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

Search This Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Happy New Year

Okay so this is not the baby new year, its me in April 1955 at 3 months old. Judging by the picture I either had gas or a future revelation about how lousy the year of 2010 would be. I am not sad to see it go. I am reminded of the old adage for pilots, any landing is a good landing. However some are bumpier than others and for me, and a few good friends this was a bumpy year, bring on 2011. Happy New Year 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Movies with Ida "Pumpkin" Duncan

This year I have seen move of the old traditional Christmas movies on TV then I recall seeing in a long time. From the numerous Scrooge versions to Christmas in Connecticut. AMC has been highlighting a few old perennials, Holiday Inn, White Christmas and A Miracle on 34th Street.

I remember the first time I saw Holiday Inn and White Christmas as a double bill on TV. It was back in the early 1960's. I was downstairs being babysat by our family friend and neighbor Ida Duncan. She had told me about the movies and invited me down to see them. The big thrill being she and her husband Duke had a color TV. I don't think I had ever seen anything on TV in color before. While I actually preferred the movie Holiday Inn, I was enthralled by the look and color of White Christmas. I think I also developed a slight crush on Rosemary Clooney. It was a great evening that I now relive everytime I see either of these movies.

I was very fond of Ida and even came up with the nickname "Pumpkin" Duncan for her. Granted it was silly but she and I enjoyed it. Eventually her and her husband moved to a small house which I seem to recall was off of Sepulveda near Roscoe. We kept in touch for a few years but as happens we eventually lost track of each other. The picture above is her next to her apartment below us at 13760 Sherman Way in Van Nuys.

Last time I looked on Google street view the apartment building was still there, looking much the same as it did back then. Merry Christmas to Ida wherever you are and the ghost of Christmas past.

 Ida Duncan 1960 above
 Ida and Duke Duncan above. Don't know who the child is.

Duke was a contractor. I once went with him to a job he had laying down a driveway. I was very young and probably not a lot of help. It may have been the first time I ever rode in a pickup truck, and now I own one

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

Santa and I want to wish everyone who has visited our blog this past year a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas 1961, our apartment on Sherman Way, Van Nuys CA.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Two Lane Blacktop

Here is a link to an interesting article about the cult car classic movie from 1971, Two Lane Blacktop, starring James Taylor, Dennis Wilson and Warren Oates. Two Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point make 1971 one of the better years for road pictures. The article is an interview with the director and has behind the scene photographs as well.


I saw both movies on the big screen. I recall seeing Vanishing Point with my Dad and we both liked the film, and I fell in love with the Dodge Challenger. I think I saw Two Lane Blacktop with a friend. Both movies are low budget classics worth hunting down.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

RKO Encino Movie Ranch Link

Tonight I stumbled across a wonderful website about the old RKO movie Ranch in Encino, which most of us know as Balboa Park, bordered by Oxnard Blvd. to the north, and Burbank Blvd. to the south. Balboa to the east and Louise to the west.

The site has photos of the lot locations and the productions that used the lot such as "It's a Wonderful Life", as seen in the photo above, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and many others.

Click on the photos and then click on the expand box in the lower right corner to see the photo in a larger size.


I remember all those years we hung out in the park playing baseball, and other "wholesome activities" and I never knew the history of the park. You would think they would have a plaque or some form of commemoration for the old studio ranch.

While I'm at it, here is a link to the Culver Studios backlot and more:




I bought my first computer in 1984. It was a small, cheesy thing, called a Sinclair. It was small with touch pad keys and was no fun to use. A few years later I upgraded to A Radio Shack portable. Again not the best, but it cost almost $2,000. After I got used to it I decided to experiment with a word processing program and create some ASCII art. One of my creations is above. It looks something like an Indian designed Thunderbird blanket. It is by no means a remarkable piece, but what I find remarkable is that at one time I had the patience to sit at my desk for hours and punch codes to create this. Back then I was still a bachelor, working long hours and somehow I found doing this in my spare time relaxing. It pains me to admit to having no life back then, but I guess I created something out of it and it was better than watching TV. Maybe I was listening to an Eagles record at the time. Yes it was still the age of vinyl LP's and cassette tapes.

These types of things are much easier to create now but somehow doing it longhand if you will makes it seem like more of an accomplishment. I think of this when ever I use Photoshop or when I record music digitally instead of using tape decks. Perhaps there is still a place for the old ways. The musician Eric Johnson on recently began recording his albums digitally. There is still a studio in New York City, the name of which escapes me at the moment, dedicated to analog recording. Steely Dan has used it to recorded the rhythm tracks for their records. Many of use still believe analog is better for many things, including the bottom end.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Captain K-Earth Decoder

Here is my Captain K-Earth Decoder courtesy of The Wherehouse. I forget the exact date I got it but the date on the back says 1974 so safe to say it was the 70's. Decoders were popular when my Dad was a kid. He had a ring decoder and a pin decoder which you wore. I have them somewhere in a trunk. The cardboard Captain K-Earth decoder is a little less grand but it is still a neat memory.

The other memory is of course The Wherehouse Record store. In the old days after I got paid and covered the bills, I would head off to The Wherehouse and Tower Records to drop a few dollars into their lap. I still have some of my old record and tape collection but not the quantity I used to have. Moving it from place to place makes you thin it out over time.

There is only one used CD store near where I live now and it specializes in in genres I don't follow. I hate to sound like an old man but that's one more experience of youth that is lost. I imagine over time book stores will perish as well with things like the Kindle and iPad.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The End of the World

Dear readers, I have just discovered scientific proof that the world will not end in December of 2012 as forecast by the numerous believers in the Mayan calender. As you can clearly see by this scan of my Popular Science Perpetual Calendar Bookmark the end has been postponed until 2059. Clearly this is good news for us Baby Boomers since it will allow the majority of us to live out our lives in full.

As you can also see the world apparently started in 1753 which differs with traditional science and of course the old Testament. I am unable to explain this contradiction, but as is becoming more prevalent in the world today, I choose to ignore the things I do not like or cannot explain. I call this state of mind the Algorean Conflict.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gangster Mickey Cohen in Van Nuys

Twice in this blog I have mentioned that when we moved to Sherman Way, near Woodman Ave. in Van Nuys in 1960, that the gangster Mickey Cohen lived two streets north of us. I learned this a few years ago while researching San Fernando Valley mob history. Today I logged onto the Facebook page of "Valley Relics" and someone posted a picture of Mickey Cohen in front of his Van Nuys Home. I included a Goggle map to show the location.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebrity High School Photos

The following San Fernando Valley celebrity high school photos come from our "Bob on the Blog", Bob Walance. Thanks again Bob. Lisa Kudrow is the first, from Taft HS 1981.
Next is Don Drysdale from Van Nuys HS 1954, as are Natalie Wood & Robert Redford. Tom Selleck is from Grant HS 1962.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rainy Day Music

While my friends back in Los Angeles are suffering through the hottest temperature ever recorded in L.A., I am sitting upstairs in my office with the window and door open enjoying the 60 degree weather and the light rain that has filled the day. While typing this I have switched on iTunes and am listening to my rainy day music.

I began having specific rain music back in the 1970's when I lived on Chandler Blvd. I would play music while doing a variety of things in my room. I also liked to look out the window down at the street (See the picture above) and watch the rain. Over time I put on specific music for the mood and it became my rain music. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Now when ever I hear a raindrop I go to my office and fire up the music.

The first album I put on is, Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. The combination of a jazz accompaniment under Morrison's mystical lyrics makes for the perfect music for a rainy day. It helps that he mentions rain in a couple of the songs.

Another album is, Tales of Mystery and Imagination by the Alan Parsons Project. Here the lyrics, inspired by the works of Poe, and the Atmospheric music fit the rain, and the night.

For some reason I go through a Beatles period every winter and every time it rains. Any Beatles album will do but I always go back to The White Album for those rainy nights. I remember when the album came out KRLA played the album with interview comments by George Harrison's about each track. It was night and it probably was raining when I heard the program.

Another obvious rain and in this case night song is, Riders on the Storm by The Doors. I always have this vision of the one armed man from the TV show The Fugitive roaming Mulholland drive at night in a driving rain, looking for someone to kill. The one armed man figures in another one of my stupid fantasies. When I was a kid we would come back to Ohio to visit my Grandmother. In her basement was a pool table I liked to play with. Well one night while there I watched an episode of The Fugitive. The next day I was going to go down to the basement when I got this crazy notion that the one armed man was down in the basement ready to jump out at me. I didn't play pool the rest of that visit unless someone went down with me. I now have a basement of my own and the Grandson is afraid to go down there. I wonder what vision he has?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WW2 Photos From Japan

The other day I was scanning photos from a WW2 scrapbook my Grandmother kept for my Dad while he was in the Army. He was stationed in Ota Japan during the occupation period. He was assigned to what was the Nakajima Aircraft Plant. He found these photos of the plant while there. The photo above shows Japanese officials entering what s called the CP Building. This was the headquarters building. The photo below is from the actual airplane factory on the premises. You may notice the equipment appears to be American made
I can only think of one connection between these photos and Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Both share the Pacific Ocean.

My online research finds that the former airplane factory is now part of Fuji Heavy Equipment. They now build Subaru's at the sight.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jane Russell & Bugsy Siegel

Tonight I was going through my Dad's old papers when I came across the bit of a newsletter from the time we lived in the apartment owned by Jane Russell. The newsletter mentions a play Mrs. Russell will be staring in called, "Catch If You Can".

In my Dad's file were some other papers relating to our time at "Taos West". Before we moved Jane Russell sold the apartment complex to a couple who lived in Beverly Hills. When we moved they tried to retain a pet deposit I had put down for my dog. We filed a claim in small claims court to get the deposit back. Eventually the couple settled and returned the deposit and appears to have covered the court costs as well.

While looking through the court papers, the address of this couple in Beverly Hills jumped out at me, and I proceeded to see if my hunch was right. It was. It turns out the couple lived next door to the house where Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, the infamous Los Angeles gangster was killed.

My connection to old time Los Angeles organized crime continues to grow. In an earlier post I mentioned that when my family moved to Van Nuys, and settled near the corner of Sherman Way and Woodman, we were about two streets away from where the other notorious gangster, Mickey Cohen lived before he went to jail.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kester Ave. Elementary School 1960

I just found this class picture from 196o on the Vannuys66.com website. I noticed that on the far left there are two older women, one of whom, in the back, is my old downstairs neighbor Lucille Flanders. I knew she was a teacher but had forgotten at what school. She was a great friend to our family. I would go downstairs and visit with her from time to time. Unfortunately for her she lived right below our apartment on Haskell Ave. in Van Nuys. This was about the time I was getting heavy into music and liked to blare my small stereo.

One day she gave me a complete set of a World Book Encyclopedia from 1959. I loved that set and used to read from it all the time. I had it until a few years when I moved and had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I wish I still had it. I especially loved the smell of the old binding.

Thank you Lucille for being a good friend and neighbor.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Flying Tiger Lines, LAX, Summer Picnic

Guitar Rat and his Mom at the FTL terminal in Detroit Michigan

Old Man Needs Help Remembering:
Phone Rat and I were talking today and got on the subject of our Dad's and the summer picnics their companies used to have. My Dad worked for Flying Tiger Line in Burbank and than at LAX. I remember driving the Golden State Freeway (I5) to the place north of the San Fernando Valley where the picnic was held. I want to say it was held at a place called Sunset Farms, but I'm not sure that is right. I recall driving north and passing the aqueduct on the right side of the freeway. I also remember parking on the dirt and having to walk a long path to the right of the green area which had a baseball diamond and probably more.

As you walked in the picnic are there were some small buildings on the right where I remember seeing the teenagers dance to Elvis and whatever else was popular in the early sixties. Further into the place there was a mostly dry creek that ran along side the picnic site. I remember my Mom seemed to win a prize every year. I recall her winning an intercom system and a mixer.

Are there any former FTL employees, or family members who remember the name and exact location of where these picnics were held? Or if you have memories please feel free to share them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Magnolia Blvd.

Photo credit to Phone Rat

Today I reflect on the years I lived on Magnolia Blvd. in Valley Village. I moved there in the mid 90's. The apartment building was a small, well kept older building with the virtue of a decent rent and quiet neighbors. I had wanted a place near this part of town and was lucky to find it. I was in walking distance of a major drug store, a great pizza place, a market, a bank, a liquor store and Dutton's bookstore, which was ideal. When I moved in the owner of the building told me my apartment had been previously occupied by an actor who played a "Ferengi" on the TV show Star Trek The Next Generation. That was mildly interesting to know.

Also living in the building at the time was an older man named Herbert Wiere. Herbie as he was called was a member of the Vaudeville act, The Wiere Brothers. They once appeared in an Elvis Presley movie and for a brief time had their own variety show on television. Herbie was a nice but quiet man who parked his Karmann Ghia next to us. The building owner told me Burt Lancaster used to come and visit Herbie.

Two doors west of us was a house that used to belong to Merv Griffin. When I moved in it had become a rehab house and to my knowledge still is.

In January of 1997 Bill Cosby's son Ennis Cosby was murdered by a man named Mikail Markhasev. When he was finally captured I learned that he lived in an apartment building across the street from me and a little west from our location. He had worked at a second hand shop down near Laurel Canyon called Manly Seconds.

I lived a short walk from the corner of Magnolia and Whitsett. Those familiar with the area probably have seen the castle like structure on the south side of the street just before Whitsett which house a US Postal Office. A few more doors west, just across Whitsett, across from the Rite-Aid, is a small neighborhood bar called The Fire Fox Room. This bar was used in the 1999 movie, Magnolia, starring Tom Cruise. I'm not really a bar person but I have been there a few times. It is a little too dark and small for me, but it seems to be popular in the neighborhood.

Going east on Magnolia you come to a spot just a short distance before Lankershim, on the south side of the street where Julia Roberts, starring as Erin Brockovich pulled away from the curb and was hit by another car at the intersection of Lankershim Blvd. I forget if it was there then but right on the North West corner of Magnolia and Lankershim is, or was, a restaurant called The Pitfire. I used to eat there from time to time and the food was very good. Sitting outside during the good weather made it a great experience.

Across the street from The Pitfire is the Academy of Television Arts. While technically on Lankershim, it spreads back along Magnolia. You may be aware of the life size statues in front of the building of famous TV personalities.

Heading east from the Academy you come to the corner of Magnolia and Colfax Street. Here is North Hollywood High School. It has its fair share of celebrity alumni including, Scott Baio, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alan Ladd and many more.

Now let’s head back west until we come to 14277 Magnolia Blvd which is now an apartment complex, but it used to be the home of Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame. It is right next to the Horace Heidt Estates. The estates were once part of the Hardy property. Next to his home Hard built a small comedy club called The Fun Factory at 14155 Magnolia Blvd. The Fun Factory was torn down in 1962 to make room for Horace Heidt Estates. TV actor Dick Van Patten once lived in the estates. Last I heard he no longer is there, but had another home on Magnolia Blvd.

Author Nathaniel West who wrote one of the great books about Los Angeles called The Day of the Locust, once lived at 12706 Magnolia Blvd. with his wife Eileen. The house was situated on two acres of walnut and pear trees. On December 22, 1940 West and his wife were killed in an auto accident in El Centro California. They were returning home to attend the funeral of their friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer of The Great Gatsby.

Buck Jones, a famous cowboy actor of early Hollywood built a house on the southeast corner of Magnolia and Hazeltine Ave. Jones died in an infamous fire in Boston in 1942 at the Coconut Grove. The house later became a school called, Mar-Ken.

Finally we drive east again, past all the beautiful Magnolia trees which I truly miss. We drive across Whitsett and park in front of my favorite pizza place, Joe Peep's. I used to get their Blue Collar thin crust pizza and their great steak sandwich. They deliver, but not to Iraq.

So now that I feel totally homesick I will go downstairs and make my wife miserable whining, again, about how much I miss home. Thank God for the internet and Google Earth!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cold War Babies

This morning we turned on Turner Classics Movies and they were playing the movie, Fail Safe, starring Henry Fonda. Fail Safe is a cold war drama about a computer failure in the Fail Safe system of the United States during a normal response to a UFO sighting and how the tensions between the Soviets and Americans come to a tragic conclusion. If you haven't seen it I won't spoil it for you.

Of course being a Baby Boomer and therefore a Cold War baby it brought back some disturbing memories of my early childhood. I entered Kindergarten in 1960 at the age of 5. Before that I had no real awareness of events beyond my small world. I do recall watching the Nixon Kennedy debates on TV in the fall of 1960. I have a vague awareness of the Cuban Missile crisis, but my main memory of October 1962 was the New York Yankees beating the Giants in the world series.

Eventually I became more aware of world events through TV and my parents discussions. I remember thinking Khrushchev seemed like a scary figure. I remember hearing about Communist China and having the same feelings about Mao. But the thing that really sticks in my mind, as I think it does to many kids back then, are the drop drills we used to experience in school. The sound of my teacher yelling "drop!" still rings in my ears. I guess I was a little too young to really have a sense of the destruction a nuclear bomb could impose on my tiny school desk. That sense slowly dawned on me as I saw nuclear test films on TV, and listened to the rhetoric on both sides.

Many of us remember the sound of the air raid sirens which were set off at the end of the month. I realized later that unlike our parents who lived through WW2 and experienced an actual attack on U.S. Forces, my generation grew up with drills and sirens and the specter of all life ending for me and all those I knew at the time.

It all became more real as the Viet Nam war escalated and found its way to the front pages of the newspaper. As well the assassination of our President and the age of Sputnik came to influence us in ways perhaps still not realized. Perhaps it is understandable on some level that many found escape in music, drugs and protest. Perhaps it instilled a sense in many of us that growing up was a dangerous thing because these problems we felt were created by our parents generation or at least not seriously addressed by them. It was an inaccurate perception but it existed.

While I'm not seriously scarred by any of this but it does make me wonder what the Cold War Age, the age of Sputnik, the assassination of our President, and the well intentioned spoiling of my generation by our parents has brought.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 Ways the Computer Has Affected My Life

1. While this is an old picture it still shows that I now require two desks instead of one. One for the computer and all the hardware, software, and electronicware it requires, and the second desk to actually read, write and look out the window from.

2. My posture has become even more slumped since I tend to lean in and rest my chin on my hands while reading on the computer. I used to be 6'2". I think I am now an even 6 feet.

3. Being an old man in his 50's I have to fiddle more with my glasses in order to see the screen clearly. I often lift them up to use the bifocal to see the screen. Especially when a long legged brunette finds her way to my screen.

4. I no longer have a butt. It's flat. I am sure all those years of watching TV on the couch has no impact on my posterior.

5. Writing is much easier as I can cut and paste, and correct things in an instance. The problem is I tend to write most of my stuff by hand, often with a fountain pen, and than have to transfer it to the computer.

6. My big stereo is downstairs and my computer is upstairs. I now use the computer almost exclusively to listen to music. Granted I have a decent speaker system and sub woofer and recording and editing music is a snap, but it doesn't sound as good as my 1,000 watt system downstairs.

7. I can now get all the news I want or don't want online. I no longer get a paper, though that has to do more with the aim of the paperboy than anything else. I have never depended on TV news for my news since it is so bad and skewed, and now the internet gives me more than I can ever absorb.

8. My legs swell, my hand cramps, my eyes ache and I continue to sit at the computer a good part of the day. My last job required me to be in my office and work on the computer all day answering e-mails, writing and creating ad work and so on, so you would think I would have had enough.

9. The computer is one floor above the refrigerator so it makes snacking more difficult. However I do stash snacks and drinks up stairs but I have to descend into the bosom of the family, scary in itself, to raid the ice cream.

10. The computer allows me to rant and rave in this blog which I hope helps a few to bring back a few happy memories. No blog rants allowed here.

Matchbook Collection

Here is a rather poor photo of some of my very small matchbook collection. I'm sure many of them you know and they probably bring back some pleasant memories. Some are from L.A., some are from Las Vegas and a few other places. At the top left is a matchbook from a private club called Tiffanys which my Dad belong to back in the 1970's. As I recall they were located on Ventura Blvd. They had a few celebrities and sports figures on their letterhead but I don't recall much more.

I am sure many remember the restaurant Bob Burn's which used to be on Laurel Canyon Blvd. Where the Lamplighter was until a few years ago. Rustler used to be a steak house located on Van Nuys Blvd. Somewhere in a box I have one of their knives. Which was probably lifted by my Mom, who was otherwise an upstanding citizen.

Alphy's was a small coffee house type of restaurant which has a few locations around the valley. We used to go to the one on Sepulveda at Sherman Way. It was sandwiched between Hi Lo Drug and a market which was first Food Giant, then Food King and was a Lucky's at one time.

The Playboy Club matches are from the Century City club. My Dad was a member and was otherwise an upstanding citizen. We went there a few times, yeah a few.

Pea Soup Andersen's was always a stop on our yearly trip up to San Francisco. I once went to the Odyssey with my girl friend Patty. I don't remember much but I have a cool matchbook.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don Drysdale's Father at Van Nuys High School 1929

Our friend Bob Walance just sent me these scans of a 1929 Van Nuys High School class yearbook which contains class photos of Scott Drysdale, the father of L.A. Dodger pitching great, Don Drysdale.

I remember going to my first baseball game back in the early 60's and seeing Sandy Koufax pitch against the Milwaukee Braves, who featured Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn. I saw Aaron and for some reason remember Sphan pitching that game but I could be wrong. Perhaps with the internet now I can do a little research. Anyway in 1963 Mr. Koufax and Mr. Drysdale lead the Dodgers to a four game sweep in the World Series of my beloved Mickey Mantle and the New York Yankees. Time has healed the wound, but at the time I was devastated.

We also remember Don Drysdale's restaurant on Oxnard in Van Nuys. I never ate there but I recall going by it many times. Thanks again to Bob for the great yearbook photos and Van Nuys memory.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hazeltine Ave. Elementary School 2010 Pictures

Our intrepid Van Nuys corespondent Bob Walance stopped by Hazeltine Elementary School this past weekend and took quite a few pictures of our old school. With the exception of a portion of the playground now being filled with storage units and new classrooms the old school looks much the same. They are in the process of painting the exterior of the school. I may be wrong but I don't think the color of the school has changed much since we were there back in the 1960's. Bob also took a few shots of the surrounding area. Some has changed and some remains. Pinecrest School is still across the street. Thanks Bob for the trip down memory lane. Google street view is great but nothing beats Bob and his camera. Bob asked if he could enter the school to take more shots but he was told no. Still what he got is fantastic. Here is the link:


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Van Nuys Drive-In

The other night Radio Rat called me and we got to talking about the old days, as old men are wont to do, and the topic naturally turned to old girlfriends. Specifically a girl he used to date back in the early 1980's. While the memories were fairly clear I was a little vague on the dates. So tonight I dug out my briefcase full of datebook/journals I have kept since about 1980. In going through the books I found what I was looking for but also happened across one item I had forgotten about.

Back in 1981 I went to Van Nuys Drive-in on Roscoe Blvd. (The one is the Blog heading) with my girlfriend. That night we saw two pictures I have no recollection of what so ever. "Graduation Day" and "Cheerleader Beach Party". Why we went to see those two pictures is a puzzle. My choice of movies was as stupid as I was back then. Now that I think about it, that was the last time I went to a movie at Van Nuys Drive-in. Sad that it was such an awful double bill. After that I recall going to the Winnetka drive-in complex in Northridge, and my last visit to a drive-in was to the Sepulveda drive-in back in 1994 where we saw "Stargate" and a Sly Stallone movie called "The Specialist". I do recall a bit of those movies, but again, one did not always go to a drive-in for the movie...it was the food, yeah that's it.

The first movie I ever recall seeing was "The Crowded Sky" which my parents took me to see at a drive-in in the Valley, but I don't recall which one. I think I'll switch on my iPod and go back in time for a little bit.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dr. Sam Sheppard

This is not a L.A. story but it does have an L.A. connection. Today is July 3rd and it is 9:45 PM. 56 years ago in the early hours of July 4, 1954 Marilyn Sheppard was brutally murdered in her Bay Village Ohio bedroom. Before there was O.J. and any number of other notorious murder cases, the Sheppard murder case was one of the biggest murder cases of the last half of the 20th century. In December of 1954 her husband Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted of her murder and spent the next 10 years in jail. F. Lee Baily, then an aspiring lawyer took over his case and got Dr. Sheppard's initial conviction thrown out do to numerous violations to his constitutional rights at the trial. The State of Ohio decided to retry Sheppard and this time Baily represent Dr. Sheppard and got him acquitted of the charges. The murder of Marilyn Sheppard is still unsolved and opinions are so vast and numerous I won't even begin to cover them here.

Before Sam Sheppard and Marilyn Sheppard were married, Sam graduated from the Los Angeles Osteopathic School of Physicians in 1945. After graduation the couple were married and moved into an apartment on Sichel Street in Los Angeles. Sam went to work in Los Angeles at the County Hospital and for a doctor in private practice. Sheppard work in Los Angeles until 1951 when he moved back to Bay Village to join the medical practice of his father and two older brothers.

The murder happened 6 months before I was born. However, I remember hearing my parents and family members talk about the case throughout the 1960's. The Sheppard family had a hospital on Lake Road in Bay Village. Sam's parents lived in a house on the other side of the lot to the east of the home. It is here where Sam was arrested in 1954 for the murder of his wife. It is here where my Aunt later went to work for a doctor who years later had his practice in the old house. I still remember walking through the house with all those youthful memories swirling in my mind.

Dr. Sam's surviving son Sam Reese Sheppard and his cousin Janice have a new website devoted to the case and their cause to finally find who they believe the murderer to be, and to further clear the stain on Dr. Sheppard's name. The website is not free and does have a cost. here is the link:


There are numerous website with articles and histories of the case that are free and can give you a good overview of the case. So here I sit in my office on this July 3rd night when every year, like it or not my mind wanders back to that house on Lake Road in Bay Village, just a few miles from here, and the aftermath that affected so many lives.


I just found the old photo above of the Los Angeles Osteopath College on Facebook at Los Angeles Relics. I believe this might be the college where Sheppard attended. If not, it's still a great old picture.

After writing this post I came upon a very interesting analysis of Dr. Sheppard's statements to the police. Follow this link to read his statement and the running analysis:


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jane Russel High School Pictures

Our good friend Bob "Mr. Yearbook" Walance has been at it again. This time he snagged a Van Nuys High School Yearbook from 1938 which includes pictures of the actress Jane Russell in her junior year. Two pages from the yearbook are posted here. One shows Jane Russell with her classmates. She is on row 5, third from the right. The other page has a stand alone picture of her and another picture of two fellow students.

Much thanks to Bob for scanning and sharing these images. Be sure to check out our link to Bob's Photobucket page with other scans of San Fernando Valley High School yearbooks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Art Linkletter

When Art Linkletter passed away last week at the age of 97 I like I suspect many baby boomers had a flood of memories. My Mom told me that when my Dad was transferred to Los Angeles from Detroit they had a hard time convincing me to go. I was an avid fan of westerns at the time and thought the west was full of Indians, and well, I didn't want to be attacked and die. Then my Mom told me that it was really safe, that Art Linkletter lived and worked out there and he wouldn't live in a dangerous place. So I agreed to give it a try and we moved to L.A. in April of 1960 with very little trouble or drama from me.

Art Linkletter had the rare gift of being able to bring out the best and funniest things in people. He did not fight for the spotlight when he interviewed adults and children. Like Johnny Carson he was not from Hollywood and had a genuine air about himself. Both were masters at bringing out the humor in people.

When I was younger I used to worship talent and intelligence. As I have gotten older I realize those traits are common and usually not used to their best end. What impresses me now are good people. People who try to be happy and make the world a better place in small and large ways. Art Linkletter was one of those people.

If baby Boomers have a Mount Rushmore it might include Art Linkletter, along with Walt Disney, John F. Kennedy and who else I can't think of at the moment. When good public people die their lives should be celebrated a little more than they are.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

1965 San Fernando Valley East Elementary Schools Christmas Record

Here is a sample of three songs from a San Fernando Valley East Christmas LP from December 1965. It features three schools including Kester Ave., Erwin St., and Monlux Ave., Elementary Schools.

Digital transfer made from original LP's provided by Larry Hoffing, Kester Ave. Alumni.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Van Nuys Blvd. Song

Here is a song called "Van Nuys Blvd." by The Drivers, with a few images of Van Nuys Blvd. Video by Phone Rat & Guitar Rat.

For some reason there is no image above until you click on the start button and then it appears. Most likely I forgot to do something.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bachelor in Paradise Film Locations

Bachelor in Paradise was a Bob Hope vehicle from 1961 in which he played an author doing research for a book on the love life's of American's in suburbia. It's a typical Bob Hope movie full of gags and off hand remarks. Lana Turner co-stars as his love interest.

What is of interest to me are the film locations. The movie was shot around the San Fernando Valley. In the movie Hope is set up in a new housing development which is actually in Woodland Hills. I believe it is just west of Topanga Blvd. in the foothills. I used to have the address but can't find it now. Locations also included the Corbin Bowl on Ventura Blvd. and a Hughes Market at 8231 Woodman Ave. in Panorama City. For those familiar with that area it is across the street from Kaiser. It is no longer a Hughes market but the building is still there. The scenes shot inside the store are a trip down memory lane for those of us who grew up in the 60's.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Frank Sinatra Jr. Kidnapping, a Valley Connection

The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Saturday December 14, 1962 reports two big news stories. The first about the Baldwin Hills Dam break and the other reporting details of the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. The latter is our concern for this post.

December 8, 1963 Frank Sinatra Sr. received a call at the Harrah's Club Motel in Stateline Nevada that his son, 19 year old Frank Sinatra Jr. had been kidnapped from Harrah's Lake Tahoe by 2 men and being held for $240,000 in ransom. Sinatra Sr. returned home to his ex-wife's house in Los Angeles where negotiations were arranged between the FBI and the kidnappers. During negotiations Sinatra Jr. was being held at a house in Canoga Park California at 8143 Mason Ave. (The house pictured above is as it appears today with Google Street view). It was decided a courier would be sent to Los Angeles International Airport. The courier chosen was an FBI agent. At the airport telephone booth the agent was instructed to proceed to a service station about 8 miles from the airport. The FBI agent left the ransom money at the service station and the kidnappers were captured two days later.

For more details on the story follow this link: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/gangsters_outlaws/outlaws/frank_sinatra_jr/1_index.html

Monday, March 22, 2010

1962 North Hollywood Plane Crash

December 14, 1962, North Hollywood CA. A plane belonging to the freight airline Flying Tiger Line crashes in North Hollywood, East of Laurel Canyon between Vose Street on the north and Hart Street on the south. The investigation found that the pilot had a heart attack and slumped over onto the controls on the final approach to Burbank airport.

My Dad worked for Flying Tiger Line and that night he was playing cards with a co-worker. I remember them hearing the news and going out to the crash site. Years later I went to work for a company on Vose Street just a few feet from the crash site. Vose is right under the landing path to Burbank airport. The first few weeks I was there I would flash back to that night every time I saw or heard a jet on final approach.

One day I was talking to a co-worker and we started talking about the airplanes overhead and I related my story of the crash to him. He told me his father had also driven out to the crash sight. That night when his Dad returned home from the crash sight he died of a heart attack.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brady, Blake and North

Friends and relatives who came to visit were always surprised by the location of famous TV and movies sites. Everyone thought the Brady Bunch house was in the hills when in actuality it is north of the Hollywood Hills which are north of it. If you head west on the same street about 7 1/2 blocks you arrive at the infamous Mata Hari Ranch, the former home of actor Robert Blake. The house is now gone but I used to drive by it on the way to visit a friend who lived a few doors down from it. And next door to my friend lived the mother of actor Jay North of Dennis the Menace fame.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Builders Emporium

Radio Rat just sent me a group of pictures of Lancaster Ca in the past. This picture caught our attention as it shows a Builders Emporium Hardware store in Lancaster. Radio Rat and I worked at Builders over the years. There are not a lot of images online of any of the old stores. Radio Rat has shared his Builders experiences in an older post on this blog. His Mom worked there for many years. We have joined a Facebook group for former Builders employees. We hope to see you there.