The Echo Park Historical Society held its quarterly meeting Wednesday evening. The speaker was Charles Fleming, a friend and author of Secret Stairs, among other titles. I thought I knew where to find the gathering, so I didn't read the invite closely. Long story short, I found myself wandering in the parking lot/alley behind the old Jensens Recreation Building that fronts Sunset. I had been to one event in the building, and we'd gone in through the back, but this time that door was locked tight. A few minutes earlier, I had passed a brightly lighted hallway on Logan Street, but there was no sign that read "EPHS meeting will be held inside here, JB," so I thought that couldn't be it. Besides, despite the bright light, it looked eerie. So I'd gone back to the alley. After repairing to the safety of Stories bookshop, and scrolling through days of emails, I found that the bright darkness-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel place was, in fact, the entrance. So I went back, went inside, and there in the huge studio space that used to be a bowling alley during Prohibition, was a large group assembled in dim light. Charles Fleming stood in front of them, a fire pit behind him. It looked like the darkest of conspiracies. If I hadn't found what I was looking for, I'd have thought I was in the wrong place.
Photo: Charles Fleming reveals the secrets of the secret stairs.