Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Name Dropping from Van Nuys
Here is a picture of my parents from 1960 in the driveway of our new apartment at 13760 Sherman Way. Thats the 1959 Plymouth we drove from Detroit to Van Nuys. Our apartment was on the top floor in front, in the building to the left of said parents and Plymouth.
I did not learn until much later in life that we lived in an interesting little piece of the San Fernando Valley. At the time the infamous L.A. gangster Mickey Cohen lived just around the corner from us on Wyandotte, between Ranchito and Woodman Avenue. He was renting a house with his wife just before he went to prison.
Also near our aprtment there used to be a ranch called La Posade which was owned by the family of the actress Jane Russell. The only information I can find on it states it was near the corner of Sherman Way and Woodman. If anyone has any additional information I would love to hear from you. Anyway, on the northwest corner of Sherman Way and Woodman there is now a Ralph's Supermarket. When we moved there in 1960 it was an empty lot. My friend Roberto Alvarez and I used to go over there and play soldiers. The TV show Combat was popular at the time and this empty lot full of stuff was a good place from which to take out German's. Since I found out about Mrs. Russell's childhood ranch I wondered if this empty lot night have been part of her family ranch.
One day progress moved into our neighborhood and a supermarket went up at the site of our boyhood battleground. When the store opened I recall going over there to see Engineer Bill. I think I walked away with an Oscar Meyer whistle, which I wish I still had. I seem to recall that Bill Cullan played Engineer Bill at the time. However I could be mistaken.
Fast forward to 1976 and you will find my parents and me living at an apartment building called the Taos West on Woodman Avenue, just south of Kaiser. Taos West was owned by Jane Russell and for a period of time she lived in the building while we were there. We would see here quite often and occasionally have a conversation. At the time I was also in Van Nuys Demolay with her nephew Gary Russell, though we ran in separate crowds.
The area has obviously changed, but a close look and you can still see an outlet of the old days. Si Gordon's Pharmacy is gone and is now a mini mall. But the lot on the southwest corner looks much the same as it did back when the Yankees ruled and cars still had tail fins.