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Light on the subject

Kim Devore’s amusing and interesting article re the ancient Albatross referred to my visit to the venerable Malibu landmark quoting me: “Retired Judge John Merrick only went there to see the lights.” This requires amplification.

I was a member of a three-man party commissioned by the Township Council to investigate a complaint voiced by the property owners on the hillside across from the Albatross. It seems that the Albatross had a World War II searchlight in its front yard, which, when lighted, was automatically and continuously rotated 360 degrees, with its powerful beam periodically sweeping the Malibu heavens and intermittently shining into the windows and homes of the hillside residents.

In my negotiating with owner Mrs. Burnett, it developed that she owned a fleet of these searchlights and rented them out for automobile, market openings, motion picture movie previews, etc., and she envisioned positioning her lights along Pacific Coast Highway pointing the way to the Malibu Albatross.

Fortunately, she never carried out that plan, and she compromised over the Albatross searchlight by merely turning it on at night and locked in a stationary position pointing at the Malibu heavens and an occasional airplane, not intruding on the serenity of her hillside neighbors. And we successful negotiators got the hell out of there before Mrs. B. could deliver any salty adieus.

John J. Merrick,

judge, retired

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