Gary Libman's fascinating article in View on Jan. 13 with the headline "Architect's Legacy Lives On in Lafayette Square" recalled to me an experience with Paul Williams in 1945. His remarkable career was in its earlier stage and his office was besieged by prospective clients. He was a busy man and time was precious.
Among his civic interests was his active membership on the Metropolitan Board of Directors of the Los Angeles YMCA, and it was in that connection that I first made his acquaintance.
I had little knowledge of his stature as an architect since I was a relative newcomer from the East. That might well account for my presumption in asking him about a project we had in mind to construct a cover for an open deck at the rear of our modest home in the Wilshire area. He kindly suggested he would stop by our home and check out the possibilities.
A few days later he drove over to our home from his offices on Wilshire Boulevard and my wife and I showed him the characterless deck and explained our desire to remedy limitations. He quickly suggested several possibilities and agreed that the property would be improved.
My wife suggested he might enjoy tea and homemade cookies and this delightful gentleman took the time for refreshments and a bit of socializing. Before departing he encouraged us to improve our property and said we should call him if we desired further information.
Shortly thereafter I mentioned to a friend who knew Williams quite well that we had asked his advice about doing something to the deck at the rear of our house and that Williams had come to our home and checked its possibilities. "You mean to say that you asked Paul Williams to your house to check out that old concrete deck," he expostulated. "Don't you realize that Paul Williams is one of the busiest architects in California and couldn't possibly involve himself or his firm in your insignificant project?"
My naivete was preposterously self-evident and yet I managed to assure my friend that Williams couldn't have been nicer and he certainly enjoyed the tea and cookies and conversation.
Wonderful human beings like Paul Williams have some of their immortality in the memories of those who were privileged to know him and chat together over tea and cookies.
CHARLES U. SHELLENBERGER
A Commentary on Social Priorities
David Johnston's story, "Attorney Seeks Justice for the Poor of Skid Row" (Jan. 7), appeared as I was contemplating writing to The Times on this very subject--accommodations for the destitute homeless people of our area.
Being terminally ill, I spend a considerable amount of time being driven to various doctors, usually on freeway routes.
In common with other drivers, I have noted the miles of block wall fences that the state is installing as noise buffers.
The material and labor used in installing these fences could be just as easily used to build housing for the poor of the area on the many undeveloped areas that dot the general Los Angeles County locale.
It is a rather sad commentary on our priorities when more attention is shown to noise abatement than is shown toward the housing of our fellow citizens.