As a frequent visitor to this alternative world, my favorite one
was Tomorrowland (pre- mid-90’s makeover from hell). Thanks
largely to these visits and aimless pointless PeopleMover rides, I
turned into a sub-conscience sucker of all that space age
whiz-bang shtick that was everywhere during the 50’s and 60’
s. After many of these visits, I began to notice samples of this
‘whiz bang’ world around me in unsuspected places like liquor
stores, bars, office buildings, hotel/motels, bowling alleys and
I think any young kid worth his hyperactive body weight in breakfast cereal can attest to the sugar coated
wonders of Disneyland, the park that famously and rightfully bills itself as the ‘Happiest Place On Earth’ and
what makes it even more happier, outside of the bells and whistles, is that it doesn’t resemble the actual one
we’re living in. Even though you have to squint to block out the corporate sponsorship, the ‘Land effectively
removes all evidence of your ordinary world and substitute that with theirs.
However, by the mid-70’s, those romantic visions of this urban-rama were beginning to fade from my view,
thanks to my banal bland times in El Monte and, even worse, spending the year of 1976 in a pisswater town in
northern Utah, but I was in my early teens so there wasn’t much I could do about it.
To cut this mess short, I “escaped” from Utah and into the semi-heart of the San Fernando Valley…Northridge,
California! My stay in this neck of the valley may have been short but I had a blast by regularly visiting an
actual 70’s period mall, a funky little neighborhood and had my first exposure to Las Vegas (long story, whole
other web site). This was just a warm-up.
In late 1978, I moved to El Segundo. Even through this area
wasn’t totally new to me as I spent a summer of ‘74 here, this
was the first time that I was actually living in the middle of this
space age urban-rama. Maybe it was visions of Utah in the
winter that kept creeping up in my nightmares or it was the
young impressionable age I was stuck in, but whatever the
reason, my senses were heightened to what was around me.
This was the first time that the urban-rama I kept seeing from
the back window of our car was all around me and I couldn’t
wait to explore it. The biggest one right off the bat was the
other LAX suburb on the other side of the runway, Westchester.
Westchester, mainly the Sepulveda Blvd. area, was four to five
blocks of an amazing variety of retail stores of all sizes and
interest! This place with it’s little characteristic flares here and
there would very soon turn into my little alternative world like a
scaled down Tomorrowland. The cherry on top was the Loyola
Theater. Sadly, by this time, the other theatre in this area, the
Paradise Theater, where I saw ‘Arthur’ (with Stella Stevens, not
Dudley Moore), was turned into an office building.
One place o’ business that first got my attention was
‘Westchester Music’. It was on the SW corner on what are now
Will Rogers and Sepulveda. It was a large independent music
store that had everything from instruments, lessons, music
sheets to records! On the record selling side, the store added a
little bonus for its costumers and bored annoying slackers like
The business card from the former
The location of Westchester Music, which is
now The Parking Spot.
Placed on top and center of the single section was a small cheap Fisher-Price turntable that offered their
customers a chance to play their selections before buying….and with yours truly taking full advantage of this kind
offer. Sure, I did buy some of their 45’ers, but to this very day, I’m surprised they didn’t kick me out. Thanks to their
little listening station, I discovered stuff like Earth Wind & Fire, X-mas records and the seed to a much bigger
obsession, the movie called Xanadu. Other than the 45 obsessions, I also bought a cassette copy of ELO’s Out Of
The Blue’ that I spent the next two years wearing out and beating up.
Their competitor was another small independent joint called Soundsations Records. They didn’t have the 45
player (much less 45’s), but this was were I bought some of my LP’s as they also used/promo copies. I bought a
promo copy of ELO’s ‘Discovery’, thus jump starting my ELO obsession toot sweat.
This was also the last days of the luxury department
store era. The Broadway Westchester and the JC Penny
shared the same outdoor mall with a Woolworth that
used to stand between them. By that summer, that
old Woolworth turned into ‘Westchester Faire’, a two-
story antique mall.
The Broadway Westchester was quite a place to visit.
One could feel the old accessible glamour from
another era here. In the center of the entire store was
anchored by a grand center piece that contained
escalators that headed to the second floor/roof, where
a parking lot and a small café awaited. There was a
brief time they had an operating juke box they used
as a background piece for their mannequin displays
and, as it was also free, I ended up playing my briefly
fave tune of the moment, ‘Arrow Through Me’ by
Wings, over and over and over and over…..surprised
they kick me out there, too.
Then there was the Loyola Theater. I saw many fine late-70’s features there like the R-rated ‘The Blues Brothers’, ‘Used
Cars’ & ‘1941’. Mind you, they weren’t REALLY checking them I. D.’s in those days. As this place was built in the 40’s
and was well kept, the place was glamorous as hell. When there was a boring scene on the screen, I’d look up at
the ceiling where the dark blue sky was littered with stars and do a bit of star gazing until something interesting
happened with the movie, mainly an explosion (lots of those in 1941). Sure, the sky and its stars were fake, but so
was the movie. It’s called special effects. You get what you pay for.
Next to the theater was Compari’s Italian Restaurant that used to be a Home Savings. Sadly, went there only once.
Not a bad place. I frequently went the other Italian place, Andréa. Eat too much spaghetti there.
It wasn’t until much later that I braved a stroll
westbound down Manchester Blvd. where I found
the old Marina hotel, more unique buildings and
further down I came face to face with the Playa Del
Rey Polynesian Village.
There were other places in this area that I should
remember (outside the Fox Hills Mall, but that’s in
Culver City), but those memories don’t have
enough muscle over the major ones I just
mentioned here. Yup, nostalgia can be so
selective, ego and brain cells permitting. Or maybe
I was too busy concentrating on the music coming
out of my Sears “boom box” I used to carry around
with me annoying those around me. Guess that’s
the part of nostalgia that gets left out, how
obnoxious you were and looked.
|ABOVE LEFT AND RIGHT:
The land of out of businesses:
Joy's Gift Shop on Sepulveda Blvd. and Karl's Toys at the
triangle. BELOW: The old Airport Marina Hotel tower years
before the 2010 remodel