The Studio City Story


The other day, I drove past the gray ranch with white casement windows at 4336 Teesdale, a house I briefly lived in for 4 months when I arrived in Studio City in May 1994. There was a for sale sign in front, so I stopped my car, got out and started to take photos for posterity.

A middle-aged Israeli, parked nearby, emerged from his SUV to ask me why I was taking photos of “his house.” I told him I had lived there many years ago. “I am on the neighborhood watch,” he said.

I explained that I knew the previous occupant and had lived here myself. I asked him how much the house sold for, but he would not say. He said he was a broker, but “I don’t like to call myself a broker. I’m more of a preservationist.”

He told me the house, most likely, would be torn down.

He seemed satisfied with my benign answers and he drove away.

Redfin, I saw later, listed it for $1,034,500.

In 1994, a college friend, “B”, was renting it for $1,200 a month. There were two bedrooms and one bathroom, 1168 square feet, built in 1938 for $3,200. I paid “B” $100 a week when I earned $500 a week as a PA.

“B” went away for the summer to work on “Woodstock ‘94” a twenty-fifth anniversary program of the rock festival. I stayed in the house and got a job at Greystone in Valley Village where the hazy air obscured the view of the mountains and everyone went across the street to get lunch at Gelson’s salad bar.

When “B” returned we fought over something silly and we never spoke again. And I moved out.

Everyone sees their life and their times in their own way. And we interpret our communities with stereotypes we overlay on them. And Studio City has stayed in my head as a certain place, regardless of fact or reason. It still exists in my imagination in that way I first encountered it that summer in 1994.


In the 1990s, there was a family type who lived in Studio City, not at 4336 Teesdale, but in many other homes. I often met them on runs when I worked at Greystone.

The mom was always named Linda. She was single and raising two teenagers in a two-bedroom ranch that looked like 4336.

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Titles: Doogie Howser, M.D. (circa 1990) People: Belinda Montgomery Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images – © 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

She was 43-years-old, with a perpetual tan, curly dark blonde hair, living in a tiny house with many VHS cassettes, tons of books, two cats (Cat and Kitty), a bedroom with burgundy sheets, a leopard print comforter, brown velvet pillows and a chenille throw. Her fireplace mantle was stacked with scented vanilla candles and ornate gold-framed photos of her two kids who were always named Zoe and Adam.

There were three closets in the home, each 23 inches wide, and the front hall was stuffed with everything nobody would ever need in Southern California: waterproof boots, winter coats, sweaters in dry cleaner bags, hats, gloves, mittens, a file cabinet and an Electrolux Steel Framed Canister Vacuum.

Linda was always a writer/producer and had worked on documentaries about Nostradamus, the Titanic and “The World’s Most Amazing Dogs.” Her new boyfriend was always a bearded therapist named Robert or Steven and he had a dry, calm, objective, scientific and analytical view of everything from genocide to dieting to menopause. He was always rational and grown-up, in contrast to the immature first husband. He never lost his temper unless someone disagreed with him.

He ended most arguments with this winning argument: “Chomsky said it. I believe it. That settles it!”

He knew wine and he knew women. And he had classifications and opinions on both which he pontificated upon with his index finger waving in the wind.

 

Linda drank highly oaked Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and treated herself to Wolfgang Puck’s pizzas topped with smoked salmon and caviar. After coming home, stuffed and intoxicated, she plopped down into her overstuffed sofa which took up almost her entire 10 x 12 foot living room.

She was divorced, always from David, who always moved to the beach, and they had joint custody of the kids whom he picked up on Friday nights, two times a month, in his Jetta Convertible. David was always an editor. He had once worked with Scorcese, but had a falling out. He was said to be bitter, but he still earned $5,000 a week working for NBC or Universal and had a 25-year-old girlfriend, who was always tall and always named Jennifer.

The broken up families of Studio City, twenty years ago, were always white, and they were always from different white backgrounds: Jewish and Irish, Jewish and Italian, Jewish and Atheist. They were always self-professed liberals and had always grown up in completely segregated, wealthy neighborhoods and were uniformly horrified at the downfall of their former hero Orenthal James Simpson.

They always came from back east, and had attended Ivy League schools, some earning MBAs, always with the intention of using their top-level education to write or produce Hollywood sitcoms.

Someone’s parents had always lent them $23,000 for a down payment on a $239,000 house off of Moorpark near Whitsett. “Your father killed himself saving this money for you so you would have it for this very reason.”

The parents were always difficult, but always present, in daily phone calls. When the phone rang at 6am, the parents back east never knew it was three hours earlier in California. Every August they mailed a check for $3,000 to pay for Adam and Zoe’s yearly tuition at Harvard-Westlake.

Long gone, are the struggles of 1994, those days of worry when you wondered how you would pay your $657 a month mortgage. The women who stayed put in those houses are now gray or white haired though most are still outwardly blonde. They are all passive millionaires who live in million dollar homes.

So many have sold their little quaint houses with the rope swing tied on the tree in the front yard. The picket fence, the one car garage, the kitchen with two electrical outlets and no dishwasher, the pink bathtub with plastic non-slip flowers, the glassed in back porch, the one bathroom shared by four people: all wiped off the map in Studio City.


 

In 2017, the new house is always white, always “Cape Cod”, always 5,000 or more square feet, always “amazing” (is there any other word?) with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, 15-foot high ceilings, with high security systems and cameras affixed around the exterior to catch squirrels, possums, robbers and send alerts day and night. The 89 windows are never opened and the air conditioning is always on. There are 100 overhead lights in the combined living/dining/den/kitchen/wine bar/library/pool/patio.

The walls are always white and there are no books, not a single one, anywhere, except if they are on the coffee table, and then they are photography books, and they sit in front of the 86″ Class (85.6″ Diag.) 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV: $6,999.

(Text continues after egregious photos)

There are always two SUVs parked in the driveway, usually a Mercedes and a Lexus. They have Bluetooth and Wi-fi but every woman who drives one uses her handheld phone to talk while accelerating through red lights driving Sophia and Aiden to school safely.

Nobody cooks in the kitchens with the 50-foot long counters and the 10 Burner, $16,000 Viking Range. They just get takeout from Chipotle.

Inside these vacuous homes, nobody reads and nobody converses. They just look at their phones. Everybody has a spine like a banana and red, callused, sore thumbs.

The old Studio City, cramped life creatively lived, is fast under demolition and in its place something alien, gargantuan, empty, expensive and all-white fills in the empty lots on every quaint street like a new set of false, horse-tooth-sized dentures rammed into a 4-year-old girl’s mouth.

The bulldozers, I expect, will come soon for 4336 Teesdale. The 80-year-old house will be a pile of wood by lunchtime. And then a new lot will get dug, the new foundation poured, and stacks of lumber, men and tools will put up a new spectacular that looks like every other new spectacular in Studio City.

And upon completion, the realtors will smile, the banks will lend, the in-laws will underwrite, and some young family will be in debt for $2,500,000 for the next 30 years, if they are lucky.

Populating Van Nuys with Fine Architecture


 

VNB: 1952, photo by Alan Weeks.
DWP Collection

Van Nuys (b. 1911) began as a town, centered around a main street, connected to Los Angeles by streetcar and rail.

It built its fire station, library, city hall,  police station, and its churches, schools, shops and post office steps apart. On foot, a person could buy a suit, take out a library book, mail a letter, and walk to school.

Come to think of it they still can. But it was all there in downtown Van Nuys.

Today you might stand outside the LAPD Van Nuys Station and smoke a joint, drink a can of beer,  pee against a wall and nobody would raise an eyebrow.

The librarian, the cop, the priest, the attorney, they would walk past you and shrug their shoulders and mutter, “What can I do?”

We are so tolerant these days. Everything degrading is welcomed, while everything worthwhile is rare, expensive  or extinct.

Posture Contest, Van Nuys, 1958. Impossible to imagine these days with all the cell phone spines.

Surrounded by orange and walnut groves, the growing town nonetheless managed to provide safe, civilized and opportune situations for its newly arrived residents with affordable housing, subsidized by low interest government backed loans after WWII.

And plentiful, well-paying jobs. Imagine that!

Van Nuys, circa 1938.

Widening of Victory Boulevard: 1954.
Van Nuys Blvd. at Friar (circa 1950). Notice diagonal parking and streetcar wiring.
Van Nuys Bl. 2013

Somehow it was lost after 1945. The enormous shopping centers robbed Van Nuys of its clientele. The street widenings turned boulevards into raceways and the village feel was destroyed. Factories closed, banks shrunk, stores fled, and crime settled here to afflict, rob, disable and kill.

Why does Van Nuys flounder, while all around it other cities like Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and sections of Los Angeles, like North Hollywood, Studio City, Mid-City and Highland Park flourish?

Delano St. July 2017
Delano St. July 2017

 

Raymer St. March 2017

A journalist from Curbed LA called me yesterday. He is writing an article about Van Nuys and wanted to talk.

I mentioned many things that I wish were changed here, from road diets to better housing, from cleaner streets to more law enforcement for illegal dumping.

But I also told him that so much of our political leadership is devoted to working on problems like prostitution, rather than building a coalition of architects, designers, investors, and planners who could build up Van Nuys and make it, once again, a coherent, safe, stimulating, and pleasant place to live and work.

I know what’s bad here. But what about making it good? Where are our dreams? Why can’t we be as artistic as our studios, as wild in our imaginations as our writers, directors, cinematographers, animators, and designers?

Why isn’t the whole energy of creative Los Angeles devoted to overcoming our civic afflictions?


Near Cedros and Delano.

Van Nuys Bl. Nov. 2016

 


The deadest and more depressing areas of Van Nuys are closest to the Orange Line, which is also a good thing. Because this is where Van Nuys should work to build new, experimental, and innovative housing and commercial buildings.

Van Nuys Bl. Oct 2016 A dead place for street life.
The Empty Post Office/ Van Nuys Bl. Oct. 2016
Dystopian Van Nuys Oct. 2016. No people, no chairs, no trees. Just concrete.
Homeless on Aetna St. Feb. 2016

 

From Kester to Hazeltine, north of Oxnard, the “Civic Center” district contains an empty post office, vacated stores, underutilized buildings, and dystopian spaces of concrete, homelessness, garbage, and withering neglect.

The pedestrian mall on Erwin, south of the Valley Municipal Building and surrounded by the Superior Court, the library and police station, is a civic disgrace.

Ironically, all the law enforcement, all the government agencies, all the power that resides in Van Nuys….. presides over the ruins of it.


Meanwhile up in Portland, OR.

Holst Architecture, Portland, OR (Dezeen)
Works Progress Architecture, Portland, OR (Dezeen)
Works Architecture, Portland, OR (Dezeen)
Fujiwaramuro Architects, Kobe, Japan (Dezeen)
Van Nuys Alley near Delano and VNB

On Dezeen, there are posts about new, infill buildings in Portland, OR and Japan where the general level of architecture and design far outpaces Van Nuys. These are sophisticated, modern, but humble structures with ideas for living.

Look at these and imagine how, perhaps 25 new ones, could transform Van Nuys.

In the midst of our wasteland, we need to go back to working to demanding the best for Van Nuys, rather than accepting squalor and mediocrity.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Tom Cluster’s Van Nuys (1955-62) Part 2


6944-columbus-jpg

Tom Cluster (b. 1947) lived at 6944 Columbus with his sister and brother and parents from 1955-1962. The family then moved to Pacific Palisades. He now lives in Northern California and has been sending me his recollections of life in Van Nuys in the 1950s.

Here are some excerpts from his emails to me:

lapl-12-6-54
12/6/1954 Star of Bethlehem Parade, Van Nuys, CA
“Everyone talks about the Bethlehem Star Parade on Van Nuys Blvd., and we’d go to see it also. It was a Big Deal in Van Nuys.

Chicken Ranch SFV (LAPL)
Chicken Ranch SFV (LAPL)
You write about Kester a lot, and thinking of Kester reminds me of my grandmother who worked at the MGM cartoon department in the 30’s and early 40’s. One of the cartoonists had a chicken ranch on Kester somewhere down near the LA River. I know this because I have a letter he wrote to my grandmother.

pictured-are-mexican-nationals-at-the-van-nuys-jail-they-are-going-to-be-returned-to-mexico-photograph-dated-april-14-1949
Pictured are Mexican nationals at the Van Nuys jail. They are going to be returned to Mexico. Photograph dated April 14, 1949. (LAPL)
I had mentioned that the Valley was Lily White – what I meant was that there were (few) Blacks or Asians (apologies to the Jue Joe Clan). There were, of course, Hispanics. I remember riding my bicycle to a Mexican grocery just below Kester (on the east side, in other words) near Van Nuys High School. They had big pickles that I liked. I also remember that in my one semester at Van Nuys High (September 1961) a fight broke out in the quad between the Hispanics and the Whites. I’m not sure what words we used to describe these groups. We might have said “Mexicans”.


Valley Town Market/ Sepulveda Drive In

Note: Constructed in 1955, at a cost of $3,000,000,  the Valley Town Market and the Sepulveda Drive-In Theater were located near Erwin and Sepulveda in Van Nuys, CA. The market featured some amusement park rides, animals and outdoor informal “fast” food. 

The entire complex was demolished in 1992, and was replaced by Wickes Furniture, which was then torn down. And is today the site of LA Fitness and the Orange Line Busway parking lot.

5-15-55-valley-town-market-and-drive-in (LA Times)
5-15-55-valley-town-market-and-drive-in (LA Times)

5/22/55 LA Times
5/22/55 LA Times
catsepu005

sepulvedaerwin1955

Valley Market Town (SFV Blog)
Valley Market Town (SFV Blog)

Valley Market Town (SFV Blog)
Valley Market Town (SFV Blog)


“Targets” (1968) 

Random mass murder was still a novelty in 1968.

In that year, Peter Bogdanovich directed “Targets” about an assassin here in Van Nuys.

Tom Cluster remembers: “There was a drive-in theater on Sepulveda north of Oxnard, and there were some gas storage tanks adjacent to it. The tanks are still there, up against the 405, near the Orange Line Busway. This drive-in and the tanks were featured in the Peter Bogdanovich movie “Targets” (1968).”

targets-lc

 

sepulveda-super-drive-in-targets
Sepulveda Super Drive-In Theater (1955-89) Corner of Erwin and Sepulveda. Demolished 1992. Now site of LA Fitness and Orange Line Busway Parking Lot. (Still image from “Targets”)

Other old photos of the Sepulveda Drive-In:

sepulveda-drivein-1955-89


Cluster Family Photos.

My beautiful picture
1961/ Columbus Ave.
First picture – two kids on the sidewalk – one is my brother. This was taken in front of the bank manager’s house – the Cerf residence is just behind the closest walnut tree. This is the fall of 1961. We’re looking south down Columbus, toward the hospital’s land in the distance. Notice how the walnut trees stop after the Cerf’s house, and notice also how you don’t really see any buildings at the hospital, compared to now, where there’s a virtual wall at the edge of their property on Basset because of their expansion.

1959 Cluster
1959 Cluster
12-15-59-trampoline-lat

Second picture – My sister on a trampoline, Christmas, 1959. There was a craze then for trampoline centers where kids could break their necks, so eventually they faded away. This particular center was on the west side of Kester, just north of Vanowen.

My beautiful picture
1958
Third picture – 1958 – My brother and sister, with Marlin Place in the background. You’ll see that our windows still have the fake shutters. We pulled them off when we got the house painted and never put them back – I’m not sure why. You can see Mr. Guyer’s house in the background, on Marlin Place. I looked it up and Zillow tells me it was built in 1955.

May 1956/ View south down Columbus towards Vanowen/Bassett
May 1956/ View south down Columbus towards Vanowen/Bassett

12/1957 Neighborhood children
12/1957 Neighborhood children


Tom Cluster School Days 

 

1961-00120503
Tom Cluster (behind woman in hat) 1961 (LAPL/LAT)
This ceremony was at the church on the southeast corner of Sherman Way and Kester.  At the time I think it was a Baptist church, but if I’m not mistaken it’s now a Four Square Gospel [Church on the Way] (3.5 stars on Yelp).   I was nominated for it by Mrs. Stitt, a social studies teacher at Fulton Jr. High.  Poor lady, such an unfortunate name, but it fit her.  I’m on the right, the first boy behind the woman with the fur, smiling and with my face partially obscured.  I still have that certificate (I keep almost everything).  My time in Junior High is clouded in shame that I shall never live down, which is one reason I didn’t attend the Van Nuys High School 50th reunion.  As much as I would have liked to see my old classmates, too many of them would remember that I was a “Cadet” at Fulton, or, in generic terms, a “Safety”.  We wore sashes that said Cadet and we were empowered to write citations for infractions such as littering and running.  I even got elected to the student council, into the position of “Boy’s Safety Representative.”

5thgrade
Tom Cluster (Top Row, 1st boy on left)

12/55
12/55


Photo Credits:

“Targets” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DnVkK-6sPg

Drive in Photos / http://www.garbell.com/drive-ins/drive-in.htm

Valley Market Town, Postcard of Van Nuys http://sanfernandovalleyblog.blogspot.com

Cluster Family photos courtesy of Tom Cluster

 

 

 

 

Trade For Print-a new short story


trade-for-print-photo-1

 

“Trade For Print” is a new short story I wrote concerning an unscrupulous photographer who lures a postal worker into fraud by offering young love for sale.

The piece, entirely fictional, of course, takes place in North Hollywood and moves around on local boulevards and avenues: Chandler, Colfax, Bakman, Lemp and Lankershim.  And includes such storied places as The Federal Bar, SGI Buddhist Center and the North Hollywood Post Office.

 

 

Tom Cluster’s Van Nuys (1955-1962).


map
Cluster Home: 6944 Columbus south of Marlin Pl.

A few weeks ago I received a lovely email, and some photos from Tom Cluster, a reader of this blog.

Here is one excerpt:

Dear Andy,

I just discovered your blog about Van Nuys.  I’m entranced by it.  I’m almost 70.  Our family moved to 6944 Columbus Avenue in the summer of 1955.  It was a small tract of new homes.  We moved from Westchester (near LAX).  A lot of people moved from Westchester to the Valley because the airport was expanding and streets were being eaten up.  Our new neighborhood was between Kester, Vose, Sepulveda, and Vanowen.

andy_devine

Andy Devine (1905-77)
Andy Devine (1905-77)

The local celebrity was Andy Devine, who still lived in his big house on 6947 Kester, down near Basset.  At Halloween he’d hand out small boxes of Sugar Pops.  There was an old swimming pool across the street that he had built years before – the Crystal Plunge – and we’d swim there in the summer. We had smog alerts in those days and if there was a big rain we wouldn’t go to school because Kester St. would flood.

There was a family on Vose who sold eggs from their chickens – the mother and father had survived the Holocaust and had the tattooed numbers on their forearms.

[Then as now] It would get hot and there was no air conditioning, not at Valerio School (which in 1955-1956 was at the corner of Kester and Valerio, consisting entirely of temporary buildings with a dirt playground) and not in our homes.  Still, I have fond memories of Van Nuys.

Valerio St. School June 1956
Valerio St. School June 1956

The area where the Presbyterian Hospital is now was a big empty field full of tumbleweeds – we’d make forts and paths there.  When the hospital was built it was small compared to what it is today.  It was just two circular wings designed by William Leonard Pereira. (1909-1985) of  Pereira and Luckman.

March 18, 1957 reads "Discussing modern innovations of Valley Presbyterian Hospital, nearing completion at 15107 Vanowen St., are Mrs. Barbara Holt, member of hospital's board of directors, and from left, J. H. Wray, Jim Cross and Walter Rueff, members of San Fernando Automobile Dealers Association committee for hospital's fund drive."  (LAPL)
March 18, 1957 reads “Discussing modern innovations of Valley Presbyterian Hospital, nearing completion at 15107 Vanowen St., are Mrs. Barbara Holt, member of hospital’s board of directors, and from left, J. H. Wray, Jim Cross and Walter Rueff, members of San Fernando Automobile Dealers Association committee for hospital’s fund drive.” (LAPL)
Valley Presbyterian Hospital, 15107 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, designed by Pereira & Luckman. Photograph dated January 15, 1964 Ph: Geo. Brich
Valley Presbyterian Hospital, 15107 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, designed by Pereira & Luckman. Photograph dated January 15, 1964 Ph: Geo. Brich
Photograph caption dated February 20, 1961 reads "Larry Peskin, 17, left, 10038 Noble St., Sepulveda, completes hospital course. Fellow graduate examining syringe is Warren Wilkinson, 17, 9439 Louise Ave., Northridge." The young men completed a 20-hour training course to become volunteers at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys. Ph: Jon Woods
Photograph caption dated February 20, 1961 reads “Larry Peskin, 17, left, 10038 Noble St., Sepulveda, completes hospital course. Fellow graduate examining syringe is Warren Wilkinson, 17, 9439 Louise Ave., Northridge.” The young men completed a 20-hour training course to become volunteers at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys. Ph: Jon Woods
January 5, 1959 reads "Janet Kellenberger, 15, and Jackie Suess, 17, members of Candy Stripers, from left, aid Sea Scouts Bob Wheeler, 17; Steve Bidwell, 16, and Mike Strange, 15, in volunteer cleanup program of Valley Presbyterian Hospital. Sea Scouts, auxiliary of Explorer Scouts of America, and other organizations volunteer work hours for Van Nuys medical center."
January 5, 1959 reads “Janet Kellenberger, 15, and Jackie Suess, 17, members of Candy Stripers, from left, aid Sea Scouts Bob Wheeler, 17; Steve Bidwell, 16, and Mike Strange, 15, in volunteer cleanup program of Valley Presbyterian Hospital. Sea Scouts, auxiliary of Explorer Scouts of America, and other organizations volunteer work hours for Van Nuys medical center.”

(Valley Presbyterian Hospital images courtesy of LAPL)

If you look at a map, you’ll see that Noble, Burnett, and Columbus extend from Basset to Marlin Place – the 6900 block.  The houses from 6900 up to 6932 were built in 1951, the houses beginning at 6932 were built in 1955.  Our houses (6932 and up) were in an old walnut grove, so there was plenty of shade.

I’ve attached a picture out front of our house.  The older end of the street didn’t have walnut trees and it always seemed hot.  What we didn’t understand was that the walnut trees would all soon die because sidewalks and asphalt and lawns aren’t good for them.  At that point our end of the street got hot and the trees that had been planted at the other end of the street grew up and gave it shade.  We moved out in 1962.  The people who bought our house are still there – probably the longest residing family in that block of Columbus.

1955-dec-burningleaves dec55sarahrakingleaves

My beautiful picture
My beautiful picture

If you look at Street View for 6944 Columbus you’ll see that it’s perfectly manicured.  The builder of our little tract was named Arthur Guyer – he built tracts throughout the Valley.  He built 15153 Marlin Place for himself in about 1957.

There was another local celebrity on that street, although he wasn’t famous then.  The Cerf family lived at 6932 Columbus, and Vinton Cerf, the oldest son, was attending Robert Fulton Jr. High.  Vinton is famous as the “father of the Internet”.  He and a buddy invented TCP/IP while at UCLA. The Cerfs left Van Nuys about the same time we did.

I won’t bore you with my memories of all the commercial establishments, but I will mention that Kenny’s Automotive at 14852 Vanowen, near Kester, was there in the 1950’s, just as it is today.  Another hold out from the old days is Lloyd’s Market, at 7219 Kester.  It was called Lloyd’s even back then, and we’d stop there every day when we walked home from Valerio.

More to come…..