Archive for September 28th, 2010
For all Citibank’s Silver Lake customers know, their branch safeguards a mythic lost treasure.
But it’s not in the bank’s vault — at least not the one where the loot is kept.
That’s because the treasure in question isn’t gold or currency, but rather Old Blue, faithful steed of cowboy movie legend Tom Mix. And according to one very knowledgeable longtime staffer, there’s every reason to believe that the horse’s grave lies beneath the bank’s parking lot at Silver Lake and Glendale.
“The place used to be a market, and from what I understand, they built it on top of the graveyard,” says the source who worked at the bank in the early 1980s when it was a Glendale Federal branch. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the once highly placed employee admits to personally assisting GlenFed’s CEO at the time in his research into the legend.
“He had a lot of interest in [Old Blue] because he wanted to dig him up, put him together, and [display] him inside the bank. He got obsessed with it,” reveals the source.
Like many Silver Lake oldtimers, the bank insider is certain Old Blue still rests undisturbed somewhere in the vicinity of the outdoor ATMs. After all, despite his best efforts, the GlenFed official never succeeded in unearthing the animal, nor is there evidence of any prior construction projects having done so either. Plus, the historical record leaves little doubt that Old Blue was buried there.
During the Silent Film Era, Mix (left) popularized the Western movie genre, originating the matinee cowboy concept with his fancy saddle, fashionable duds and thirst for daring action. His film career ran from 1910 to 1935, encompassing more than 350 flicks that blazed the way for later stars like William S. Hart, Gene Autry and John Wayne.
But a cowboy’s just no danged good without a horse, and for more than 80 of Mix’s earliest films, Old Blue played lead steed, achieving animal stardom at a time when Rin Tin Tin was still just the runt of some litter.
Throughout those years, L.A.’s emerging film industry was centered in the Echo Park/Silver Lake area, then known as Edendale. Mix first debuted with the famous Selig Polyscope Co., but by 1917 the studio was floundering. Hitting the dusty trail for Fox, he soon found himself making $17,500 a week, allowing him to build a large Western-themed lot called Mixville. Incorporating the present-day intersection of Glendale and Silver Lake Blvds., Mixville boasted several acres of corrals, an Old West town and Indian village, and plenty of tumbleweed landscapes.
In fact, area residents still occasionally find horseshoes and other buried artifacts related to the lot today. Of course, with a little more digging, they also might find Mix’s trusty sidekick…
Mix reluctantly retired Old Blue in 1914, turning to a new mount named Tony. Unfortunately, Old Blue suffered a broken leg in his corral, forcing Mix to put him down in 1919. By all accounts, the cowboy actor was grief-stricken. He buried Old Blue in a prominent section of the lot marked by a large wooden pillar and post beam.
Mix eventually made the incredibly intelligent Tony his famous Wonder Horse. But each Memorial Day, the cowboy star continued to hang a wreath at Old Blue’s gravesite.
For decades, Silver Lake residents have circulated rumors that other burials took place there as well. While unconfirmed, these stories may account for the disembodied sounds and footsteps reported off and on by bank employees.
“The building has a lot of really weird noises, and it’s said to be haunted,” confirms our insider. “I was there so long I got used to it.”
Oddly, none of the phenomenon seems associated with Old Blue, but rather an unknown woman that the bank’s staff came to dub The Crying Lady. Her heavy sobs are said to emanate from the walls of an empty storeroom after dark, although recently she’s apparently twice accosted a visiting Citibank corporate officer during daylight hours — once just before a staff meeting and once while he was sitting alone in the lunch room.
“I’m sitting there enjoying my salad and I start hearing weeping. I’m sure you’re back there,” the visitor reportedly told a senior employee after the second incident. He was convinced the staff was toying with him.
But workers assured him it was no prank: “That Crying Lady loved him,” the source says with a smile.
. . .
Blogger’s Note: Dateline>City of Angels does not normally run unattributed quotes for pieces like the above. In fact, this article’s first draft carried the source’s full name and permission for publication. Unfortunately, that draft got filed away for a period, during which time Silver Lake Citibank branch management changed. Due to this, the source has since requested anonymity. Because I consider this source absolutely reliable, I have honored that request. — MI