‘Bill and Pablo Return to Brookside’

Pablo CapraBy Pablo Capra      April 15, 2022

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‘Bill and Pablo Return to Brookside’
Photos by Pablo Capra Photos from 1984
Having written the book “Topanga Beach: A History,” I’ve become an expert on the area; but one part I still know little about is Brookside, a neighborhood just under a mile from the beach, where about 20 people lived. On March 11, 2022, Topanga therapist Bill Flaxman, 79, gave me a tour of this neighborhood that State Parks demolished in the early 2000s and has blocked off with yellow gates ever since. Bill moved to Brookside with his wife Geraldine in 1978. They had a son there, Adam, and stayed until 1986, when they purchased a home off Highvale Trail in Topanga.
Photos from 2022
“Brookside was the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived,” Bill reflects. “Our house there should have been preserved. It was like Will Rogers’s house, but twice as big.”

He remembers how a flood washed out the boulevard in 1980, and afterwards, their house was the last one that could be reached by car from PCH… for a whole year!
Pablo and Bill
Bill and I parked on the dirt shoulder of the boulevard, and ducked under the yellow gate at Brookside Drive. Immediately, we were knee-deep in brush and pushing our way along paths that only existed in memory. Bill came prepared with a machete, but what used to be a 20-minute walk turned into two hours of negotiating every few steps forward in the wilderness.
Bill and Adam
The clearings that we succeeded in reaching, sheltered under large trees and couched in nasturtiums, were bulldozed home sites. One still had a Jacuzzi, with frogs swimming in it.

Geraldine and Adam
These had been the homes of Wendy Tahas and actor Robert Colbert (“The Time Tunnel”), Devon Carter and Merrick Davidson (“Messenger” newspaper founder), folksingers George and Katie Wood (“The Special World of George Wood and Katie”), Thais Rust Sykes (contributor of many photos to the Historical Society), painter Laura Way Mathiesen (whose home was called Marmont Studio), sculptor Arthur “King” Zimmerman, costumer Dean “Skip” Skipworth (“Raging Bull”), electrician Bob Sweeney (who lived in a plywood pyramid), dancer Catherine Holliss, and the corral of “Princess” (the horse celebrated in “Idlers of the Bamboo Grove: Poetry from Lower Topanga”).
It was a rare glimpse of a place once beloved that has been hidden away for decades.
Left: Adam’s 2nd birthday party Above: Moms’ club, Geraldine and Adam on the right
Photos courtesy Flaxman family
Pablo Capra
      April 15, 2022

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April 15, 2022

THINKING OUT LOUD
NEWS
LONG DISTANCE LISTENING PARTY
SPENCE ON MUSIC
HOLY DAYS OF RENEWAL
SCHOOLHOUSE SCOOP
TOPANGA BEFORE TODAY
RUDE INTERRUPTIONS
ALL THINGS CONNECTED
PASSAGES