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

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

One Six Right

"One Six Right" is the name of a DVD produced and directed by Brian J. Terwilliger. It is subtitled "The Romance of Flying" and that is the perfect description of this wonderful movie. Mr. terwilliger uses Van Nuys Airport to take a look at the role of the local airport on the community and the nation.

It is a story told from the ground and from the air by those who work and use the airport including Hollywood celebrities and many local celebrities such as Hal Fishman, Paul Moyer and the legendary Clay Lacy.

Van Nuys Airport is a general aviation airport that contributes one billion dollars a year to the Southern California community. Here in Cleveland Ohio we have a general aviation airport on the lake front called Burke Lakefront Airport. For years there have been attempts to close the airport down to make way for business or residential use. If the reigning powers in Cleveland would use a little imagination and foresight they would see the wisdom in developing Burke into a thriving centerpiece right next to downtown Cleveland.

Please follow the link above to the films website for more information on the DVD and how to purchase it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weby's Bakery

Here in Lakewood Ohio it is snowing as I write this post. In the winter time the primal urges become stronger and the need for comfort and food can become intense. So here I am in, as my friend Phone Rat calls it, my Manhut. While doing a Google search I came upon something which reminded me of what used to be one of my favorite food places. Weby's Bakery in Studio City. Sadly it closed many years ago but I can still remember their unique onion rolls. Like the picture on the left they were light and airy with bits of onion inside the roll. I usually just spread some butter on them and sat back to pick the onion and poppy seeds off my chest.

Somewhere in my closet I have an old business card from Weby's. I remember the owner Norm was often behind the counter and would serve us. When I first discovered Weby's I asked Norm if he had once been at another location and he told me he had. As a child we used to frequent a bakery on Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood that sold these same onion rolls. It was good to find them again after all those years. I have not found another bakery that serves a similar onion roll except for a bakery in New York. Maybe when summer returns I should go take a bite out of the Big Apple.

Behind Weby's there was a small newsstand that used to be a hot spot for celebrity sightings. The last celebrity I recall seeing was John Goodman. As I recall the Rosanne show used to shoot up the road at the CBS Radford Studios. He had a newspaper and maybe a magazine but I didn't see any onion rolls. More for me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jane Russell,Taos West & Apple Records

Here is an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner about Jane Russell's new apartment building. As you can see my Mom wrote on it to commemorate our first band job. We played in the rec room of the building which was by the pool in the picture.

About 5 years later our family moved into this building. We had a nice apartment not to far from this courtyard. The apartment was a split level. the living room, kitchen and small dining area were on the first floor and on the next level up, which was maybe 6 steps were the two bedrooms and one full bath. For some reason my parents gave me the master bedroom. Could be because of all my music, stereo's and other stuff. The unique thing about the room was it had the bathroom sink in the bedroom. I was told it was a European style. I thought it a bit weird but got used to it. Not many of my friends had a bathroom in their room.

The other great thing about the apartment was its proximity to Van Nuys Blvd. A short twisting drive down Lanark Street brought me to the boulevard. Once you crossed Van Nuys Blvd. you came upon a great little record store called Apple Records. it was more of a warehouse turned into a store. In a few short years I picked up hundreds of LP's, cassettes, 8-tracks and reel to reel's.

Like most people I do download music from time to time but nothing compares with going to a store, rifling through the bins, finding a gem and bringing it home and listening to it. I'm old school, I like to hold the album in my hand and read through the liner notes as it plays.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Toys & Tuna Melts at Grants

On Van Nuys Blvd. between Vanowen and Kittridge there used to be a dime store called "Grants". The full name was W. T. Grants but no one ever used that. One of my favorite memories of Grant's is at Christmas when they filled the the basement level with toys. I can still remember walking down the wide staircase waiting to get my first glimpse of whatever new toy it was I was keen (How 50's of me) on.

The Wham-O Air Blaster my dad Al Wilson is holding and the tank in this picture were probably bought in that Grant's basement. I don't recall where my parents bought the aluminum Christmas tree but I can still remember lying in bed watching the color wheel lights on the hall ceiling as I went to sleep. We bought the aluminum tree when we moved to Van Nuys. My Parents loved Los Angeles and embraced all the good and questionable items of taste. I wish I still had the tree, the tank and the Air blaster.

Years later I worked at Butler Bros. at the corner of Van Nuys Blvd. and Kittridge, a few doors down from Grant's. By that time Grant's and other dime stores were beginning to fade to make way for the K-Marts of the world. Grant's had a lunch counter we would visit about once a week. Here I tasted my first tuna melt. To this day I remember it as the best one I have ever had. Like many things it is probably a function of memory. And it could be the basement full of toys was not as large as I remember. Thats fine, I was a kid and small eyes lead to big memories.

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.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Greasers, Surfers, Yankees & The Beatles

This picture of my Hazeltine Avenue Elementary class was taken in October 1964. About 8 months earlier The British invasion was launched on our shore by the arrival of The Beatles in New York City. I remember my Dad calling me to the TV set that Sunday night to watch the Ed Sullivan show. He knew about the Beatles but I did not. My world was Mickey Mantle and the New York Yankees and I was still reeling from their loss, to of all teams, the L.A. Dodgers the previous year.

Ed Sullivan gave his now famous introduction and the world and my classmates were slingshot from the 50's into the real 60's and beyond. The first change I recall was at school during lunch. Previous to the Beatles you had tables where greasers (The Gene Vincent type) sat and tables where the surfers (Beach Boy fans) sat. The greasers hated the surfers, much like the hot rod racer character John Milner in American Graffiti. Well now we had to have a Beatles table. And then we had a Dave Clark 5 table and so on. I don't recall if we had a Herman's Hermits table but if we did I know none of us "guys" would sit at it.

I like the music but still had another 2 years of Mickey Mantle and the Yankees before I turned it in for music. Their 1964 loss to the St. Louis Cardinal's helped. Now I'm an Angel fan but I still love, ladies and gentleman....THE BEATLES!