I lunched recently at Casanova restaurant, in Carmel, California, where I came across this short history of the restaurant's cottage-like building - rendered in what I'd call Carmel Hobbit architectural style - as printed in a local newspaper, the Carmel Pine Cone. I am reposting the undated item because I find it charming:
"Some years ago, we were walking along Fifth between San Carlos and Mission, when we suddenly heard a gentle "hello'. The sound came from behind a screen door in a tiny house, the worse for wear, just past the Shell station. We approached the door (which never opened) and met Aunt Fairy Bird, a small black lady who had lived there for over 50 years.
"Her house, situated as it was in downtown Carmel, was in truth a shack, but it was coveted by nearby landowners. She lived there alone for many years. When she died at nearly 90, not long after our only encounter, her house and a lot were the object of spirited bidding in an estate sale. We learned that she had once been the cook for Charlie Chaplin, that her husband Tom had been a popular handyman in Carmel, and that she was a handy-lady for several Carmel families.
"While cleaning uup her house, her executor found a great many Social Security checks that she had saved, hidden in the pages of newspapers and magazines. With him we helped open her safe deposit box and found a gold watch and two $2 bills. Aunt Fairy Bird's place is now occupied by Casanova Restaurant. Approach it with some reverence.''
Actually, Casanova is worth visiting not just for history but for cuisine. Run by a Belgian family, it is now a destination restaurant in this popular seaside town and is known for country French and Italian food.
Casanova is located on Fifth Avenue between San Carlos & Mission, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California USA. Tel. 831.625.0501. www.casanovarestaurant.com.