Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Family Story

My great-aunt Lena was wealthy but lived in a small stucco bungalow in then-seedy Venice, California. She attracted a vulture named Sarah Bloom. Mrs. Bloom was endlessly attentive to Lena and Lena would always senilely and sentimentally proclaim her gratitude and that she would leave her everything when she died. This went on for years until one time Mrs. Bloom lost her temper and shouted, "But you're not dying! You go on and on!" Lena was taken aback but seemed to have forgotten Mrs. Bloom's outburst, as she had forgotten so much else.

In 1961 Lena died. Her will left Mrs. Bloom only "a rope with which to support herself". The block of 4,000 GM shares went to obscure relatives in Michigan. She left the bungalow to my father, subject to him paying $5,000 to his brother, or failing the payment, splitting the house with him. My father wanted the house more than the money, so he went to a loan shark in Hollywood for the $5,000. He paid the legbreaker off by mortgaging the house as soon as he got it from the estate. A bridge loan.

According to that never-modified bungalow in now ever-so-chic Venice was worth a million dollars last summer.

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