Name: Eddie Balchowsky
Really? 45? Would you believe 65? Well, you probably can believe it! [Laughs] But I can’t.
Original Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
What do you do? Right now, not so much. I’m retired. I’m a diesel mechanic. Worked at a company in Montebello for almost my whole career. Worked on all the big trucks: Peterbilt, Kenworth, Hini, Cummins, Caterpillar, Eaton. but also diesel cars and tractors, bulldozers, combines, road graders, cranes. Anything at all that’s got a diesel engine.
But they told me I had to retire. They could bring in young guys and pay them lower wages. So I’m outta there.
How long were you there? 27 years. Hard to believe. That’s a long time.
How did you learn do that work? I grew up on a farm in southern Illinois. By the time I was 10, I drove the tractor and my dad taught my brothers and me how to fix it whenever it broke, which was a lot. We also had an old Ford diesel truck that we worked on. So before I even had my driver’s license, I was an expert with diesels.
Do you live in Hollywood? Yeah, I have an apartment on Gower, north of Franklin. Been there for a long time now. When my wife was alive, we lived on Holly Drive in a house on the other side of the tunnel.
What do you think of Hollywood? I really love it. I love to take walks and see people, and there’s no place better to do that than Hollywood Boulevard. I walk here every day. I usually walk from Gower up to La Brea and back. Every day it’s a new world, so many different people, people from everywhere in the world. There’s a lot of tourists. You see them around the Chinese Theater and Hollywood Highland. And with all those costume characters there, it’s a real circus! Especially on weekends, it’s a crazy as Times Square down there!
I love it. Where else in L.A. do you have this kind of action, this many people together? Well, there’s Venice Beach, sure, but that’s a different kind of circus. But Hollywood has a special sweet place in my heart, because this is where I met my wife.
When and where? Summer of 1979. She worked at the Security Pacific Bank – the branch at Hollywood & Cahuenga – it’s been closed for years. She was a teller there, and I’d go to her window to deposit my paycheck. Went to her for two years before I worked up the courage to ask her out on a date!
What did you do on your date? It was nice. She lived with her sister in a garden apartment on Wilcox. I walked there, and we walked to [Hollywood Boulevard] to dinner at Johnny’s Steakhouse, which isn’t there anymore. Then we saw a movie, The Great Santini, at the Chinese Theater and after the movie we got hot fudge sundaes at C.C. Brown’s.
Sounds like a great date! It was and the first of many. We were married in 1980. Got married in Vegas, but then we came back and had a big party at the on [Hollywood] Boulevard.
Where else would you go on dates? Well, we both love movies, so we’d go to the Egyptian a lot and the Chinese, of course, and the Cinerama Dome. We loved the Dome. And we’d go to dinner at City Thai, which is where Amoeba is now. Also , which is still there, on Ivar. That was one of our favorite places, back when Joseph was still there. The son owns it now, and he wrecked it, but it used to be a wonderful place.
Sometimes we’d go to the Seven Seas that was right next to where Jimmy Kimmel’s show is now, have some drinks and we’d dance for hours. We loved to dance.
Sundays we’d have picnics in Griffith Park and go and sit in the Fern Dell. Sometimes go on the merry-go-round. We’d go up to the Observatory. We’d have breakfast at the Beachwood Café a lot, get some good pancakes and coffee, sit at the counter. I still go there sometimes.
We rode horses at , up at the end of Beachwood Drive. We loved going there. Just five minutes from home and you’re in the wild west! They used to have a ride on Friday nights to a Mexican restaurant in Burbank – you’d ride there, go have dinner, and ride back! And that ride back, after a few margaritas, that was always interesting. I remember it was just the two of us and everyone else was a Japanese tourist, and they didn’t know how to ride. It was so funny.
Oh, those were good days. Good days. Hollywood for me is about happy memories. Romantic memories. Hollywood is a wonderful place for romance. I remember it like a dream. A happy dream.