These 1948 clippings were just sent to me by Phil DePauk, who grew up here in the 1940s and 50s and now lives in Virginia. The photo of Van Nuys Boulevard at Christmas, however, is from an unknown source but is also dated 1948.
Mr. DePauk has a large collection of photographs and memorabilia, some of which is related to his family’s former business, photography.
Before regional shopping centers, Van Nuys was a regional shopping center, centered on a street, Van Nuys Boulevard. There was a streetcar running up and down, diagonal parking, and many thriving businesses.
And there was a Van Nuys Christmas parade attended by many.
As big and powerful and immortal as GM once was, it could not survive in a nation that had no policy for reducing its dependence on oil.
Think about it. For 30 years, GM has been struggling. And that is just about the amount of time that the US has been involved in an ongoing “Energy Crisis”. When the price of oil goes up, people drive less or think about buying smaller cars. When the price goes down, the drivers go back to larger cars and trucks. What company could possibly produce vehicles to withstand this constant instability of fossil fuels? Would you expect McDonalds to stay profitable if beef went from $10 a pound to $300 in one year?
Give GM some credit. They have revamped and improved their autos so that they are just as good as anything Tokyo produces. Quality is not the issue, the national lack of an energy strategy is. It influences everything from terrorism to Iraq, from sprawl to global warming.
The car makers have missed one point in these years, however. They would have been better, all along, if they had been forced to produce energy efficient cars, and cars that did not emit pollutants.
Instead, we’ve spent the last 30 years in a fantasy where we can consume all the deadly oil we want, and then wonder why our planet and our industries and our way of life is standing under the executioner’s rope.