"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Flying Tiger Line

The story goes that John Wayne adopted the nickname "Duke" after working on the movie "Flying Tigers". Duke Hedman, the premiere ace of the Korean War Flying Tigers acted as an adviser on the movie. If it isn't true it should be. i wish I had known this bit of trivia when I flew with Duke Hedman back in the 1960's when he was a Captain with Flying Tiger Line. My dad worked for Flying Tigers so I flew a lot back in the days. Being a freight airline I sat and slept behind the crew in the cockpit. I loved the noise and the motion of the Lockheed Connie in the picture above. Flying from Los Angeles to Cleveland was a little longer trip back then. Chicago and Detroit were the usual stop overs. One day I got to sit in the co-pilots seat while we were flying from Chicago to Cleveland. Imagine my surprise when I touched the wheel and the plane banked a bit. To this day I don't know if the pilot was having fun with me or it was the auto pilot. I do remember we were over the Great Lakes at the time.

For the curious there is a picture of Duke Hedman on my Flickr (Link to the right of this page) sight. He is in a photo with Robert Prescott, my dad and few Tigers who are receiving their 25 year plaques back in 1975. There is also a link to the Flying Tiger Pilots Association. There are many old photos as well as updates by Flying Tiger employees.

Speaking of famous old pilot's I can drop the name of Bud Gurney. Mr. Gurney used to barnstorm with Charles Lindbergh. He was in one of my dad's Masonic lodges. His daughter was an active member of an equestrian stable in the San Fernando Valley and my parents used to go watch her practice and compete. I met Mr. Gurney a few times but never had the chance to ask about his flying days. There is a little information about him scattered around the internet and a few small pictures. If you have seen the movie about Lindberg starring Jimmy Stewart you will see Mr. Gurney being portrayed by Murray Hamilton.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Van Nuys Blvd., Hollywood Knights and Aloha Bobby and Rose

Two movies hit America's theaters in 1979 and 1980. Neither made it above back seat drive in quality but they are significant for others reasons. The first was called "Van Nuys Blvd". The movie was a poor rehash of American Graffiti but is notable to us in the San Fernando Valley for its locations.

The other movie was a similar piece of work called "Hollywood Knights". The local significance being the sight where the car club met called Tubby's was actually shot on Van Nuys Blvd. near Saticoy Street as I recall.

A few years earlier in 1975 another movie was released which featured a few Van Nuys Blvd. shots. This movie was called "Aloha Bobby and Rose". It featured Paul Le mat of American Graffiti fame. Aloha Bobby and Rose had a darker plot and was a small notch above the other two movies. It had some night time scenes of a red 1968 Camaro on Van Nuys Blvd to the sounds of Emerson Lake and Palmer (Karn Evil 9) as well as Elton John.

Though it is not an L.A. movie does anyone remember a movie called "Vanishing Point" with Barry Newman and a white Dodge Challenger?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2008

Last week the names of the 2008 Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame class was released. Arguments always ensue with this kind of discussion but here goes anyway. I was pleased with the selection of The Dave Clark Five. They were the number two British band behind the Beatles for the first wave of the British invasion. This is probably not a popular choice among those who frown on well crafted Pop. The same was said about the Loving Spoonful years ago when they were inducted. Hopeful lead singer Mike Smith will be able to attend. He is a paraplegic since he suffered a fall at his home.

The Ventures deserve the nod as the premier instrumental guitar band of the sixties. John Mellencamp probably deserves induction as one of the top mid-west populist of his day. Most people have probably not heard of Leonard Cohen. He is a Canadian poet who turned to song and has produced some of the most influential albums among his peers. An acquired taste but I am glad for his induction. Lastly we have Madonna. I understand this was inevitable, but personally I don't see it. Cultural icon aside, her music never resonated with me. I am sure my good friend Arnold is happy.

I didn't pay much attention to the whole process and am not sure who is in and who is still out of the Rock Hall of Fame. The last time I tuned in was a few years back when Bob Seger was finally inducted. Of course I have a few names that I believe have been overlooked. Joe South, the wonderful singer songwriter from the sixties. How about The Blasters, the best roots rock 'n roll band to emerge from Los Angeles. Speaking of L. A. bands I think my first choice would be that amazing Rock/boogie/soul/country band called Little Feat. Check out any Little Feat record along with the solo efforts by the late Lowell George. Time to go crusin' and put on your Sailin' Shoes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Van Nuys Blvd. Memories

With Christmas looming large I started to think back to Christmas in Van Nuys and things that used to be, but are no more, including me in Van Nuys. One of these was the annual Bethlehem Star Parade which used to take place every Christmas season on Van Nuys Blvd. I remember going to the parade sometime after we arrived in Van Nuys (1960). I believe the parade was finally canceled due to lack of interest sometime around 1970. By then I was 15 years old and into music and didn't give it a lot of thought until I got older.

As you get older it seems the vague memories start to haunt you more than the things you remember clearly. One of those places was a restaurant called, Otto's Pink Pig". My parents used to take me there once in awhile. Somewhere in my office I have a matchbook from Otto's. Another place on the boulevard I remember but was never very fond of was Farrell's Ice Cream. Friends and I usually went there on Wednesday cruise night. A loud place that was even louder on cruise night. Does anyone remember, "The Zoo" and "The Pig's Trough"?

I also recall liking to eat at a place called "Oscar's". Now I don't recall if they had a location on the boulevard but I do recall they had one at the corner of Sepulveda Blvd. and Sherman Way. My Dad almost always ordered a Chili Size. When Oscar's closed it was replace by a burger place who's local claim to fame was having red hamburger buns. Now does anyone remember that place and the name?

The picture above from the 1958 Bethlehem Star parade is from the CSUN digital library. I recommend their website for anyone wanting to view images from the past. Be prepared to spend a night at your computer.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Butler Brothers Department Store & Builders Emporium Hardware Store

Here are a few more friends and co-workers we are looking to reconnect with:

From Butler Brothers Department Store:
Patty Russmann, Bob Russman, Mr. Gordon Axelrod aka Mr. A, Mr. Harold Anderson, Mr. Kirkpatrick, and I'm sorry I can only remember first names of the following: Gwen, Angie, Walt (warehouse). Frank (furniture department).

From Builders Emporium Hardware Store:
Shirley Naito, Jennifer Newman Joe Ceruli, Robin Pesso, Sandy Be Miller, Don Burr, Karen Larini, Brian Hospadar, Sam Melman, Leslie McNair, Lee Durgin (also Van Nuys Demolay), Kathy Montgomery, Lori Nieman, John Nichols, Diane Billie, Steve Lafferny, Jeff Morris, Karen Willis and Rene Midler.

I apologize for any misspellings and for the maiden names.