Back in L A during the early 60’s, before everything became “groovy”, One could always count on Wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium being broadcast every Wednesday night on KTLA channel 5. Dick “Whoa Nellie” Lane was the host, and would narrate some of the best matches I’ve ever seen.
In those days, wrestling wasn’t fake like it is today. You had husky men like Freddie Blassie, Dick the Bruiser and Gorgeous George slammin’ each other around to everyones delight. These guys weren’t huge, steroid-crazed body builders like they have today. No, they were real men, each with his own style and story, like that sneaky Mr Moto or that evil Destroyer.
Me and my Buddy Harvey from Baldwin Hills ( kosher canyon then, the jungle now) would hop on the buss Wednesday nights and actually go see this stuff. With buss fare, we could only afford the 50 cent seats way in the back. We’d always sneak up closer once the matches began (kinda like Mr Moto did on his opponents). We saw tag-team matches, women wrestle, but the best by far, was when the Midgets came to town. [That’s right, Midgets. Not Little People. Although I think some dwarfs passed as midgets]. They were all over that ring, throwin’ each other around and making fantastic leaps off the ropes.
Back then they sold beer inside, and actually have a vendor walking around with cold ones yelling, “Beer Here….Beer Here”. Me and old Harv would always screw with him, cause when he wasn’t looking we would take turns yelling, “Beer Here”, and then act dumb when he turned around looking for the sale. We were naughty boys for sure.
I even met “Classy” Freddie Blassie”, [That’s right ‘you pencil-neck geek’.] one time when Harv and I were up in the balcony area. He was basically a nice guy… when not being interviewed by Dick Lane. Freddie ripped Dick’s glasses from his face one night, and stomped them on the floor, he was so adamant about the character of one of his Opponents. Everybody knew that was kinda fake. I met “Count” Billy Varga and a bunch of other guys. Mr Moto’s Son even went to Dorsey High, and was in some of my classes.
I never did go to Roller Derby at the Olympic; watched that on TV. Those Los Angeles Thunder-birds were something else…And Little Ralphie Valladares was Hell on wheels. They even raced on an inclined wooden tract, not just duct-tapped flat cement like the Derby Queens of today. Don’t get me wrong. With names like ‘Potty Mouth Patty’ and Jabba the Slut’, who doesn’t enjoy all that fish-net hose skating around ya, pounding the crap out of each other all evening? They just don’t go flying over the rails, like when Little Ralphie sent ya into orbit.
Great stuff. Real Rights of Passage. Do you have any tales of passage? Keep it clean. But this will be a no holds barred, catch-as-catch-can event.