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Angelino Heights' old haunts

October 25, 2008|Barbara Thornburg

Antique dealers Bruce Lash and David Goldsboro go all out for Halloween. Their 1887 Queen Anne Victorian in one of Los Angeles' early neighborhoods, Angelino Heights, is the perfect venue for a haunting good time.

"These old homes create a great atmosphere for trick-or-treaters," Goldsboro says. "They're so mysterious -- especially at night."

The couple moved into their two-story home with its pitched roof, diamond-shingle siding and wraparound porch 28 years ago. Today, it's peeling, weathered facade and surrounding overgrown yard resemble a spooky haunted house.

Indeed, according to Goldsboro, the house is haunted. But, he says, the ghosts have quieted down since he gave them a scolding.

"When we first moved in, it sounded as if a party was going on downstairs," Goldsboro recalls. "I told them: 'You're going to have to stop making so much noise at night or we're going to leave.' "

These days, the house is deadly silent, except for the 121-year-old stairs.

"They creak," Lash says.

Goldsboro does most of the decorating, hauling out his collection of Halloween paraphernalia and a half-dozen life-size skeletons from the attic each October. He dresses the bony figures in boas and hats, then stations them around the yard along with assorted spiders, rats, toads and bats. A large porch cobweb, strung between turned-wood columns, features a severed head with a hungry-looking spider nearby; a vulture perches on the porch newel post.

Rows of pumpkins with toothy grins line the roof and emit foggy breath into the night, while a 1920s bubble machine that Goldsboro found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market dispenses streams of bubbles.

"It's just like 'The Lawrence Welk Show,' " says Goldsboro with a laugh, "but without the Lennon Sisters."

Halloween music du jour, "Horror Sounds of the Night," a 25-year-old tape, plays witch cackles, asylum screams, werewolf howls and ghostly moans.

In the beginning, the couple dressed up as monsters and ghouls but frightened the neighborhood children so much they wouldn't come into the yard. These days Goldsboro wears a Harlequin costume, and Lash dresses up as John Wayne.

"Everyone loves clowns and cowboys," Goldsboro says.

The couple's home is a block and a half north of the historic 1300 block of Carroll Avenue, a street with the highest concentration of Queen Anne and Eastlake Victorian residences in Southern California.

Around the favorite Halloween haunt, costumed children scurry under old-fashioned street lamps that illuminate the stately homes, decked out with spider webs and grimacing pumpkins.

Every year Goldsboro buys one or two new decorations to add to his Halloween collection. This year he is especially excited about his life-size, garrulous witch. He plans to station her at the front gate where the couple dispense Hershey's chocolate bars.

"She's hysterical," says Goldsboro, who walks toward the green-faced hag, setting off a long cackle and a stream of frightening commentary:

"Double, double, caldron bubble. Come in here and you're in trouble!"

"Uumm, uumm, what a delicious-looking person!"

"The kids are going to love her," Goldsboro says.

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barbara.thornburg@latimes.com

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