GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let’s put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”
All those who attend will receive a free (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group.
“There’s the whole world at your feet.
And who gets to see it but the birds, the stars, and the chimney sweeps.”
–Bert the Chimney Sweep (from “Mary Poppins”)
Although not as common today as they were in an earlier era, the profession of “Chimney Sweep” (one who cleans out the flammable soot from the chimney) still exists. However in earlier times, these duties were carried out by poor children, who could climb up the tiny openings. It was a dangerous job, and many children died as a result, prompting a holiday in Britain for these kids to get one day of rest during the year on May 1st (in a couple of weeks). As a further reward for their important talents (preventing houses from being set ablaze as a result of creosote build-up) these beloved figures were elevated to folk hero status, and became symbols of good luck.
That aside, no one today is sure why in 1960, the then owner chose the idea of a “chimney sweep” as the establishment’s theme. One theory is that its a reference to the fireplace with the exposed flue in the middle of the bar room. The kitschy chimney sweep portraits that decorate the wood-paneled walls came shortly after the theme was set, and according to legend were painted by a regular patron, who wanted to immortalize the other regulars. Even though the Mary Poppins books (which celebrated chimney sweeps) had been around since the 1930’s, the Walt Disney film adaptation that really brought this concept into the 20th century pop-culture was released four years after the bar opened. The bar even pre-dates the production of this feature film developed on the other side of the valley by a couple of years.
So, why chimney sweeps?
Perhaps this simple European figure dressed in black with his top hat and brush appealed to the World War II soldiers returning from Europe, as they moved into the San Fernando Valley in large numbers (in the same way that those returning from the Pacific Rim where attracted to the “Tiki” bars.) If that is the case, it would explain the Chimney Sweep Lounge’s resident ghosts…
According to employees, past and present, as well as an article in the Los Angeles Times over a decade ago, a group of four ghostly men in military uniforms sit around a table drinking in the far (North-East) corner of the bar room. Witnesses to these apparitions are definite about the uniforms, but are unsure about what era (or war) they may be from. Nothing else is really known about these four drinking buddies from the after-life, or their relationship to this site. Could they be connected to a man that was brutally murdered a block away from the bar, when an unknown assailant followed the victim out of this neighborhood bar and shot him in the head, leaving his body on the pavement? Who knows…
It should also be noted that despite there being many haunted bars in Los Angeles (with many different ghosts), there are very few bars that have a ghost that actually engages in the act of drinking. As ironic as that may seem, not only does this bar have one, it seems to four of them. Now, that deserves a toast!
So, come out to an old valley landmark that prides itself as being your “living room away from home” and enjoy a round of what the spirits are drinking… if you dare.