Remembering Lila

by admin on May 7, 2010

A rare photo of Lila and all 3 of her kids

I was standing in the garden department at OSH marveling at all the flowery, strangely fulgent hanging baskets that had suddenly appeared just in time for Mother’s Day when my cell phone rang.  It was Rita Katsotis, an old work friend of my mother’s calling to say she’d just heard that Lila had passed away.  They’d lost touch after Lila went kicking and screaming into retirement and so Rita didn’t know Lila died in 2007.

     “Your mother was a real character,” Rita said. And I had to agree. Lila was one of a kind, with a quirky sense of fun and funny that you can read about here.

     “There are so many funny stories I tell people about your mother,” Rita continued, “but there’s one story I’ve told over and over for 20 years.  The one about the time Lila saw her gynecologist at the casino.”

Ahhh, yes, that one.  The casino we’re talking about here doesn’t exist anymore.  The story dates back to the 80s — in the days before Indian gaming brought Vegas-style gambling to southern California.  Lila was an inveterate gambler and back then when she needed to feed her poker jones in between visits to Sin City, she’d hightail it to Gardena and play nickel-dime-quarter Hi-lo in a pretty sleazy card club off the 405.  It was not the kind of place a nice Jewish mother from Cheviot Hills  wanted to be seen in and when she was there she went by the name “Lee.”  One time, Lila was playing poker at a table full of rough and tough truck driver types, all drinking bourbon and smoking cigars.

     “Oh hell,” she said, looking toward the front door. “My gynecologist just walked in.”
     “Do you need to duck out for a minute, Lee?” one of the men at the table asked her.
     “Naw,” Lila said, “he’ll never recognize me from this angle.”

Cigars were dropped.  Bourbon was spilled.

Happy Mother’s Day, Lila.  You still make me laugh.

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