Westchester was, is and will always be my home. When I was growing up, it was a part of LA, but it wasn’t. Nobody really knew it existed. You could drive to LAX and swear it was just Los Angeles. It was it’s own little entity. We could walk anywhere and be safe. I used to ride my bike everywhere and there were no worries. There weren’t any gangs. I remember Karl’s Toys, and the other shops in The Triangle. I used to get my hair cut at Ted’s. I’d go with my grandmother to Madamoiselle’s right on the corner, where she bought her clothes. It later became a bike shop. The Paradise and Loyola theaters. Double features for next to nothing!Hillmart Market. Now that was a market. Full service meat section. I had never seen pre-packaged cuts of meat until my grandmother sold the Westchester house and we moved to Van Nuys (which I freaking despise!). I remember going to Airport Jr. High. I actually liked that school. Too bad classes would have to stop everytime a plane went right over. It’s now a Hertz rental. Hell, I never went to school with an African American until I went to Airport!! I transferred to Orville Wright and the following year they closed Airport and transferred everyone to Orville Wright. I’d never seen that many kids in one place! They brought in a crapload of bungalows to handle the overflow. I remember Red Riding Stables at what is now the Fox Hills Mall. I remember horseback riding thru the cemetary and the oil fields. I remember the bean fields. They don’t exist anymore either. They’re now the Howard Hughes Center or some such thing. I remember my first pizza at Pizza Napoli. Dinah’s on Sepulveda and Centinela. At least it’s still there. Best apple pancakes around! It was, for those of us growing up in that time and place, a wonderful little slice of heaven and no one knew about it except us!
I remember remember paying 20 cents for a double feature at the Paradise when I was eleven. I was alone. My parents new it was safe to walk the half mile from our house. The movies were usually a Bob Hope’s “road shows” and a cowboy movie. And of course every show began with a Disney or Woody Woodpecker cartoon. And if you needed a little dessert, the Westchester Food Giant market was near by to go after the show. I could get an ice-cream cup for 5 cents complete with wooden spoon.
Vicki Young ( from WHS !?) I had to laugh about the apple pancakes. Dad was a teacher and mom didn’t work, that’s REALLY funny because all my dear mom did was stay home and raise 7 ( good grief) kids).
Anyway once every month or so we got to go to breakfast and I was about 5-6 I guess got the apple pancakes and could not believe the SIZE of that thing!
I forgot about all the bungalows at Wright.
I travel as often as my liquid cash will allow me, and when it comes to booking an airline flight, I prefer LAX to all other conveniences near me. Why?
I am a true Westchester native. I love to fly, but who doesn’t have the odd tug at their gut hoping that they’ll be delivered safely to their destination. I have my own good luck rituals whenever I take off, but one of them that is most important to me is looking down at home. There is comfort for me glancing down at the golf course, the high school, the beaches and streets in which I experienced life, love and the beginnings of my young adulthood. It is calming and centers me.
When vacations are over, and thoughts turn to the heaps of mail waiting for me, I again look for the awaiting arms of Westchester…the Forum, the race track, the medical building at Manchester and Sepulveda where 27 years ago I first learned I would become a mother. And then I turn to my traveling companions and simply state….
Wow, so many memories brought back reading these postings… I remember “Shopper’s Market” before it became Lucky’s and McCarthy’s Drugs, and the El Dorado Bowling Alley… Kathy Bennett’s house backed up to that parking lot… I remember the toy store… “something” Palace, I think. Not as nice as Karl’s but I loved going in there, and can remember how it smelled in there for some reason. I used to occasionally walk from home: 7257 West 94th Street (no longer there) to the park or Orville Wright, and never worried about my safety, like I do now!!! I remember once someone poured soap in the fountain and it was overflowing bubbles… I remember Hamburger Handout near what became the Fox Hills Mall. I remember Maryann, my sister, would always order a flat, hard corn tortilla with refried beans and they’d put shredded lettuce on it and it was great. I still eat refried beans like that…
Hi Margaret !!! Charles Jackson here. I have very fond memories of Orville Wrght during those care free years when we grew up. I knew you and your sister through a mutual teacher, Charles Belba, when we were there. Do you or Maryann have any information about him? I was hoping to contact him if you do. Best wishes. Take Care CJ
Mr. Belba! He was my Computer Math teacher! We used to punch those little computer cards in class and talk to other schools on the old teletype machine in the back room – I spoke to someone named Lola from “the jungle” my first time on that machine – who knew it would be the internet someday LOL Thanks for reminding me of him Charles :)
I remember Toy Palace right next to Luckys. They had St. Christopher necklaces and click clacks. I loved growing up on 85th Street in Westchester (Park Hill was the cross Street). I had the best of friends I went to St Anastasia and I went to St Bernards high school and I loved it! I love the beach love love love the beach.
After reading these and other memories posted in the Facebook group, my own are starting to emerge from long dormant parts of my brain. I’ll lay them down here as they flash through…
Westchester at Christmas, with giant red candles announcing the name of the family in whose yard it stands. Some candles were tall and squared off, while others were shorter as if they had already burned for many more years.
The view of Culver City and the whole west side of LA from the playground of Cowan Avenue elementary.
Catching lizards in the bean fields above Hughes Aircraft at the end of Dunbarton, and riding our bikes up and down the dirt paths of those fields and canyons.
Walking to the Little League field below the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on game days, and buying pixie stix and baseball card gum.
Watching the progress of the bomb shelter being built at the corner of Emerson and 77th, across from the Cowan Ave. playground. Sadly for the owner of that house and shelter, the fence was made of a soft reed-like material, perfect for kicking as one walked by. I bet he wouldn’t let us in if the bomb fell, just because we abused his fence.
Playing over-the-line on narrow Agnew Ave. while trying desperately not to break any car windows with a long fly ball.
Rounded curbs between the sidewalk and street. I always that was a much better design than harsh curbs that rubbed your tires and hubcaps if you got too close.
Walking or biking to Robinson’s Drug Store adjacent to Von’s and across the street from Orville Wright to buy candy, or a Mother’s Day gift.
Biking all over town, from the Westchester Public Library in the park near Manchester and Lincoln, to the First Baptist Church – Westchester, at the corner of Manchester and La Tijera.
Of course, Karl’s Toys.
The tropical fish store on Manchester just east of Sepulveda.
The music store across the street from Broadway, where I would buy my clarinet reeds and cassette music tapes.
The Loyola and Paradise theaters, but also the 5th Avenue over in Inglewood. Seeing Silent Running at the Loyola with Mark Clark, and Billy Jack with my dad.
The sprawling Inglewood park, where long games of capture the flag would take place until dusk.
Watching Jerry West, Gale Goodrich, and Happy Hairston play at the Fabulous Forum.
Working as a stock boy at the drug store on La Tijera, across the street and up the street a bit from McDonald’s.
Friday night family dinners at Hamburger Handout at the bottom of Sepulveda and Centinela, where the green neon lettering proclaimed 15 cent hamburgers.
Going to the Centinela Drive-In with my family at first, and then with dates.
Learning how to drive a stick-shift in my Datsun 510 on the newly vacant hilly streets in Playa Del Rey under the new north runway – built to accommodate the giant new 747s.
One semester of a typical school schedule at Orville Wright, before the Airport Jr. High kids joined us. We then went to a shorter day with three longer periods – 8:20am to 1:30pm, with 84 minute periods. That allowed me to catch the Early Show every day, where I could catch older movies and eat a Ding-Dong every afternoon.
Eating at the Bumble Bee diner across from the Hilltop Market, and many years later seeing that same sign sitting in a “sign graveyard” along the Pasadena Freeway north of downtown L.A.
Killing time driving around the LAX arrival/departure lanes. We would always tell visitors to call us at home from a pay phone right when they got off the plane, and by the time they retrieved their luggage we would be waiting curbside for them in our car. LAX was ours.
Listening to the chimes from the Loyola University and Marymount College bell tower. Every fifteen minutes a reminder of the time.
My dad walking to work down the hill to Hughest. My mom walking to work at Loyola Marymount University.
The Cowan Avenue school chorus “white album”. A recording of the Christmas/Hannukah concert where we sang the songs of the holidays and a one-sided album was created. Highlights: Go Tell It On The Mountain, and Hava Nashira – all accompanied by autoharps.
Many of our friends going to Hebrew School.
The big houses on Arizona Avenue running parallel to Sepulveda down the hill.
Shopping for binoculars and camera stuff at Fedco on Jefferson and Rodeo Road (that’s RO-dee-oh, not ro-DAY-oh).
Shopping at the Broadway, and when that failed, Henshey’s over in Ladera Heights.
Going to church when we first moved to Westchester in 1964 at Baldwin Hills Baptist Church – shortly before it was flooded by the failure of the Baldwin Hills reservoir.
The shortcut to downtown via La Cienega – La Brea, too.
That’s enough for now.
Thanks Doug Tally for all the explicit descriptions of all the early days in Westchester. I remenber everything you said. I grew up on Alverstone the street after Arrizona. Used to go to the market a couple of times a day in the summertime. Oh how those memories were the most funnest years of my life. And to hear you talk about it seems like yesterday. And you didn’t forget Hamburger Handout!!!
In the late 50’s my dad worked at McCullough Motors, and my mom was a house wife. We lived on Goddard Ave. for me it was the real Wonder Years! I went to Osage Elementry school , Airport Jr High, Westchester High.
Our neighbors were our family, we played , fought , and grew togerther with the idea of living like the TV show families we grew up watching .
My sister Ellen, is 4 1/2 years older than me , so I got a fast taste of watching Loyd Thaxton, Sam Riddle, and Shindig at a early age. We use to walk over the railroad tracks , across Florance to the Big Donut ( now Randy’s) .
The Golden Bear Hamburger stand was on the corner of Florance & Manchester, and behind it was the roller skating rink.
We did the bean field thing , all day at the Hughes property, and come home dirty and tired.
When I got into high school , I bought a 57 Chevy from a guy named Mike Brown, it was lowered , power blue, astro supreme mags, we had a blast in that car, when it ran…
I have left so much out , it would take a book to capture the wonderful days living in Westchester.
The land marks, theatures, schools, and the cruses down Manchester to the Beach were just half of it .
My friends and families I grew up with in my neck of the woods in Westchester is what made me who I am , and I wouldn’t of had it any other way.
Hey Dale, Did Mike Brown live on 81st St , have a brother Tom and go to Saint Bernard’s, work at IBM. If so I am an old neighbor and friend and would like to get in touch with him …. Please forward my email to him. Thanks, Larry Johnson
Mr. Dale Shelton my name is Robert Johnson,Bobby Johnson, brother named Bill. you and I were friends at Osage Elementary.
I think we both went to airport junior high school Mr. Parker was my music teacher in 1967 our family moved to orange county and that was the last I saw of anyone from the Westchester area.
I live in Plano TX north of Dallas now I am a native Texan and I moved back here with my wife in 1981 I was a career pilot at the time.
If you get this my number is 214-455-2131 please feel free to give me a call I remember you well Dale!
I remember playing in the bean fields with my friends who lived on the other side of Denrock and going to Westchester to shop at Hartfields and Penneys. I remember Westchester music where I got my vinyl records. when I learned to drive I had a pukky green 1971 Ford Maverick that I lovedto drive down to Laguna Beach. Now that I live in Rhode Island I still remember Westchester
My husband, sister and I were driving down a section of Westchester Parkway parallel to the north runway where we believed our house once stood. Having been one of the families whose home was taken by the airport expansion in 1974, I was curious if we could figure out where the land where our house once stood is now. We got out and looked around at the dead end on Rayford and on the other side on the bluff top (at least until LAPD asked us to move along) and found that you can still see where La Tijera connected to Rayford. Under the foliage, you can also see a few street corner curbs (hwere the alley came out at 94th street) and Street lamps, all up on the bluff land much of which is well above Westchester Parkway and fenced off from the curious.
My husband searched the net and found this website: http://www.historicaereals.com where it was possible to see aerial photos of our old neighborhood on 94th street in 1953, 1972 and as it looked through 2005. You can go to Google maps’ satellite view to see current day. Facinating to see the progression of time on the land left vacant.
If you go to historicaerials.com, be sure to use the overlay tool so you can see how the current street map looks against the old pictures. From there, find a landmark (we used the trees still visible on the old La Tijera Blvd.) and determined that our backyard and garage land is still there on the bluff however, the rest of the house land is now Westchester Parkway. Our front sidewalk lines up with the bike lane on the airport side of the parkway.
For my sister and Me, we can finally put the question of where our house land is now to bed. It was fun and cathartic.
I lived in Westchester from when my family all moved there in 1955 until I left L.A. in 1972, plus Inglewood a few years as I got outa High School, and then I moved north as a hippie, to Chico, CA, until on to other towns and finally in 1988 went to China. I live in Thailand now and have been over here and Burma & China since ’88.
All the memories you guys are speaking about, are mine as well.
From over here in Asia, I’ve been sending out newsletters called Memory-Lane, and there are about 120 pictorial pages which include going to grade-school & high-school in Westchester & JC as well. All the 50s & 60s, the music, the streets, the cub-scouts, little-league, sewer-stompin’ and all the landmarks you mention. The oldies tunes & wolfman jack & 50s-60s shows & dance-shows on the tube we all grew up with, the faces and names of those that partied too much and are no longer with us when it was a radical time in the tumultuous 60s. I went out on the highway & camped in the deep woods & did everything, and made it thru those years, and glad you did too!
People call me the original Mr. American Graffiti or the Memory-Lane guy, as I can picture everything as if it was an hour ago, either up on LaTijera & Centinela, or the other direction at Manchester & Sepulveda. All the families we all knew, and the way we wuz!
Westchester Park, Alondra, Ladera, Centinela, and all the beaches where the jets screamed overhead and shook Westchester since the mid-60s & the 405 FWY went in and took the beanfields away down at the end of Airport & 74th. I will never forget.
People don’t realize that the Turtles (Crossfires) and Roosters & Beach Boys & others were from the general area there…
Now most of the kids I grew up with are all grandparents & yet, like one of the guys I still know, we met each other in a sand-box at Osage.
Born Again since ’72 and now in the jungles over here with tribal people in the bamboo…but I still recall the bamboo & the streams of the beanfields as well as the slot-car palladium & the little-league field at Falmouth and the big donut on Florence.
My family is all scattered to the four winds, but I still go back to the place we lived and the streets we knew, and the Beatles, the beaches and the backyards…
Pat, I just sent an email to you. Not sure if it is a current address so I thought I would follow up here. Are you Margaret’s brother? I was good friends with Margaret at St. Jerome’s and have always wondered how she is doing. My maiden name is Verret. Denise might have been in your class. Clegg was my older brother but one year younger than Denise. BTW, as a Catholic I was born again by the waters of baptism and then again at Confirmation. I say yes to the Lord Jesus Christ every day and continue to grow in grace and knowledge.
And don’t forget the concerts at the Y on Sepulveda, & of course the Forum. Anyone recall how Paul Revere & the Raiders were at the slot-car place on LaTijera which was once a Bowling alley?
Centinela Drive-In, you could watch movies free from 74th Street, with no sound! There was a gold driving range behind Bob’s Shell-station where 74th Street now has a Post Office, next to what became 405 FWY, and the beanfields are gone, man!
The biggest beanfields were at Centinela & LaTijera but they were engulfed by houses & the Builders Emporium & Sav-On in the late 60s.
Going over Thrill Hill in Playa Del Rey with a carload of guys!
Yes, and Loyola & Paradise Theaters across from Broadway & Sav-On & Woolworth.
The drug-store across from McDonalds at LaTijera was Rite-Way. Ben’s Bootery & Vons & Rexall & 31 Flavors.
Then came the Watt’s riots, and before that, you dove under your desks when air-raid sirens went off.
We ran around the top of the LAX restaurant (space-age) as teens at night & got into rooms at LAX. Ran thru sewers all over Westchester.
Ran track, so I ran up Manchester for practice after school. Tiny Naylors at Sepulveda.
Hi Pat – Dude, did we hang out together? I was at the Revell Raceway running my slot when Paul Revere and Raiders were there filming for the ‘Groovy’ dance show. Osage, the bean field, thrill hill and everything you mention I was a part of. I’ve even lived in Hong kong for 6 years and have been traveling Asia for business for 25 years. Graduated Westchester High in 1972 (along with Dale Shelton above, yeah we cruised in his low-rider – it was really cool!).
This is 2 years after your posting, hope it gets to ya and everything is well.
My name is Loren Ouellette. Graduated WHS in 1972. Dale Shelton above was my good buddy and I consider still a good buddy (if I ever see him again). Did we hang out? I was at the Revell Raceway running my slot when Paul Revere and Raiders were there with big hats and all. I seem to remember they were filiming for the dance show ‘The Groovy Show’ with Robert W. Morgan. Hey, I was at Osage, the bean field, Big Donut, thrill hill – I know we scrapped and sparked the bottom of Dales low-rider flying down that one. We used to shoot bow and arrows at the bean field and run Flexible Flyers and / or wagons down the dirt hills.
I’ve been traveling back and forth to Asia for the last 25 years for business with 6 of those being lived on Hong Kong and So. China. Looks like we’ve been in the similar region. Perhaps our paths will cross at sometime.
Take care out there. Keep bring back those great memories.
Does anyone remember the
She was an older lady who looked like a witch. She had black pulled back hair and her eyebrows were straight slanted lines. She would walk everywhere! You seemed to see here everywhere
I lived in westchester from 1960 to 1979 as a kid
Hey I do remember the Westchester witch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wow what a trip,I remember her as wearing black dressy outfits with black heels and she walked real fast,I wonder where she lived,anyone else remember her? Linda Rainey,now Felis.I grew up on Croydon in the 50’s and 60’s when it was safe to ride bikes anywhere and play hide n’ go seek till dark……………….
Yes, her 1st name was Bert. She lived on 87th St. behind the Broadway Dept. Store. My wife’s family were neighbors of Bert in the early 50’s. Bert had two kids & my wife said she was at their house often. She remembers Bert as being beautiful & lots of fun. My wife’s family moved to Glider Ave. close to Westport Heights elementary about 56. Sometime after that Bert suffered a major nervous breakdown. The family move out & Bert remained in the house. My wife & I were married in 1963 & were given the equity in a house on Westlawn Ave. between 82nd & 83rd. In 68 we moved to the corner of Bleriot Ave. & 82nd. & remained there until we moved to Wash. State in 1978. We would see Bert walking all around Westchester until we moved away. She had lots of nervous energy. Perry & Sue Baxter
I think I remember her from back then when my family and I lived on Fleetwing Ave. When I went to the Westchester Public Library or the Penney Arcade, I remember seeing her walk everywhere. I don’t remember hearing of a nervous breakdown like mentioned above but it would fit.
My best to you and yours. Please see my memories on this website.
Thanks for sharing all the great memories. I remember
the free Saturday movies at the Loyola Theater sponsored by,
I think, Tarbell Realtors… Boy Scout troop meetings at the Westchester Townhouse, Karl’s Toys and Hy Green’s Sports
Den in the Triangle, the lagoon in Playa del Rey and fishing for perch off the bridge at Ballona Creek, family trips to
P.O.P (Pacific Ocean Park,) great spaghetti at the Villa Inn
on Lincoln, burgers and fries at Hamburger Handout, laying in the back of our “57 Ford station wagon listening to Vin Scully broadcast the Dodger game on a transistor radio as the rest of the family watched a movie at the Centinela Drive-in. I graduated from St. Bernard’s High School in 1967 and Loyola University in 1971. After getting married, we moved back to Westchester and our kids went to Cowan Ave. and Wright
Jr. Hi before we moved to Thousand Oaks 18 years ago.
Thanks everyone for sharing your memories. I feel like I am not alone. We lived in Westchester from 1957 through 1967. There have been a lot of years since I lived in Westchester, yet like you, I have compelling strong memories of Westchester. Walking to Westport Heights, hitch hiking and taking the bus to Westchester High School, the slot car track next to A-A Liquor, Mayfair Market, Westchester Music, where I bought my first 45, Duke of Earl, selling the Herald Examiner on the corner of Century and Sepulveda, carrying people’s bags at LAX for extra money, mowing lawns for 50 cents, driving my bike where ever I wanted, winning a model contest at Karl’s Toy Store, dances at the YMCA with the Roosters, catching pollywogs at the bean fields at Sepulveda and Centinela, flexies, skate boards with steel skate wheels, tree houses and forts on 83rd Street. I could go forever.
A couple of books I just read on the area, Greetings From Westchester, Ca by David Dukesherer and Frit B. Burns and the Development of Los Angeles by James Thomas Keane. Lots of great pictures and explanation how and why Westchester got developed.
Wow – what a hoot!! I have all the same memories. The free movies at the Loyola were sponsored by Marina Federal Savings and my mom would give my brother and I 35 cents and we would go to save on drugs and buy a bunch of candy for the show. I remember some movie cowboy coming to Westchester Elementary to do a show (I think his name was Monte Markum) and my mom had forgotten to give me the money for the show. I remember my brother taking his ticket and giving it to me. When the principle saw what he did she was so moved she bought a ticket for him out of her own pocket. In later years I hung around with the Berg brothers, Dave Reimer, Walt Couvre and Mimi Goodman. I’m still in touch with most of them that are still alive. I now live in Carson and about every 6 months make a trip up there and cruise the town. I cant believe its been so many years – so weird to look at the place across such a span of time – Bob Orabona
I too lived in Westchester from 1947 – 1965 with tons of good memories growing up in the Kentwood Gardens neighborhood on 83rd st. Our Westchester High 55th class renuion is coming due this June, and i’m getting excited attending such a wonderful event.
Lived in Westchester off and on from 1947 – 1961 when I graduated from Westchester HS. The 50th reunion was just held last year. Lots of memories of the only place that came close to being a home town. Loved the comment above that it was “in Los Angeles but not part of Los Angeles”. Somehow the tie to the aircraft industry and the technical side of motion pictures made it an enclave set apart from the rest of the city.
What a trip! Born LAX 10/18/1949 and was looking for the WHS class list of ’67 & ’68. Ran across Skip Hogg and he got me searching for forgotten names and somehow here I am. I remember all the places mentioned above and loved the Chinese take-out from Airport Village. The memories of P.O.P. and the owners living around the corner from me that took me there regularly with Sherry (their daughter). All the Robert’s license plates had “P.O.P. license plates” before personalized plates existed and it blew me away back then, in the early 60’s. The Loyola & Paradise, who could forget McDonald’s and how many times I went there after school for a Coke and took Marie Tanner who couldn’t drink Coke (Mormon thing then). I remember both Dale & Ellen Shelton and Ellen’s boyfriend, Bud who I wanted so bad to replace. It’s amazing how many friend’s names come back to light, I hadn’t thought of the Shelton’s or Bud until I saw Dales note above. Hi Dale, I remember your “lowrider” :+)
Memories of many parties at the Centenila Drive in, Ice Cream cones from sav-on. I remember working at the Niagara Car wash on 77th & Arizona for $.90 an hour when I was 14 and the heartbreak of my favorite snack foods (Hostess cakes & Twinkies) going from 11-13 cents!
I remember the airport taking the house I came home to on Gobal Ave. after we had moved to Dunfield and all the homes it took from P.D.R. I’ll never forget the many times I lost track of where I parked my car in P.D.R. when we went to the beach. The Airport also took the last place I lived in so I took the hint and moved to Huntington Beach, near the Grandparents. H.B. got more crowded than L.A. so in ’83 at 33 I found myself moving to and thriving well in Salt Lake. It was awesome at first, traffic moved crowds were minimal and I was enjoying real seasons. I made it there until ’95 when I came to the realization that Utah was a “planet of it’s own” and headed East, 80 miles up I-80 into Evanston WY. Where there were (and still are) only 12,000 people and 7-signal lights.
I guess I could go on and on as others could about all the memories from Westchester but I might never finish, after all, I’m just looking for old W.H.S. classmates lists for 67-68 so since I am here, if anyone has an idea, please let me know.
Thanks and a big Heya to those that read these and remember me.
I married a Westchester beauty, Juanita, Westchester High, class of ’65. Being a kid from the other side of the tracks, Lennox High, I was amazed when I found out that Juanita’s Dad, Scotty, was a former honorary mayor of Westchester, President of the Chamber and Past District Governor of Rotatary in Westchester. We started dating in ’67 at age 19 (I’m 20 hours older). I was scared to death when the time came to meet her parents and her younger siblings, Scott, Jr., Jeanie, Julie and Stacy. Juanita;s Dad was very involved in community activities and suggested the name of Orville Wright Jr. HIgh for the new junior high school as a board member. Juanita and all of her siblings went through Wright and Westchester High. I too was blown away by the Christmas decorations along with the big candles in the front yard. I was told it was the idea of a local paperboy. Living in Lennox, it was dreamland to me going to Westchester. Juanita and I used to eat at Tiny Naylor’s on the northeast corner of Manchester and Sepulveda. We saw the Sound of Music at the La Jolla in March of 1968, a month after we were married (just kids, but 45 years married next month). Great memories are held by Juanita, me and our three children who are all now married and have children when we reflect back to Thanksgiving and Christmas at Juanita’s folks home in Westchester. The old haunts of the toy store, music store, flower shop, restaurants, car wash, Dinah’s was the best, yes, Hill Mart, and the distant sound of the airplanes when they were far away. Pretty much everyone has moved, close friends have mostly died off who knew my wife’s folks and family but the memories still cause my mother-in-law to light up when I ask her a question about Westchester.
Thank you Westchester for giving me my lovely wife of 45 years and all the memories we and our children still share of being at Gradpa and Grandma’s house for the holidays.
I moved to Westchester with my family in 1949 and lived there till I was in my 20’s. It was the best of both worlds small town and Los Angeles. I went to Westport Heights Elementary which was about three blocks from home on by grandma Airport Blvd. There was a store on Sepulveda called the Hillmart which was a grocery store and pharmacy and lunch counter and walking distance from the house. The Loyola and the Paradise theater’s were on Sepulveda and there was a Broadway department store and a Sav-on Drug store on the corner of Mancester and Sepulveda. There was a Tiny Nayllors caddy-corner from the Sav-ons. The local Stewart Bottle bar (aka Licquer store) on LaTierja and 74th was where we would walk to for penny candies. The bean fields were where we played pirates caught frogs and just had a great time which is now the 405 freeway. Spent on semester at Airport Junior High my brothers went there the oldest then went to Los Angeles High grandmas home and my other brother went to Westchester High. I went to Flintridge Sacred Heart Acadamy in Pasadena. Memories of Westchester bring many smiles to my face life was great in the 50’s and 60’s and into the 70’s
Great memory of Westchester. My father-in-law helped come up with the name, Orville Wright. Very busy community fellow. Westcehster still has an attraction because it is overall still in pretty good shape, close to most everything and is a magnet tor my wife, the Orville Wright and Westhester High kid, 1965 grad along with the memories that are so great.
My Family Moved to Westchester in 1967 from Inglewood, I was crushed leaving all my friends. But Westchester was a special city made friends quick and everyday was a good day. Went to Westport Heights then to Airport Jr High the last year it was open, only to be sent to Orville Wright. Went to WHS where I was fortunate enough to meet my future wife Lisa Smith. I have only wonderful memories of Westchester and would move back in a flash if I could.. If ya didn’t grow up there you wouldn’t understand..
I live in Iowa now, but remember westchester so well. All the memories and all the different places. Graduated from whs in 1964 and look forward to our reunion next summer. Would love to hear from a fellow westchester native.
Airport and 77th before the 405 freeway and the extended airport over to the otherside of Sepulveda. Great place to grow up. The Loyola and the Paradice theatres Tiny Naylors on the corner of Manchester and Sepulvada, Savon’s drugstore the Broadway the the Hilltop Pharmacy/grocery store. On and On and On I could go. Went to Westport Heights and Airport Jr High then off to school in Pasadena. Great memories!
I’m not a Westchester native, but my wife and her parents and four siblings are. The old home place on the southwest corner of 80th and Dunfield that sat up on an elevated yard still stands afer sixty plus years. My wife, Juanita Miller Hand graduated from Westchester in ’65. Her Dad was Scotty Miller, Honorary Mayor in 1964 and Chamber of Commerce president. All the children, like their mom and dad, were very active in Westchester. Dad died last August at 94. Juanita now has MS, but she is a grandmother’s grandma. Her four grand kids adore her. We were married at 20 (I’m 20 hours older) and over the years, Westchester was a place for Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings that provided memories for us and our children. The last of the family left Westchester for good in 1995. We still go back and visit. I graduated from Lennox in ’65, we did the Navy from ’68 thru ’72 and then I graduated from Pepperdine in ’75. The Miller’s were a close knit family, and they set the example for Juanita and I. Westchester is still a good place to live if you are wanting to be close to LA downtown, LAX, the ocean air and the need for a freeway.
We lived in Westchester on Isis ave. from 1952 to 1962. I attended Osage Ave. school, and Airport Jr, High, before we moved to Upland. Seems Saturday was spent at the Paradise theater matinee…it cost a whopping 35 cents. We would always go across the street first a buy huge bags of popcorn, candy, and/or White Rock sodas for a dime…then go watch a double feature plus lots of cartoons….that’s back when they had a cry room for young mothers with young children as well as ushers.
I remember playing in the “Gully”, the area just below the LaTejjaira bridge, which is nit the SD freeway. As kids we sat on the hill and watched the steam shovels excavate the freeway pathway, and when they laid the first sewer pipeline, we would play in the long columns of pipe.
I loved it when I got to go to Karls (sp?) toy Store as they had the neatest toys. I got my fist skate board there… a little red board with metal wheels as I recall. The also had the best selection of Shueco wind up cars, and Cox Thimbledrome airplanes…crashed a few of those at Osage!
Hula Hoops, over the line, hide and seek, playing army, Rat Fink, bomb shelters, Curry’s Ice Cream, Little League, Playa Del Ray…lots and lots of wonderful memories.
Karl’s was a favorite of mine as well. I remember buying numerous paper kites, rolls of string and plastic put together models. I bought 2 or 3 of the F-104 Starfighter model because I seemed to screw up some how putting it together. I always seemed to buy some Testors paint in the little glass jars too.
My favorite lunch was the Napoli’s meatball sandwich and whenever I had the money, Napoli’s was the place to be and NOT McD’s !!
My family lived in Westchester from 1955 to 1972 when the airport took our house. I went to Loyola Village, Orville Wright and graduated from Westchester High School. After we left I used to come back periodically and open the door to the house with the key I kept and still have. It set off alarms but no one ever came. I will never forget the day I drove by and the house was gone. It still brings a tear to my eye. For a long time the streets were still there even though the houses were not but even that is gone now.
I remember going to the movies at the Paradise and Loyola theaters, eating at Hamburger Handout, Sportsnight at Orville Wright where we would take time out from dancing or playing in the gym to watch Star Trek on the TV. The dances at the Y I had to sneak out because my mother wouldn’t let me go to them. The senior lawn at Westchester High and football games on Friday nights. It was a wonderful place to grow up.
I lived in Westchester from about 1957 to 1974, when the airport took our house (like many of the writers here). I attended Loyola Village, Wright Jr. High, and Westchester High.
I remember toy Palace, owned and run by Gus and Helen. They never charged tax! I used to go there all the time and play with their toys.
Used to live on La Tijera, west of Westchester Park. Used to go there all the time as kids – riding our bikes or walking. We used to go everywhere on our own, as long as we were inside by the time the streetlights came on.
I remember Mrs. Sheehy and Miss Koster at Loyola Village, and Mr. Ruben and Mr. Brierly at Wright, as well as Mr. Hefner.
I drove by the place I used to live. It’s all overgrown. You can barely see the street. I remember the street being so wide, my house reached by steps climbing up from the street. It’s hard to imagine what it was like looking at the place now.
In high school we called it “Deadchester”, but when I was in elementary school, it was an easy and safe place to live.
I’ve really enjoyed reading these postings, but hope someone can provide the answer to a question that has been nagging me for some time. In the late 50’s, my parents used to drive up Sepulveda from Manhattan Beach to a large discount store on the east side of Sepulveda Blvd., north of the airport but south of Manchester. It was a 1-story corner building as I recall, and seemed to sell a little bit of everything (but not groceries). Does anyone know the name of the store? I graduated from Loyola University in ’67 but don’t know if it had already disappeared by then. Thanks for any assistance.
I believe the store on Sepulveda, just north of the Paradise Theater, may have been Phillips Department Store. Also, in El Segundo, on the north east corner of Sepulveda and Mariposa was another department store known as Leonard’s.
I am Myrna Mallek-Roth, class of early 1964. I have been looking for my lab partner for many years. His name is GARY LLOYD. His father was a banker. He had a girlfriend one year older by the name of Pam, I believe. PLEASE does anyone know anything about him. I believe he lived in Lake Forest in Orange County at one time. Janice Bauer Fickett from the latest 50th reunion class of ’63 checked for me and believes he might be deceased. Does anyone know his whereabouts?? All your memories of Westchester were great! Thanks so much for taking me back to my childhood. Myrna.
Great stuff folks. Lived in PDR but of course rode my bike to O.W.J.H. and had many friends in Westchester. Best Sub sandwiches since man stood upright was the sub shop on La Tijera called Andys ( I Think) Graduated in ’74 I asked my buddy Hog ) Mike Hagiwara why we never went to Manhattan beach :)
Born and grew up in Westchester 50’s thru the 70s.. Like A scene out of leave it to beaver! My three sons, father knows best , The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet all rolled into one.
Every thing was good, times were good then, everyone was cool They drove 49 2 door ford sedans. went to the “shack” late night when everything was closed down.and the football game was over. It was a dream. wasn’t it?
Well,ya , but then you had the, Vietnam war and other fun stuff that would not be ignored. The nightmare of real life. Could go on forever.
For now it’s all good.
Are you the Jim Vaughn from Alverstone?, The 9500 block of Alverstone Ave was a great street to grow up on before LAX gobbled it up and turned it into a taxi waiting zone. I still remember the 8mm movie with music soundtrack you made back in the 50’s. Pure genius.
9233 Earhart Avenue is where we lived. 1960 to March 12, 1969. Damn eminent domain. Westchester Elementary closed a year or 2 before. They bussed us to Osage Elem. Loved Hamburger Handout. Mom said their burgers were made of horse meat. l think she said that to freak us out. l remember spending our birthday money at Karl’s Toy Store. $5 went a long way back then. When l got my first car, l drove back there to see nothing but empty lots. The Chinese elm tree l thought was huge was actually average. Those huge sloping curbs l was so afraid to ride down with my roller skates, ha, a tiny bump. Sometimes l wish l could go back in time with Peabody’s Time Machine.
Good memories Paula loved the Hamburger handout and it was like a giant food mart different foods. Lived on 77th and Airport Blvd between La Tiejra and the bean fields which turned into the 405. Stewarts Bottle Bar was the licquer store with the best candies and the Hillmart all within walking or bike distance.. my street 77th had the start of the pathways/walkways that went to 74th st. best way to get thru the neighbor hood
I went to Westport Heights three blocks to walk to elementary school. We moved to Westchester in 1949 and saw lots of changes not all for the best. Tiny Naylors on Manchester and Sepulveda and karls toys. Airport Jr High one semester then went to school in the hills above Pasadena. The LAX was already starting to expand and Playa Del Rey was giving up to the airport expansion.
I miss the freedom we had in that time , the feeling of safety. Thanks for sharing your memories Paula
I moved from Inglewood to Westchester in the late 60’s. My family lived there until 1973. I went to Kentwood Elementary and then did summer school at Orville Wright before we moved. I have lots of great memories from Westchester (and Inglewood). We rode out bikes *everywhere*. We did *so* many things. I threw papers for the Westchester Journal. You would throw them to every house in your assigned area and then go around for donations. We would take the money we made and go buy junk food at the liquor store on the corner of Manchester and Lincoln, or ride our bikes down Lincoln and buy stuff at the curio shops on the pier in Marina del Rey. Sometimes we’d ride to Venice. We’d fish on the pier in Marina del Rey, too, or go body surf at Toe’s Beach. I was a regular at Karl’s Toys. They sold chemicals for home chemistry sets. We used to buy them to see if they would light on fire. I was a regular at the tropical fish store, too. For us it was pure entertainment. Never bought a thing there. There was a record store around there. I picked up Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin and Humble Pie among other albums. Lizard hunting was a big past time. Blue-bellies and alligators. So was making jumps for our bikes. Often on the trails at Loyola. Evel Kneivel reigned. Whenever I threw a football it was always “Roman Gabriel back to pass.” Then there was the YMCA stuff — Indian Guides and Gra-Y, and swimming at the Westchester Y. A guy named Karl who seemed old at the time but probably wasn’t used to manage the pool. I remember that it looked like he had a rug glued on him. One time I was swimming underwater at the bottom of the deep end and saw a Baby Ruth bar. Except it wasn’t. It was “real.” I had to tell Karl twice, and then he blew his whistle. And that was it; everyone out of the pool. I wished I had kept it a secret. The candles at Christmas. A friend of ours had a candle and instead of putting his last name in front of the candle in big block letters like everyone else he put “Humbug.” There’s so much more. It was a great time.
I don’t think we knew one another but we grew up in Westchester around the same time. You went to Kentwood while I went to Westport Heights. Just because we lived on different sides of Sepulveda Blvd. I also attended Orville Wright both in Summer school and regular.
Your memories of Karl’s match mine closely except instead of chemistry stuff it was model planes and the cheap paper and pine wood kites. We went to the Loyola area to run our dogs between the college and Hughes aircraft. All gone now. The memories of the “Y” bring back mine of swimming lessons and the “scary” diving board.
It would have been ideal had we known each other but the memories still compensate some. Thank so much for those. Take Care.
Even though I left Westchester a long time ago, I still consider Westchester my home. I get back there a few times a year and every time I do I get flooded with memories. I have great memories of watching airplanes with my father and getting hooked on airplanes! Had wonderful teachers at Westport Heights, Orville Wright and WHS. Graduated in 1974. Rob Duran, if you see this posting our 40 year reunion is being held on August 9. Loved going to the HIllmart, Sav-on for and ice cream cone. Free movies at the Loyola Theater, thanks to Marina Federal Savings. I could go on and on and on. I read other’s memories each day in the Westchester California Memories Facebook group page. Westchester was a wonderful place to grow up and and I am honored to have friends just like all of you! We are all family!
I lived in westchester during the 80’s and attended St. A’s. someone mentioned the witch and we had a westchester witch in the 80’s too. Anyone remember the cat lady? I worked at Hillmart How about Friday lunches at Bob’s Big Boy?
Ok representing the smith family Denny checking in…..seven of us, free shows sees candy, our family had our photo across from Karl’s at Davis men tire photography……lums pick burger, Phil’s liquor store, Westchester music, vanilla cokes up on top of Broadway…..penny machines at newberrys and the ramp up back at Mayfair market……sportsville and sportsden………little league over by Centinella drive in before we built it by Cowan ave school…..and yes those red candles at Xmas…firstname.lastname@example.org……and still playing in the gillis 45 years later
My memories include much of what Doug Tally relates. The bomb shelter! I went to Cowan Ave until the 4th grade and then my parents pulled me from public school and put me in church school. My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. DeBrune (sp?). I remember standing at fence looking over the airfield of Hughes Aircraft. A kid told me that what we were seeing was Japan and that we were at war with them! I started walking to school alone my second day of kindergarten. We had a nice house and a big back yard. I had 3 dogs, one at a time, at that house.
My friends and I played over the line on Kentwood near 80th. I remember the Helm’s truck coming down the street and the driver blowing the whistle. I think the donuts were 5 cents. People would put a cardboard “H” in the window if they wanted a loaf of bread that day. I remember the SavOn and the day they had three candy bars for 10 cents. They were a nickel each on all the other days. The ice cream truck was owned by a guy who lived in a house on the first street behind the May Company. My mother did not let us get ice cream very often, but she was OK with a donut or two each week.
When I was 5 my dad took me to see “The Spirit of St. Louis” at the other theater at the south end of Westchester’s “main street.” I was five and my parents dressed me in a little shorts outfit with a little cap and suspenders. My dad was an engineer at North American Aviation in El Segundo. He had been inspired to become an engineer at the age of 13 when Lindbergh made his New York to Paris flight. He really wanted to fly for the Army Air Corps but had some minor issue with his peripheral vision in one eye so he didn’t make it. He told everyone that if he couldn’t fly em he would build em.
My grandparents moved the Westchester from Minnesota when I was 7. They bought a house on Gonzaga near 83rd for $14,000. My mother and father divorced in 1969 and we (mother) moved into that house afterwards.
My 3rd grade teacher had moved into a house on Gonzaga across the street from my grandparents house with her husband. It was neat to see her nearly every time I was over at the grandparents house.
When I was a kid I would go over the the Gonzaga house every Saturday to take care of the yard. I had to help my dad mow the lawn over at Kentwood first. Then one of my parents would drive me to my grandparents house to work there.I mowed, edged, weeded and trimmed and was paid $1 and then I got to go to Karl’s to buy a Hardy Boys book for that same dollar. I bought models there quite frequently and had the store shelves memorized dreaming about the next dozen models.
Like my dad, many men had workshops in their garages. I would take my dog out for walks at night and see lights on in many garages. In the summer the voice of Vin Scully and Jerry Dogit (sp?) reverberating out on the street. In the fall his voice was replaced by that of Chick Hern. I remember going to a lot of Dodger games. The father of one of my best friends had company season tickets and he would take me to a lot of games as my dad did also. Don Drysdale, Sandy Kofax, Maury Wills and other names I’ve forgotten. I remember Drysdale being one of the best hitting pitchers of all time. They would put him in as a pinch hitter.
I remember the Hamburger Handout. It sat up on a little hill and the pavement was in lousy shape, with dirt and potholes, especially at the bottom of the hill. We didn’t get to go very often, but it was lots of fun when we did. The hamburgers cost 19 cents. There was a place east of La Cienega and Stockton called “The Witch’s Stand” and it was much better, but more expensive as well.
I remember my parents buying the house we were in for $30,000 and the mortgage was $100 a month. My dad had done a lot of work on the house I spent my first 5 years in. It was located near 83rd and Stewart. My dad built a garage, moved some walls around, put in new windows and apparently made enough money to buy the house over on Kentwood.
I took my first backpacking trip in 1963 in the Sierra while in Boy Scout Camp Wolverton. It got me to thinking about living somewhere else when I got older. I returned to Wolverton in 1965 after spending 1964 at Camp Emerald Bay. It was a bit to “preppy” for me. I remember the last evening’s camp fire and not wanting to leave. It was a precursor to what I did once I left Westchester,, for the last time in 1973.
It was a short walk to Orville Wright from home. I played in band and Mr. Bright was the music teacher. I remember being in band when the Kennedy assassination was announced over the PA.
I then went to Westchester High School and did not like high school at all. School “society” resembled a “caste system.” It was all based on “coolness,” athletic ability, looks etc. There were so many immature kids there and my first semester of college was incredible. None of those idiots were around and I could finally concentrate on school.
I spent a summer on camp staff at Camp Wolverton for a summer. Following that I knew for sure I wanted to move away from southern California as soon as possible. I spent one semester out of state in school and then had to come back as I had to sit out a semester before beginning my junior year. I left Westchester for the last time in 1973.
I moved around the country and lived in two towns of less than 700 people in isolated areas. I moved back to California to be closer to family, but not too close. I was in a town of 690 people when I first moved back. Later I moved to a town of 4500 and it was the big city to me. My mother picked me to take care of all of her affairs in the early 90’s in spite of me being the youngest. I traveled to Westchester every other year for Christmas, with the other year being with my wife’s parents. As soon as I moved back to CA I made trips down to maintain the house. It was a 6 hour plus drive and I didn’t care to drive south of the I-5/CA 14 junction, but I persevered. I had a sister, a bunch of cousins, my dad and other family there also. I would come home and put up my mother;s “candle” out on the lawn. I remember the tour busses that used to drive through Westchester during Christmas to bring people to see the candles on street after street.
My cousins moved away, except for two of them, my dad died 25 years ago, my oldest sister is gone and the remaining family is no longer close. My mother died a couple of years ago and I took on the task of selling the house. We put some money into it, including taking out the carpeting and having the hardwood floors refinished. The floors were one feature that stood out to the buyers. We had an offer with all the financing lined up within two weeks of listing the house. Escrow was a whirlwind. El Segundo and Westchester are sought out by home buyers and we lucked out because of it. This house that had been in the family for 55 years when I sold it. I thought it would be tough to drive away from it, but it really wasn’t.
I went down to Westchester to close out my mother’s bank accounts and pull everything out of her safe deposit box after the house sold. I drove around a bit knowing I would be seeing the area for what my well be the last time. I don’t have any reason to go back anymore. I have a tough time driving in the city, or at least I prefer not to.
HELLO THERE EVERYONE, I RECENTLY CAME ACROSS SOME OLD FLIGHT LOGS I GUESS THEY WERE CALLED… YEARBOOKS? THEY ARE FROM AIRPORT JR HIGH FOR THE YEARS OF 61′ 62′ 63′ 64’…. THEY HAVE SOME WATER DAMAGE AND I THINK THERE MIGHT BE A FEW PAGES MISSING FROM A FEW OF THEM BUT I CANT SEE JUST TOSSING THEM, THEY LOOKED LIKE THEY BELONGED TO AN ELOISE
It’s so touching and interesting reading these memories of Westchester. My experience was a little different from most here, having been born in the early 80s. I lived in Westchester until college, and still visit my parents who live there currently. I went to Cowan and Orville Wright. In elementary school, I had a wonderful experience, not unlike the other posters here — good teachers, lots of friends, felt safe in the neighborhood. Even through the early 90s, most of my friends and I (the boys at least) walked and rode our bikes in the neighborhood without concern. As far as I know, nothing bad happened to anyone. It still feels relatively safe.
The salient thing reading these comments is how much of an idyllic, classical 50s kind of neighborhood Westchester once was. I remember as a kid feeling a little bit of that 50s vibe, like when visiting my friends’ grandparents homes, or the old movie theater on Manchester and Sepulveda, or Dinah’s, or especially the Westchester Triangle. Karl’s Toys was still around, but on its last legs. There wasn’t much else going on there, and it’s kind of a sad strip of storefronts now. But when I was a kid, it still had some of that vitality from the old days. I always thought it looked like a movie set of a quintessential American main street, like something used for the Andy Griffith show or Twilight Zone or something.
Things changed for me when I got to Orville Wright. That school was rough back then. There were still kids from the neighborhood attending, but the vast majority were bussed in. Bussing isn’t necessarily bad, and in fact, a lot of the kids from the neighborhood were rougher than the bussed kids, but the mishmash of kids from vastly different cultures and communities, at least in this particular situation, didn’t work well. Many of the families in the neighborhood, by the 90s, sent their kids to private schools if they could afford to, so a lot of the kids from the neighborhood who went to Orville were from less well off families, or families that didn’t know any better. Nonetheless, I still had fun. It just wasn’t wholesome, happy fun necessarily. My parents were concerned enough, though, to send me to schools outside of the neighborhood for high school.
I remember that a lot of kids in Westchester in the 90s were living in the homes of their grandparents, with their parents, who for whatever reasons hadn’t moved out. Can you imagine this being the case in the 50s or 60s?? While Westchester was probably squarely middle class before, there were a lot of lower middle class and even outright poor families in the 90s. LA was pretty depressed in the 90s, a lot of that due to the collapse of the aerospace industry, which was sorely felt in Westchester for obvious reasons.
Pretty much all those old families, it seems to me, are gone now. As far as wealth and class, the neighborhood has really picked up. It’s probably one of the last ‘affordable’ neighborhoods on the westside in LA, but home prices have shot up in recent years, and you can tell lots of young families, or younger people with more contemporary tastes, have moved in. But when I was a kid, it felt like everyone in Westchester was old. And back then, they probably were. It was heavily populated by pre-baby boomers, who by the 2000s had mostly passed away.
Westchester is an interesting place, kind of because of how uninteresting it is. It’s a little bit of a no-man’s land, between the south bay, Inglewood, and the real westside of LA — places with real, distinct cultures, each of which blend together in Westchester. It’s interesting to hear people talk about it like it’s a real thing. I don’t think people living there now, especially those who’ve just moved there, feel this kind of attachment to it. The city of LA has really branched out, and Westchester has been pretty much submerged by this. There’s no more Hill Mart, but there’s a Bristol Farms, and soon to be a Whole Foods in Playa Vista. There’s also a huge Youtube studio in Playa Vista, as well as other media and miscellaneous businesses. LMU has expanded, and now there’s Otis, the art school. Westchester sometimes even feels like a college town, with red cup keg parties on weekends.
It’s funny thinking this now, but when that Ralphs on Sepulveda was built, along with Starbucks and Blockbuster and all that, we felt like civilization had finally arrived, that’s how desperate we were for some action in Westchester, aka Deadchester, a pretty different scene from what it sounds like Westchester was like in the post-war years. But despite that I arrived late in the game, I’m happy to have had a little taste of the vestiges that charming time.
Stephen, I can identify very much with your comments. I was born in 1981, and grew up on the other side of Lincoln, right on the border of Playa del Rey, so I was a kid in the neighborhood at the same time you were (I think of Westchester and PDR as one big continuous neighborhood, which I’m sure would horrify some of the snobs living up on the bluffs in PDR!) Westchester was weirdly devoid of kids in those days, as you observed. It seemed like there were empty-nesters in almost every house.
I totally agree that Westchester in the 1980s had – and honestly still has today – a very strong whiff of the 1950s. Friends who visited me there said it felt like the California version of Mayberry. The commercial district on Sepulveda and the Manchester Triangle area was kind of stumbling along for most of my youth – it feels much busier today than it did back then. You always had the feeling that it had really been booming in the 1950s and 1960s, but had lost its way as the neighborhood aged and things like Fox Hills Mall opened up a short drive away.
Many of our neighbors often said that Westchester never recovered from the home demolitions of the 1970s, when the airport was condemning properties to try and stave off noise lawsuits. Our area saw some condemnations – mostly south of 91st Street – but nothing like the massive campaigns that gutted the area between Sepulveda and Airport Blvd, or the Surfridge area of Playa del Rey. Our house on West 90th was just a few blocks from the dividing line where the city arbitrarily stopped taking houses. When I was a kid in the 1980s, the street lights on the abandoned streets still glowed at night. My siblings and I used to call it the “haunted area” and it was a little eerie lying in bed, knowing that all those empty lots and ghostly streets were so close by.
I went to Loyola Village for elementary school, and in the 1980s it was a great, chummy little neighborhood school. It was severely under capacity back then as the baby boom had passed and the “echo boom” hadn’t hit yet. When it came time for junior high school in 1993, my folks sent me to private school – word had started to filter down from some of the parents of older kids in the neighborhood that Orville Wright and Westchester High were becoming more like inner-city schools. I had friends from Loyola Village who went on to Orville and to WHS, however, and they always claimed many of the stories were exaggerated and that things weren’t as bad as they were portrayed. Nowadays almost none of the kids in the neighborhood attend LAUSD schools beyond elementary school.
I moved to Chicago for college and stayed in the Midwest for many years, but I’ve come full circle and now live in the new apartments that were built a few years ago at Manchester and Pershing in PDR. There’s a vibrancy and energy in Westchester that was never there when I was a kid. Families are moving in like crazy, and old houses are getting fixed up (or even demolished and rebuilt). I can’t believe how much money some of the homes in the Kentwood area are going for now! My old neighborhood around Loyola Village School has a lot of “party houses” inhabited by groups of LMU students.
Everyone I talk to, however, loves Westchester. There’s something about the mid-century wholesomeness, the ocean air, and the easy access to just about everything that makes it an amazing place to live. When I came back to LA I knew I couldn’t live anywhere else.
It’s been fun reading all the memories. My folks bought their 1st house on Kittyhawk behind the library in 1942. I was born in 43 & have several baby pictures of me at that house. My dad worked at Lockheed Aircraft on P-38’s. He joined the service & became an aircraft mechanic so they sold the Kittyhawk house. I lived with my grandparents in Iowa until I was four while my mom lived on base with my dad at various Army Airforce bases around the US. In 1947 they bought another house at 7889 Naylor Ave. Sepulveda Blvd. was right behind our house. My parents both worked, dad was a flight instructor & my mom worked for the LA Examiner. I lived at a boarding school only coming home on week-ends for two yrs. I started 2nd grade at Westports Heights elementary when I started living at home & attended there through the 6th grade. I went to the old WHS/Jr Hi for one yr. in 1955. When Airport Jr Hi opened in 56 I started going there, Sepulveda was the cut off point. I was much closer to Orville Wright but still had to go to Airport. 1958-60 I attended the new Westchester Hi School. The class of 60 was the 1st class to graduate after attending all 3 yrs.
I started going to Sunday School at Weschester Lutheran Church on my own when I was about 10. At that time my parents didn’t go to church. I never missed Sunday School & still have a pin showing 5 yrs. of straight attendance. I later started going to Luther League at WLC. where I met a girl who would later become my wife. Suzanne & I have now been married for 51 yrs. & have 3 kids, 6 grandkids & two great grandkids.
My wife also grew up in Weschester, her dad Cap Schmidt owned Paradise Realty Co. & had several offices in Weschester & throughout the So Bay area.
My dad became an airline pilot & flew out of LAX for many yrs. They lived in their Naylor house until my dad’s death in 2000.
Like many, Weschester will always be my “hometown” that has left so many lasting great memories of growing up. I made the best friends while going to schools there. We had a group, Bruce Barnard, Jim Kelly, Gary Crowly. Mark Gateman & myself who ate lunch together almost everyday thru jr. & into hi school(until we discovered girls), sadly Mark Gateman & myself are the only ones still alive.
We flew our free-flight model airplanes in the bean fields & our control line planes at the park where the Y is now located. We played ball out in the street on Naylor Ave. We shopped at the Hillmart & Vons on 80th, went to the shows at the Loyola & Paradise. I think Vons is still there but time has taken a toll on the others.
Sue & I moved from Weschester over 36 yrs. ago & now live in rural Snohomish Washington & no longer have any ties to Weschester, but it’s still “Our Hometown”. Perry Baxter, Snohomish Wa.
Although we never knew each other, your comments once again have brought back the memories I have had about Westchester. I, too, miss the atmosphere of the “Mayberry” of California. Although my memories are of a different era, (1960-1974), your descriptions concerning that of Westchester are not that much different than mine.
I hope you will always keep your memories of Westchester as I have. Although we can never bring back the actualities of our respective eras, my memories of the Westchester I grew up in will never fade. Take Care.
My wife, Suzanne worked at Leonard’s one Christmas season. She worked in glassware’s & small appliances. All the payments went into a vacuum tube & were sucked to the office. They had free gift wrapping & she did a lot of it.
LEONARDS WAS IN EL SEGUNDO. GOT MY LEVI’S THERE. FELIX ESCALANTE. LEFT THE WATTS RIOTS AND MOVED TO CHESTER IN 1965. REMEMBER MAYFAIR MARKET? STILL IN TOUCH WITH MY GREAT FRIEND RICK PREHODA. I SAW BOB ORABONA’S NAME ON THIS. HE TURNED ME ON TO THE CREAM AND GINGER BAKER. I REMEMBER WHEN THEY NITROED WESTCHESTER ELEMENTARY AFTER THE AIRPORT SNAKE OF ALL MY FRIENDS, WONDERFULL TO READ ALL THESE STORIES. MY 40TH. IS THIS YEAR. #54 SAYS “GO COMETS” AT ONE OF OUR HIGH SCHOOL GAMES. WE TROTTED OUT A PEDAL CAR THAT LOOKED LIKE THE NAZI’S MESSERSCHMIT COMET. SHOULD OF KNOWN BETTER, SINCE LOT’S OF OUR BUDDIES WHERE GERMAN. SAD
TO HEAR THE PASSING OF PAUL AGA AND LATER HIS DAD BRUCE. SPENT HALF MY LITTLE CUBAN’S LIFE AT AND WITH THE AGAS. TOOK ME TO MY FIRST DODGER GAME. I COULD GO ON FOREVER. BUT! I’LL SPARE YOU.
I’m a Westchester original homeboy. Born Sept 17 1955. My family and I lived on 76th Street just three houses down from Sepulveda Blvd. My father bought the house in 1954. My siblings and I attended Westport Heights Elementary School, Airport Jr. High School, and Westchester High School.
My oldest brother went to Airport Jr. High School from 1959 to1962, my second oldest brother went to Airport from 1963 to 1966 and my sister went there from 1966 to 1969. As the youngest, I went to Airport from 1967 to 1970 when it closed. I’ll have to look, but I do remember keeping all of my Flight Logs.
I ran across this looking for info on Airport Jr High.
I attended that crazy school during the early 60’s. Took a bus from Windsor Hills. What a gas that time was; Listening to The Beach Boys and the Beatles in KRLA, watching black and white TV, riding our bikes into the airport terminals, racing slot cars at Revell every Saturday, the first strawberry pie of the season at Marie Calendar’s of course comparing it to pies past, learning to surf in front of the Edison plant in Manhattan Beach, playing in the neighborhood now gone forever at the end of the LAX runways (Why didn’t they give those houses to deaf people?), growing the hottest radishes known to man in Agriculture class at Airport, learning Spanish from Mr Voss who I ran into 20 years later, going to the dances at the Y (the Roosters playing Sunshine of Your Love), wondering how the hell The Turtles managed to make real records, riding bikes to Toe’s beach and scoring Slurpies at the 7-11 up the hill with Pete Boyer.
Flash to 1992 when I bought a house a block from Lincoln and Manchester so my kids could go to Westchester High. The geography didn’t change much but the mood around those hills made me pine for a softer time when only cops carried guns and the word party hadn’t yet become a verb.