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My landlord was a Carpenter

If you happen to be in Downey, a suburb of Los Angeles in California, and you're at 8356 5th Street, you might notice two apartment buildings across from one another with very odd names.

Odd names for apartment buildings, right?




Well, not if you are a child of the 70s and you remember the Hit Singing Duo, The Carpenters! But you may be still wondering why names of two of their most popular 1970s hits are emblazoned on these two buildings!

Here is the story: and let me begin by saying, I'll be honest, I thought they were husband and wife when I was younger, but The Carpenters are siblings. Of the duo, Karen Carpenter sang and played the drums. She was highly praised for both of these incredible talents. Her brother, Richard, acted as producer, writer, composer, keyboardist and at times joined in on harmony with Karen.

The names of these buildings signify their two biggest hits. "Close to you" was the name of the album of which these two hits were on. The album came out in August of 1970. "Close to You", the single, gave the duo world-wide fame. The second popular single was "We've Only Just Begun" (not as it is written here on the building as 'Only Just Begun') and that ranked as their second largest selling single.

Skyrocketing into fame gave the young duo not only immense popularity but incredible wealth. They had to spend their money somewhere, so they bought these two apartment complexes in their home town of Downey, CA.


Watch here as The Carpenters perform these two hit songs:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6inwzOooXRU


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__VQX2Xn7tI


No matter what age you are chances are you've not only heard these songs but have recited "On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true" to you cat! Or you've attended a wedding where the song "We've Only Just Begun" was played as the bride floated down the aisle. "We've Only Just Begun", was THE song to have at your wedding for years! Look at these lyrics: "We've only just begun to live, white lace and promises.." A wedding song if I've ever heard one. We have Paul Williams to thank for those highly emotional and blissful lyrics. And by the way, Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis wrote "Close to You".

Do you think Richard or Karen ever walked up to a tenant's door demanding the rent? I don't know how involved they were with the managing of these two buildings but I am sure they had help.

I would have loved seeing these apartments as they were in the 1970s. Imagine the shag carpet, bean bag chairs, beads, and of course posters of Richard and Karen everywhere!

Posters like this one:

The song "Close to You" had been recorded once before, in 1963, by none other than the actor Richard Chamberlain. Unfortunately, the song did not enjoy the rave reviews and popularity when Mr. Chamberlain recorded it.

I don't believe there were many posters like this hanging in ANYone's apartment, but you never know.


The singing duo, that may have been your landlords, enjoyed many years of success, scoring 5 top 10 albums, 3 number one singles, and 12 top 10 singles over the years.



Sadly, Karen lost her battle with the eating disorder, Anorexia, in1983, at the age of 32 when her heart gave out due to the strain it suffered from her being so malnourished.

I remember when this happened. There were months of speculation of her being ill, even some talk of Karen having anorexia, but not much was known about this disease, nor was it talked about extensively. Karen appeared on talk shows and variety shows looking extremely thin and gaunt, shocking many of her fans.

Karen Carpenter became the first well known individual to succumb to anorexia, and it was her death that led to increased awareness of this horrible disease .


After Karen's death, Richard continued to write songs and produce albums. One such album included a song called "When Time Was All We Had", in memory of his sister, Karen.


So, take some time, while you're in Southern California, hop on over to Downey and cruise 5th street, blaring some Carpenter's music, and pay homage to an incredible musical duo.


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Angela at MidModFlair

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