ODE TO Palm Springs

 Ode to Palm Springs           



 We (the Joe Bonaduce branch of the family) arrived in  Southern California in the swingin’ 60’s.  We’d travelled from the east coast – as represented by Philadelphia, PA – home of so much of this country’s wonderful history – to the suburbs of HOLLYWOOD, home of the family’s glamorous dreams. There were six of us.: The required parents, Joe and Betty and four kids, John, Anthony, Danny and Celia 

We’d travelled in our much loved but under-achieving VW Bus. When I say much loved…that means by those of us IN the bus.  Those drivers caught behind us on an upgrade made it hard to ignore opinions to the contrary.

In its defense, let me remind you that the bus was the first iteration of the German gem, and, as I understand it, the bus with its full load of Bonaduces was still propelled by the VERY small motor that ran the little VW Bug! (I better tell you right now, these historic facts are being presented to you from the working of a 96-year-old mind.  Don’t put your money on it…it is, to say the most in its defense, the best I can do with dates and stuff like that.)

Knowing my competitive kids as I did, I’d gone to a pawn shop and purchased four important looking – but totally worthless – medals, and each day I awarded one to the child who had behaved most admirably on the preceding day. Three days out, I stopped and bought a fifth medal.  Yep.  Dad wanted to be noticed for his admirable self-control, and it was much easier to buy another medal than dispute its validity.

SO…Okay.  We got here.  We bought a home in Woodland Hills and settled in.

Wrong word.  The Bonaduces are, in my biased opinion, many fine things. However, settled has never been one of them. But we made it to Los Angeles.  And with all its faults we love it still.

But there was one place we failed to visit for much too long.


The words kept popping up among our friends and neighbors…and always with a glow. Everyone seemed to LOVE Palm Springs and Palm Desert and Palm…well, Palm everything.

The most self -controlled of our friend became absolutely airborne with admiration for the wonders of the area. The mountains were the most…well mountainy and the…

Enough!  You got the idea I imagine. But for some reason, except for one or two toe-dipping over-nights in a hotel with an aquamarine pool , I never got there.

Joe went a couple of times, and each of the kids spent a night or a weekend, but none of us really stayed long enough to know just what sent people into such a happy mood.

Celia was our first convert. When she shot for House Hunters, she often found herself in Palm Springs. And she got that same glowing look of the converted.

Lots of our friend started moving there – and many more threatened to go.  Even Jay, my friend and landlord talked about maybe one day getting a house there.

“But what about me?” I asked. “What will I do?”

“Get in the car,” he said.

Then there was Danny.  He’s been talking about retiring there (how is it my kids are old enough to even contemplate retirement?)– because, you know, everyone loves Palm Springs.

But I had still not visited long enough to “get it”.


Danny and Amy gave me gift cards for Christmas with the directive I was to go on vacation as soon as I was vaccinated. Of course, I had to wait for Celia to get vaccinated, too, but we spend a few glorious months deciding where to go. Palm Springs won by a landslide. We had friends there. Celia had people she wanted me to meet. She assured me there were great restaurants. And of course, my curiosity was off the charts by this time.

We stopped at Hadley’s for date shakes, snacks and drinks…including crème soda, which is getting impossible to find in our supermarkets! 

We stayed at Celia’s favorite hotel – The Old Ranch Inn.  Celia booked one of the 8 rooms on Hotels.com, but Tim, the owner, recognized her name from House Hunters, and he upgraded us to a beautiful suite.

Celia did not exaggerate – the food was wonderful.  We ate at the pretty-in-pink-and-white 849, took a décor time machine back to the good old days at Billy Reed’s, ate old-school Italian at Johnny Costas, felt very trendy brunching at Johnny Bongo’s. Celia had been talking up Copley’s – once Cary Grant’s estate.  It was as elegant as you could imagine.

And all in the company of old and new friends.

We didn’t make it to the snow – the tram seemed a bit daunting, but we did manage a lovely drive around the nature preserve of Indian Canyons. 

Lovely places, wonderful people.  Everyone seemed so perfectly at home…


Suddenly much – not all but much – of the perfection that makes Palm Springs Palm Springs, is being lost in a hot argument about a pair of panties!  Not just any old body’ panties you understand, but 

MARILYN MONROE’S!!!!!!!!!!!! 

You’ve probably already seen them.  After all, they have been on exhibit for a bunch of years now in a lot of very public places, including a couple of years in Palm Springs.

However, right now there IS a lot of roiling of the waters about the placement of the statue in front of the Art Museum!

Pro- Marilyn folks say that the gargantuan statue is art, and what better place than an ART MUSEUM to show her off.

Anti-Marilyn (well, anti-statue) people claim that the statue will block a significant building – the museum being art in its own right.

Some even cry “SEXIST!   Sexist?  Marilyn Monroe?  No kidding.

Expensive? I think the price I heard was about a million bucks to bring her back to the so -far intended spot 

But you have to admit, there is some room for doubt about how the good taste of 26 concrete feet of Marilyn with her dress blowing in the wind is going to set a thoughtful mood for the little boys and girls being shepherded into the museum to study the beauty of the fine arts! Not to mention, when one exits the museum, you’re staring right up into her back side.

Moat people seem to be in agreement that A giant Marilyn definitely belongs in Palm Springs – it’s just a question of where. My theory? It’s Palm Springs and there is enough joy to go around.  So far as Marilyn is concerned.  I don’t hear her objecting! And she DID pose for it.

Come on. Meet me there and we’ll have a thoughtful discussion about it.


4 thoughts on “ODE TO Palm Springs

  1. As always BB, you give your stories a true flair of your creativity to capture your audience’s attention. I loved the story, not just because I’m a former resident of Palm Desert, because you so beautifully captured the town’s spirit.

    Hope you continue to travel to locales for many more years to come. Where you able to visit Gilmore while there? I hope he’s doing well, as I wish the same for you, my dear.

    Hope you had a lovely Easter…I still miss those wonderful Bonaduce Christmas dinners that Celia would prepare…what comradery we all had.

  2. So strangely I was intrigued by the headshots used on the obituary of some man I do not know but his agent Mitzi Mac Gregor Agency was a Betty Bonaduce Associate which lead me here for some good reading. Deceased Godfrey Chapelle.

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