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.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “More Postcard Observations

  1. Even before Busch Gardens closed you could occasionally spot exotic birds flying around in the West Valley==but we always thought they were ones that “escaped”.

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  2. My grandmother loved the Pink Pig but my mother seemed to think it was a little overpriced. You were paying more so you could have lunch in Sherman Oaks. Does any restaurant served baked ham these days?

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  3. Hey–Van Nuys has a second brewery —
    MacLeod’s at 14741 Calvert. If you’d
    beer by the glass–handcrafted–where it’s
    Made–and not by the
    assembly line–try it.

    Hey– from a “dry town” in 1911
    (by property covenant) to “craft brewing”–
    Maybe we have a chance.

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  4. Small mistake–Van Nuys had TWO
    breweries. The Schlitz brewery was off of
    Woodman–south of the Southern Pacific
    Railroad tracks.

    The booming 1950’s–Van Nuys had 2
    breweries–made Chevrolets–and Lockheed
    I Burbank just a car ride away.

    Busch and Budweiser got all the publicity-
    –Busch Gardens a long lost memory.

    And the better story? The Schlitz brewery
    Is totally demolished–a junkyard for cars.

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  5. The Schlitz and Budweiser breweries were two different places. Schlitz was on Woodman at the train tracks just south of Saticoy. Later it was taken over by Stroh’s and eventually torn down. My father did conveyor work for Anheuser-Busch and also had submitted plans to Schlitz, who took some of his designs and hired another company to do the work. Consequently Schlitz was a bad name in our household and Dad drank Busch Bavarian.
    The birds from Busch Gardens were not set free, they were always free to come and go. There are still large flocks of noisy Green Amazon Parrots in the Van Nuys / Panorama City area.

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  6. I’m really enjoying these old postcards and your comments about them. Keep them coming! i remember the Pink Pig very well and yes it was indeed a special treat to eat there. Also have very fond memories of Busch Gardens and was told by a friend who lives in the Valley that once in a while people spot one of the exotic birds flying around as they were apparently just set free when Busch Gardens closed.

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