|E-Mail from David Totheroh to David Sameth
Telling him about our little adventure. (6/19/98)
The Modern Times adventure was really fun. Gerald was coming down to LA and called to ask if we'd like to go on the hunt with him. The only clue we had, other than the 1938 roadmap Gerald had, was my recollection that Grandpop had mentioned that the scene had been shot somewhere "out toward Lancaster, the old Pear blossom Highway(sic, it turned out)." So, with that information and a fool's optimism, off we went.
We drove up on Hwy.14, and as we went through the town of Acton, we all felt we were in the right area. At the Pear blossom turnoff it became pretty obvious that we were on the wrongtrack, the terrain was too "deserty" and none of the foothills looked right. So we headed back toward LA, but this time, instead of taking Hwy.14, we stayed on the old Sierra Hwy. That is, until it looked like it was going to go through the same pass as the new road, so I turned off on Soledad Cyn.
We had the feeling we were close again, but nothing matched. With enough daylight left, we decided to head up into Lancaster itself to see if anything a little north of Pear blossom might be right, again nothing. But somebody thought to check to see if there was an Historical Society or something that might have a lead for us. There was a city museum listed so off we went. As we got out of the car, realizing this was a lot more an art rather than history museum, I said, "This is a long shot for sure." Gerald's only comment was, "You never know."
As I walked through the door ahead of them, Bonnie and Gerald saw me double up in laughter. The bulletin board had a picture of Charlie and Rollie shooting The Gold Rush, advertising the screening for their summer film series. Unfortunately, they had no information, no leads for us and we came back home unsuccessful.
Gerald was not that easily deterred, and after getting some stuff for The Circus and Kid Auto Races in Venice the next morning, he was back on the road. This time he stayed on Sierra Hwy. at Soledad and found out that instead of being replaced by Hwy.14, it went through an underpass and continued on the north side of the road. A few miles later, and he was looking west at unmistakably the same horizon line as that final scene from Modern Times. And as a bonus for his perserverence, a mile or so later he even found the location for the penultimate scene of Charlie and Paulette sitting on the side of the road, when she says, "What's the use?" and he cheers her up.
He was so excited that he called me right on the spot on his cell phone, sounding like a kid with a new puppy.
My little bonus