Most accomplishments in my adult life first appeared as items on to-do lists written on scrap paper. An abandoned motor lodge over 1,000 miles from my Brooklyn apartment called The Bellemont first made it back onto one of those to-do lists on March 30 when a commenter on this blog wrote that it was the lodging for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford while shooting the film "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" at Houmas House on River Road. (Joan did not last long on the film set-- it's too much to get into here, but there was no love lost between the actresses. Here's a quote on imdb.com attributed to Bette about Joan: "For a goddamn week in Baton Rouge, she brought twenty pieces of luggage. It was a black-and-white movie but she had color-coordinated outfits for the daytime scenes, and for the night shots all of her evening dresses were chiffon, which meant that the wardrobe lady had to spend hours ironing them in the one-hundred-degree weather." )
It wasn't just those two superstars who stayed at the Bellemont (allegedly): it was Clark Gable, John Wayne, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and later Jackie Gleason and Richard Pryor when filming "The Toy", as well as Sonny and Cher, presumably when they were employed full-time by America as wearers of horribly awesome polyester pantsuits.
And all of this is just what I gleaned from digital hearsay in my blog comments. There is much history at The Bellemont. There are people who remember it and stories to be told. There is at least an article to be written here, and I'd love to write that article. I wished I had the time. While I am grateful to be an employed writer, after a minimum two-hour round trip of commuting each day, I return home drained of the energy for such extracurriculars.
Only about two weeks ago, when I heard they were tearing down The Bellemont, I knew I had to go down and see it all before it was too late, and I pitched the article. Before, I'd only seen it from the outside looking in--this time I would get inside and I would really explore it. Fortunately, Memorial Day weekend was coming up. And fortunately, my flight attendant friend had buddy passes so I could travel on short notice. And fortunately in this case, things do not move fast in Baton Rouge, including demolitions.
Here is just some of what I saw at The Bellemont on one day during its final weeks of existence.