Larchmont stars in a tale of love, chaos and community

| June 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

HEATHER HALDEMAN wrote a memoir of growing up in Fremont Place. Heather is at left, and her mom, Marilyn Eaton, is at right.

Larchmont Boulevard, Fremont Place and the surrounding neighborhoods feature prominently in a new memoir by Heather Haldeman, “Kids & Cocktails Don’t Mix.”

The mother of three grew up in Fremont Place in the 1960s and ’70s, when women dressed for their men and connived to attain what they wanted. With her indomitable mother, Marilyn Knight Eaton, her philandering lawyer father, and April, Heather’s golden-haired, favored older sister, chubby “Heatherbean” sought refuge in the community.

Larchmont Boulevard

“Larchmont was like a small town, an island in the midst of the city,” explains the author. “I felt a real connection to the neighborhood. I loved going into stores on Larchmont. It was where my mother socialized when she’d run into friends there.” Haldeman says, “I wanted to bring it to life.”

The granddaughter of Goodwin J. Knight, the 31st Governor of California, who she called “Papa,” Haldeman recounts in her new book her grandfather’s great love of Larchmont Boulevard.

  A jovial man, who lived on nearby Arden Boulevard, he was often seen on the boulevard in a beige jumpsuit, doing a little jig when he saw people he knew. His attachment to the street was so strong that, when he died, his second wife, Virginia, directed the funeral procession to drive down the boulevard so the Governor could say a final goodbye.

The book teems with local references: buying tennis shoes from The Larchmont Bootery, frequenting The Golden Comb Hair Salon, hanging glass bulb Christmas tree decorations from Landis Department Store and biking to the Boulevard for turkey sandwiches from Jurgensen’s.

Haldeman’s memoir is peppered with memory-jogging references to Brylcreem, Slicker Frosted Lipstick and Van de Kamp’s molasses cookies. Her world was populated with people who chain-smoked Larks or unfiltered Pall Malls, drank vodka rocks or bourbon, and frequented Perino’s, Scandia or Hamburger Hamlet.

As Haldeman and her sister navigate the chaos engendered by her father abandoning them, her mother’s remarriage to a man with four difficult children, and ongoing financial woes, their 4,500 square foot colonial home at 127 Fremont Place reflected the constant upheaval and neglect they felt. 

Rooms changed function depending upon how many stepsiblings needed sleeping quarters. The pool sparkled, and the backyard was manicured when times were good, ignored when finances were tight. Rugs became threadbare. Window shades faded. The house started to reflect the stress of its inhabitants.

Cousin Jonathan

That included Haldeman’s cousin Jonathan Weedman, who also had a chaotic home life, and who was usually included in Eaton family events. The author remembers him as “a spoiled brat.” In a memorable Thanksgiving incident (pictured), Jonathan refused to eat the turkey, demanding a peanut butter sandwich. When Marilyn refused to accommodate him, he stormed away from the table, fine linen napkin in hand, and incinerated it in the fireplace.

Haldeman emphasizes that Jonathan matured into a man who “has compassion for everything and everyone. He ran the charitable foundation for Wells Fargo for many, many years. I adore him!” She credits him with motivating her to write her story when he brought her a memento from the Fremont home after her mother married for the third time, sold the property “as is,” and the home was torn down.

“Jonathan dashed over to Fremont looking for tangible evidence of where we came from — an actual ‘thing’ that you can hold in your hand,” she explains. Amidst the rubble he rescued a piece of the balustrade from an upstairs balcony and gave it to Haldeman. She placed it on her desk in the Pasadena home where she lives with her husband Harry “Hank” Haldeman, also originally from the neighborhood. Hank and his siblings grew up on Muirfield Road in Hancock Park, just two blocks north of Fremont Place. Hank’s family was the opposite of Heather’s, she notes. They were “shockingly normal” and nonjudgmental. This in spite of the fact that her father-in-law H. R. (Bob) Haldeman was convicted for his involvement in the Watergate scandal when serving as President Nixon’s chief of staff.

The balustrade that cousin Jonathan recovered inspired an essay, which she later expanded into this memoir.

Copies of the book “Kids & Cocktails Don’t Mix” are available through Chevalier’s Books on Larchmont, and can be ordered at, and on and

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