The Battle of Alta Loma Terrace.


In early 1964, Steven Anthony, 33, a Barney’s Beanery bartender and ex-marine, his wife Elona, 22, and three young children, Steven,2½ Deborah, 1 ½ ; and Pam, 5 months, were living, just south of the Hollywood Bowl, in a bucolic 1920s English cottage at 6655 Alta Loma Terrace.

Then they were served with an eviction notice. And told to vacate their home because it stood in the way of a proposed $6.5 million Los Angeles County-Hollywood Museum.

(2017 Dollars: $51,492,200.65)

When LA Sheriff Deputies arrived Saturday, February 8, 1964 to evict the family, Mr. Anthony, “cradling a shotgun in one hand and a baby in another,” held the deputies at bay for seven hours and won a reprieve to stay in the home for a few more weeks.

The case of the shotgun wielding marine, Brylcreemed, burly and courageous, seems to have captured the support of his neighbors, and sympathy from a wide variety of Los Angeles, a city, that saw a little guy battling forces bigger and better financed.

If the Sheriff returned to evict him, Mr. Anthony promised that he would have a dozen ex-marines at his side. His attorney, Paul Hill, filed a brief with the US Supreme Court. While the motion was being considered, deputies were told to stay clear and allow the law to adjudicate.

LAT/LAPL

 

The county argued that the new museum was a public project and they had the right to seize an obstructing private home. A jury awarded Mr. Anthony $11,750 for his “half” of the home but he thought it was too little. He sent his wife and kids out to Big Bear City while the matter boiled. The US Supreme Court turned down the review.

Now Mr. Anthony waited….

On the evening of Monday, April 13, 1964, as the 36th Annual Academy Awards aired, Mr. Anthony welcomed two “pals”, ex-marines he thought, into his home, along with a woman, and another attorney. The bartender trusted the men because he had met them at Barney’s Beanery, and later at a Young Republican’s meeting where he was honored.

At the same time, some 30 deputies, and a moving truck, all under the cover of darkness, gathered outside.

Quickly, Mr. Anthony was slugged in the jaw by one of the “marines” (really an undercover mercenary), taken down, law enforcement stormed the house and he was taken into custody and jailed. The ruse finally got him.

LAT/LAPL

 

 

The movers quickly emptied the house, and the structure was soon demolished. Neighbors raised money for bail and Mr. Anthony was released. But he was soon put on trial.

He was sentenced to serve six months in jail, and afterwards he sued the county of Los Angeles for two million dollars. His family moved up to Sonora, in central California, where he made a living building houses. Tragically, in 1976, his 15-year-old son Stephen fatally shot himself.

 

After spending $1.2 million for a public-private venture with film mogul Sol Lesser, a three-man committee, headed by the late financier Bart Lytton, decided the Hollywood Museum project was unfeasible and would not pay for itself.

In a 1976 interview, Mr. Anthony, who was even accused of having Communist sympathies for standing up to the so-called law and the so-called Hollywood elite, said: “Wherever we go, people mention it. But we had to fight the system. Otherwise they’d take anything they want under eminent domain. We were harassed, just like in a Communist country.”

LA Times 12/8/1976

It seems quaint now, really, to imagine a lone, shotgun-wielding bartender holding off law enforcement, if only to keep his house and family intact. The lethality of modern weapons, the electronic spying tools of our government, the drones, the copters, the smart phones; in the militarized nation of America, would this drama, re-enacted today, ever end so peacefully, a potential mass killing tripped up by two phony men play acting?

What seems even more improbable today is that anyone would demolish an artsy English cottage in the Hollywood Hills. Anyone lucky enough to own one would probably be a millionaire. The fight, if any, would be over the house: who could keep it, who owned it, who could restore it.

Timing is everything in life. A family was evicted, they lost their home, they had to move out of the city. And the museum that instigated the exile was never built.

Yet a parking lot was.

It’s a fitting memorial for Los Angeles. The car always win in the end. We have no controversial statues to pull down. Our history is the parking lot. It rules over us all.

 

 

 

 

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Widening of Victory Blvd. in Van Nuys, 1955.


LAPL: Widening of Victory Bl. at Columbus Ave. 1955.

In 1955, pepper tree lined Victory Blvd. was widened to six lanes, three in each direction. The trees were chopped down, and soon multi-story, dingbat apartments replaced houses and garden apartments along most of the street.

It was done in the name of progress. In that era, almost all public works were thought to be “progressive” or in the best interest of the people.  In a few years, the 405/San Diego Freeway would cut through Van Nuys, not far from this photograph, and the area would become the car-centered, sprawling place it is today.

The Greatest Generation, those men and women who settled here after WWII, fervently believed that Los Angeles was the city of the future because it was mobile. The biggest parking lots, the most freeways, the widest boulevards, the least of amount of public transportation, those were the goals.

In 1955, the widening of Van Nuys Blvd was also underway. The streetcar tracks were ripped up and diagonal parking banished. The new street would also be six lanes of traffic.  But the old Van Nuys, seen below, seems to have been a nice place to work, shop and hang out in. Why was it so necessary to destroy it?

Some have commented that this blog focuses on dystopian ideas about Van Nuys, presenting the community as something dysfunctional and lost. But there is another purpose to Here in Van Nuys.

The philosophy behind it is to explore the past and use it as a guide for where we should, and should not go.  Our concepts of bettering the community will hopefully lead us into a more walkable, civil, clean, cultured and dynamic one.

That is my fervent hope.

 

Widening of Victory Boulevard: 1955. (Courtesy Phillip DePauk)

Fighting Smut in Van Nuys, 1959


When fighting smut, 58 years ago, it was required to first visit the hairdresser, put on a string of pearls, some earrings and dark lipstick, and select a nice dress with a flattering collar. Only then would your observational and judicial powers come alive to fight that moral blight which arrived in a plain brown envelope.

Source: Valley Times/ LAPL.


October 21, 1959 reads, “Officers of Sierra Cahuenga District Junior Clubwomen read reports by postal authorities on mail-order pornography problem in United States and pledge their organization to help fight ruthless racket. From left are Mmes. I. M. Kenoffel, district president; Edwin Flues, president of Van Nuys Alpha Juniors, and Paul H. Parker, district youth committee chairman.”

(Two of the women are incorrectly identified as “Edwin” and “Paul.)

 

School registration in Van Nuys, 1958


On September 2, 1958, Miss Elsie Davis, Principal,  Kittridge St. Elementary School in Van Nuys, CA registers children at her school.

Linda Huntling and Bob Moore, 5 years old, stand glumly as their mothers oversee the process.

59 years ago, there were children with names like Linda and Bob, as old fashioned sounding now as Bertha, Alvira, Sylvester and Abraham were to 1959 ears.

Source: USC Digital Archives and Los Angeles Herald Examiner

1960: Peace March at Kester and Noble in Sherman Oaks, CA.


Photo by George Brich, Valley Times./ LAPL/Public Domain

At the height of the Cold War, a brave and liberal minded group of progressive people marched through Los Angeles and eventually ended up in Moscow where they worked to defuse tensions between the US and the Soviet Union.

Los Angeles at that time was a conservative, anti-communist city whose main industry, Hollywood, was just emerging from the blacklist and any association with Russia was tantamount to career suicide.

The Committee for Non-Violent Action (CNVA) was an American anti-war group, created in 1957. Its purpose : resist the US government‘s testing of nuclear weapons. It used non-violence to oppose atomic military tools.

The group was often attacked as pacifist and for its welcoming of African-Americans into the fold.


Photograph article dated December 22, 1960 partially reads, “Eight footsore peace walkers marched through the Valley Wednesday on the 11-month tour that will take them from San Francisco to Moscow, Russia. The placard-bearing marchers, who represent the Committee for Nonviolent Action, stopped Wednesday night at Highland avenue and Hollywood boulevard in Hollywood. They will remain in the Los Angeles area until Christmas day when they will resume their march toward Tucson, Ariz. In addition to having their board and room paid for by the committee, which is composed of 60 Americans, the hikers have seven administrators and advance publicity men making the tour with them.” Bruce McIntyre, 20, leads the peace walking team along Ventura Blvd. near Noble Ave.

Some Old Van Nuys Restaurant Menus


Philip Ahn’s Moongate Restaurant, located at 8632 Van Nuys B(Credit: LAPL)

50 or more years ago people (of means) ate out perhaps once a week.

In Van Nuys, up until the late 1960s, the dining scene reflected the overwhelmingly white make-up of the region. The vast immigration from Central and South America, Africa and Asia that has made present day Los Angeles so varied and so heterogeneous and brought us Malaysian, Taiwanese, Laotian, Mongolian, Thai, Filipino, Vietnamese, Guatemalan, Russian, Indian, Burmese, Persian, and Ethiopian did not exist half a century ago.

Valerio St. School Van Nuys, CA June 1956 (Tom Cluster)

What was on the menus back then offered a variety of “German”, “Italian” and “Chinese” cuisines that had as much authenticity as a studio back lot.

Which is not to deride the food. It was offered to customers graciously, copiously and somewhat formally, as people would not dare enter a restaurant without being dressed up, with men in suits and ties, and women in dresses, skirts and high-heels.

 

 

(Credit: LAPL)

At Hoppe’s Old Heidelberg, 13726 Oxnard, men and women who fought in WWII, 15 years earlier, would dine guiltlessly on Schnitzel A La Holstein for $2.75 and enjoy an imported German beer for sixty cents.

Entrees came (free of charge) with soup, salad, potato and vegetable, fresh bread and butter and a dessert. Light eaters might order fruit cocktail for 20 cents and a glass of tomato juice for 15 cents.

(Credit:Museum of the SFV)

Otto’s Pink Pig at 4954 Van Nuys Bl. offered many fine seafood dishes, some of which are seemingly extinct in Los Angeles dining, such as frog legs, mountain trout, abalone steak, filet of sole, and Crab Mornay. All the aforementioned were also offered under $5.

Otto’s had a huge beef menu offering 19 choices. There was a 16 Oz. Culotte Steak, Sirloin Steak, NY Stripper Steak, Porter House Steak, Filet Mignon, Ribeye, Steak Au Poivre, Steak Alla Pizzaiola, Grenadine of Beef Bordelaise, Beef Steak Surprise, Dinner Steak, Steak and Green Peppers, Tournedos of Beef Au Sherry, Tournedos of Beef Morderne, Beef in Brochette, Steak and Eggs “King Size”, Steak and Eggs “Princess Size”, Steak Sandwich, Megowan Steak Sandwich De Luxe. And there were three roasts as well!

(Credit: LAPL)

 


(Credit: LAPL)
(Credit: LAPL)

At 6801 Van Nuys Blvd. at Van Nuys and Vanowen (think of that lovely location today) stood Nemiroff’s with its blue menu and regal crest.

It seems to have been a Jewish style deli much like Jerry’s, without kosher offerings, but selling such sandwiches as Lox and Cream Cheese on Bagel for $1.25 and Chopped Chicken Liver on Rye for 90 cents.

Every day of the week offered a special, such as Monday’s Beef Tenderloin Tips with Egg Noodles and Garden Fresh Vegetables, described as an “exquisite meal” for $1.95 or Friday’s Filet of San Francisco Bay Red Snapper for observant Catholics. Indeed, Nemiroff’s seems to have delved into many styles with its German Sauerbraten ($1.95) and Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage with boiled potatoes and fresh carrots, horseradish sauce cooked in “Nemiroff’s Kettles for natural flavors” and it also cost $1.95.

There were many more restaurants, too numerous to mention, but places, spoken of today, regarded fondly, chiefly because where you ate when you were young is sacred, and every drop of cottage cheese and chocolate pudding, canned peaches and fish sticks, transports you back to a time when the world possessed freshness, vigor, and possibility.

And all the dreams you had were still in the future, waiting to be fulfilled, and a dream job, a dream car, a dream girl, a dream boy, a dream house, existed not only in the imagination, but for many, across this region, in reality.

May 1956/ View south down Columbus towards Vanowen/Bassett (Tom Cluster)
Sepulveda Drive-In Theatre, Van Nuys, CA circa 1954