His telephone, says Altadena carpet cleaner Donald O. Cram, has not stopped jangling since last week, when he gained his allotted 15 minutes of fame by being awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. (The call from Stockholm, as was widely publicized, was an error. The Nobel folks were trying to reach UCLA's Dr. Donald J. Cram.)
Although public interest in his carpet cleaning business has soared as a result, the wrong Donald Cram notes, regular customers have had trouble getting through. And all the new business "doesn't really matter," he says, "because I had decided about a month before to sell out. It's time for something new."
He hasn't yet decided what.
Nor did the excitement seem to mean all that much at home, where Cram's wife saw him arriving with a stack of newspapers Thursday morning so he could send copies of the story to relatives. "Oh, good," she said, "this is the day they print all the grocery store coupons."
The 38-year-old Cram, however, is not complaining. He has even submitted an estimate to Johnny Carson, who was careless enough to mention while interviewing Cram on his late-night TV show that his carpeting could use a shampoo.
Carson, by the way, does not live terribly far from a grove of eucalyptus trees and high brush called "The Jungle" by Zuma Beach area residents. The 2 1/2-acre site, just inland from Pacific Coast Highway, has long been an encampment for jobless men--many of them illegal aliens--who find day-labor jobs in the ocean-view gardens of the affluent.
Although their presence has distressed some of those same homeowners, Lt. Bill McSweeney of the Malibu Sheriff's Station points out, "These men wouldn't be here if the local people didn't hire them." Once in the neighborhood, he says, they are so far from their urban haunts that they simply bed down for the night with blankets or sleeping bags. On weekends, most of them disappear. "They don't have the money to find housing in the Malibu area," the lieutenant surmises.
The property owner, Letta Morris, 70, of Westwood, has drawn some of the ire of other owners. Her reaction: "Trespassers are using my land to camp. If either the sheriff or the Department of Immigration had done their jobs, they wouldn't be camping there."
Morris says she has listed the lot for sale with a price tag well beyond the purchase power of any of the current occupants: $1.1 million.
Meanwhile, an incident a bit to the south on Spring Street prompted Capt. Rick Batson, commander of LAPD's Central Division, to say that his officers "are going to work with everyone as hard as we can to make sure we keep that street as safe as possible for everybody--no matter what time of day."
What brought that on was a street fight involving some juveniles last Saturday evening when playgoers emerging from the West Coast premiere of "Elisabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman" had to retreat back into the Los Angeles Theatre Center lobby and wait for the curtain to fall on the street theater dramatics.
Apparently, said Batson, a fight broke out at a disco dance in the nearby Alexandria Hotel, then "spilled into the street." Although some witnesses reported gunshots, the captain says investigators found no evidence of such. They found a lot of rocks and broken bottles, though.
The wait was not all that unpleasant. Management offered free drinks.
Bob Hope showed up at UCLA's Ackerman Grand Ballroom on Monday to introduce the Homecoming Court for Homecoming Week. He took the occasion to make an observation on current events in the Persian Gulf: "I think it's kind of silly what we're escorting tankers over there that are bringing Oil of Olay to Tammy Bakker."