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PALM LATITUDES

In Excess

December 22, 1991|Terry Murphy | Edited by Mary McNamara

If you think real estate is a boring line of work, consider the broker who recently agreed to sell the contents of a small apartment building to a vintage clothing store on Melrose. Estate sales are not unusual, but when the broker and the store owner arrived at the nondescript 1940s building in the mid-Wilshire district, they found more than a few beaded sweaters. The building's owner, an octogenarian known by her first name, Hazel, had moved out of state, leaving her four-unit apartment building piled literally floor to ceiling with decades of belongings. It took six people two weeks to sort out the clothes and memorabilia that included 500 dresses in styles from the 1930s to the 1960s, 800 handbags, 500 pairs of shoes, 300 hats and 100 assorted slips, bras and panties. But most telling were the letters, photographs, scrawled lists of fees for the personal services rendered and photo albums depicting activities that went on in the house.

Hazel, it would seem, ran a very successful brothel for almost 30 years. What possessed her to document her personal and professional life in such detail is a mystery for the ages. When the broker and the store owner contacted her, Hazel didn't seemed fazed; she sold the whole lot for $500. So the vintage clothing store will soon begin selling the goods of the woman the staff has fondly nicknamed Hazelnut.

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