Here in Van Nuys

About, but not limited to, Van Nuys, CA.

More Postcard Observations


Budweiser FrontBudweiser Back

 

The Joseph Schlitz Brewery on Roscoe in Van Nuys was an especially popular destination in the 1950s through the 70s.

The adjoining Busch Gardens, with its array of exotic birds and lush waterfalls, was another fantasy environment of natural artifice, like Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm, a fake beloved world for visitors to Southern California to write home about.

I have scanned many cards (owned by Valley Relics) of the famed gardens, and one in particular caught my eye.

Postmarked March 4, 1960, it was addressed to Miss Donna Friedl, 1921 Maynard Avenue, Cleveland 9, Ohio.

 

It read:

 

Hello Donna,

 

I did not pay for this card they give it to you for visiting the brewery, from Grandpa Friedl.

Something in his wry comment leads me to imagine Grandpa Friedl as a white-haired, humorous, kind man who might have snuck past his wife to offer his granddaughter Donna some candy before dinner.

That was a long time ago.

Nobody has a young daughter named Donna any more.

Busch Front

 


 

Fabulous SFV Front

“The Fabulous San Fernando Valley” is another postcard unintentionally funny.

For here is a view of what looks like Sepulveda Boulevard, somewhere east of the 405, (today’s Galleria) with the dam and mountains in the distance, and thousands of cars packed into the foreground.

Fabulous? The grandiose superlatives of Southern California (best weather, best women, best bodies, best schools, best place to live) were spoken of so often, that the actual truth seemed blasphemous. It was, and is, sometimes very ugly here, boring beyond belief, polluted and blindingly plastic. An early 1960s walk up a Sepulveda, north of Ventura, would lead you past auto junkyards and tacky motels, but you were in a “fabulous” place, didn’t you know it?

 


Saddle and Sirloin Back

 

Sixty or seventy years ago, many restaurants fashioned themselves as Western places, with steaks on the menu and wagon wheels on the wall.

Saddle and Sirloin was a small chain with “steaks aged to tenderness” and at their Palm Springs location, in 1949, Daddy and Mother were sitting down to eat a steak and found time to write to their daughter Florence in Newcastle, Indiana and tell her just that.

“We’re about to eat a steak, it’s balmy outside,” Mom wrote. Her appetite and her temperature lead one to salacious thoughts. Perhaps she looked like Jane Russell, with dark red lipstick. With love and dinner and hot weather….. could the bedroom be far behind?

 


Otto's Pink Pig Restaurant Back

 

Otto’s Pink Pig Restaurant at 4958 Van Nuys Boulevard was another well-known place whose warmhearted postcard promised “Otto’s Famous Baked Ham Sandwich, Best in the US” and “Mike O’Shea’s Special Salad Supreme.”

Their motto: Big Enough to Serve You- Small Enough to Know You.

Eating out, dining in a restaurant, was not done several times a week, as is the case today. People ate at home. They ate what Mom cooked.

So it was a special treat to go to Otto’s and dine on such fare as Filet of Sole Marguery or Roast Long Island Duckling (shipped fresh by refrigerated freight train?).

Hearty, friendly, generous with drink and food, sensibly priced: was it all of those things?

Long gone and obliterated, the neighborhood, an off-ramp of banality, is now home to strips of office buildings, medical offices, and Sherman Oaks Hospital. There is nothing exotic, fun or magical here as there was when Otto’s Pink Pig lived here.

 

 

 

Van Nuys Boulevard in Three Eras.


Van Nuys Blvd. Opening 1911. (DWP)

Van Nuys Blvd. Opening 1911. (DWP)

Van Nuys Boulevard was made in 1910, open for traffic and business in 1911.

It was the heart of the San Fernando Valley, and apparently a quite pleasant and neighborly place to shop.

Van Nuys Blvd. Early 1950s

Van Nuys Blvd. Early 1950s

Cars were parked at a diagonal (like Glendale’s Brand Blvd. today) which effectively and passively narrowed the wideness of the street. It was a more pedestrian friendly boulevard.

Van Nuys circa 1960

Van Nuys circa 1960

But in 1954 Victory and Van Nuys Boulevard were widened. The high intensity lights came later, but the effect was to turn the street into a type of freeway, perfect for cruising, but inhospitable to much else.

Van Nuys at Friar, facing north, September 2014.

Van Nuys at Friar, facing north, September 2014.

The 2014 view is what we see today, a wide street stripped of appeal, whose stores are either vacant or taken up with low rent bail bonds, and cheap crap.

Wide streets are not where people walk and shop. They want trees to shade them. They want to cross the street without walking across six lanes of speeding cars. Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino and Tarzana, all the wealthier parts of the San Fernando Valley, have all grasped this basic fact of life and have planted trees and landscaped medians to humanize their business districts.

What accounts for the neglect other than a lingering racism and an inability to formulate a plan financed by government and developers? If a sea of blond-haired people started coming here, would Mayor Garcetti and Councilwoman Nury Martinez suddenly spring into action? Why is Van Nuys different than Highland Park, Encino, North Hollywood or Burbank? Are we somewhere on Mars?

The postcards are (once again) courtesy of Valley Relics. The 2014 photo is taken from Google Street views.

 

12012 Chandler.


$(KGrHqN,!oMFBlWKBW,RBQqwCPDGC!~~60_57 BRL61-0294 BRL64-0116 Honeywell Service Center Building Back Honeywell Service Center Building Front

Scanning through some of the postcards loaned to me by Tommy Gelinas at Valley Relics, I came across this 1963 postcard of a new building at  the corner of Chandler and Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood.

12012 Chandler was the home of “the first Honeywell 400 computer service center in the US.”

The Honeywell 400 was a system the size of a room, so nobody who worked with one carried it into this building for servicing. It was an early 1960s workhorse for processing payroll and other functions of business and industry. According to Kraza, Honeywell was part of a second generation of computers that came of age when transistors replaced vacuum tubes.  ” Transistorized computers were more powerful, more reliable, less expensive, and cooler to operate than their vacuum-tubed predecessors.”

The black and white photographs above show the Honeywell 400 in operation. However, they are not from 12012 Chandler.

Rancho Pequeño and Other Places….


Rancho Pequeno Back

Rancho Pequeno

Kester Street, for those who don’t know her, is a narrow road halfway between Van Nuys  and Sepulveda Boulevards, paralleling both.

Before WWII, it was on the fringe, out on the wide land, beyond settled Van Nuys.

Rancho Pequeño at 7050 Kester (near Vose) was significant enough to have its own postcard.


These are postcards scanned from the collection amassed by Tommy Gelinas at Valley Relics.

They provide pictorial fantasy, mined from fact, of the places and events and people who once lived in the San Fernando Valley.


 

Malaya:Van Nuys Back Malaya:Van Nuys

A 1931 postcard shows two men in Malaya (Malaysia) procuring exotic birds for shipment back to Bird Wonderland, Inc. in Van Nuys.

It was located at 15640 Ventura Boulevard, Van Nuys, CA, a location that today is known as Encino.

80 years ago, the name Van Nuys was used all the way from Beverly Glen south of Ventura up to Roscoe west past the present day 405. There was no shame in the name.

Our Ventura Boulevard has an interesting article on Bird Wonderland, which also had exotic animals, including, Jackie the Lion who allegedly inspired the roaring one seen in every MGM movie.


 

Take It Easy Take it Easy Back

No motel on Sepulveda today enjoys an entirely good name. Much of them, especially those north of Victory, are havens for prostitution.

But back when the area was a main highway into the San Fernando Valley, before the freeway, it hosted many family owned motels.

Take it E-Z Motel at 5764 Sepulveda was owned by Mr. and Mrs. GB Parrott.

The motel is still there, at Hatteras, across from Target, and is planned for tear down next year with a new replacement.

The postcard shows two people sitting in chairs on the side of the building, facing the western sun.


Gene Autry Front Gene Autry Back

Dorothy visited Hollywood and sent a postcard of Gene Autry’s home in Toluca Lake on August 5, 1947.

Writing to The Chalfants of Waynesboro, PA, she reports, “Saw two radio shows today, Queen for a Day and Heart’s Desire. Both good fun.”

Things may change in Southern California. But people still text and email the folks back home to tell them how they came in contact with celebrities and how wonderful the weather is.

 

Postcard From Van Nuys: 1940


Van Nuys HS Van Nuys HS1

 

Postcard courtesy of Valley Relics/ Tommy Gelinas.

Man in Truck Killed By Train: 1957


Train_vs_auto_accident_at_Vineland_Avenue_and_Vanowen_Street_1957

In the 1950s, movies were censored.

Violence was off-screen.

Death, dismemberment, bloody accidents, injuries: all of it was hidden.

But real life photographers back then rushed to the scene and photographed the daily gore that makes the daily news.

One such example is this photo from May 5, 1957, near Vineland and Vanowen, where the lifeless body of Louis Bell, killed by a train in his truck, is lifted onto a stretcher.

Today we watch computer generated “entertainment” scenes of virtual gore that
would have made 1950s audiences vomit.

But who shoots real news photos today?


 

image.Train vsauto accident at Vineland Avenue and Vanowen Street14 May 1957Louis Bell (dead).Caption slipreads: "PhotographerGlickmanDate1957-05-14AssignmentTrain vsTruck 1 killedVineland Ave. and VanowenNoHollywoodG300/301/214/215Ambulance attendants lift body of Louis Bell onto stretcher; in background is his demolished truck".

There are no sudden storms in the Southland.


There are no sudden storms in the Southland.

They are slow, and anticipated for many days before arrival.

The rains of Los Angeles are not the violent and fast moving ones from my youth in Illinois.

They come from San Francisco, imported and exotic, served only in winter.

They travel, as if on a slow moving freight train, chugging down across the mountains, picking up wind and moving clouds with great effort, until, by eminent domain, they seize this region in rains, pushing out that squatter the sun, drenching the city in something purifying and disorienting, dark and light; a benevolent symphony of Earth’s workings, cleansing and renewing.

The rains of Los Angeles are a strange corrective of nature. They are more powerful and more intimidating than the human cesspool city of sudden violence and crashing cars. The Army of the Clouds is a conqueror who must be obeyed. Under occupation, rivers are rerouted, trees blown over, electrical current shut off, oceans churned, roads made impassible.

But they are kind in power, artful in practice.

They transform the ugliness of asphalt into reflecting pools.

They tame cars, dragging them through curbside baths.

They throw dark daytime shadows across the city.

And after they pass, one looks east, towards Pasadena and the nation beyond it.

And we stand, once again in the sun, in the Southland, in our winter.

Left to our own devices.

Raymer-LA River USA Gasoline Farmer's Ranch Market Raymer-Kester

 

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