Dingbats and courtyard apartments are quintessential California, along with citrus trees and convertible cars. Dingbats (also known as “Hangovers” for their overhanging carports), are boxy mid-century two- or three-story apartment buildings. Perhaps to make up for their boxy blandness, the dingbats usually announce themselves with grandiloquent names like “The Sundial Palms,” “The Islander,” or “Redondo Manor.”
Courtyard apartments are upscale dingbats, promising a pool surrounded by friendly neighbors. Many of these courtyard apartments also put on airs with fancy scripted names like “Hollywood Riviera.”
I imagined myself living in one, surrounded by friends: my idea of California cool.
But when I moved into my $500/month apartment, the courtyard pool was instead a cement car park and the kinship community of friends and impromptu barbecues never materialized. It was, however, one of those first big life adventures that are themselves magical experiences. Years later, having made Los Angeles my home, some of the magic has worn off, replaced by life’s realities. But those apartment buildings with their names alluding to paradise still elicit those feelings of possibility.