a second source on the matter, which we found (as apparently he did) in the form of an advertisement in the Press-Telegram for L.M. Barcus, an electronics store at 5780 Second St. (Some musicians will recall that Les Barcus would later team with a fellow named John Berry and invent the Barcus-Berry transducer pickup enabling a purer form of amplification of violins and, later, other stringed instruments).
The ad was headlined "The Story Behind the Girl in Naples," and it spun a long saga about Huldra, a "hill-lady" who was "very pretty to look at, gaily dressed, and she tended her grazing cattle." She wasn't such a great gal, though. She would use her looks to enchant men, and she would take them to her mountain hideaway where she would suddenly appear horribly ugly, neigh like a horse and sport a cow's tail."
And, for no good reason that we could imagine, "you'll find this goddess statue placed on top of Naples' newest building at L.M. Barcus," concludes the ad.
Known for our relentless research, we asked Naples historian Stan Poe for the story. "I get that one all the time," he said. "It was nothing more than a statue of a woman. There was a metal rod holding her up, and it looked sort of like a tail, but it was really just a rod. People used to call it a number of things, like The Rat Lady."
Hardly. We put on our spelunker's outfit and went deeper into the P-T archives, to Dec. 6, 1960, where we found a story about the young Lester Barcus, who had been looking for a sculpture of Huldra to top off his new building in Naples. Turns out Barcus was the local distributor for Tandberg tape recorders, and Tandberg's trademark was, you will not be surprised, a statue of Huldra.
Barcus shopped around and found that the cheapest he could get a Huldra statue made was $2,000 (An ad on the same page as the "Story Behind the Girl in Naples" offered a built-in heated and filtered swimming pool for the same price. And Anthony Pools would, for a limited time, throw in a free ashtray.)
So our frugal and determined Barcus bought $20 worth of statue-making materials and he and his wife Geri sculpted their Huldra in their backyard at 252 Tivoli Drive.
"Neither had so much as drawn a picture before," noted the article. "And they had only made a superficial examination of books on the subject of sculpturing before launching the project."
Which may explain why the young artists' beautiful goddess Huldra resembled a regular lady with a pole sticking out of her backside.
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