18 April 2010

My Little Town

Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 (Americans and the California Dream)

This week's Take This Tune is all about hometowns. I was born in Paradise.  If you click on the picture above, it will take you to the "Golden Dreams" book in the Kevin Starr series about California from its earliest Spanish years to the disaster level problems facing it now.  Golden Dreams, An Age of Abundance covers the years 1950 - 1963 which for me would be second grade to the the birth of my first child.  In my lifetime Los Angeles has gone from 1.5 million people to 3.7 million people.
Even worse the state has gone from 12 million to 38 million.  Since I can't turn back time, I can at least show you pictures of what "My Little Town" looked like when I was little.

The downtown Hillstreet Theater.  Inside it was one of the great movie palaces despite its rather utilitarian outside.  You had to drive quite a distance on city streets to get downtown until the late .50s  because the Pasadena and Harbor Freeways didn't open until  1940 and 1948 and there was still farmland between the outer and inner suburbs.  If you would like to recreate one of those drives, you can courtesy of Curating The City link for Wilshire Boulevard.

This is the May Company store (Now a museum).  Another reason to drive downtown to see the Christmas decorations in motion in the windows ... a small taste of New York in the California backwater when "The City" meant San Francisco and LA was still where the movie stars and other uncouth yokels lived.

Olivera Street - Part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Olivera Street was originally known as Wine Street.  It may be a tourist trap but if you have never been to LA, it is a must see part of both the city's history and the amazing culture.

In July 1934 a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles. They displayed their produce on the tailgates of their vehicles.  In 1947 I read a sign for the first time by saying "This table is reserved".  Precocious little 3 year old brat.  The Farmers Market is a magic place.  If someone says, "Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax" - Go.  They are probably a native inviting you for an adventure to one of the must-see tourist attractions in Southern California.

You knew I had to give you a beach.  It was a one mile bike ride from my house (several houses actually because I moved all over the beach cities of Redondo, Manhattan, Hermosa and Santa Monica) ... can you say every weekend unless I was at Disneyland?  Speaking of which ...

Technically not part of LA since it is in Anaheim in Orange County, but it was built by a movie man so Angelenos consider it theirs.  The first day was a madhouse as the crowds overwhelmed the lines.  I got there the first month when I was 11 and they still had "E Ticket Rides".  The favorite period was as a young teen when you could pick up Navy and Army boys at Merry Go Round rock on Tom Sawyer Island and my famous date with a tree ... talk about a more innocent age.


Linda said...

My parents took us to Disneyland when I was in second grade so I want to say that it was 1965 or 1966 and that's the Disney that I prefer to remember though I've been several times since then. Based on that, I can't tolerate Disney World in Florida as it's just "not right"!

I know that progress is an inevitable part of life but truth be told, there are times lately when I look at how many good things have been lost due to progress that I don't much care for it at all. I would have much preferred LA during your youth to what it was when I lived in the area last!

Travis said...

My mom met my father on a Main St corner in Disneyland. He was just out of the Corps at the time. That would make it late summer of 1961 I think. They were married in April 1963.