Saturday, August 17, 2019

Vintage SoCal

I have two vintage photos from around Southern California; perhaps these will only be of interest to folks who live (or used to live) here?  I never know.

This first one (undated, but probably from the early 1960's) was in a batch of random slides, and I could see that the license plate on the car in the foreground (Nanook?) is a California tag - but the area didn't ring any bells. Luckily, there is a legible street sign to the left; "Plymouth Street". There were several Plymouth Streets to choose from, but I eventually found one that crossed North La Brea Avenue, in Inglewood (in southwestern LA). Eureka!

Granted, this is not a particularly beautiful or exciting photo, but I really like these typical street scenes from 50 or 60 years ago. "Eddie's Inn" and the "Pink Garter" would be swell places to have a brewski. There's "Carlson's Auto Radios and TVs" (a TV in an auto??), "Art's Hobbies", a motorcycle shop, a beauty salon, a Safeway, a Richfield gas station and a Shell gas station. On our side of the street, we can go buy a 1960's Harley! Also to the left is a Chevron billboard with Santa Claus.

Here's a Google "street view" screen grab, showing how the area looks nowadays. Of course things have changed over the decades, and many of those small businesses are gone.

Next is this undated (but 1950's?) photo looking southeast along Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach (at the corner of Cliff Drive). This is another photo that's nothing that exciting, but it oozes 50's charm. Notice the sign for the Victor Hugo Inn, a restaurant that was built in 1938, and finally closed in the 1970's (it became Las Brisas Mexican Restaurant in 1979).

These days the Laguna Art Museum is on the corner to our right, and there is a eucalyptus tree that might be the very same one closest to us.

Here's a vintage postcard - the photo is older than my example - notice the change in street lights and the missing telephone poles. Still, it's a similar angle.

And from the other side of PCH (and a different old postcard), we get another look facing southeast!


Melissa said...

I like that the lunch, dinner, and cocktails are all subordinate to the free parking!

Nanook said...


Fun images today. Lookie, lookie - we seem to have a white, 1959 Ford Ranchero. Behind it, is possibly a grey, 1949 or '50 Mercury. Driving-away from us we have two, 1963 Chevrolets; and, of course, a lovely red, 1960-'64 Corvair. And just beyond the Corvair, is a 1957 Chevrolet station wagon.

In lovely Laguna Beach - with the yellow/black license plates, the image is prior to 1963. We have a green/white, 1955 Buick; then an unidentifiable panel truck; a light green, 1955 Ford station wagon; a red, 1948-'53 Chevrolet pickup truck.

In the final image, on the left is a green, 1950 Mercury; to our right is a green-topped, 1951 Pontiac (with windshield sun visor - hubba, hubba-!) And behind it is a 1946, or '47 light green Oldsmobile, w/add-on fog lights.

I'm truly ready for dining at The Victor Hugo Inn, now that I see they offer Free Parking-!

Thanks, Major.

Andrew said...

Will the cars of the 21st century seem nearly as charming as this in 60 years?

K. Martinez said...

I like the Laguna Beach photo on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Cliff Drive. I love cities or towns that are built in a canyon or valley surrounded with hillside homes. Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, in car-crazy SoCal, parking was (is) a big deal!

Nanook, a Ranchero! That’s the one I was really curious about. I’m amazed at how many models I’ve never heard of - or maybe I shouldn’t be, since I’m not a car guy. Thanks for all of the auto IDs! I remember that my grandmother liked going to the Victor Hugo restaurant, she probably had friends who would meet her there even though it was a schlep from Encino.

Penna. Andrew, probably not, but nostalgia is funny. I remember thinking that nobody would be nostalgic for the 70’s. How wrong I was!

K. Martinez, I last went to Laguna about four years ago - first I went to the Sawdust Festival in the canyon, and then we took a tram to Laguna Beach to walk around and have dinner. It was a lovely day, but there had just been a storm - the waves were nuts. On those beaches, the waves formed and crashed in seconds with a real “boom!”.

JC Shannon said...

All these photos ooze charm. Great examples of Detroit steel, in old sunny SoCal. I love these. Growing up in North Hollywood, I am happy to see photos like these. Great memories. Dibs on the red Corvair. Thanks Major.

Grant said...

As someone who's lived in the Newport/Laguna area for well over 60 years I LOVE the photos. I ate at Victor Hugo's one time, Las Brisas many times. Neither one was/is cheap but the clifftop location with spectacular ocean and coastline views and outstanding food make the cost worth it!

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Major!

Nanook said...

@ Andrew & The Major-
Yes - nostalgia is a funny animal. Never underestimate its power-!

And oddly-enough... Just this morning while driving to work, either a 1951, '52, or '53 [it happened in a flash] red, Cadillac crossed in front of me. Compared to ALL the other vehicles on the road, it was an obvious standout and head-turner. (Less so, of course, back in its heyday). But... people DID take notice 'back then'. Not too many folks are waxing poetic about [most] 1970's or 1980's vehicles, fer instance. There's probably a better chance going-forward for today's vehicles making an impression in the future - but not by much, I would surmise; and I doubt the feelings evoked would be more than a mere curiosity - as opposed to the emotional responses from what Detroit produced beginning in the late 40's/early 50's thru the mid-1960's.

@ The Major-
A 'schlep', indeed-! Back in 1974/75 I knew of at least one person - a KNBC "bigwig" - who worked in 'Beautiful Downtown Burbank', obviously, and lived in Newport Beach-! He had the dubious distinction of 'motoring' that journey on a five-day/week basis - and I doubt he was alone in that daily excursion. As annoying as that must have been "back then", I must presume it was a better experience compared to that same itinerary, driven today.

@ Ken-
How true-! If that first image of Laguna Beach doesn't make one at least want to visit it - or, better still, move there - I don't know what would.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Ahh. Ranchero and El Camino the mullet of automobiles!

These are flashback-tastic. I want to don my Magic Muffler t-shirt and go to Du-pars or Hamburger Hamlet. These make an old so cal. native homesick. My sister just went to Philippe's last week and had to rub it in.

I need to dig out an old L.A. (backdrop) movie. That will help.

Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, somehow U.S. cars really reached a level of appeal in the 50’s and 60’s that has never been surpassed. The red Corvair is pretty cute!

Grant, nobody goes to Laguna to get a bargain! It’s always kind of a special occasion kind of place, at least for me. I saw a nice art show at the Laguna Art Museum years ago that made for a fun day.

Nanook, I just remember looking around me in the 70’s and thinking “Who would ever love these dumb clothes years from now??”. This was when 50’s nostalgia was riding high - and the funny thing is, my mom, who remembered the 50’s vividly, said, “They weren’t that fun!”. I know what she means. As for old classic cars, when I see photos of the Disneyland parking lot (for instance), Cadillacs still stand out, partly due to their sheer size. But the tail fins made a statement too. I’ve always said that if I had 50 million dollars, I’d rather have a beautiful vintage car than any modern “supercar”.

Nanook said...

It's like most everything else - 'there's always some [true] goodness often concealed amongst the dreck'. There are plenty of 1970's clothing fashions that are very respectable; often not the ones most thought of and pointed-to as "what were we thinking-??!!" Same for 1950's fashion. I still have some clothes from the 1950's I wear often, when apropos, and get the most-wonderful comments - as they [appear] as unique, but in a very good way. Sometimes you just need to second-guess what has a timeless quality, and then worn knowing full-well you've got IT.