AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

July 27, 2011

Raymond Chandler’s Birthday by William Swank

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 6:54 pm

Carol Olten salutes Chandler  with an urbane-yet-surreal pose outside Wisteria Cottage, home of  The La Jolla Historical Society.

On July 23rd, Raymond Chandler’s birthday was warmly celebrated by fans and fellow-writers. First, they toured his former home in LaJolla, California, followed by gimlets at the Whaling Bar. (Pictorial below) The first-annual bash was hosted by Steve Chapple,  science and adventure writer. William Swank, intrepid reporter and Philip Marlowe enthusiast, reports:

(Left) The mystery novelist and screenwriter, shown in a 1946 portrait.

(BELOW) We gathered across the street from Chandler’s old house in La Jolla, California, at 3 pm Saturday, July 23.

“I’m in a wild mood tonight. I want to go dance in the foam. I hear the banshees calling.”  Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely
“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Plaque outside the remodeled Chandler home.

“When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”
 The Simple Art of Murder

“At 3:50 p.m. the patrolman who arrived was talking to Chandler’s sister-in-law ‘when he heard two shots from the bathroom.’ He ran to the bathroom and found Chandler sitting on the shower floor, the gun in his lap. He describes Chandler at the time as being under the influence of alcohol… He took the gun away from Chandler, who was dressed in robe, pajamas and bedroom slippers.”

“He said the two – only two – bullets from the gun went into the ceiling or the tile of the shower stall, and the suicide was aborted because they were fired upward, missing any supposed target.”
Excerpts from San Diego Police Report dated February 22, 1955 from Raymond Chandler Speaking, edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Katherine Sorley Walker.
“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” Raymond Chandler

Chandler’s office  was in the northeast corner of the home. This is where he wrote The Long Goodbye.

“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away. ” Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Following the extensive remodel, the only Chandler DNA to be found in the house is a built-in office bookcase. From a distance, the design is Art Moderne, but up close, the shelf edges are exposed plywood.

“Our living room has a picture window which looks south across the bay to Point Loma, the most westerly part of San Diego, and at night there is a long lighted coastline almost in our laps. A radio writer came down here to see me once and he sat down in front of this window and cried because it was so beautiful. But we live here, and the hell with it.”  From Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler by Frank MacShane
“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.”
Farewell, My Lovely
(As we were leaving, a lost woman stopped on Camino de la Costa to ask for directions to the La Jolla Shores Inn.)
Next was the Whaling Bar, a favorite Chandler watering-hole, at the historic La Valencia Hotel (1132 Prospect Street ). Steve Chapple quaffs a gimlet for Raymond.
“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice  and nothing else.”
Long Goodbye
Juan the barkeep prepares an original gimlet in the exact spot where Chandler raised many a glass .
William Swank imbibes alongside Polo of the Whaling Bar.

“Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.” The Long Goodbye

Pictorial essay and quote selection by William Swank, baseball historian and Philip Marlowe enthusiast. Swank insists he knows more about Raymond Chandler who played outfield for the 1939 Duluth Dukes than he does about the Raymond Chandler who wrote books. Ashedit still thinks he did a stupendous job. Thanks Bill!

Here’s a link to Bill Swank’s blog:

Check out Steve Chapple’s Amazon book page:

Don’t miss this incredible piece on reuniting Chandler and his wife Cissy over at The Rap Sheet.



  1. Damn! Wish he could still be with us.

    Comment by Al Tucher — July 28, 2011 @ 6:50 am

  2. I enjoyed this pictorial essay. And the quotes from Chandler were a hoot. It’s reassuring to read that people still acknowledge the masters. Nice work!

    Comment by Mark Boss — July 28, 2011 @ 7:07 am

  3. Hi guys! When I saw Carol with the cakepan, I knew we had a winnah. So glad you enjoyed it.

    Comment by ashedit — July 28, 2011 @ 9:15 am

  4. Thanks for your nice comments, Al, Mark and Elaine.

    Carol Olten is the historian at the La Jolla Historical Society. She’s a former San Diego Union-Tribune entertainment writer and co-author of “Then & Now: La Jolla.” As her picture clearly shows, Carol looks like a lot of class from 30 feet away and she looks like a lot of class from 10 feet away, too.

    Incidentally, my wife was surprised that I was able to find the angel food pan in the cupboard. She was even more surprised when she saw the tarantula. It terrified her! (Sorry, I’m a baseball guy; not a classy guy.)

    Bill Swank

    Comment by Bill Swank — July 28, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  5. Very entertaining and nice photos!



    Comment by oscar case — July 28, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  6. Hi Oscar! Have you seen this article over at The Rap Sheet on reuniting Chandler and his wife Cissy’s remains? It’s a must-see. Tip of the hat to Brian Drake for sending the link.

    Comment by ashedit — July 28, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  7. Love the quotes from Chandler. He had a way with words.

    Comment by charlesgramlich — July 29, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  8. You can say that again Charles. I am amazed how timely Chandler’s quotes are today, 50 years after he wrote them. He was an amazing observer of the human condition.

    Comment by ashedit — July 29, 2011 @ 2:35 pm


    Pingback by Best of the Year on Ashedit « Ashedit — December 26, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

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