• jeffreyapfel

What's in a Name?

Updated: Jan 25

We get asked quite a bit about where the name Cracker Box Palace came from. There is a short version at the history link but there is more to the story.


Our part of the tail goes back to before Cracker Box Palace moved to its current location at Alasa Farms. The founders of the shelter, Cheri Roloson and Burt Madison, were leasing space for their growing charitable enterprise at a nearby farm where the buildings they were leasing were, to be charitable, a bit derelict. Cheri remembered a song by George Harrison written and performed after he left the Beatles. The name of the song is Cracker Box Palace.





Why did Cheri make the connection to that song? For one thing she felt that the lyrics were appropriate. Here is a link to the lyrics to the song:


George Harrison - Crackerbox Palace Lyrics | AZLyrics.com


Note especially these lines:


I welcome you to Crackerbox Palace
We've been expecting you
You bring such joy in Crackerbox Palace
No matter where you roam know our love is true

Those lines were completely appropriate for the start-up shelter and they remain appropriate today.


It also helped that the buildings housing the animals were kind of ramshackle. According to the authorities on the internet the term "cracker box" is a "sometimes derogatory" term for a "small and badly constructed house", usually old and not located in an elegant neighborhood.


But so what if the buildings needed a little work? The animals were happy, and so it became for them, in Cheri's view, a palace. As Cheri said of the shelter "here, the animals rule". That's one of the reasons you see the image of a crown so often in our signage.





If you want to go a little further here is a video of the song by George Harrison.


George Harrison - Crackerbox Palace - Bing video


If you are a completist about these things the story goes on. The video was made especially for Saturday Night Live. It was directed by Monty Python's Eric Idle and features others in a merry band, including a guy named Neil Innes, who was part of a part-rock and roll part sketch comedy group The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.





OK, you say, but where did George Harrison get the term?


That's yet another story.


Back in the 1950s there was a very unusual stand up comedian who went by the name of Lord Buckley.


Lord Buckley - Wikipedia


The New York Times described him as "an unlikely persona ... part English royalty, part Dizzy Gillespie." He did his act looking the part of a colonial overlord, complete with pith helmet and handlebar mustache. But when he opened his mouth he sounded like a hip hop artist. In fact Quincy Jones considers him a "proto rapper". He was wild and basically out of control--meaning in the staid 1950s he was pointing the way toward the much freer 1960s. People got way, way into that, you dig?




He has mostly faded to obscurity, and I don't think he could get away with his act in today's climate. But he was a big deal for a while among the hoi polloi.


He played all the right venues, like Las Vegas, and often opened for big acts like Sinatra and the Rat Pack. He developed a serious following, not only a cult following among admirers but also famous celebrities, who would find their way to his small, ramshackle house, hard to find and up a hill, at 2205 (and a half) Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.


The neighborhood has gotten trendier but here is the location now. His place is up those stairs on the hill . . . . somewhere.





You might guess what comes next. Lord Buckley dubbed his run down house in a non-elegant neighborhood "Crackerbox Palace." No doubt he had the same idea in mind that Cheri did: maybe the place was not so hot but Lord Buckley, after all, was ROYALTY, and he deserved a palace. He held court there, in royal fashion, with his many fans coming to visit him, and to be subject to his wild and out of control rants.


As it happens George Harrison was a big fan of Lord Buckley in his pre-Beatles days. Buckley died in 1960, before the Beatles were formed. But when Harrison found out from Buckley's old manager that Buckley's house was still around at 2005 (and a half) Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles . . . well, he just had to make a pilgrimage.


So that's where the trail ends, and our tail ends, on the subject of "Cracker Box Palace". Lord Buckley to George Harrison to Cheri Roloson. But maybe there's more to the story. Let us know if so. Contact us today!