Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Democracy of Ham and Eggs

Welcome to the Shrine of Friendship...


Photo: Los Angeles Breakfast Club Instagram

...The Temple of Sentiment and Idealism...


Photo: Los Angeles Breakfast Club Facebook

...where people come together to bury the hatchet...



...and have breakfast.



This is the current headquarters of the Los Angeles Breakfast Club, located in The Friendship Auditorium on the fringes of Griffith Park. This weekly crack-of-dawn confab was founded in 1925, when it took place in some horse stables more or less in the same spot along Riverside Drive.



There's a secret handshake, which somewhat resembles the act of flipping eggs.



And there are eggs, be they flipped or scrambled.



There's also the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the LABC cryptogram and a fair amount of singing.



The whole thing feels like a great big singalong—something like church, or maybe a 12-step meeting, in the clubhouse of some secret society like the Shriners or the Freemasons.


Photo: California Governor Ronald Reagan, blindfolded during initiation into the Los Angeles Breakfast Club, 1967 (Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA)

Those who are accepted into membership and initiated—as was the then-governor and future U.S. president Ronald Reagan—must sit blindfolded atop a wooden horsie named "Ham" with one hand on his tail and the other dunked in a plate of scrambled eggs.

It's not enough to say that the Los Angeles Breakfast Club is LA's oldest eating group, although it is. At a time when so many people delight in tearing each other apart, it's a safe harbor for those who believe in The Golden Rule.

It even was once an occasion to bring together rivals like Chandler and Hearst who, by some magic, put aside their differences and reveled in the glory of ham and eggs.

Over the course of its 90-some-odd years, the Los Angeles Breakfast Club has attracted Will Rogers, Edward Doheny, Louis B. Mayer, Laemmle, Lasky, DeMille, and the Warners. And for whatever reason, it also attracted me. (Just 38 years after women were first allowed to join.)

It may feel a bit like a revival meeting, but this fellowship is non-sectarian (albeit a bit vaudevillian).

Everyone introduces themselves. Most of them are septuagenarians—or older. They're there to get better acquainted.

They're there to make friends.

Some might call their traditions a bit... eccentric... but when I got up this Wednesday morning and drove out to Los Feliz for a 7 a.m. breakfast and the merriment that followed, it was exactly what I needed.

And not just on that Wednesday. It's the kind of thing that we all need way more often than we ever get.

It's as good a reason as any to get up in the morning.

Related Posts:

Photo Essay: Brunch at a Hollywood Chateau

The Mundanity of Meaningful Connections