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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marlon Brando, Jack Webb & Birmingham High School


The other day I wrote about Balboa Park and it's Hollywood connection. If you continue north on Balboa Blvd. from Burbank Blvd. you will come to the corner of Balboa and Victory Blvd. On the Northwest corner is Birmingham High School. Drive a little further north to the next light which is Haynes Street. Haynes cuts through the middle of Birmingham High School. The section from Victory to Haynes is the newer part of the school. The part north of Haynes is the old section.

This old section used to be the Birmingham General Hospital during and after World War 2. In 1950 this site was used for the filming of a movie called, "The Men", staring Marlon Brando and Jack Webb. In the picture above you can partially see a window behind Brando that looks out on another one of the buildings.

When I attended Birmingham I had heard that the hospital morgue was located beneath the cafeteria. Many people told me they had ventured below and seen the morgue. I never did, nor can I verify their claims. True or not it was a curious bit of lore that stayed with you whenever you ate in the cafeteria chowing down on a grilled cheese sandwich.

I had quite a few classes in this old section. If they are still in use I hope they have finally air conditioned them. One of my few fond memories is having lunch in the old section with a tall brunette with long wavy hair and deep brown eyes. We were both writers and we shared what we wrote. I don't recall how we came to have lunch together. She was a nice, insightful girl. As I recall she was a member of the drama team at Birmingham. I went on to avoid school as much as possible and as such avoided sharing more lunches with my friend. I have gotten smarter since I left school.

2 comments:

Michael said...

I know a little about the morgue at Birmingham High. I went to Birmingham starting in 1954 (7th grade).

I had a woodshop class and at some point they decided to expand the room and knocked down one of the walls. On the other side of the wall was the old morgue - refrigerators, tables, and all. We were all pretty shocked by it.

I do not recall any two story buildings at Birmingham during this period. As a military hospital it was designed like barracks with covered connecting walkways between single story hospital wards. I was told this design was to limit damage in the event that it were bombed.

Anonymous said...

My name is Bruce. I'm a 1970 summer grad. I remember in 67 or 68, that when it rained, everything flooded and water was at least heel deep. I was running to class one day, and fell in the rain. I was soaked and filthy. Went to class anyway--didn't want to be late!