Upon basic completion of the cantina fort, we go scavenging around for more movie stuff. We walk and joke at the same time as we pass through a doorway in our cantina village, which exits through another door on the old western street.
I recently watched a late night rerun called Alcatraz Express, starring Neville Brand as Al Capone and Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. This show is bad ass. Instead of a Chicago backdrop, which this lot has, the script needed a small California town called Cloverdale.
Desilu’s western street filled that bill… and this episode culminated with Tommy Guns a Blazin!
Told ya!… this not so quiet little town has a legendary saloon right in its heart. I spin this story to my pals who drink it up, like a smooth bottle of whiskey.
Which is appropriate considering we just entered through the swinging front doors of this saloon. This saloon is stacked to the to the brim with props. Many cots from Hogan’s Heroes ended up being stored in here.
Tall stools surround the dusty old bar. Nice stools for drinkin’ I suppose. We squeeze in between large wooden whiskey barrels, which are stacked high, on top of each other.
Well this is a Bonanza, fittingly enough. Bonanza filmed multiple episodes on this tiny street… and inside my saloon
A fort buiding Bonanza presents itself. We decide… rather than bring stuff to the Cantina fort we just built, let’s just build another fort upstairs in this saloon.
One by one, we lift these old cots uptairs where we have spacious quarters, unlike the towering mess of props, below. The obstacles inside partially block the stairway, which is good because the only potential problem is that this second story is easily accessible by this stairway.
Not something you want in this business of fort construction. We get four cots upstairs, and a couple of large whiskey barrels to be used as tables, surrounded by four drinking stools. Though easily accessible, it is just as easy to escape. A balcony is adjacent to this set up we created. It is an easy jump from here to your waiting horse below, or the dirt… whatever comes first.
“Let’s go look for some finishing touches…” we all agree. We head over towards where stalag 13 stood, until recently, and inside a rolling steel wheeled trailer, used as a construction office, we find a rolling phone.
More like a muscle car than a phone. It sits mounted inside a metal box, on a tripod with wheels. Barry, who is two years older than the rest of us, realizes that all you have to do is dial 9 to call off lot.
Scribbled all over the silver metal housing is the various phone numbers for different departments on the main studio lot. Also the number for a local pizza place, called Chris’s Pizza, which is across from St. Augustine, and I eat there often. The owner is very nice. The best pepperoni pizza around and they are hidden under layers of greasy cheese. I did not realize they deliver.
We ponder, should we roll this large office somewhere else and hide it… or just take the phone? We decide on the latter.
We take this phone and roll it to the saloon, a block away. Barry disconnects a couple of wire nuts… tip and ring, he tells us these wires are called, and begins trying to buy the needed slack, so that we can rehook this phone up in our fort.
Pat and I bring it upstairs while Barry and Jerry work on the wiring reroute. We hear some banging around and look down as Barry throws up an excess coil of the needed wire connection. Retwist the wire nuts, lift the handle off the cradle …voila… we have a phone capable of calling long distance.
I test it by calling my house and after several rings, my old mom picks up the other end. “Mom it’s me,” I proclaim. “Are you in trouble?” she replies. I say, “no, no, I’m testing a phone in a saloon, in Desilu.”
“You should call your father… he’s probably in a saloon, too.” We laugh. Our first call is a success. We all take turns, as we can’t spin this rotary dial fast enough.
Why not start a production company, we decide.
Hole in the Wall productions, we will call ourselves.
In just a few days, I now have offices in both MGM and Desilu.
Well, I proudly proclaim to my crew, “Good job fellas, you can hang your hat high on this one, cowboys… We continue throwing jokes around: “Call now…” And, “just call us toll free!”
Caped crusaders… policing our town…right outside the saloon.
Gotta have a sheriff or all hell will break loose…
Next up… Free Delivery… Same Bat Time… same Bat Station.
All stories written and lived by Donnie Norden
Edited by DQ